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History of the Vancouver Canucks

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The history of the Vancouver Canucks begins when the team joined the National Hockey League (NHL). Founded as an expansion team in 1970 along with the Buffalo Sabres, the Vancouver Canucks were the first NHL team to be based in Vancouver. The Canucks adopted the name of the minor professional hockey team that had existed in Vancouver since 1945.

After initially struggling as an expansion team in the NHL, the Canucks won their first division title in 1975, then proceed to set a record for North American professional sports, with fifteen consecutive losing seasons. In 1982, they made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, losing in four straight games. After acquiring several key players, they would win consecutive division titles in 1992 and 1993, and made a second appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, losing in the seventh and deciding game. They then went back to several years of mediocre play, before improving in the early part of the 21st century. They would win the title twice in three years between 2004 and 2007.

During the 2009-10 season, the Canucks will be faced with the longest road trip in NHL history, with 14 games over 6 weeks,[1] as a result of Vancouver hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.


In the early 20th century, the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) became the first major professional team in Vancouver. They were active from 1911 until folding in 1925. The Millionaires, known as the Vancouver Maroons from 1922 until 1926, appeared in four Stanley Cup Finals, winning the Cup in 1915. After the team folded, it marked the end of major professional hockey in Vancouver for the next 40 years.

The minor professional Pacific Coast Hockey League expanded to Vancouver in 1945, admitting the Vancouver Canucks. When the PCHL merged with the Western Canada Senior Hockey League to become the Western Hockey League, the Canucks became a member of the WHL. The Canucks would win their league title six times.

With the WHL becoming an increasing threat to the NHL, and looking to become a major professional league, the NHL looked into adding more teams. In 1967, the NHL doubled, adding another 6 teams. While Vancouver was seen as a possible city for an NHL team, the new teams were all located in the United States.

Canucks join the NHLEdit

By 1970, the NHL decided to expand again. Vancouver, along with Buffalo, New York, was selected as an expansion city. The minor league Canucks and their facility, the Pacific Coliseum, were purchased by a group led by Thomas Scallen, a Minnesota businessman and chairman of Medicor, and joined the NHL. Bud Poile was named the first general manager of the Canucks. Unlike 1967, when the expansion team fee was $2 million, the Canucks and Sabres had to pay the NHL $6 million.

In order to stock the teams with players, the NHL held an expansion draft, similar to the previous expansion. Each of the 12 established teams were allowed to protect several players, with the rest being exposed for selection by the two expansion teams. The Canucks, picking second, selected defenceman Gary Doak, making him the first Canucks player.

For the amateur draft, the Canucks and Sabres used a spinning wheel to decide who would select first and second overall in the draft. The Sabres won the spin, and selected forward Gilbert Perreault first overall. Picking second, the Canucks chose defenceman Dale Tallon second.


The Canucks played their first NHL game on October 9, 1970 against the Los Angeles Kings. Defenceman Barry Wilkins scored the first goal for the Canucks in the game, a 3-1 loss. Their first win would come two days later against the Toronto Maple Leafs.


  1. Olympics put Canucks on record road grind. CBC Sports (2009-07-16). Retrieved on 2009-07-16.

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