This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
1. Pavel Bure — 836 votes
2. Trevor Linden — 332 votes
3. Markus Naslund — 159 votes
4. Mark Messier — 97 votes
When you think of the Canucks, often times memories go straight to 1994 and their run to the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers. While they lost that series in seven games, one of the most memorable players during their playoff run that season was Pavel Bure.
The “Russian Rocket” led all playoff goal scorers in those playoffs with 16 and had 31 points overall. Had things gone differently in that Game 7 in Madison Square Garden, it’s possible he would’ve won the Conn Smythe Trophy and canonized as the patron saint of Vancouver.
Instead, all he did was score 254 of his 437 career goals for the Canucks in a career marred by injuries. For the NHL, he was the human highlight reel using his blazing speed to get behind defenses and make goaltenders quake as he came roaring in to score. His back-to-back 60-goal seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94 stand out as his best work in Vancouver and reasons why they retired his No. 10 last season and led to his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
While he doesn’t have the all-time standing in goals or points the way Naslund and Linden do, Bure’s breathtaking play helped make him the fans’ choice as the greatest player in franchise history.
By the way, congrats to the fans who attempted to swing the vote for Messier. You cracked the leader board.
It might be the league’s worst kept secret, but it appears John Tortorella is set to become the next head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Hotstove last night that Tortorella would be announced sometime this week he’ll be the new Canucks coach.
Friedman also said the Canucks and GM Mike Gillis have done their due diligence in making sure he’s the right fit.
Assistant GM Laurence Gilman, who worked with Tortorella in Phoenix, was consulted as were former Rangers players Markus Naslund and Chris Higgins. The Canucks’ window for winning a Stanley Cup with this lineup is closing soon and, as Friedman notes, the feeling is that Tortorella will be the guy that will help make Vancouver’s dreams come true rather than someone like L.A. Kings assistant John Stevens.
Related: Report: Canucks offer head-coaching job to Tortorella
Canucks GM says Tortorella is a ‘very strong candidate’
Tortorella arrives in Vancouver, gets swamped by eager media
The Swedish Elite League team MODO continues to stockpile recently (or semi-recently) retired NHL players. TSN reports that Ulf Samuelsson will leave his post as one of the Phoenix Coyotes’ assistant coaches to be the head coach for MODO.
Samuelsson joins assistant general manager Peter Forsberg and general manager Markus Naslund as noteworthy former-NHLers who will run the Swedish professional hockey team.
Samuelsson was an assistant coach with the Coyotes since 2006, including two successful seasons alongside head coach Dave Tippett. Many people give Samuelsson a lot of credit for the impressive development of defenseman Keith Yandle, a player quietly rising to elite status.
Many will also remember Samuelsson as a player whose controversial knee-to-knee hit helped cut short the career of Boston Bruins power forward Cam Neely. He delivered that hit as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Samuelsson also played for the Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers during his 17-year NHL career.
A lot of people get up in arms about great players hanging on well past their primes – and let’s face it, Johnny Unitas never should have been a San Diego Chargers QB – but ultimately it’s their call. After all, your time on the ice or field is harshly limited compared to other professions; why leave with the nagging feeling you had something left?
Peter Forsberg can safely say that he gave it his best shot in an inevitably failed two-game comeback with the Colorado Avalanche this season. Even in an era where the Teemu Selannes and Nicklas Lidstroms of the world remain high-end players past 40, it was obvious that Forsberg should hang ’em up for good at 37.
It’s not too surprising that Forsberg decided to stay involved with the game he loves, though. NHL.com reports that Foppa will join his Swedish Elite League team MODO’s front office, with his official title being assistant GM. You could put 2/3 of one of the best possible lines of the ’90s together with Forsberg and head GM Markus Naslund, by the way.
Here’s what Forsberg said about the first job of his post-playing days.
“When I thought about my future, it was obvious that I somehow want to help MODO,” Forsberg said, according wire reports. “This role seems perfect. It will be fun to work with Mark and the rest of the team building the future MODO.”
Before debuting with the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, Forsberg spent part of six seasons playing for MODO. He returned to the team during the NHL’s work stoppage in 2004-05 and played 26 games over two seasons with the club from 2008-2010. In 708 games with the Quebec/Colorado franchise, Philadelphia and Nashville Forsberg tallied 249 goals and 636 assists while compiling an impressive plus-238.
Forsberg will cover scouting and marketing-related duties as MODO’s assistant GM.
As the hockey world debates the suspension-worthiness of Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty and hopes the best for the forward’s health, March 8th also marks the seventh anniversary of one of the worst incidents in the history of the sport.
In an attempt to gain revenge for Steve Moore’s concussion-inducing (but legal) hit on Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi attacked Moore from behind during a Vancouver Canucks-Colorado Avalanche game. It was probably not Bertuzzi’s intention to drive Moore’s head to the ice during that exchange, but that’s what happened in a horrible moment that was replayed over and over again on 24-hour news networks.
Over the last seven years, the incident has gone from the front of the sports page to an ugly moment many have forgotten.
Bertuzzi is currently playing fairly well (although he lacks the edge that made him a star power forward) while coach Marc Crawford is now behind the Dallas Stars’ bench, yet Moore still feels the effects of that hit.
Not only will he never play in the NHL again, but Dominic Moore’s brother remains hindered thanks to the concussion he suffered as a result from the impact. Here’s more information via Moore’s lawyer, from the Globe & Mail.
“We have the top neurosurgeons in the world on this case and we have reached the point where we can say Steve’s brain injury is permanent,” Timothy Danson said Monday. “Unfortunately for Steve Moore, he’s not only dealing with the loss of his NHL career, he has to deal with the serious damage to his post-NHL career as a result of the brain injury.”
In the seven years since the Bertuzzi-Moore incident: Bertuzzi was criminally charged, pled guilty to assault and received a conditional discharge; Moore and his parents filed a multi-million-dollar suit; Bertuzzi and the Canucks have filed counter-claims as have Bertuzzi and Crawford, the Canucks’ former coach. Bertuzzi is claiming he was following Crawford’s orders to make Moore “pay the price” for the hit on Naslund while Crawford has said Bertuzzi acted in “direct disobedience” for not coming off the ice before the attack occurred.
Danson said the legal entanglement has been a double-edged sword.
“While the delay has been very frustrating, it has also been helpful in this sense: you need the passage of time to fully understand the complete implications of the brain injury,” he said of Moore’s situation. “If you go to court a couple of years post-injury, it could be argued that it’s premature and that we need more time to have the rehabilitation process run its course.”
Hearing that Moore’s career is over is tough, but the fact that his day-to-day life is still impacted by the concussion really makes it that much more difficult to stomach. We’ll let you know if details regarding the civil suit surface.