We take a trip down memory lane by examining the best Vancouver Canucks player to wear each jersey number.
In the sporting world, you see numbers everywhere: On the scoreboard, the standings, the contract and of course on the back of a jersey. Throughout their 50-year history, the Vancouver Canucks have had many great players proudly wear their uniforms.
Many of these players have made their own jersey numbers iconic in Vancouver.
Two things have inspired me to write this article. The first was the sweater numbers section on Hockey-Reference.com, which I stumbled upon. It lists every player who has worn each jersey number for the Canucks. That will be the template for this article.
The second is a book called By the Numbers: From 00 to 99 , written by Sportsnet Executive Producer of Hockey, Scott Morrison. I found it while doing some cleaning a few weeks ago. This 2007 book, ranked the top NHL players for each number, and it profiled the number one ranked player.
I decided to take a look at all the numbers worn by the Canucks over the years and pick the best player that wore each of them.
Some of these decisions were tough since multiple standout players wore the same number. Others were easy decision because either a) the number was retired or b) only one player has worn it today.
Several selections are going to be lead to some debate, so feel free to let me know which ones you disagree with.
1. Roberto Luongo, 2006-2014
Some will say Kirk McLean deserves this spot, and it’s understandable. However, Roberto Luongo takes the cake here because I think he is the greatest goaltender in Canucks history. He’s the owner of the franchise records in both wins and shutouts.
Say what you want about the way his time ended in Vancouver, and the cap recapture penalty ( which really doesn’t help the cap situation.) but Luongo was an elite goalie with the Canucks, and he was an instrumental part of their success in the early 2010s. If you haven’t already, follow Luongo on Twitter (@Strombone1) because his Twitter game is also elite.
2. Mattias Ohlund, 1997-2009
Mattias Ohlund is arguably the greatest defenceman in franchise history. He displayed a big shot from the blueline, excellent skating ability and often delivered big hits. He was the franchise leader in points for a defenceman in points until Alexander Edler surpassed him 2018. Ohlund was a leader and a warrior on the ice despite suffering numerous injuries throughout his career.
3. Doug Lidster, 1985-1993
Doug Lidster was also a solid offensive-defenceman for the Canucks and simply one of the best blue liners the franchise ever had.
He ranks fourth in points for a defenceman and his 63 points in the 1986-87 season is still the most points in the regular season by a Canucks defenceman to date. Lidster was traded to the New York Rangers in 1993 for John Vanbiesbrouck, (Why? To protect McLean.) who was exposed in the expansion draft. Lidster won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers against his old team the following year. That stung the Canucks for a long time. Maybe there is a fan with a Vanbiesbrouck Canucks jersey somewhere, you never know.
4. Rick Lanz, 1981-1987
Lanz was another good offensive-defenceman the Canucks had in the 1980s. His time in Vancouver included a 57-point season in in 1983-84 and and a 53-point season in 1985-86. Lanz was one of the few standout players on some bad Canucks teams in the ’80s.
5. Christian Ehrhoff, 2009-2011
Continuing with the theme of offensive defencemen, we go to one whom I believe is one of the most underrated defencemen in Canucks history.
It was only two seasons, but Christian Ehrhoff was a warrior for the Canucks as he put up 44 and 50 points in 2009-10 and 2010-11, respectively, while also being fairly solid defensively. He won the Babe Pratt Trophy as the team’s best defenceman both years, too.
6. Dennis Kearns, 1972-1981
Dennis Kearns was arguably the Canucks’ first offensively gifted defenceman they ever had. Despite being only 5-foot-8, Kearns was known for his skills on the power play and offensive playmaking. He was described as the “Denis Potvin of the West” by The Hockey News. Kearns ranks eighth on all-time in assists by a Canuck (290).
7. Cliff Ronning, 1991-1996
This was tough in deciding between Cliff Ronning and Brendan Morrison, but the former won out. Ronning was a force in the playoffs; his 58 postseason points are the sixth-most in franchise history . The Burnaby born centre played six seasons with the Canucks and had at least 20 goals and 60 assists in four of them.
8. Greg Adams, 1987-1995
Another B.C. Native, (born in Nelson), Adams is best known for scoring the winning goal in Game 5 of the 1994 Western Conference Final against the Toronto Maple Leafs,which sent the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time. This was one of the most memorable calls of Jim Robson’s career, too.
Adams was a reliable power forward for Vancouver. Adams hit the 30-goal mark for the Canucks in 1987-88, 1989-90 and 1991-92.
9. Don Lever, 1974-1980
Don Lever was known for his hard work and two way skills. He ranks 10th all time among Canucks in points with 407. His best season in Vancouver was the 1974-75 campaign, where he scored 38 goals and 68 points. His efforts led the Canucks to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, where they lost in five games to the mighty Montreal Canadiens in the first round. It is still weird that the Canucks played their first few seasons in the Eastern Conference.
10. Pavel Bure, 1991-1998
Pavel Bure also was called “The Russian Rocket” for a reason. He was fast, electrifying, explosive and scored aplenty. He was the first Canuck to win the Calder Trophy (1991-92) and the only one to score 60 goals in a season (he did it in 1992-93 and 1993-94). His jersey number was retired on Nov. 2, 2013 before a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bure is easily the best to wear 10, what more is there to say?