For the Vancouver Canucks, the 2010s officially came to an end as of Sunday’s win against the Calgary Flames. With that victory, the Canucks closed out the decade – the fifth of their existence – with a record of 388-304-93, good enough for 16th overall leaguewide. Those ten seasons saw five years in the playoffs and five outside of them, four series wins, and one magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011. Four head coaches, three captains, and two general managers.
Only one individual lasted the entire decade with the Canucks – Alex Edler. In many ways, the 2010s represented the end of one era of Vancouver hockey and the beginning of another – with a significant “dark age” smack dab in the middle. That’s something that is definitely reflected in our Top Ten Canucks Moments of the Decade, as compiled below.
10. Brock Boeser’s Minnesota Magic (03/25/2017)
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) March 26, 2017
The storyline of Brock Boeser’s first game with the Vancouver Canucks is enough to make it one of the decade’s most memorable moments – hours after signing his first NHL contract, in his home state, with his parents in attendance, he scored the game-winning goal in a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
Boeser’s debut had even greater narrative significance for the Canucks’ rebuild as a whole. As Vancouver faced their second straight season out of the playoffs, the right winger’s late-season arrival marked the dawning of a new age – and the first clear sign that this new Canucks core was going to deliver on their enormous potential.
9. Roberto Luongo Wins Gold At Home (02/28/2010)
If Roberto Luongo doesn't rob Pavol Demitra blind, Canada never even gets to the gold medal game in 2010. pic.twitter.com/vRVq1IJa0j
— Daniel Wagner (@passittobulis) June 27, 2019
Technically speaking, Roberto Luongo winning a Gold Medal for Team Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics isn’t a Canucks moment – but the fact that it happened on Vancouver ice with thousands of local fans “Luu”-ing him on makes it close enough to count.
While seeing Luongo skate around General Motors Place with a medal around his neck is probably the single moment most worthy of celebration, there’s also a lot to be said for his game-saving stop on the late Pavol Demitra – also a Canuck at the time – with seconds remaining in the semi-final.
8. Bo Horvat Becomes The Captain Of A ‘Team Like That’ (10/09/2019)
— Vanessa Jang (@vanessajang) October 10, 2019
The Canucks’ 2019/20 season got off to a shaky start with two straight losses, but for many fans the campaign wouldn’t really begin until the team’s home opener – an event at which the franchise was expected to name Bo Horvat as captain.
The ceremony proved more emotional than many were expecting, but that paled in comparison to the heart-swelling effort that would follow. Seven different Canucks scored in an 8-2 drubbing of the Los Angeles Kings – including first Vancouver goals for Quinn Hughes and JT Miller – a shellacking that prompted Drew Doughty to spout out his now-infamous comment about losing to a “team like that.”
7. Henrik Sedin Has Hart (06/23/2010)
The Canucks have had a moderate amount of success over the years, and many fantastic players have found their way to Vancouver – but there’s only been one moment in franchise history at which anything related to the team could be irrefutably described as the best in the world. When Henrik Sedin walked on-stage to accept the 2010 Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, it meant more than anyone outside of this oft-struggling organization could ever understand.
Henrik went home with both the Hart and the Art Ross that night, with the latter honour being duplicated by brother Daniel the following season. The years 2010 and 2011 marked the peak of both the Sedins as individuals and the Canucks as a franchise – and the height of leaguewide recognition for their efforts.
6. Elias Petterson’s Electrifying Debut (10/03/2018)
Elias Pettersson beats Mike Smith with a filthy shot for his first NHL goal! pic.twitter.com/XDxF11r9od
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 4, 2018
After three straight seasons in the league’s basement, the arrival of Elias Pettersson was the first time that fans started to believe that everything would be alright again. Following a record-breaking Draft+1 season in which he was the SHL’s top forward, rookie, and playoff MVP, no player this side of Pavel Bure had come to Vancouver ahead of more hype – and it wouldn’t take Pettersson long to deliver.
Midway through the first period of his debut, Pettersson skated down the wing and wired a perfect shot past Mike Smith for his first career goal. Less than two minutes into the second, Pettersson added an assist on a Nikolay Goldobin goal in what turned out to be a 5-2 demolition of the Calgary Flames – and a sign of things to come from the franchise’s saviour.
5. “Enjoy The Future, Folks” (03/28/2019)
— Matt (@dooley_matt_) March 29, 2019
It’s difficult to capture a rebuild that took half a decade in a singular moment, but John Shorthouse’s iconic call of “Enjoy the future, folks, here it is right now” as Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes hit the ice for three-on-three overtime comes pretty darn close.
That moment – which came at the tail-end of Hughes’ NHL debut, in which he notched his first career assist – may not have resulted in an actual goal, but it was a powerful indicator that the franchise’s half-decade of suffering was over and the good times were finally starting to roll. The Canucks later ended up beating the Los Angeles Kings in the shootout, anyway, with Tanner Pearson sinking his former team.
4. Alex Burrows 11 Seconds Into Overtime (06/04/2011)
The Vancouver Canucks have twice played in a Stanley Cup Final Game Seven in their history, and yet it may just be that the franchise has never been closer to a Cup than they were on the evening of June 4, 2011. At the very least, that’s what it felt like.
When Alex Burrows tucked in a wraparound on an out-of-position Tim Thomas just 11 seconds into overtime of Game Two, it gave the Canucks a commanding 2-0 series lead and left it looking like the Finals might just be a rout. That’s not the way it ended up going, but for a brief moment we all believed.
3. Kevin Bieksa Off The Stanchion, To The Finals (05/24/2011)
“The Stanchion” incident seems custom-made for memorability. The goal came in double-overtime, it was the result of a one-in-a-million bounce, it was scored by one of the most beloved defensemen in franchise history, and it sent the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Kevin Bieksa might have been the only one in Rogers Arena to know where the puck was when he awkwardly pelted it past Antti Niemi to win Game Five and the series in one fell swoop – but he was the only one who needed to know. Bieksa’s windmilling, one-legged celebration marked perhaps the second-happiest moment of that 2011 run – after the one that you all know is at the top of this list.
2. The Sedins Say Goodbye In Style (04/05/2018)
On this day in 2018, the @Canucks' Henrik and Daniel Sedin connected for the overtime winner against the Coyotes. It was a fitting ending for Henrik and Daniel, who played their final home game in Vancouver #Hockey365 #Canucks pic.twitter.com/hZd367Z3m7
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) April 5, 2019
The word “magic” was thrown around a lot during the prime years of the Sedin twins, but their most marvelous moment as Canucks actually came at the end of their career – the very end. After Brendan Leipsic scored a brilliant goal to send the Sedins’ last ever home game to overtime, the stage was set for a finale so perfect it could only have come from Henrik and Daniel.
The wonder twins dominated the extra period, putting on one last display of offensive zone control before Daniel blasted the puck past Darcy Kuemper to secure the win. Ever the class acts, the Sedins then took the opportunity to thank their fans one more time – leaving nary a dry eye in the house as they skated off into retirement.
1. Alex Burrows Slays The Dragon (04/26/2011)
— CanucksVid (@CanucksVid) September 12, 2014
What more can be said about Alex Burrows slaying the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime that hasn’t been said already? The moment has everything going for it – the iconic play-by-play call, the sheer pulse-pounding excitement, the playoff significance, and the symbolism of finally overcoming the hated Blackhawks.
There’s no doubt that the image of Burrows wildly celebrating will be burned in the memory of Vancouver fans for decades to come, and that makes it about as unanimous a choice for a subjective countdown of this nature as possible. The 2011 run to the Stanley Cup Finals may not have ended the way that Canucks fans had hoped, but it began with the sort of moment that dreams – and legends – are made of.
Ten Honourable Mentions:
-Knocking off the LA Kings in the 2010 Playoffs.
-Maxim Lapierre’s 1-0 goal in Game 5, 2011.
-The launch of the MindCheck Program in 2012 in memory of Rick Rypien.
-Vernon Fiddler’s impression of Kevin Bieksa and the Alain Vigneault laughter it induced in 2012.
-The five-on-five brawl to start the game against the Flames and John Tortorella trying to storm the dressing room in 2014.
-Jannik Hansen and Ryan Miller coming to their teammates’ defense against the Leafs in 2016.
-Brock Boeser “getting lucky” with Matt Murray in 2017.
-The beginning of the #ShotgunJake movement in 2018.
-The trade of Erik Gudbranson for Tanner Pearson in 2019.
-Alex Burrows entering the Ring of Honour and inspiring the team one last time in 2019.
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