Vancouver Canucks: Where is Marek Malik now?

ST. LOUIS - APRIL 14: Marek Malik #8 of the Vancouver Canucks takes the puck as Doug Weight #38 of the St. Louis Blues defends during their NHL playoff game on April 14, 2003 at the Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues won 3-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI)
ST. LOUIS - APRIL 14: Marek Malik #8 of the Vancouver Canucks takes the puck as Doug Weight #38 of the St. Louis Blues defends during their NHL playoff game on April 14, 2003 at the Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues won 3-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI) /

In the first installment of this new feature we looked at the life and times of one-time Canucks speedster, Mason Raymond. Today, we look back at another former Vancouver Canuck, the Czech defenseman Marek Malik.

The one abiding image conjured by the name Marek Malik is of one of the modern NHL’s most iconic moments. Just two months into the new shootout era, Malik conjured a moment of sheer beauty that many more skilled players have struggled to replicate – or have the brass to emulate – since. But there was so much more to this gentle giant. He played in a Stanley Cup final. He won the league’s Plus/Minus award. He also won an Oympic bronze medal. So let’s take a look at the one-time Vancovuer Canucks fan-favorite, Marek Malik.

His time with the Canucks

Marek Malik came to the Canucks from the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was coming off a run to the 2002 Stanley Cup Final and a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Yzerman / Fedorov / Shanahan / Hull / Larionov / Chelios / Lidstrom / Hasek version of the Detroit Red Wings.He played 23 games in that run, with his best game the 3-2 triple OT loss where he logged more than 31 minutes.

The Canucks sent Jan Hlavac and Harold Druken to Carolina, with Darren Langdon also coming with Malik. Druken had been the Canucks’ 37th-overall pick in the 1997 Entry Draft and had been a promising young center until an ankle injury appeared to limit his effectiveness. He played just 28 more NHL games. Hlavac went on to have only moderate success with the Hurricanes, Rangers, Lightning and Predators before he too left the league. So with neither player departing achieving success, what did the Canucks acquire?

Malik played just two seasons with the Canucks, but they were two very exciting years. This was the West Coast Express years, where Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison feasted on lesser teams and vied for the league scoring titles. Malik made the playoffs in each of his two seasons with the team, but couldn’t make the Western Finals in either year due to sub-par goaltending and that much-vaunted West Coast Express line being outscored at 5v5. Malik had a team-worst -6 in the second round exit in 2003.

More from The Canuck Way

In his final year Malik finished the regular season with a +35 rating, tying for the league lead with Martin St Louis and giving him joint custody of the NHL Plus/Minus Award. Plenty of Hall of Famers won that award before its 2007 discontinuation: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Thomas Vanek were all recipients during its lifetime. While it’s right that the award was scrapped, it’s still nice to see a Canucks player in the NHL Awards history book.

Malik’s most consistent partner on the blueline was Brent Sopel, although the Canucks liked to change the pairings more frequently than they did under Willie D. Ed Jovanovski played with Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo and Sopel to varying degrees. It may well be that the changes in pairings contributed to Malik’s solid, but ultimately unspectacular, statistics while a Canuck – he never seemed overly comfortable on the ice, and never used his 6ft 4in frame to its best effect. He played solid hockey, made relatively few mistakes, but never took risks either.

Canucks stats: 147 GP, 10 G (inc 2 GWGs), 27 A, 37 points, +58 rating

Best highlight: A shot through traffic in Game 3 of Round 1 of the 2003 playoffs against the St Louis Blues, giving the Canucks their only goal in a 3-1 loss. The team came from 3-1 down in the series to advance 4-3 before squandering a 3-1 series lead to lose to the Minnesota Wild in 7 games.

What happened next?

After the 2004/05 lockout, Malik signed a three-year deal with the New York Rangers, adding a further year in Tampa before leaving the NHL for good in 2009.

Of course, Malik’s most famous career highlight was the infamous between-the-legs shootout goal he scored for the Rangers in November 2005. With the shootout between the Rangers and Caps entering the 15th round, a very young Henrik Lundqvist stopped the Caps’ Matt Bradley, setting up a grandstand finish: Malik striding purposefully towards Olaf Kolzig, then shifting the puck behind him to score what remains one of the league’s best shootout goals (if not the best), more than thirteen years since the NHL introduced shootouts.

Malik ended his NHL career with 168 points in 691 career games, retiring in 2014. He was a solid, dependable defenseman who was more of a gentle giant than a bone-crunching hit machine.

One thing to look out for his son Nick is eligible for selection in the 2020 Entry Draft:

Malik has been a coach at Frydek-Mistek for the last few years, making the transition from player to coach in time to coach his son:

Next. The balancing act of prospect development. dark

Questions for TCWers:

Where would Marek Malik fit on the current Canucks’ blueline – would he make Ben Hutton or Derrick Pouliot expendable?