Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vancouver Canucks Should Honor Näslund

Arriving from Pittsburgh on March 26, 1996 in a lopsided exchange for Alex Stojanov, the 16th overall pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft worked his way out of Mike Keenan's doghouse to eventually captain the Canucks for 7 of his 12 seasons with the club.

Anchoring the most productive line in franchise history (West Coast Express), the Pearson winner (2003) and Hart finalist (2003) still holds club records for points (756), goals (346), and hat tricks (10), skating in more games (894) than all but two (Trevor Linden 1138, Stan Smyl 896).

His last home game came on April 5, 2008, a humbling 7-1 loss to the Calgary Flames, with all eyes set on soon-to-be retired Trevor Linden. Free agency saw the Canucks' second-longest serving captain go to the New York Rangers that summer with the NHL's flawed regular season schedule ensuring he would never return before retiring on May 4, 2009.

With no plans for a Markus Näslund farewell during tonight's tilt with Detroit, the Canucks ought to plan a proper goodbye for their next visit on March 20, 2010. The Red Wings' blend of former teammates (Todd Bertuzzi, Brad May) and fellow countrymen (Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Lidström, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Holmström) offers the perfect complement for an eve of reflection on his illustrious career.

Celebrating the contributions of former players, let alone accomplished captains and club record holders, is crucial to creating a culture of family amongst the fans and franchise. Markus has earned this honor and the hometown faithful are owed it. Make it happen.

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