|Trevor Linden not only touched the Clarence Campbell Bowl, he broke it. That couldn't be good.|
The year was 1994. Pat Quinn was the coach and the team had an average regular season going 41-40-3 during the then 84-game-regular season. Their 85 points placed them 2nd in the Pacific Division and 7th in the Western Conference. The Canucks 23-year-old captain, Trevor Linden, and 22-year-old sniper, Pavel Bure, were studs during the regular season. Pavel Bure led the league in goals with 60 and racked up 107 points, while Linden potted 32 goals and 61 points. Veteran player Geoff Courtnall scored 26 goals and had 70 points, while Cliff Ronning had 68 points. Gino Odjick also had great fantasy hockey numbers - 16 goals for 29 points and 271 PIMSs - I would have been using my last pick on him for sure.
During the regular season Sergei Fedorov won the Hart Trophy after scoring 56 goals and 120 points. Dominik Hasek took home the Vezina and some other goalie named Martin Brodeur won the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. Wayne Gretzky led the league in assists with 92 and points with 130.
The Canucks would face the Calgary Flames in the first round and it was a tight series with the Canucks coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to win in 7 games. Kirk McLean would come up with one of the memorable saves in playoff history with his two-pad stack save in the overtime of Game Seven against Robert Reichel. They would move on to face the Dallas Stars (freshly moved from Minnesota) in the Conference Semi-Finals and knock them out in 5 games. A playoff series that I remember is the Conference Finals - the Canucks would face the Toronto Maple Leafs. I can just remember Pavel Bure blowing by the Leafs slow moving defence and making Felix Potvin look like a sieve, the Canucks would easily knock out the Leafs in 5 games.
The Canucks would meet Mark Messier and the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers had just come off a huge series win over the Devils – remember that time Messier guaranteed a win in game 6 and scored a hat trick in the 3rd period to push the series to 7 games? The Rangers would use that momentum in the Finals against the reeling Canucks jumping out to a 3-1 series lead. The Canucks would climb back though and force a Game Seven at Madison Square Garden, where they would ultimately lose 3-2. It's not a shock the Rangers won that year - they were the best team during the regular season with a 52-24-8 record for 112 points.
Pavel Bure would lead all forwards in playoff points with 16 goals and 15 apples for 31 points, however the playoff leading scorer would be Rangers D-man and Conn Smythe winner, Brian Leetch, with 34 points. Trevor Linden had a strong playoff scoring 25 points in 24 games. Kirk McLean would play all 24 games and set a then NHL-record for most minutes played in a playoffs with 1,544.
The Canucks entered the league in 1970 and have yet to win the Stanley Cup. Could this be their year to end a 41 year drought? Luckily for the Canucks, and the Boston Bruins, they are not facing Mark Messier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.