Watching the Canucks skating in their original jerseys Saturday night against the Red Wings made for a sumptious nostalgia dinner.
Like revenge though, nostalgia is best eaten cold because otherwise you get an upset stomach from thinking how great things were ‘back in the day’. In this case, the day (s) were Sept. 1970 and forward when the Canucks last used the ‘unies’, the familiar whites with the blue and green trim and the ‘hockey stick in the rink’ logo that, if you looked closely, is actually shaped as the letter “C”.
No names on the back Saturday, in respect of the 40th anniversary of the team. Older fans could wistfully imagine Kevin Bieksa’s #3 as a slimmer, youthful Pat Quinn (before he became a legendary coach/executive)…Keith Ballard’s #4 was graced by then-veteran Gary Doak, a former Detroit Red Wing.
The Canucks of 1970 were comprised of mostly cast-off NHL veterans like Orland Kurtenbach, who’s #25 was enshrined in the Canuck Ring of Honor last month, Andre Boudrias, Wayne Maki, Bobby Schmautz and a hot-shot rookie named Dale Tallon (now general manager of the Florida Panthers).
The Canucks alas were less than awesome in their debut season going 24-46-8, good for 11th in a 14-team league. To make the nostalgia taste a little bitter, they lost the draft coin toss for 1st pick and Buffalo got Gilbert Perreault, future Hall-of-Famer, and the Canucks were left with the aforementioned Mr. Tallon who has not been named to date (and he himself will be the first to admit, never will).
But things are better today 40 years later, the Canucks are perched atop the NHL Western Conference’s North West Division with a princely 8-3-2 mark while the Buffalo Sabres are languishing in last place of the league’s Eastern Conference’s North East Division with an unstellar 4-9-2 record.
At least, the modern Canucks got to feast on some tasty nostalgia Saturday night when they defeated the Red Wings 6-4. Dessert anyone?