Canucks 12 Days of Hockeymas: 10 Hall of Famers

The “12 Days of Christmas” is a classic holiday song first published in its current form in 1908. In a nod to the classic carol, join The Hockey Writers as we count down the 12 Days of Hockeymas. Each day, we will provide you with a piece of hockey history as we eagerly await the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.

Being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHoF) is one of the highest honors in the sport. On the 10th day of Christmas, we look back at the 10 former Canucks who have received that honor. The 10 members feature nine players and one builder.

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The Canucks were apart of the WHL, a minor professional hockey league, before joining the NHL in 1970. The HHoF recognizes players who played for the WHL version of the Canucks as members of the NHL organization.

Johnny Bower – Inducted in 1976

Bower was the first-ever Canuck inducted into the HHoF. Bower spent one year with the Canucks in the WHL. In 1954-55, the goaltender played 63 games for the organization, a year after playing 70 games with the New York Rangers. 

Bower posted a 30-25-8 record in his sole season with the Canucks. He had seven shutouts and posted a 2.71 goals-against average (GAA). He jumped between the NHL and the minor leagues the next three seasons before joining the Toronto Maple Leafs for the next 12 seasons of his career. He did not become a permanent NHLer until his 30s.

Bower made his name during his time with the Maple Leafs. The goalie won the Vezina Trophy twice with Toronto, in 1960-61 and 1964-65. He won the Stanley Cup four times with the club as well.

Andy Bathgate – Inducted in 1978

Similar to Bower, Bathgate played with the Canucks in the WHL but had two separate stints with the club. His first stint was early in his career, as he split time with the Canucks, Rangers and the AHL’s Cleveland Barons from the 1952-53 season to the 1953-54 season.

Bathgate played in two seasons with the Canucks in his first stint. The forward scored 13 goals and 26 points in 37 games in 1952-53 and scored 12 goals and 22 points in 17 games during the 1953-54 season. He played 12 seasons with the Rangers, where he won the Hart Memorial Trophy in the 1958-59 season and had his No. 9 retired in 2009. He totaled 272 goals and 729 points in 719 games with the Rangers. He joined the Maple Leafs for two seasons and won the Cup with the organization in 1963-64. 

The forward spent time with the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and the AHL’s Pittsburgh Hornets before finally returning to the Canucks in 1968-69. Bathgate posted 77 goals and 181 points in 143 games over two seasons with the Canucks. He returned to the NHL and played 76 games with the Penguins but finished his career playing 11 games with the WHA’s Vancouver Blazers. 

Gump Worsley – Inducted in 1980

Goaltender Worsley had a short stint with the Canucks in the WHL. Worsley played 70 games in 1953-54 and posted a 39-24-7, as well as four shutouts and a 2.40 GAA that season. 

Worsley spent his first 10 years in the NHL with the Rangers. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy with the Rangers, but his best years were with the Montreal Canadiens, where he won four Stanley Cups and the Vezina twice. After seven years with the Canadiens, Worsley spent his final five seasons with the Minnesota North Stars.

Allan Stanley – Inducted in 1981

Stanley is the first former Canucks’ defenceman to be inducted into the HHoF. He joined the Canucks mid-way through his career, after six seasons with the Rangers in the NHL, where he won the Calder in the 1948-49 season. The defenceman played in 40 games with the WHL team and scored six goals and 36 points.  

Stanley’s short stint in the WHL ended as he rejoined the Rangers the following season. He spent the following three seasons with the Rangers, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins. 

Stanley joined the Maple Leafs for the next 10 seasons. His tenure with the Maple Leafs is where the defenceman built his Hall of Fame career. He won the Cup four times during those 10 seasons.

Tony Esposito – Inducted in 1988

Esposito also made a stop in the WHL to play for the Canucks before his HHoF career. The goaltender is the last Canucks’ HHoF member to play for the club while they were a WHL team. He played with the organization in the 1967-68 season and posted a 25-33-4 record, four shutouts and a 3.20 GAA. 

Tony Esposito
Tony Esposito #35 of the Chicago Black Hawks tends goal in game against the Boston Bruins at Boston Garden Garden. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Esposito spent 15 seasons with the Blackhawks after a short 13 game season with the Canadiens. In those 15 years, he won the Calder Trophy and captured the Vezina Trophy three times.

Cam Neely – Inducted in 2005

Cam Neely is the first player who played for the Canucks in the NHL inducted into the HHoF. The Canucks drafted Neely in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft with the ninth overall pick. The B.C. native played three seasons with his hometown team as he posted 51 goals and 104 points in 201 games. 

Cam Neely
BOSTON, MA – 1990’s: Cam Neely #8 of the Boston Bruins skates after puck in game at the Boston Garden. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Canucks traded Neely and a 1987 first-round pick (Glen Wesley) to the Bruins for Barry Pederson in 1986. The Neely trade is one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history. Pederson played four seasons with the Canucks and posted 60 goals and 197 points in 233 games. 

Neely posted 344 goals and 599 points in 525 games in his 10 years with the Bruins. Neely appeared in four all-star games and won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in the 1993-94 season.

Mark Messier – Inducted in 2007

Messier had a memorable career with Edmonton Oilers and Rangers. He won the Stanley Cup six times, the Hart Memorial Trophy twice and the Ted Lindsay Award twice with those two teams. His jersey has been retired by both franchises, but his relationship with the Canucks is a lot different. He is considered the most hated player by a majority of the fan base.

Mark Messier New York Rangers
Mark Messier, former Canuck, with the Rangers (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)

Before joining the club, Messier captained the Rangers to defeat the Canucks in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, which created somewhat of a dislike for the forward. He signed a three year deal with the Canucks before the 1997-98 season. Messier’s tenure saw the departure of a few fan favorites including, Trevor Linden and general manager Pat Quinn. 

Messier also did not perform as expected, and he posted 52 goals and 162 points in 207 games. He returned to the Rangers after his time with the Canucks. In his first season back with the team, the forward posted 24 goals and 67 points, a higher total than his past three seasons. Canucks’ fans expected Messier to bring the organization a Stanley Cup, as he did with the Oilers and Rangers, but the team failed to make a playoff appearance in those three seasons.

Igor Larionov – Inducted in 2008

The Canucks drafted Igor Larionov with the 214th overall pick in the 11th round of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He did not join the Canucks until the 1989-90 season at 29 years old. He played in three seasons with the club, and he posted 51 goals and 143 points through 210 games. 

The Canucks put him on waivers after his contract came to an end, and the San Jose Sharks claimed the Russian forward. Larionov struggled with the Sharks, and they traded him to the Detroit Red Wings, where he spent eight years.

“I was in San Jose and Scotty called me at seven o’clock in the morning California time to tell me that he traded for me in Detroit. He told me he was going to put me in the middle of Sergei Fedorov and Slava Kozlov with Slava Fetisov and Vladdy (Konstantinov) on the back.”

Larionov said about the trade.

Larionov, along with the Russian Five (made up of him, Fedorov, Fetisov, Kozlov and Konstantinov), helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002. He posted 397 points in 539 games as a Red Wing. 

Pavel Bure – Inducted in 2012

Pavel Bure became the first Canuck to spend a majority of his career with the franchise to be inducted into the HHoF. The Canucks drafted Bure with the 113th overall pick in the sixth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. The sixth-round steal played seven seasons with the organization. 

Bure posted 254 goals and 478 points through 428 games with the Canucks. He is first in short-handed goals with 24, top five in goals and game-winning goals (32), and he is top 10 in points and power-play goals (69) in franchise history. He scored 34 goals in 60 playoff games, which ties him with Linden for the most playoff goals in team history. Bure led the team in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final run with 16 goals and 31 points. 

The Canucks traded Bure to the Florida Panthers midway through the 1998-99 season and received a package highlighted by Ed Jovanovski in return. The Russian forward played his last six seasons in the NHL with the Panthers and the Rangers. Bure officially retired from the NHL in 2005.

The Canucks retired Bure’s No. 10 in 2013, making him the fourth player to have his number retired by the organization. 

Pat Quinn – Inducted in 2016

Quinn is in the HHoF’s builder wing due to his work in different management roles. Quinn joined the Canucks as a general manager and president after the 1987-88 season and started building the team that reached the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.

As general manager, Quinn acquired Kirk McLean and Greg Adams in a trade with the New Jersey Devils for Patrik Sundstrom. He then drafted Linden (1988) and Bure (1989). Quinn was the Canucks’ head coach from the end of the 1990-91 season until the 1994-95 season, and he won the Jack Adams in the 1991-92 season.

Aside from Quinn’s success with the Canucks, he found success throughout his career as a general manager and a head coach. He won the Jack Adams with the Philidelphia Flyers in 1980, and he won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics and the World Junior Championships in 2009. 

More Canucks in the HHoF

Canucks’ fans can look forward to seeing Henrik and Daniel Sedin inducted into the HHoF in a few years. The Sedin twins retired after the 2017-18 season, finishing a 17-year career in which they both hit the 1000-point mark, won the Art Ross Trophy, Henrik won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2010, and Daniel captured the Ted Lindsay in 2011. Their first year of eligibility will be for the 2021 HHoF class. 


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