Canucks: Presenting the all-time lineup from smaller hockey nations

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SAN JOSE, CA – SEPTEMBER 27: Borna Rendulic #64 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck against Dylan DeMelo #74 of the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on September 27, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

Left Wing:  Borna Rendulic – Croatia

Borna Rendulic spent the briefest amount of time in Vancouver — one game. The Zagreb, Croatia native appeared briefly for the Canucks in 2016, the same season that he spent 69 games with the Utica Comets, where he scored 23 points.

The 6-foot-2 winger has become known for using his physical presence to drive to the net but wasn’t been able to find regular NHL job after 11 games in Colorado. His presence in international play overshadows most on the list, as Rendulic has captained the Croatian senior team numerous times. Through 50 games in 2019-20, Renduilc scored 49 points with Germany’s historic Adler Mannheim.

Centre: Ivan Boldirev – Yugoslavia (Serbia)

Yugoslavia’s (now Serbia) Ivan Boldirev is by far the most successful player on this list, and therefore he is centering the offensive line ahead of the aforementioned Park, who has slotted in on defence.

The veteran of over 1,000 NHL games played four seasons with the Canucks (184 points in 216 games), leaving the team in 1983, a year after helping the Canucks to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance. Although he didn’t win a championship in Vancouver, Boldirev did win a title with the 1972 Boston Bruins, despite spending most of that season with the now-defunct California Golden Seals. Boldirev, now 70 years old, retired in 1985 after three years with the Detroit Red Wings.

Right Wing: Ed Hatoum – Lebanon

Ed Hatoum played for multiple premier-level hockey teams in Vancouver, the NHL’s Canucks and the WHA’s Blazers. Born in Beruit, Lebanon, Hatoum was never expected to make a professional hockey career, but when he did, he became the first player from Lebanon to do so. He scored a mere single goal during his 26 games as a Canuck in 1970-71, but potted 15 points through 37 games with the Blazers in the twilight of his career. He never played international hockey, as Lebanon did not have a national federation during his playing days, but his career was groundbreaking for the Lebanese hockey community.

Extra Skater: Claude Vilgrain

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Claude Vilgrain didn’t have an astounding career with the Canucks, however, his journey through hockey was forged through a unique path. To this day, Vilgrain is one of the few players to jump from Canadian university hockey right to the NHL.

The Haitian Canadian spent three years playing for U SPORTS’ University of Moncton, before being named to Team Canada. He joined the Canucks and played six games in 1987-88, before moving on to become an AHL and European hockey journeyman.

While his NHL career may not have flourished, Vilgrain continues to be tied to university sports. His daughter, Cassandra played two seasons for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. The story of Vilgraine and his family is exceptional on many levels, not only managing a career from Haiti but making the top-level through U SPORTS hockey.

Next: Canucks Draft Picks in U SPORTS

That concludes the all-time Vancouver startling lineup from smaller hockey nations. The fact that the Canucks have attracted so many worldwide talents is impressive, considering the competition with other major cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

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