Comparing 1994 + 2011
The Canucks of 2010/11 were the most talented squad that the city of Vancouver and the province of British Columbia has ever seen. However, even though they went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, they were actually only able to rate second place as the team that came nearest to taking that very elusive title.
The Canucks of 1993/94 also went to Game 7, where they came oh so close in a 3-2 loss, which also featured a shot clanging off the Rangers crossbar with moments left in the game.
With expectations so high for the latest incarnation of the Vancouver franchise last year, it would be a safe bet to say that the lingering disappointment of the loss to the Bruins means that the ’94 team holds on as the most cherished to have played in the lower mainland.
But this version of the Canucks may be yet to prove their worth.
Though the ’94 team is remembered very fondly, they were an unexpected surprise as they slalomed their way to the final round.
There was much talent on that team with Kirk McLean, Pavel Bure and the titanic figure of Trevor Linden, among the utility players and regular footmen, but for much of the regular season the Canucks were a middling team that finished barely over .500.
The next season was the abbreviated lockout year of 1994-5, and the Canucks ended with 18 wins, 18 losses, 12 draws and a second round playoff exit. The following season was an under .500 experience with a first round knockout loss, and the team would then go on to miss the playoffs entirely for four more years.
So, what is the future for the current edition in Vancouver?
Will they fade away similarly, or can they come back even stronger?
Let’s take a look at the possibility under various headings.
The most essential element of any team’s success is stability and here the current Canucks have an edge over the ’94 group.
Under Francesco Aquilini, the team has a dedicated local owner whose interest matches the passion of the Arthur Griffiths reign in the 90’s, but whose resources extend beyond those of the kindly former owner.
Aquilini has taken a more business-like approach and has set about building an organization that will be successful over the long term, and he is willing and able to provide funds to cover short-term gains where it fits into the team plan.
The staff and players have been afforded access to the finest in medical support, training facilities and other arrangements such as improved travel infrastructure.
Some critics have voiced concern that the fallout from this is higher ticket prices that are out of reach of many of the team’s supporters.
However, other arrangements have been made to provide access through broadcasts of nearly all the Canucks games, and community participation by the players that involves the public has never been more extensive.
Thanks to the care and treatment fostered by the ownership, Vancouver has now become a destination of choice for many NHL players through word of mouth and reputation, something that was almost unthinkable just a few short years ago. cont…
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