About

The Vancouver Canucks are a professional ice hockey team based in Vancouver, British Columbia. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Canucks play their home games at Rogers Arena, formerly known as General Motors Place, which has an official capacity of 18,910. Travis Green is the head coach and Jim Benning is the general manager.

Background and establishment

The first professional ice hockey team based in Vancouver were the Vancouver Millionaires, formed by Frank and Lester Patrick. Established in 1911, the Millionaires were one of three teams in the new Pacific Coast Hockey Association. To accommodate the Millionaires, the Patrick brothers directed the building of the Denman Arena, which was known at the time as the world's largest artificial ice rink.[5] The arena was later destroyed in a fire in 1936. The Millionaires played for the Stanley Cup five times, winning over the Ottawa Senators in 1915 on home ice.[6] It marked the first time the Stanley Cup was won by a West Coast team in the trophy's history.[6] Absorbed by the Western Canada Hockey League in 1924, the team continued operations until folding at the end of the 1925–26 WHL season.

From 1926 to 1970, Vancouver was home to only minor league teams. Most notably the present-day Canucks' minor league predecessor (also known as the Vancouver Canucks) played from 1945 to 1970 in the Pacific Coast Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.

NHL application

With the intention of attracting an NHL franchise, Vancouver began the construction of a new modern arena, the Pacific Coliseum, in 1966 (with the arena opening in January 1968).[7] The WHL's Canucks were playing in a small arena at the time, the Vancouver Forum, situated on the same Pacific National Exhibition grounds as the Coliseum. Meanwhile, a Vancouver group led by WHL Canucks owner and former Vancouver mayor Fred Hume made a bid to be one of the six teams due to join the league in 1967, but the NHL rejected their application.[8] Bid leader Cyrus McLean called the denial a "cooked-up deal", referring to several biases that factored against them. Speculation long abounded afterwards that the bid was hindered by Toronto Maple Leafs president Stafford Smythe; after a failed Vancouver-based business deal, he was quoted as saying that the city would not get an NHL franchise in his lifetime.[citation needed] Additionally, along with the Montreal Canadiens, Smythe purportedly did not wish to split Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) hockey revenues three ways rather than two.[9] There were reports at the time, however, that the group had made a very weak proposal in expectation that Vancouver was a lock for one of the new franchises.[citation needed]

Less than a year later, the Oakland Seals were in financial difficulty and having trouble drawing fans. An apparent deal was in place to move the team to Vancouver, but the NHL did not want to see one of their franchises from the expansion of 1967 move so quickly and vetoed the deal. In exchange for avoiding a lawsuit, the NHL promised Vancouver would get a team in the next expansion round. Another group, headed by Minnesota entrepreneur Tom Scallen,[citation needed] made a new presentation and was awarded an expansion franchise for the price of $6 million (three times the cost in 1967).[10] The new ownership group purchased the WHL Canucks, and brought the team into the league with the Buffalo Sabres as expansion teams for the 1970–71 season.

In preparation for joining the NHL, the WHL Canucks had brought in players with prior NHL experience. Six of these players (John Arbour, George Gardner, Len Lunde, Marc Reaume, Ted Taylor and Murray Hall) would remain with the club for its inaugural NHL season. The rest of the roster was built through an expansion draft.

1970–1982: Early years

To fill the Canucks' roster for their inaugural season, the league held an Expansion Draft in the preceding summer. A draft lottery was held on June 9, 1970, determining who between the Canucks and Sabres would get the first selection in the Expansion Draft, as well as the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft; the Sabres won both spins. With his first selection in the Expansion Draft, Canucks General Manager Bud Poile chose defenceman Gary Doak.[11] Among the other players chosen by Vancouver were centre Orland Kurtenbach, who was named the Canucks' first captain,[12] as well as defenceman Pat Quinn, who later became the team's general manager and coach in the 1990s. Two days later, on June 11, 1970, the Canucks made defenceman Dale Tallon their first-ever Amateur Draft selection. Tallon played three seasons with the club before being traded away to the Chicago Black Hawks. By comparison, the Sabres chose centre Gilbert Perreault with the first overall selection they won from the lottery; Perreault went on to become a nine-time All-Star and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.[13]

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