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19 Stories: Award winning

by Jen Rollins / Vancouver Canucks

After a season and a half of moderate success with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Markus Naslund came to Vancouver with new horizons on the forefront.

The dawning of a new era, Naslund developed his game alongside the likes of Mark Messier, Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure in the early goings.

Prior to entering the NHL, Naslund had earned recognition overseas in his native Sweden by earning the Sven Tumbas Award as the best forward at a U-16 tournament in Sweden in 1988. His success in Europe had paved the way to the NHL and by 2000, with the Canucks, Naslund had rounded his game into form.

In the early 2000s, Naslund would capture the attention of fellow Swedish NHLers as they voted him the best Swedish player in the NHL, granting him the Viking Award in 2001.

By 2003, Naslund hit his stride and would post a career year, finishing the season with 104 points (48-56-104). Following a successful regular season and after recording 14 points (5-9-14) in 14 playoff games, he would become the first Canucks player and third European born player to receive the Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) after being voted the League’s MVP by his peers.

That same year, he would again receive the Viking Award as voted by his fellow Swedish NHLers. He topped off his banner year by being selected by The Hockey News as the NHL MVP and by being named a Hart Trophy finalist.

A true Canucks pioneer, he became the first and only three-time First Team All-Star and has represented Vancouver at the NHL All-Star Game more than any other member of the Vancouver Canucks. He appeared at the All-Star Game on five occasions, captaining the Western Conference team in 2004. That same season, he won his third and final Viking Award. Only Mats Sundin was awarded more Viking Awards with four in his own 18-year NHL career.

One of the most decorated Canucks in franchise history, Naslund finished his NHL career with a plethora of accolades. His scoring prowess and impact while playing for Vancouver earned him team awards like the Cyclone Taylor Trophy (team MVP), Cyrus H. McLean Trophy (leading scorer), Molson Cup (most game star selections during the season) and Most Exciting Player. He won each award multiple times.

The quiet Swede led with dazzling performances on the ice and deservedly received recognition during the course of his 15-year career in the NHL.

Fittingly, December 11th he’ll be awarded the highest honour a franchise can afford its player when his number is retired.

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