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Nazzy Speaks! Jersey Retirement Next?

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Good article in the Province this weekend about about Markus Naslund. For the first time since his retirement, Naslund spoke candidly to Province reporter Jim Jamieson about life after hockey. This of course means that the debate of whether or not to hang his #19 from the rafters of GM Place has heated up. When asked about it, Naslund said “It’s very flattering. If you ask any athlete, to have your number retired is one of the most flattering things you can have happen. It would be a great honour”. Typical response from a guy who has been a class act throughout his whole career.

So should Naslund’s number be retired? It will surely serve as great debate for Canucks fans. I think it should (and will), but I don’t think it will be retired this season. The memory and bitterness of Canucks fans is still too great about Naslund’s final 2-3 seasons in Vancouver. People have forgotten about the amazing seasons he had for the franchise. If people can forget that Pavel Bure demanded a trade and sat out most of the 1998-99 season while still under contract and want his number retired, surely a lot of people will want Naslund’s number retired in a couple of years from now.

For those of you against having Naslund’s number retired, consider this: he is the all-time franchise leader in goals and points (while playing fewer games in a more defensive era than Smyl or Linden). At the top of his game, few in the league compared to Naslund. His best two seasons in 2001-02 and 2002-03, he scored 40 and 48 goals, doing so in a very defensive era of the league. In 01-02 and 02-03, only Jarome Iginla (52 goals in 01-02) and Milan Hejduk (50 goals in 02-03) scored 50 goals in a season. When you compare that to Bure’s best two seasons in a Canucks jersey (back to back 60 goal seasons in 92-93 and 93-94), you can see just how impressive Naslund’s achievements were. Bure’s first 60 goal season was a time when Mogilny (76 goals), Selanne (76 goals), Lemieux (69 goals) and Robitaille (63 goals) all scored more than him. Bure lead the league in goals in 1993-94, but not by much. Hull, Fedorov, Andreychuk, Shanahan, Graves, Sheppard, Modano and Neely all scored 50 or more goals (Neely actually scored 50 goals in 49 games that year). My point here is that Naslund’s best years were comparable to that of Bure’s (who would have his jersey retired had he not demanded to leave town), and his all-time numbers eclipse that of Linden’s and Smyl’s (who both have their jerseys retired).

Now I know what all of you are probably saying, “Naslund didn’t have any success in the playoffs.” While it is true that Naslund never reached the 3rd round with the Canucks, his playoffs could hardly be called failures. In his prime (2001-02 to 2003-04), Naslund scored 25 points in 27 playoff games. His best playoff came in 2003-04 when he was playing hurt (courtesy of Steve Moore) and was without Todd Bertuzzi. He got 9 points in 7 games that year, playing with Brendan Morrison and Matt Cooke. The Canucks playoff failures were more due to the team not having any kind of above average goal-tending (Cloutier’s goal from centre ice in 2002, Cloutier’s .868 SV% in 2003, and the Cloutier-Hedberg-Auld combo in 2004). Ask yourself this, would Bure and Linden be looked at the same if Kirk McLean hadn’t made “the save” in 1994 to keep their season alive? Of course not. Naslund never got a chance to do the things that Linden and Bure did in the playoffs because he simply wasn’t given the opportunity. Maybe that’s just bad luck for him, but I think he did enough in the playoffs to warrant his jersey hanging in the rafters.

So should the Canucks retire his jersey? Give your opinion in the comments section.

9 Response to Nazzy Speaks! Jersey Retirement Next?

  1. Manilagold on August 13, 2009

    Naslund does not deserve it, and honoring his Canucks career might only further hex this already hexed organization. n nIMO Jersey retirement is a declaration that there will never be another player like the person being honored. It is a declaration that the player is such a quintessential piece of your team's historical makeup that his name and number should hang forever from the rafters (unless Canucks corporate office decide to re-brand). It is not an award based on statistics, but on how a team wishes to define itself. His last peripheral floating seasons are impossible to ignore, and they shouldn't be ignored. n nYou make a good argument about his playoff statistics and overall scoring prominence, but for me retiring a jersey is about guts, glory and (especially for a captain) leadership. I know that he was the quiet lead by example captain, and I know the impressive west coast express statistics, but I really hope that they do not retire his number as it may further hex this mega hexed (campbell trophy touching x2 / taking down original banners / jeering opposing goalies when they play well / alienating traditional fans / 7th man) team by honoring Markus.

    Reply
  2. Tonyz Tanti on August 14, 2009

    Good take. I think we will forget all about the bad times and only remember the good in about 3 years. We just retired Linden's number, so nobody wants to retire another jersey right now. n nAnd don't even get me started on the #7 seventh man! Brutal!

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  3. J on October 12, 2009

    It's happening sometime in December. My season ticket account manager knida blurted it out..haha….Deserves it thought..GREATEST CANUCKS OF ALL TIME

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  4. J on October 12, 2009

    It’s happening sometime in December. My season ticket account manager knida blurted it out..haha….Deserves it thought..GREATEST CANUCKS OF ALL TIME

    Reply
  5. Tonyz Tanti on October 14, 2009

    Interesting, thanks for the inside scoop. I still think it would be a mistake to do it this soon though. The Nazzy haters are still too prominent in town. They'd be best to wait a year or two. I agree, he definitely deserves it.

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  6. Tonyz Tanti on October 14, 2009

    Interesting, thanks for the inside scoop. I still think it would be a mistake to do it this soon though. The Nazzy haters are still too prominent in town. They’d be best to wait a year or two. I agree, he definitely deserves it.

    Reply
  7. will on November 23, 2009

    YES!

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  8. will on November 23, 2009

    YES!

    Reply
  9. Canucks to Retire Nazzy’s Jersey and Not Everyone Agrees with it | Canuckz.com on July 8, 2010

    [...] on December 11th. And so the debate begins: is he deserving of this honour? This was a debate Canuckz.com brought up at about this time last year, to which I thought he was deserving, but I thought the team ought to wait a few years before [...]

    Reply

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