Coach: Pat Quinn
Captain: Trevor Linden
First Round Draft Pick: Mike Wilson
Leading Scorer: Pavel Bure
Playoff Result: Lost in Stanley Cup Final
The Canucks entered the 1993-94 season with probably the highest expectations in club history to that point. They were coming off consecutive Smythe division championships and had a core group of young players that were seemingly coming into their own. The Canucks traded longtime Canuck Doug Lidster for John Vanbiesbrouck in the offseason. The deal was done to protect 25 year old Kay Whitmore in the upcoming expansion draft. Vanbiesbrouck was claimed in the expansion draft by the Florida Panthers and rules stated that no more than one goalie could be claimed from the same team, so Whitmore was safe. Petr Nedved was a season-long holdout after having a breakout season. Eventually the St Louis Blues signed the restricted free agent and an arbitrator ruled that Craig Janney would be coming to Vancouver as compensation (the Canucks argued that Brendan Shanahan be used as compensation instead). Janney refused to report to Vancouver though, so the Canucks traded Janney’s rights back to the Blues in exchange for Jeff Brown, Bret Hedican and Nathan LaFayette. Pat Quinn also made possibly the best waiver wire acquisition in Canucks history, claiming 23 year old Martin Gelinas from the Quebec Nordiques.
The regular season was filled with turmoil and underperforming, apart from yet another 60 goal season from Pavel Bure (still a team record). Kirk McLean had a losing record, and Trevor Linden had his lowest point output in four years.
The Canucks finished the season 7th in the Western Conference, setting up a matchup against Theo Fleury, Joe Nieuwendyk, Al MacInnis and the heavily favoured Calgary Flames. The Flames got up 3-1 in the series and looked poised to close out the struggling Canucks. But then the Canucks’ season turned around. Geoff Courtnall and Trevor Linden each scored in overtime of games 5 and 6, respectively, to force a decisive game 7. A late goal by Greg Adams sent the game to overtime, allowing Kirk McLean to make what is now known as ‘the save’ and Pavel Bure to score the most famous goal in franchise history.
The second round pitted the Canucks up against the Dallas Stars. The Stars were in their first season in Dallas, since moving from Minnesota. They were also heavily favoured to beat the Canucks. Dallas finished 12 points ahead of the Canucks and were led by 50 goal scorer Mike Modano. That seemed to matter little, as the Canucks were rolling and steamrolled the Stars in 5 games.
In the third round, the Canucks got to play the hated Toronto Maple Leafs. Once again, the Canucks were the clear underdogs. With Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk and Wendel Clark up front and Felix Potvin in goal, a lot was expected from Toronto. The Leafs finished the year with 98 points and had been to the conference final the previous season. The Canucks dropped the opening game of the series, but pulled off four straight wins, capping the series off with Greg Adams’ now famous goal in overtime to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup final.
The Canucks got to sit back and wait for their opponent in the 1994 Stanley Cup final, and watched Stephane Matteau’s overtime heroics in game 7 of the Eastern Conference final send the President’s Trophy New York Rangers to the final. Much different than the 1982 final, the Canucks actually had a chance to win it all this time, and came very close to it. Kirk McLean absolutely stole game 1 with a 52 save performance. The Rangers won games 2, 3 and 4 and Manhattan was poised for a big celebration ahead of game 5. That wasn’t to be, and the Canucks rallied off two in a row, setting up a dramatic game 7 at Madison Square Garden. Despite an amazing effort, including two goals from Trevor Linden, the Canucks fell short, losing 3-2, giving the Stanley Cup to the Rangers.