Canucks to celebrate 40th anniversary by retiring Markus Naslund's number, debate ensues

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naslund-ap-392-070217.jpgThis upcoming season is a landmark season for the Vancouver Canucks. It marks their 40th anniversary as an NHL franchise and it’s one with a solid, hockey history. While the Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup, their fans are very proud of the team and are more than happy to tell you all about it. As part of their festivities to help celebrate the team’s 40 years in Vancouver, they’ll be honoring one their more recent superstars in Markus Naslund.

The Vancouver Canucks will retire longtime captain Markus Naslund’s #19 to the rafters at Rogers Arena on Saturday, December 11th when the Canucks host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Naslund retired from the NHL following the 2008.09 season as the Canucks all-time leader in points with 756. Naslund played 12 of his 15 NHL seasons in a Canucks uniform and was the captain between 2000.01 and 2007.08. In a Canucks uniform, Naslund led the team in scoring for a club record seven seasons, scored 30 or more goals six different times and enjoyed three consecutive seasons with 40 or more goals.

Those are some dynamic offensive numbers that Naslund put up while wearing the crashing orca in Vancouver. You can’t help but wonder though that perhaps another legendary offensive superstar Canuck from the past might have been a better choice as far as retiring a number goes. A guy who played seven seasons in Vancouver, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994 and scoring 254 goals and 478 points winning the Calder Trophy along the way.

I’m speaking of course about Pavel Bure. This isn’t to denigrate the Canucks choice of Naslund as his Canucks career speaks for itself and the fans are more than happy to celebrate his great career in Vancouver. To the outside observer though it seems like a strange choice and, yeah, I’m an outside observer. It’s easier for me to identify the legacy of the Canucks of the more modern era with Pavel Bure.

Markus Naslund you may or may not recall as being part of being one of the more lopsided trades of all-time as the Canucks acquired him from Pittsburgh for Alex Stojanov. Bure, meanwhile, left Vancouver on pretty bad terms, tearing the organization a new one after being traded to the Florida Panthers, something which still probably lingers in the mind of those in charge of the team.

Then again, it’s possible that Bure could be one of the Ring of Honor nominees the Canucks will pay homage to throughout the year (former coach Orland Kurtenbach will be the first) and this argument is left moot…For the most part.

The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie

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Players of the night: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues / Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.

Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.

Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.

Highlight of the night:

Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

MISC:

Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.

Patrick Marleau became the 18th NHL player to reach the 1,500-game mark.

Jake Allen kept his shutout bid alive with this great stick save on Patrick Kane late:

-The Kings are off their best start in franchise history at 5-0-1. They’ve allowed only 10 goals against through six games.

Jeff Carter left the game in the first period and did not return after tangling with Jeff Petry. Afterward, Kings head coach John Stevens said the forward will miss some time.

-Finally, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away from cancer at age 53 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs paid tribute before their game against the Red Wings.

Factoid of the night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 3

Blues 5, Blackhawks 2

Kings 5, Canadiens 1

Cammalleri, Kempe power Kings over Canadiens

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Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.

Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.

Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).

LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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