Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Canucks vs Devils, Tuesday at 7:00PM - Tickets available

Quartet Q&A

Monday, 09.04.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
By Gary Raible
X
Share with your Friends


Quartet Q&A
The Vancouver Canucks are coming up to a silver anniversary, 25 years since the franchise experienced a first-ever run to the Stanley Cup Final. The underdog Canucks of 1981-82 caught "lightning-in-a-bottle", stunned the Flames, shocked the Kings, bloodied the Blackhawks, and then challenged the mighty New York Islanders. They didn't win the Cup but their performance set the bar for other Canucks playoff teams, creating legends and legacies.

The Canucks would not have a present or a future, without a past, a history that includes these four members of that '82 team, Stan Smyl, Richard Brodeur, Darcy Rota, and Harold Snepsts, who remember that unlikely spring as if it were just "yesterday".

RAIBLE: Let's hear from the captain first, Stan. Is there any one thing that you remember the most about that six weeks of hockey?

SMYL: Just the excitement I felt as a player and how the whole province was electrified by what took place. Just being a part of something that had never happened before to the franchise.

RAIBLE: Richard, any one thing that sticks out in your mind?

BRODEUR: So much happened in that six weeks, it's hard to pick out one thing. The long overtime game in Chicago where Jim Nill scored the winner, and the game we lost in Chicago when Roger (Neilsen) put up the white towel. And game three, when they had that white towel that went all the way round the Coliseum.

RAIBLE: How about you, Darcy? Do you have one favorite memory of that Cup run?

ROTA: Probably, Game 5, in Chicago, when we beat them to advance to the Final. We won it 6-2 and I was fortunate enough to get the fifth goal. It was the first time to the Final for the Canucks and for me, a guy who had been drafted by Chicago. It was very special.

SNEPSTS: For me, it was the reception we got when we came back home from the first two games on Long Island. When we beat Chicago, we went right to New York. Some of the guys got to phone home and get some sense of the atmosphere but I didn't talk to anybody. The reception at the airport was mind-boggling.

RAIBLE: That must have been especially gratifying to you after what happened to you in Game One (a turnover in overtime that led to the winning goal).

SNEPSTS: They did respond very, very nice to me. It's a mistake that will always stick with me but I've learned to live with it and the response of the fans helped me live with it over the years.

RAIBLE: The '82 team was a classic example of a team riding on momentum. What galvanized that team for that month and a half?

SMYL: No question in my mind, it was that game in Quebec City towards the end of March, the fight that went into the stands. What we built from there was the camaraderie and the work ethic that carried us along. That's when Roger Neilson took over as the coach and you had to play within the system he devised.

ROTA: Yeah, that game in Quebec was part of what turned out to be a nine-game unbeaten streak to finish the schedule. We finished three games under .500 but we were feeling very good about ourselves to start the playoffs.

BRODEUR: The last two games of that road trip. In Montreal, Darcy scored two goals and we win. Then, the brawl in Quebec made us a more close-knit group, for sure. We weren't the greatest team but we were a feisty bunch with a lot of characters, and we were there to win every game.

SNEPSTS: Yeah, that helped us finish the regular season on a winning streak and we took that momentum into the first round against Calgary. We'd never won a playoff series but beating the Flames gave us a lot of confidence in the way we were playing.

RAIBLE: Was the team better than those teams you beat along the way or were you just better-prepared or maybe more motivated?

BRODEUR: We were certainly well-prepared by Roger, he was the mastermind on how to play the other teams. In the playoffs, you rely a lot on emotion, and there's no question, we had a lot of that. Roger, and his assistant, Ron Smith, had us ready to play anyone.

SMYL: I don't know if we were the better team, but everyone knew their role and everyone played their role. That brought out the character of the skilled players on the team and others had to raise the level of their game to keep up.

SNEPSTS: That first series with Calgary was the iffy' one. Once we got past that one, we went into L.A. and Chicago with a lot of confidence. I think we were the better team, once we'd played the first game against each team.

ROTA: We had this reputation as a team of grinders, but we had skilled players, too. Thomas Gradin, Ivan Hlinka and Ivan Boldirev were our three centres. We had the kind of team that was tough to beat in the playoffs, with Richard playing the way he was in goal, a solid defense, and forwards who just wouldn't be outworked.

RAIBLE: Hindsight is 20-20, a half-century later, but would beating the Islanders have been just too much to ask?

SNEPSTS: We came real close to beating them in the first two games, but they teased us. I think they showed their true colors in the last two games here, the way they shut us down. We only scored one goal.

BRODEUR: Not too many people know that we were pretty banged up by the time we got to that Final. I had the bad shoulders. Other guys had injuries they didn't talk about. The Islanders had the better team, but we didn't give a damn. We gave them a run for their money. When I see Bryan Trottier (Islanders captain), he says you guys never let up; we won some other Cups, but this one was NOT easy'.

RAIBLE: Do any of you have any personal reminders, personal momentos, from that '82 Cup run?

SMYL: Nothing more than the newspaper articles, and my game jersey that I was fortunate enough to get from our trainer.

ROTA: I have some game programs and my last game jersey, with the flying V'. All the players got a replica of the Clarence Campbell Trophy for winning the Conference championship.

BRODEUR: My wife has a video of that six weeks, game highlights and interviews, which is kind of neat. She kept a scrapbook, too, that I didn't even know about.

SNEPSTS: All I have is the memories. And I treasure those. Oh yeah, and that replica trophy.

RAIBLE: It's hard to imagine anyone going through something like that and not being affected in some way. What did each of you take away from that '82 Cup run?

SNEPSTS: I always believed, going into the NHL, that I was a winner. We had a lot of lean years here in Vancouver and that can wear you down. But that playoff run brought back that old feeling of being a winner'.

BRODEUR: It was the crowning achievement of my hockey career. They always said I was too small to make it, and I proved them wrong. I proved I could play in this league. I also think the series proved you can't succeed unless you play as a team.

ROTA: It was the most special time of my playing career, my only trip to the final, and every time I see one of my teammates, we share a special bond after what we went through together. Some guys never get that.

SMYL: Well, just to experience what it means to be a part of something like that. Every series was over so quickly. You have to make sure you enjoy every moment of it because it goes by so quickly. Just like the last 25 years.