In 40 years of Vancouver Canucks hockey, the team has seen its share of players and staff.
Some donned a Canucks sweater for a year, others a decade and a select few were with the organization their entire careers.
Wayne Maki, Larry Ashley, Gary Lupul and Luc Bourdon all spent time in Vancouver, time that was, tragically, cut short prematurely for all four extraordinary individuals.
During Tuesday night’s game at Rogers Arena between the Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers, these Canucks family members will be honoured for leaving a lasting mark on the club.
Their lives ended too soon, but they will forever be Canucks.
November 10, 1944 – May 12, 1974
From Legends of Hockey – “In 1970-71, the Vancouver Canucks claimed the younger Maki brother in the Expansion Draft, and he played a full-time role with the new franchise until partway through the 1972-73 season. Wayne Maki was diagnosed with brain cancer on December 14, 1972. He never stepped onto the ice again.”
Former Canucks teammate Orland Kurtenbach:
“We started out as just teammates, but then it turned out to be more than that because when Wayne got sick, when they found cancer, it became a different situation as time developed and I got more involved with his family.”
“Wayne was a guy that was very concerned about his family and always tried to do well as far as hockey is concerned. When he got the chance to play for the Canucks, he did very, very well and he was very dedicated.”
“Wayne, Murray Hall and I played together and we just clicked as a line. There aren’t too many situations where you get guys like the Sedins that worked so well together, but we did, we really played well together. “
“His passing was very traumatic for a lot of us. He was a good competitor, he was somebody that family was very important to and sometimes things aren’t fair. “
March 22, 1953 - September 16, 1995
Larry Ashley went to work at age 19 for the WHA Ottawa Nationals and followed that franchise to Toronto and Birmingham. For 16 years Ashley was a head trainer in the National Hockey League. The last 14 years of his career were spent with the Canucks, where he supervised and coordinated all medical aspects for the team, both on and off the ice, before he passed away following a valiant battle with cancer.
Canucks head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein:
“He was a great ambassador for young athletic trainers like myself coming through the American Hockey League and the NHL. He was someone who paved the road for NHL athletic trainers in a lot of ways and he did a lot of good things for people like myself and other therapists around the league. He was someone we all looked up to and appreciated all the work he did for athletic trainers.”
Former Canucks equipment manager Gerry Dean (from Canucks at Forty):
“He touched a tremendous number of people. That’s reflected in the fact he was named president of the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society (PHATS) and also served as president of the NHL Trainers’ Association.”
April 19, 1959 – July 18, 2007
Career: 1979 to 1986
From Legends of Hockey – Lupul signed as a free agent with the Canucks in 1979. The local product was a part-time player for the Canucks for four seasons and became a crowd favourite at the Pacific Coliseum. In 1982, he scored five points in ten games as the club reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in franchise history.
Thomas Gradin, a former teammate and scout with Lupul:
“He was a very Europeanized Canadian. Very agile, good hands, good vision, maybe not predictable but that was an advantage because you couldn’t calculate what he was going to do. Very nice guy, friendly, very warm hearted and funny, a very funny person. A great guy to be around, he for sure made a mark.
“I scout with him as well; you should have read his reports, we had so much fun reading them. He would say things like the “booties are fast,” meaning a player skated fast and hands he called “mitts,” his “mitts are slow” or “he has stiff mitts.” We had a lot of fun together.”
February 16, 1987 – May 29, 2008
Luc Bourdon first emerged onto the national stage and into the hearts of the Canucks family when the then 19-year old was drafted 10th overall in 2005 after impressing Canucks management with his raw ability as a member of Val d’Or of the QMJHL. Bourdon played 36 games in Vancouver, scoring two goals, before he passed away in a motor vehicle accident at age 21.
Alex Burrows, Bourdon’s former teammate and best friend:
“Luc was a great friend of mine. When he first came in, you could see the way he played with confidence at a young age that he had a great future ahead of him and he would have really evolved into a top player in the league. You look at when he played World Junior with Chris Letang and he was better than Letang then and now you look at Letang in Pittsburgh, he’s one of the top young D-men in the league. Obivously it would be awesome to play with Luc now. He was such a fun person to be around, he was really happy every time he stepped on the ice, he really liked Vancouver as an organization, the city and the team.”
“Every game, every national anthem I always think about him and I’m hoping that he’s looking down on me and that he’s able to help me out and able to help the team out.”