(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)
Written by Free The Skate
Most Disappointing Team: 1998-1999 Vancouver Canucks
I chose the '98-'99 team due to lowest number of points of the three, but the most disappointing team really spanned three seasons, from '97-'98 through '99-'00. These are considered the dark ages of Vancouver Canucks history, with the devil himself captaining the team to their worst stretch of seasons that I was alive to witness. (More on him later.)
The 1998-99 season was their first season in the newly minted Northwest Division. They fell flat on their faces, finishing dead last in division, and the Western Conference. They totaled 23 wins, and a miserable 58 points. This was the lowest non lockout season point total since they had 57 in '77-'78.
Markus Naslund led the team in scoring with a whopping 66 points, followed by the aforementioned captain scoring 48 points. The goalie tandem of Garth Snow and Corey Hirsch could not hold the fort. They tried everything, including using the largest shoulder pads in goaltending history, but to no avail.
Two memorable highlights of this season:
- Watching Donald Brasher punch faces, amassing 209 penalty minutes (most on the team) along with a minus-25 (worst on the team)
- Acquiring Harry York on waivers from the penguins. Harry would later become Vancouver’s most famous inductee to the NHL’s “all-ugly” team, where he played on a fantastic line with Mike Ricci and Rod Brind’Amour.
Most Disappointing Canuck: Ryan Kesler
Maybe I'm going with Kesler because this is still so fresh in my memory.
I almost hate to do it, since he did have a few great seasons with the Canucks, including 41 regular season goals in 2011. The Canucks always treated him well; they matched an offer sheet to retain him before the '06 season, and then signed him to a 3-year contract at $1.75-million per, followed by a 5-year deal at $5-million per.
Kesler then proceeded to get injured regularly, turn into a notorious diver, there was rumors of him "spending time" with other players wives or girlfriends, and he turned into a me-first guy.
As soon as the team struggles for a year, poor little Kesler wants to go to a contender, so we trade him to Anaheim.
See-ya Ryan. No one will miss your whining and I hope the Ducks suck next year.
P.S. This category really should go to Messier, but he can't have everything....
Most Disappointing Moment in Canucks History: Lafayette hits the post
This one is a gimme, Nathan Lafayette. The poor man is mainly remembered for one single shift in his NHL career.
There is a just under six minutes remaining in the 7th game of the '94 Stanley Cup Finals, Rangers ahead 3-2. Geoff Courtnall retrieves his own rebound from the corner and sends a great pass to a wide open Nathan Lafayette in front of the net... who one-times it past the outstretched glove of Mike Richter ...
... and hits the post….
The Rangers went on to win the game 3-2 of course and won the Cup, and the Canucks magical playoff run was over.
The 2011 Cup run was great and all, but the 94 run was easily the greatest time to be a Canuck fan. A seventh seed in the west, not expected to make any noise in the playoffs, and they make it to Game 7 of the finals and fall just short.
At the time, I was a friendly, respectful, well behaved 9 year old boy, playing with Pogs, and not having a care in the world. After this game, all I wanted was to tear Nathan Lafayette apart with my bare hands. I know it isn’t fair to him, since he actually made a great play to get the shot off quick, beat Richter clean, but my anger and disappointed needed an outlet, so he took the brunt of the blame.
Sorry Nathan, I’m sure you’re a great guy and all, but the sound of your name still makes me feel ill.
(Just to keep with the theme here, take a second to recall who the Rangers captain was at the time….)
Most Disappointing Canucks Transaction: Signing Mark Messier
Summer of 1997.
The Canucks are fresh of a couple of disappointing seasons following the '94 run. Management is looking for a way to spark interest in the team. We need to bring in a big name player! Mark Messier was the perfect fit! A natural leader, with lots of experience, 5 cup rings, a good scoring touch.
They could not have been any more wrong….
Things started off terribly. Messier waltzed into town and took the captaincy from our beloved Trevor Linden. Next he decided that he was going to keep wearing the #11, which was unofficially retired to honor the late Wayne Maki.
So Messier and his stupid ugly helmet skated out with the rest of the team to start the season. It didn’t take long to realize that he wasn’t actually that good, and as a first line center, playing with great goal scorers like Bure and Mogilny, he managed to put up point totals of only 60, 48 and 54, all while going a combined minus-37 over 3 seasons. His contract was bought out after 3 years, and no one was sad to see him leave.
But wait, we’re not done yet.
There was a clause in Messier’s contract that stated he was to be additionally reimbursed based on any added value to the franchise during his time with the team. In 2012, an arbitrator awarded Messier another $6-million. This after the Canucks bought out the final 2 years of his contract, and saw attendance and popularity decrease during his tenure here.
Hey Messier, go [expletive] yourself!
Most Disappointing Canucks Coach/Executive: Mike Keenan
Iron Mike. Justseven games into the '98-'99 season, Tom Renney was relieved of his coaching duties, and a guy with a hard-ass reputation was brought in to save the day. Enter John Tortorella…
Oh wait, I’m getting my decades mixed up, but that is an interestingly similar scenario with a similar outcome….
Enter Mike Keenan. Keenan (good old buddies with Messier of course), immediately clashed with a number of the Canucks players, and suddenly Pat Quinn was fired as well and Keenan was given full trading power. In short order he traded away fan favorites Kirk Maclean, Trevor Linden, Martin Gelinas and Gino Odjick. Then Pavel Bure was traded, and the Canucks as we knew them were no more…..
Thankfully Keenan’s coaching and managing career in Vancouver was short lived, and after the '98-'99 season, he was fired with a record of 36-54-18, and the painful rebuilding process was underway.
Most Disappointing Canucks Fashion Choice: 1995-97 salmon third jerseys
No lack of options here…..I’m sure there are a lot of people out there thinking “Really, you’re choosing those as the worst over the flying V jersey, and over the skate logo jerseys? You’re crazy!”
The flying V jerseys were weird, I admit, but they were our weird. They are unique, simple and for some reason, you can’t take your eyes off of them. I actually happen to love the skate jerseys (from 89-97, not the yellow ones). I think they should bring these back full time, or at least as a third jersey.
The black with the yellow and red trim are fantastic colors, and I think are much better than the current jerseys (#freetheskate).
They incorporate a small flying V just below the logo, that kind of dies in the armpit, but then continues again on the right sleeve. The background color is some shade of salmon gradually turning to black from the top of the jersey down. The skate logo is great on the other jerseys, because of the stark contrast to the black or white, but totally doesn't work with this color scheme.
Then they went with completely black socks and black pants, to finish the debacle off, which I am assuming was an attempt to emulate the cooperalls of old?
(To my knowledge it’s never been done since, and for good reason).
At least we got to witness some heroics from the likes of Lonny Bohonos, Lief Rohlin, Troy Crowder and Mark Wotton in these beauties… oh, and Mark Messier.
• • •
Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York Rangers • Calgary Flames • St. Louis Blues • New York Islanders • Dallas Stars • Boston Bruins • Colorado Avalanche • Washington Capitals • Ottawa Senators • Arizona Coyotes • Minnesota Wild • Edmonton Oilers • San Jose Sharks • Winnipeg Jets • New Jersey Devils • Los Angeles Kings • Florida Panthers • Carolina Hurricanes • Buffalo Sabres • Montreal Canadiens • Tampa Bay Lightning • Chicago Blackhawks • Columbus Blue Jackets • Nashville Predators • Detroit Red Wings • Anaheim Ducks • Philadelphia Flyers • Pittsburgh Penguins • Toronto Maple Leafs