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A brief history of the Vancouver Canucks

by Michael Stainkamp
The Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL in 1970, along with the Buffalo Sabres as part of the second NHL expansion.

The team was placed in the strong Eastern Division and went its first four seasons without a winning record. After realignment placed the Canucks in the newly formed Smythe Division, they finished with a 38-32-10 mark in 1974-75, winning the division and making the playoffs, though they lost in the quarterfinals to the Montreal Canadiens in five games. They made the playoffs the following year as well, but were swept by the Islanders in a preliminary series.

After those two seasons of success, the Canucks didn't have another winning record for the next 16 seasons. Even so, the team only failed to make the playoffs six times during that stretch.

In 1982, after a 30-33-17 regular season, the Canucks made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final, posting an 11-2 record through the first three rounds against the Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks became the first western-based NHL team to play in the Cup Final in 56 years. They were facing the defending champs, the Islanders, in the NHL's first ever coast-to-coast final. The improbable run came to an end when they were swept by the Islanders.

The team remained competitive throughout the 1980s, but didn't win a postseason series again until 1992. The Canucks saw success in 1992 and 1993, winning back-to-back division titles, but couldn't continue the success into the playoffs and were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers in 1992 and the Kings in 1993.

The 1994 season was a thrilling one for Canucks fans. They ended the season as the seventh seed in the newly named Western Conference but, reminiscent of the '82 team, made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final. They beat the Flames in seven games, and the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs in five games each. They were matched up against the New York Rangers, in the second coast-to-coast final. The series went the distance as the Canucks rallied from a 3-1 deficit before the Rangers ended their Cinderella run.

The Canucks have had a lot of regular-season success over the past few years, winning their division in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Like their early days, the regular-season success hasn’t transpired into the postseason and the team is looking to take the next step as it enters its 40th year of existence.
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