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From the vault to the bank

by Jen Rollins / Vancouver Canucks
A trip through the NHL's storied past runs as long as an Olympic marathon under the Beijing sun. Whether it's first goals, second chances, Cinderella stories or heated rivalries, there's no shortage of content when taking a look back. With the season about to get under way, now seems as good a time as any to delve into that vault of hockey lore and take a closer look at a piece of Canucks past and hopefully get a glimpse into a certain Canuck's future.

With the city abuzz about Mats Sundin's status, it seems appropriate that this trip down the Canucks memory lane leads right to another former Toronto Maple Leafs captain. As they say, history has a way of repeating itself. This time though, the saga doesn't revolve around a player's decision to lace up for a certain team or hang up the skates period. This glance down memory lane is all about looking back to see what's ahead.


In the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, former Canucks General Manager, Jake Milford used his fifth overall pick to draft a prolific and edgy winger in Rick Vaive. Vaive made his NHL debut when he dressed in his first contest as a Canuck to start the 1979-80 season. The 6'0" winger collected 21 points in his first 47 games with the Canucks before going the other way in a trade with the Maple Leafs that would bring fan-favorite and scoring enforcer, Dave "Tiger" Williams, and Jerry Butler to the Canucks.


In his second year in the league and his first full season with the Maple Leafs, Vaive collected 62 points in 75 games, finishing the year with 33 goals. The scoring output was no flash in the pan. The following season, Vaive went on to become the first Maple Leaf to tally 50 goals in a single season when he collected a career-high 54 goals. Perhaps more impressive was that he accomplished the feat in just his third season in the NHL and with the added pressure that comes with a leadership position. He achieved the franchise milestone the same year he earned team captaincy. That 54-goal mark continues to hold the franchise record for most goals in a single season.

The fiery winger would rally off three consecutive 50-goal seasons while wearing the C for the Toronto franchise. And though his role diminished in his final years with the Maple Leafs, Vaive remains a memorable part of the Maple Leafs family and continues to be involved with the team as a vital alumnus member.

Though his strongest affiliation rests with the Maple Leafs, Vaive didn’t end his NHL career with the white and blue. He played out his last five NHL seasons outside of Toronto. The three-time all-star finally dressed in his last NHL contest as a member of the Buffalo Sabres in 1991-92, although he would come full circle when he dressed in 38 games for the AHL Hamilton Canucks in 1992-93. But for all intents and purposes, it's not the way Vaive ended his career as a professional hockey player that's significant. In this case it's all about beginnings.


Last season, Canucks fans fell in love with another speedy, dynamic winger. That flashy forward, Mason Raymond, joined the Canucks via the 2005 NHL Entry draft courtesy of former General Manger, Dave Nonis. Nonis used the 51st overall pick on the 6'0" forward. After two years in the NCAA playing for Minnesota-Duluth, Raymond earned a spot on the big club's roster following an eye-catching training camp. The Calgary, AB native’s speed and flare for the game caught the attention of management, coaches and fans alike. Now, through his first 49 games in the league, he's still raising eyebrows and grabbing his opponents' attention. Though a knee injury cut his season short, he showed fans enough flash to earn expectations for his future output.

Like Vaive, Raymond finished his rookie campaign with the Canucks by collecting a solid 21 points. The statistical similarities take different paths when it comes to the box though. Vaive amassed a solid 111 penalty minutes his rookie year while Raymond stayed out of the sin bin, collecting only two minutes all year. Penalty minutes aside, these two are cut from the same mold. Similar in size and sharing the same position, both Vaive and Raymond both showed a tenacity and knack for scoring from the get-go. A trait any Canucks fan fully embraces.


With training camp around the corner and a noticeably different roster than last year, the stars have aligned for Raymond to step into an invaluable scoring role with the Canucks. If his memorable goal on February 21 against the Nashville Predators is any indication, Raymond has a bright future full of highlight reel plays just waiting to be made. With his explosive speed and laser beam shot, for Raymond and the Canucks, the sky’s the limit.

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