1987 to 1997 – The Pat Quinn Era

1987-88

Coach: Bob McCammon
Captain: Stan Smyl
First Round Draft Pick: no pick (traded with Cam Neely for Barry Pederson)
Leading Scorer: Tony Tanti
Playoff Result: Missed Playoffs

Pat Quinn was hired on as president and general manager before the 1987-88 season and he wasted no time in shaping the team. In one of the best trades in team history, Quinn traded Patrik Sundstrom to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Kirk McLean and Greg Adams. McLean took over as the team’s new number one goalie and Richard Brodeur was traded to the Hartford Whalers. Bob McCammon was hired as the new head coach. Unfortunately a lot more changes were needed, as the Canucks were still a terrible team and missed the playoffs by 9 points.

1988-89

Coach: Bob McCammon
Captain: Stan Smyl
First Round Draft Pick: Trevor Linden
Leading Scorer: Petri Skriko
Playoff Result: Lost in 1st Round

The Canucks had the second overall pick in the 1988 draft and used it to pick Trevor Linden. Linden went on to have a great rookie season, finishing second in rookie of the year voting. Linden also finished second in team scoring. The team was also led by the likes of Petri Skriko, Tony Tanti, Brian Bradley, Barry Pederson and Greg Adams. Paul Reinhart was acquired in the offseason from the Calgary Flames, giving the team its best offensive defenceman. Reinhart was an excellent power play quarterback and finished the year with 57 points in 64 games. Kirk McLean emerged as a solid number one goalie. The Canucks made the playoffs (winning the turtle derby with the Winnipeg Jets) and almost beat the eventual Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames despite finishing 43 points behind them. The Flames needed overtime in game 7 of the first round to get past the underdog Canucks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpT8wjJUe6U

1989-90

Coach: Bob McCammon
Captain: Stan Smyl
First Round Draft Pick: Jason Herter
Leading Scorer: Paul Reinhart
Playoff Result: Missed Playoffs

Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov joined the Canucks after legendary international careers in the Soviet Union. Both players were underwhelming in their first year in North America though, and Krutov was downright terrible.

The Canucks had a very disappointing season in 1989-90. They finished with 10 points fewer than the year before, and that spelled big changes for the team. Tony Tanti, Rich Sutter, Barry Pederson and Harold Snepsts were all traded during the season. Jyrki Lumme and Dan Quinn were acquired by Pat Quinn in trades. At this point, Stan Smyl was merely a role player. Paul Reinhart was one of the brightest spots, leading the team in scoring as a defenceman. Unfortunately for Canucks fans, Reinhart would retire after the season, despite being only 29 years old.

1990-91

Coach: Bob McCammon/Pat Quinn
Captain: Trevor Linden, Dan Quinn, Doug Lidster (co-captains)
First Round Draft Pick: Petr Nedved/Shawn Antoski
Leading Scorer: Trevor Linden
Playoff Result: Lost in 1st Round

A 20 year old Trevor Linden lead the Canucks in scoring during the 1990-91 season, as Stan Smyl played in his final season in the NHL. Petri Skriko was traded away to the Boston Bruins, but it was another trade that stole the headlines that season. In one of the best trades in team history, the Canucks traded away Garth Butcher and Dan Quinn to the St Louis Blues in exchange for Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, Sergio Momesso and Robert Dirk. This move, combined with a coaching change (Pat Quinn replaced Bob McCammon late in the season) propelled the Canucks back into the playoffs. Kirk McLean’s status as the team’s number one goalie was threatened as 23 year old Troy Gamble played in 47 regular season games, and played the majority of the playoff games as well. Though they were knocked out in six games by the Wayne Gretzky led Los Angeles Kings, there was lots of reason for optimism heading into the next season.

1991-92

Coach: Pat Quinn
Captain: Trevor Linden
First Round Draft Pick: Alex Stojanov
Leading Scorer: Trevor Linden
Playoff Result: Lost in 2nd Round

Now retired, Stan Smyl became the first Canuck to have his jersey retired in 1991. The Canucks chose to make 21 year old Trevor Linden their new captain. With Linden as their new leader, coach of the year Pat Quinn behind the bench and a much improved team around them, the Canucks went on to their best season in the NHL, finishing with 96 points. That improved team included a Vezina Trophy runner-up season from Kirk McLean, Igor Larionov’s best season in the NHL and excellent play from Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall and Greg Adams. Jyrki Lumme also established himself as the team’s best offensive blueliner. But it was a rookie that stole the headlines for the team. Twenty year old Pavel Bure (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBnIRqbhDN8 )broke into the NHL with a bang. The ‘Russian Rocket’ led the team in goals despite playing only 65 games and was the league’s rookie of the year. More than that, he was electrifying, the most exciting player in the game and the Canucks’ first true superstar.

The Canucks entered the playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets and quickly ran into some adversity. They were down 3-1 in the series, but were able to win the last three games 8-2, 8-3 and 5-0 to win their first playoff series in ten years. That set-up a second round matchup with the underdog Edmonton Oilers. Gone were the likes of Gretzky and Messier, but the Oilers still won the series in 6 games.

1992-93

Coach: Pat Quinn
Captain: Trevor Linden
First Round Draft Pick: Libor Polasek
Leading Scorer: Pavel Bure
Playoff Result: Lost in 2nd Round

There was a lot of promise for the Canucks entering the 1992-93 season. Most of the core group that won the Smythe division the season previous was back. Igor Larionov left as a free agent, but 20 year old Petr Nedved had a breakout season, scoring 38 goals. Pavel Bure parlayed a strong rookie season into superstardom, setting franchise records, scoring 60 goals and 110 points. Kirk McLean was strong again in goal, and Kay Whitmore was a more than capable back-up. Pat Quinn made one big trade, acquiring Murray Craven from Hartford at the trade deadline.

The Canucks won their division yet again, this time with 101 points, a new team record. The Canucks entered the playoffs with a rematch of the 1992 first round series against the Winnipeg Jets. This time the Canucks won in more convincing fashion, taking the Jets in six games. The second round featured a matchup against Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings had a disappointing season, but were better than their record indicated. They beat the Canucks in six games and went all the way to the Stanley Cup final. The Canucks, yet again were not able to transfer their regular season success into the playoffs, and were upset for the second year in a row in the second round.

1993-94

The 1994 Stanley Cup Run

The Incomparable 1994 Stanley Cup Run deserves its own section so click here to read more...

Read More

1994-95

Coach: Rick Ley
Captain: Trevor Linden
First Round Draft Pick: Mattias Ohlund
Leading Scorer: Pavel Bure
Playoff Result: Lost in 2nd Round

A labour dispute shortened the 1994-95 season, and perhaps stalled the Canucks momentum on their marvelous Stanley Cup final appearance. The Canucks couldn’t agree to terms with Murray Craven and traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks. Pat Quinn also decided to step down as head coach and passed the reigns off to his assistant, Rick Ley. The team stumbled out of the blocks in the shortened 48 game season, and Pat Quinn made a trade that he would later regret. Quinn traded playoff hero Greg Adams to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Russ Courtnall. Quinn reunited Russ Courtnall with his brother Geoff and that helped to spark the team for a brief period.

The Canucks finished the season 6th in the conference and played the heavily favoured St Louis Blues in the first round. The Blues were coached Mike Keenan, who coached the Rangers the year previous. They also had stars such as Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Al MacInnis and Curtis Joseph. The Canucks managed to upset the Blues, winning in 7 games.

The Canucks’ playoff magic ended in the second round, as they lost in four straight games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Chris Chelios scored the final NHL goal in the Pacific Coliseum, clinching the series in overtime.

1995-96

Coach: Rick Ley/Pat Quinn
Captain: Trevor Linden
First Round Draft Pick: No pick (traded with Mike Peca and Mike Wilson for Alex Mogilny)
Leading Scorer: Alex Mogilny
Playoff Result: Lost in 1st Round

In advance of the 1995-96 season, general manager Pat Quinn was able to pull off another one of his signature blockbuster trades, just in time to move into the new General Motors Place. Former 76 goal scorer Alex Mogilny was on his way to the west coast. Despite losing Geoff Courtnall to the St Louis Blues as a free agent, the Canucks were thought to be a much improved team. With Pavel Bure and Alex Mogilny, goal scoring shouldn’t be a problem.

Alex Mogilny scored 55 goals with his new team, but Pavel Bure suffered the first major injury of his career and played only 15 games. As expected, offense wasn’t a problem for the Canucks, but defense and goaltending were. They struggled yet again in the regular season and finished in seventh place in the conference. That cost Rick Ley his job late in the season, as Pat Quinn stepped in to replace him. Kirk McLean struggled mightily, and was no longer a star goalie in the league. Corey Hirsch split time with McLean and got the majority of the starts in the playoffs.

The Canucks played the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in the first round and played them tough, losing in 6 games. It would spell the end of an era, as all of the key members of the 1994 team that went to the Stanley Cup final would leave town before the Canucks made the playoffs again. Perhaps the most significant moment of the season wouldn’t be realized until years later. Late in the season, Pat Quinn traded away Alex Stojanov for Markus Naslund.

1996-97

Coach: Tom Renney
Captain: Trevor Linden
First Round Draft Pick: Josh Holden
Leading Scorer: Alex Mogilny
Playoff Result: Missed Playoffs

With Rick Ley fired late in the 1995-96 season and Pat Quinn wanting to concentrate on his general manager duties, rookie coach Tom Renney was hired to coach a veteran laden team in advance of the 1996-97 season. This was a mistake, as Renney clashed with many of the veteran players all season long. Other changes in the offseason featured Cliff Ronning leaving town as a free agent, likely because the Canucks were after free agent Wayne Gretzky instead. ‘The Great One’ decided to go to the New York Rangers instead, and the Canucks were left high and dry. The Canucks were led by Alex Mogilny and a career year from Martin Gelinas. Pavel Bure was slowed due to injury, as was Trevor Linden.
The Canucks finished the year out of the playoffs due to injuries and the fact that their team was becoming older. Changes needed to be made.

Keyboard Shortcuts