Today we say goodbye to our longest serving captain (8 seasons) and franchise scoring leader (749Pts), Markus Naslund.
Given to us as a gift by the Hockey Gods via the most lopsided trade ever, Markus Naslund who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 16th Overall, was traded to Vancouver in 1995 for Alex Stojanov. The name Stojanov will forever be remembered due to this trade and perhaps nothing else, as he will play 45 more games with the Penguins in the span of the next two years to the point totals of 6pts. He hasn’t played a single game in the NHL since.
But for Naslund, he will go-on to have one of the most successful NHL career ever. Markus started his career playing on the right side, and although shadowed by two of the world’s best right-winger, Bure and Mogilny, played on the third line on most nights. During his first two full seasons with the Canucks, he gathered up decent points at 21G 20A 41PT and 14G 20A 34PT respectively. However, with the departure of Pavel Bure and the hold-out of Alexander Mogilny, we saw Markus Naslund dramatically stepping up his game.
Subsequent to his breakout year in 98-99 season, with 36G 30A 66PT, and capture the Cyclone Taylor Award as MVP for the Canucks, he was offered the team Captaincy in 2001, the first European captain in Canucks history. Ever since then, he has carried the entire team on his shoulder, and paved the way to his astonishing career in Vancouver, capturing many awards and break even more franchise records.
Naslund alongside his buddy Todd Bertuzzi and Home-town Favorite Brendan Morrison, would form the most formidable line in NHL, known as the West Coast Express. With Bertuzzi’s toughness and power, Morrison’s stability and play-making ability, paired with Naslund’s finesse and speed, the trio was virtually unstoppable on most nights.
Although with the eventual ugly exit of Bertuzzi, and the change of playing style from coach Alain Vigneualt, Naslund’s numbers have dropped drastically, he remains one of the most loved and popular player in Vancouver. Today, we see him moving on, away from the spot-light to perhaps a lesser-role in New York, I sincerely wish him all the success, and thank him for bringing all the fans memorable moments throughout all these years.
It is unfortunate that we didn’t have a chance to see Naslund bring us the ultimate glory here in Vancity, and perhaps he will never wear the Canucks jersey again, I hope he can capture the Stanley Cup in his future, to top-off the already properous career he has right now.
Good luck, Markus, and Thank you, you will always be our captain in our hearts.
P.S. No particular reason why I choose this photo, I am not suggesting Wellwood will be our next Naslund.