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Welcome to Our Game Vancouver Canucks 40th celebration Vancouver Canucks

19 Stories: The other side

Cheered by fans but feared by opponents, as soon as Markus Naslund stepped on the ice he was on the other team’s radar.

Friday, 03.12.2010 / 12:00 PM / Features - 40th Anniversary
By Ryanne Johnson
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19 Stories: The other side

Cheered by fans but feared by opponents, as soon as Markus Naslund stepped on the ice he was on the other team’s radar.

A combination of skill and hard work made Naslund a formidable opponent night in and night out.

During his 12-year tenure with the Vancouver Canucks, Naslund dominated in divisional play. When it came to the team’s historic rivalry against the Calgary Flames, Naslund’s performances were gritty, determined and awe-inspiring. Throughout his career he notched 66 points (32-24-66) in 73 games against the Flames, the most he would collect against any NHL team.

Some of his best games against Calgary included 21 multi-point contests and his heralded performance in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This series marked the historic rivalry between the Canucks and Flames and one of the best moments of Naslund’s career.

On April 19, 2004, in Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Final, the Canucks were down 2-1 against Calgary with 30 seconds left in the third period. After receiving a pass from Mattias Ohlund behind the net, Naslund began an end-to-end rush that fans would never forget. As he crashed the net Naslund managed a hand off to Matt Cooke who became a hero as the puck hit the mesh between the pipes. Though the Canucks lost that night, no one could deny the epic performance given by Nazzy and the boys.

Naslund continued to wreak havoc on other divisional teams, collecting 58 career points (20-38-50) in 77 games against the Colorado Avalanche, 65 points (29-36-65) in 70 games against the Edmonton Oilers and 31 points (15-16-31) in 43 games against the Minnesota Wild.

A GAME WINNER

Demonstrated in competitions like those against Phoenix, in which Naslund notched 17 goals, five of which were game-winners, Naslund became renowned as the guy you rely on to score the timely goal. By the end of his career he had collected 49 game-winning goals, establishing a franchise record.

Naslund would also go on to register seven four-point games, two in which he notched two goals and two assists against the Columbus Blue Jackets and three in which he collected the game-winning goals against Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

The Pittsburgh game marked one of the most memorable in Naslund’s career not only because it was against the team where he had begun his NHL career, but because he notched four goals against goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, leading the Canucks to a 4-3 overtime victory.

LIKE NO OTHER

Fleury would address his opponents’ play post game, recognizing the skill of Naslund: “He’s a great player and a tough guy to stop.”

Naslund is recognized by many as the catalyst that changed the face of the Canucks franchise.

In the words of coach Marc Crawford, “There are less than a handful of players in this game who can take a play where there’s nothing—I mean no room, no pass, no shot, no play—and turn it into a scoring chance. That’s what the truly exceptional players like Markus can do for you. It’s a creativity that only that type of stuperstar can see... and then they have the ability to make it look easy.”

When players across the NHL voted Naslund the winner of the Lester B. Pearson Award in 2003, it was evident that they felt the same. It is because of his instinct, his ability and his passion that Naslund was continually considered an honourable and worthy opponent.

He will be honoured among a list of historic Canucks as one of the very best.

BREAKING IT DOWN

TEAM GP G A PTS PIM  
Anaheim Ducks 52 21 30 51 34  
Atlanta Thrashers 11 7 7 14 4  
Boston Bruins 30 2 11 13 14  
Buffalo Sabres 30 9 13 22 10  
Carolina Hurricanes 28 8 12 20 21  
Calgary Flames 73 32 34 66 52  
Chicago Blackhawks 50 17 18 35 36  
Columbus Blue Jackets 28 18 21 39 24  
Colorado Avalanche 77 20 38 58 54  
Dallas Stars 50 23 19 42 40  
Detroit Red Wings 47 20 11 31 30  
Edmonton Oilers 70 29 36 65 66  
Florida Panthers 26 7 13 20 16  
Los Angeles Kings 51 18 22 40 24  
Minnesota Wild 43 15 16 31 40  
Montreal Canadiens 34 10 11 21 18  
New Jersey Devils 24 3 6 9 12  
New York Islanders 28 11 13 24 10  
New York Rangers 19 6 5 11 4  
Nashville Predators 37 13 20 33 22  
Ottawa Senators 29 12 7 19 28  
Philadelphia Flyers 27 8 8 16 18  
Phoenix Coyotes 49 17 18 35 32  
Pittsburgh Penguins 20 11 7 18 12  
San Jose Sharks 52 15 23 38 42  
St. Louis Blues 48 11 16 27 28  
Tampa Bay Lightning 25 9 9 18 4  
Toronto Maple Leafs 30 13 16 29 25  
Vancouver Canucks 5 3 2 5 0  
Washington Capitals 24 7 12 19 16  
  1117 395 474 869 736