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Garth Butcher signing

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

It didn’t take long for fans to start rolling into Rogers Arena and line up to spend some time with former Canucks defenseman Garth Butcher.

Interestingly enough, the woman who gave Garth the 1986-1987 Hume Award for being the team’s unsung hero was in attendance. She remembered Garth for his tough style of play on the ice, and for his kind nature off of it.

Butcher was a top prospect as a junior player and was a member of the first Canadian team to win gold at the World Junior Championship. Butcher played in the National Hockey League for 14 seasons from 1981–82 to 1994–95, mostly with the Vancouver Canucks.

Shortly after winning the gold medal as a junior, he was called up to the NHL to join the Canucks for five regular-season games (debuting January 7, 1982) and one play-off game in the team's run to the Stanley Cup final.

After splitting part of the next season with the Canucks' farm team, and the Fredericton Express, Butcher became a staple of the NHL club's defence. Butcher became known for his defensive prowess, with his best offensive season in 1987–88 when he recorded 23 points (6 goals and 17 assists).

Butcher played an aggressive style and earned a reputation as a classic "needler" who distracted opponents or provoked them into taking penalties. In 1989, Gerard Gallant of the Detroit Red Wings was suspended five games for retaliating and deliberately attempting to injure Butcher.

Butcher was not a prolific fighter but was still regarded as a tough, capable opponent. In his near-decade and 610 games with the Canucks, Butcher amassed a club-record 1,668 penalty minutes, a mark eventually broken by Gino Odjick.

His perseverance and battling attitude earned him the respect of the Canuck fans and team. After his retirement, the Canucks organization placed him in the sixth spot on their list of the 50 Greatest Canucks of all time.

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