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Back to the future with Canucks

Matthew Wuest compares this year’s Cup finalist Canucks with their 1994 counterparts, the most recent Vancouver team to play for the NHL’s top prize

Matthew Wuest compares this year’s Cup finalist Canucks with their 1994 counterparts, the most recent Vancouver team to play for the NHL’s top prize.



THE RUN

1994: The Pat Quinn-coached Canucks were barely .500 in the regular season (41-40-3 with 85 points) and fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against Calgary. But they rallied to triumph in seven, getting the series winner from Pavel Bure in double overtime. After dispensing of Dallas and Toronto in five games, they fell to the New York Rangers in a seven-game final.



2011: The Canucks survived injuries en route to a 54-win, 117-point Presidents’ Trophy campaign. Their season looked like it would become unhinged in the first round when they blew a 3-0 series lead to Chicago, but Alex Burrows saved the day with the overtime series winner in Game 7. They then took down Nashville in six games and San Jose in five.



FORWARDS

1994: Pavel Bure, the Russian Rocket, was the star of the show, following up a 60-goal season with a 16-goal, 15-assist playoff performance in his finest season as a Canuck. Trevor Linden led a supporting cast that also featured Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, Greg Adams and Murray Craven.



2011: There might not be a player as dominating as Pavel Bure, but the Sedin twins pack a tremendous 1-2 punch. Throw in Ryan Kesler’s two-way presence and the second-tier scoring of Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond and you see why the Canucks led the league in goals scored.



DEFENCE

1994: The late-season acquisition of Jeff Brown from St. Louis gave the Canucks the power-play quarterback they needed. Brown’s six goals and nine assists in 24 games led all Canucks blue-liners and made him a perfect complement to fellow trade pickup Bret Hedican and incumbents Jyrki Lumme, Dave Babych and Gerald Diduck.



2011: The Canucks stocked up on defencemen in the off-season and worked salary-cap magic to keep them all. Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis have logged 20-plus minutes per game in the top four. Sami Salo has rebounded from injuries to play a key support role along with Aaron Rome and Keith Ballard.



GOALIES

1994: Kirk McLean, the franchise’s all-time leader in wins and starts, was at his best during this playoff run, going 15-9 with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. Kay Whitmore, in the early stages of a journeyman career, served as McLean’s backup.



2011: Roberto Luongo’s first-round benching — which lasted just 42 minutes because of an injury to backup Cory Schneider — is now a distant memory. He turned in a 54-save gem in Game 5 of the conference final and has a 2.29 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 18 starts.



KEY DEALS

1994: When Canucks holdout Petr Nedved signed with St. Louis in early March, an arbitrator awarded the Canucks Craig Janney as compensation. But when Janney wouldn’t report, the Canucks shipped him back to St. Louis for blue-liners Jeff Brown and Bret Hedican and forward Nathan LaFayette, a move that bolstered their depth for the post-season.



2011: The off-season free-agent signing of Dan Hamhuis to a five-year, $27-million contract solidified the defence corps. Meanwhile, the last-minute trade-deadline pickups of Maxim Lapierre and Chris Higgins ensured the Canucks didn’t miss a beat after losing regular forwards Manny Malhotra and Mikael Samuelsson to season-ending injury.



PAYROLL

1994: The Canucks had a payroll of less than $12 million in 1993-94. Just two players — goalie Kirk McLean ($1.1 million) and seldom-used forward Jimmy Carson ($1 million) — made more than $1 million, and 16 players earned less than the current league minimum of $500,000.



2011: The Canucks had one of the top payrolls in the NHL, spending up to the $59.4-million salary cap — five times the 1994 payroll. The roster features 17 millionaires, and Roberto Luongo’s $10-million salary falls only $2 million shy of the payroll of the entire 1993-94 squad.



HIGHEST PAID


1994


  • Kirk McLean: $1,100,000


  • Jimmy Carson: $1,000,000


  • Jeff Brown: $900,000


  • Trevor Linden: $759,800


  • Pavel Bure: $706,614




The highest paid player in the league was Eric Lindros at $3.35 million, followed by Steve Yzerman at $3.2 million and Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky at

$3 million each.



2011



  • Roberto Luongo: $10,000,000


  • Henrik Sedin: $6,100,000


  • Daniel Sedin: $6,100,000


  • Ryan Kesler: $5,000,000


  • Dan Hamhuis: $5,000,000




Luongo is tied with Vincent Lecavalier as the highest paid in the league. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin were next at $9 million each.

 
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