It’s a special night in Vancouver for former team captain Markus Naslund. Naslund will have his number 19 lifted to the rafters at Rogers Arena as the team retires his number in recognition of his outstanding career with the Canucks.
Naslund joined Vancouver during the 1995-1996 season in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canucks traded Alek Stojanov to the Penguins for Naslund straight up. As a Penguin, Naslund was, for lack of a better word, a pedestrian hockey player. In Vancouver, Naslund blossomed into a scoring machine. Seven seasons in a row, Naslund scored 65 or more points from the 98-99 season through 05-06.
In 2002-2003 he won the, now named, Ted Lindsay Award as the MVP of the NHL as voted on by the players. That year he scored 48 goals and had 56 assists for 104 points. Naslund finished his career with three 40+ goal seasons, three other 30+ goal seasons and as a consistent 20+ goal scorer in every other season. Even in his final year with the New York Rangers, Naslund scored 25 goals. We’re pretty sure the Penguins would like a do-over on that trade, but as it is, Naslund’s role in Vancouver is similar to what Sidney Crosby has done in Pittsburgh: He single-handedly reinvigorated a struggling franchise.
Naslund joins former captains Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl (pictured above) as Canucks captains honored with retired numbers. With Naslund now being honored, many Canucks fans are hoping that another franchise legend in Pavel Bure will be honored similarly. As for tonight, Naslund will be remembered well as a captain that did all he could to set the example for his teammates, and for a guy that does that, receiving this honor is truly special.