In 1975, the Vancouver Canucks captured a division title for the first time in franchise history, winning 38 of 80 games in the newly-created Smythe Division.
Then, they proceeded to post a losing record for the following sixteen seasons.
Such is life for die-hard fans of the NHL’s westernmost team.
From a botched expansion attempt in 1967 to the infamous lottery wheel gaffe three years later, Canuck-leheads are no stranger to disappointment.
Sure, there were momentary flashes when we thought the suffering was over.
Like 2011. Or 1994.
Hell, we even cling on to the ’82 run even though — realistically — we never stood a chance against the powerhouse Islanders.
Who could blame us?
After all, we are the only team to make it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals twice without ever winning the sacred trophy.
But that’s not to say we haven’t had some good times.
I mean, how could you forget the crescendo of excitement as captain Markus Naslund dashed from end-to-end through the entire Ottawa team?
Or the excruciating anxiety turning into pure ecstasy as Kevin Bieksa lobbed a muffin past Antti Niemi to send the team to the Finals in 2011?
And don’t you dare tell me that a slow-motion replay of Kirk McLean stacking his pads to make The Save in ’94 doesn’t cross your mind once every now and then.
Plus, we’ve had the privilege of welcoming some of the finest players, nay, human beings, to Canada’s west coast.
We followed as visionary hockey minds such as Roger Neilson and Pat Quinn changed the game from behind the bench.
And stood alongside an unbroken lineage of extraordinary community leaders in Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, Markus Naslund, Roberto Luongo, Henrik Sedin, and soon, Bo Horvat.
For half a century, Vancouver has embraced the Canucks as its very own. No other sports team here draws as much praise, criticism, nor discussion.
Nothing else in the city has the capability to galvanize this city the way the Sedins’ retirement announcement did in 2018, marking the end of an era.
But at the end of one chapter is the beginning of another.
And as we head into the club’s Golden Anniversary, we are led by a squad of young superstars in Bison, Brock, Petey, Quinn, Tony, and Snatcher.
The Stanley Cup is a notoriously difficult championship to win, and we certainly don’t have all the pieces yet.
But after six seemingly never-ending seasons of rebuilding, things are finally beginning to fall into place.
So yes, there is cause for optimism.
Because as we celebrate the last 50 years of Vancouver Canucks history, our new core is busy writing the next chapter of it. ∎