It was electrifying, mesmerizing and despite the end result, unforgettable.
At the helm of one of the most memorable Stanley Cup runs in Canucks history was the newest Ring of Honour inductee, Pat Quinn.
The 1994 postseason stands out in Canucks lore for the ups and downs, the triumphs and travesties and Quinn’s hand was in all of it.
“Even though we kind of backed into the playoffs and were a bottom seed, Pat was able to bring key players in at the deadline and have them gel with everybody in that short period,” recalled former Canucks goaltender Kirk McLean.
“He realized what we needed—bringing in Brownie [Jeff Brown] on defence—a great puck moving defenceman. Cliffy [Cliff Ronning] and what he can do. Then Nathan Lafayette and guys like that—unsung heroes who came in and played great roles. Pat was able to have that chemistry gel really quickly.”
That chemistry translated to an on-ice performance that inspired a generation of Canucks fans. From Greg Adams’ overtime heroics to Pavel Bure’s dazzling dekes, Canucks fans were treated to a spring like no other.
Despite decisively winning 5-0 in Game 1 against the Calgary Flames in the opening round, Vancouver looked to be on the ropes following three consecutive losses after allowing 14 goals in that span. That was before a brilliant performance by McLean led to an overtime tally by Geoff Courtnall to turn the tide. The Canucks won the next two games in dramatic fashion as it took overtime and double overtime to settle the score, but it set the ball rolling.
“The energy that was created from within, from the team and the fans, just getting on a roll during and after Calgary you just felt unstoppable,” recalled former Canucks defenceman Dave Babych. “You don’t get that feeling very often. When it happens, then you know what it takes. Even though we weren’t successful [in the final game], we all understand that it just would have taken a little bit more…There wasn’t much that we didn’t do other than win the last game.”
They rolled through the Dallas Stars in the second round and captured Canada’s attention in a third round upset of the third seeded Toronto Maple Leafs before taking on the Presidents’ Trophy winning New York Rangers. And it was all because of some savvy and deliberate acquisitions in the months and years leading up to that storied run.
Whether it was Quinn and his staff’s draft picks like Trevor Linden or Bure, waiver wire pick-ups like Martin Gelinas and Tim Hunter, or trades like the LaFayette, Courtnall or Adams deals, that run happened because of Quinn’s vision and ability to make it happen.
“Some of the pieces that he moved and gained were all very precise on how you build a team,” recalled Babych. “‘94 was no accident. Even the early ‘90s, there was no accident with his success. Teams can underachieve and overachieve, and maybe we did both, but that success wasn’t an accident.”
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