Often we dream about the player that was traded away and turned out to be a star or the missed opportunity to draft a player who ends up being an elite sniper in the league; well what if all those decisions didn’t happen? This is the story of the Canucks team that never was.
Its summer 1986 in Vancouver, first round pick of the Canucks, Cam Neely is traded to the Boston Bruins for star forward Barry Pederson. The Nucks needed scoring and didn’t want to wait it out to see if Neely would become a star one day. At the time, not a fleecing at all, down the road….uh ya. But read on, its gets better.
The Neely trade is regarded as either the worst trade in NHL history or in the top two (Naslund for Stoynov folks!) The Canucks weren’t exactly making waves at the time and needed a boost. Well, what if they hung onto Neely and rode it out? Most likely he would have continued to develop under star and captain Stan Smyl and Vancouver still ended up with the 2nd overall pick in the 1988 draft. They would draft Trevor Linden.
So now you would have Smyl, Neely, Linden, Adams, Snepts (HARRRRRR-OLLLLLLD) and up and coming goalie Kirk McLean. Things would have picked up from there and who knows maybe the Canucks beat the Flames in 1989…..no cup for you Calgary! That alone feels good for most of us. Things are looking up right? So we beat Calgary, they don’t win the cup and now we go into the draft. I believe GM Pat Quinn still takes Pavel Bure that year late in the draft.
By 1991 when Bure made his debut, the Canucks would have quite the roster assembled and all because they waited and developed their own talent. Coach Pat Quinn would have one of the top arsenals in the NHL and a player like Neely who would become the NHL’s first power forward. Realistically, the Canucks may have had an opportunity at a Cup earlier than 1994, as early as 92. Although, the Oilers had just come off their run of Cups and the Penguins were the new breed of awesome with Lemieux and Jagr.
In 1991, the Canucks would have been harboring: Trevor Linden, Cam Neely and Pavel Bure. Greg Adams, Cliff Ronning and Geoff Courtnall. Rounding out the bottom would have seen Sergio Momesso, Jim Sandlak and Garry Valk. The defense would have been Jyrki Lumme, Gerald Diduck, Dave Babych and Jim Agnew. Oh, forgot to mention Igor Larionov would have been there still. Kirk Mclean would be our star goalie. A pretty solid group on paper and most likely would have done quite well in the Smythe division.
So what does all this mean? Am I saying this would have fixed all the Canucks problems to this date? Maybe. Would the Canucks have a unforgiving, lynch mob type fan base now? Probably not. Would Dave Nonis still have a love for Orange Julius hot dogs, most defintely!
This just shows had they hung on a biiiiiiit longer, the Canucks may have become an organization that would have been a chore to play every year, you would have never wanted them to draft anyone because they would turn them into stars and the organization most likely wouldn’t have taken their fan base for granted for so many years…they wouldn’t have had to.
The story gets better though. Ok, Canucks are stacked, looking good, everyone in the league is taking notice as are the fans around Canada. Pattie Mallette decides to move cross country to the west coast to start a new life after a troubled youth, she never rekindles her relationship with Jeremy Bieber and thus, the world never experiences Bieber Fever.
I know I like that story a whole lot better now. And one final head scratcher: IF, Cam Neely never leaves Vancouver and at the very least plays for the Canucks until at least the last few years of his career, does he ever play Seabass in the movie Dumb and Dumber? Probably not. The movie is based in Rhode Island, which is south of Boston where he would have never played. Would Dumb and Dumber have been the same movie? We’ll never know!
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