March 27, 2023

Canucks At 50 – 2011 Award-Successful Group Was Once Dominant

11, and were awarded for it at the NHL Awards show with the William M. Jennings Trophy as the back stoppers on the team with the lowest goals against.

Goalies Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider gave the Canucks great goaltending in 2010-11 and were awarded for it at the NHL Awards show with the William M. Jennings Trophy as the back stoppers on the team with the lowest goals against.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images files

At the end of the day, there’s just no avoiding the fact that big “but” when you write anything about the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks.

About Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are a professional ice hockey team based in Vancouver. They compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. The Canucks play their home games at Rogers Arena, formerly known as General Motors Place, which has an official capacity of 18,910. Travis Green is the head coach and Jim Benning is the general manager.

The Canucks joined the league in 1970 as an expansion team along with the Buffalo Sabres. In its NHL history, the team has advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals three times, losing to the New York Islanders in 1982, the New York Rangers in 1994 and the Boston Bruins in 2011. They have won the Presidents’ Trophy in back-to-back seasons as the team with the league’s best regular season record in the 2010–11 and 2011–12 seasons.

They won three division titles as a member of the Smythe Division from 1974 to 1993, and seven titles as a member of the Northwest Division from 1998 to 2013. The Canucks, along with fellow expansion team, the Buffalo Sabres, are the two oldest teams to have never won the Stanley Cup.

The Canucks have retired six players’ jerseys in their history—Stan Smyl (12), Trevor Linden (16), Markus Naslund (19), Daniel Sedin (22), Henrik Sedin (33), and Pavel Bure (10); all but Bure and Daniel Sedin have served as team captain. Smyl has the distinction of being the only Canuck to have his jersey number retired at their former arena, the Pacific Coliseum.

Canucks at 50: 2011 award-winning team was dominant …

About award-winning

They were dominant in goals for, goals against, on the power play, on the penalty kill, in goal.

They won a slew of awards.

Canucks at 50: 2011 award-winning team was dominant …

But they didn’t win the Stanley Cup.

Daniel Sedin won the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer and the Ted Lindsay Award as the NHL Players’ Association’s choice as the league’s most outstanding player. He was a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Ryan Kesler won the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider won the William Jennings Trophy for the league’s best goals-against record.

And coach Alain Vigneault was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks poses with the Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player voted on by the players, on the left) and the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer at the 2010-11 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 22, 2011.

Jeff Gross /

Getty Images files

“Statistically, they were just the most superior team in the league in almost every category,” Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy said this week. “Losing to Corey Perry for the Hart, I think we kind of agree that Daniel probably got jobbed a little bit, but I mean I guess if there’s one you want to win, it’s the one where the players vote.

So I think he was happy with that, but it was just insane how that year any category looked at — and when people look back, even with fancy stats how dominant they were in terms of possession and shot share and all that stuff — it was just really remarkable from start to finish, and yet they didn’t have the one thing they really wanted.

“It’s a finicky, funny game.”

On top of Sedin being recognized for his remarkable season — he lost the Hart to Perry, who scored 14 goals in the season’s final 12 games, a stretch that seems to have swayed the voters away from recognizing a Sedin two years in a row as the league’s MVP — Ryan Kesler was especially dominant. He scored 41 goals while facing the opposition’s top players.

“He was always getting those defensive-zone draws, along with Manny (Malhotra), because AV (Vigneault) was kind of one of the first coaches to kind of really think about that, let’s give those draws to those two every time when we’re down in the defensive zone,” Murphy pointed out. “It was pretty much Manny or Kes depending on what the shifts were like before that. And I think some coaches took from that thinking going forward.”

The Canucks weren’t considered to have a true No. 1 defenceman, but in hindsight Dan Hamhuis deserves a lot of credit for the influence he had on that lineup. The quiet competitor was signed in the summer of 2010 and was the best shutdown defenceman this town has ever seen.

Ryan Kesler, a three-time finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward, won the award in 2010-11, but he surely would have traded that for a Stanley Cup title.

Ethan Miller /

Getty Images files

When he was injured throwing a hip-check on the Bruins’ Milan Lucic in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final many, including former GM Mike Gillis as well as Murphy, argued that this was when the series truly turned.

There was just no replacing Hamhuis.

And it makes it interesting to ponder, nine years later, whether perhaps he should have had more consideration for the James Norris Trophy as the league’s best blueliner.

Nicklas Lidstrom won, with Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber as finalists.

“I think probably the reason he didn’t were his offensive numbers,” Murphy observed. “Defensively he was one of the premier shutdown guys at that time, but he didn’t put up a lot of offensive numbers and that’s what voters look at first, unfortunately. But that’s the other thing with that team, that defence. We still say they’ve never had a true No. 1 d-man, right? But that team, they might have had six number twos and threes.”

Their defensive prowess in front of the goalies went a long way towards Luongo (.928) and Schneider (.929) posting remarkable save percentages.

The Canucks won 54 games that season. Most nights, it seemed a certainty they were going to win.

“They could be down two or three goals going into third period and you knew they were gonna win,” Murphy said, finally. “They’d just roll into town. You know how teams always say ‘we only have to worry about ourselves?’ They did, because no teams can contain them.”

As the Canucks celebrate their 50th season, we’re looking back at the moments that stand out as the biggest in franchise history on the ice and off, good, and a few bad. We’re highlighting the top moments from the 1970s through November, the ’80s in December, the ’90s in January, the ’00s in February and the ’10s in March.

If you have any great memories of where you were when your favourite moments happened, or what they meant to you, send them to [email protected]

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