1970 to 1974 – The Early Years

1970-71

Coach: Hal Laycoe
Captain: Orland Kurtenbach
First Round Draft Pick: Dale Tallon
Leading Scorer: Andre Boudrias
Playoff Result: Missed Playoffs

The Canucks were awarded an expansion franchise to begin in the 1970-71 season, and the city of Vancouver was excited. The first big moment for the franchise would be the 1970 draft, and the Gilbert Perreault sweepstakes. Perreault was the consensus number one pick, and would be chosen by either the Canucks or their expansion cousins, the Buffalo Sabres. First choice was decided by a spinning wheel, in which the Sabres won and chose Perreault. Vancouver had to settle for Dale Tallon. Tallon turned into a capable defenceman, while Perreault went on to a Hall of Fame career.

Hal Laycoe was their coach, Andre Boudrias lead the team in scoring and Orland Kurtenbach was their first captain. Barry Wilkins scored the first goal in franchise history. Other notable players included Pat Quinn, Wayne Maki and Rosaire Paiement. Dunc Wilson, Charlie Hodge and George Gardner split time in net with the rare three man goalie system.

The Canucks finished out of the playoffs, but had a respectable record for an expansion franchise. Though they were behind their expansion cousins in Buffalo, they finished ahead of Detroit and California (which was unfortunate because the following year they drafted Jocelyn Guevremont 3rd overall, Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne were the top two selection).

1971-72

Coach: Hal Laycoe
Captain: Orland Kurtenbach
First Round Draft Pick: Jocelyn Guevremont
Leading Scorer: Andre Boudrias/Orland Kurtenbach
Playoff Result: Missed Playoffs

The Canucks had a disappointing second season in the NHL. The team finished with a worse record than their inaugural season and it cost head coach Hal Laycoe his job.
Dennis Kearns joined the team for his rookie season and would go on to be one of the best defencemen in franchise history. Dunc Wilson emerged as the team’s first number one goalie, ending the bizarre three-man rotation from the year before. Bobby Schmautz played his first season with the team.

1972-73

Coach: Vic Stasiuk
Captain: Orland Kurtenbach
First Round Draft Pick: Don Lever
Leading Scorer: Bobby Schmautz
Playoff Result: Missed Playoffs

The 1972-73 season was also a disappointing one. Vic Stasiuk was the head coach, but only lasted one year behind the bench. The team only managed to earn two more wins than the previous season and once again missed the playoffs.
There were some bright spots however. Don Lever played his first season with the Canucks, he would go on to become one of their most dependable players in the 1970s. Bobby Schmautz emerged as a force to be reckoned with, scoring 38 goals.

1973-74

Coach: Bill McCreary/Phil Maloney
Captain: Orland Kurtenbach
First Round Draft Pick: Dennis Ververgaert, Bob Dailey
Leading Scorer: Andre Boudrias
Playoff Result: Missed Playoffs

Once again, the Canucks failed to make the playoffs for the 1973-73 season. Bill McCreary (not the Bill McCreary you’re thinking of) began the season as the team’s head coach but after going 9-25-7, he was replaced by general manager Phil Maloney for the remainder of the season. Gary ‘Suitcase’ Smith joined the team, playing 66 games. This would prove to be a building block for years to come, giving the Canucks stability in goal. Other notable events included Andre Boudrias putting up a 59 assist season, the acquisition of future captain Chris Oddleifson and Orland Kurtenbach playing his final season.

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