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Don’t go there: comparing the Canucks to the 1998 Red Wings is absurd

It’s this kind of fluff that really irritates my Wings fan’s sensibilities…Since January, it seems, the Vancouver press corps has regularly suggested that this year’s Canucks compare favorably to the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup-winning teams from the late 90’s, and this suggestion from the Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher is just...silly:

Not since the Detroit Red Wings of ‘98 has a team approached a Stanley Cup run the way the Vancouver Canucks seem to be tackling this at times.

To refresh, that was the year the Wings won the Cup despite the fact Chris Osgood fanned four shots from centre ice during their playoff run and that’s what he’s often remembered for even though he won three Cups and was the starter for two.

That’s where Nick Lidstrom got the idea to shoot from long range on Dan Cloutier in 2002. He’d seen them go in behind him in earlier playoffs.

This isn’t to say Roberto Luongo is Chris Osgood. Luongo has the reputation of being one of the best in the game whereas Osgood never reached that level and the loveable Wing never made $10 million U.S. per season nor managed the swagger and intimidation factor Lui often takes into games. But the Canuck goalie has given away just as many goals during this run although his choice of wrapping has varied considerably. If it isn’t a direct giveaway to Joe Thornton as it was Sunday night, it’s surrendering a shot from behind the goal line or dropping a rebound at an inconvenient space.

The similarity gets all the more riveting for Vancouver fans when when you consider how well now that Luongo is recovering from these gaffs, perhaps even stronger than Osgood ever did. No longer does a goal send him into a tizzy mentally leading to the second one which has always been the killer, but rather he comes back stronger than ever, his mental strength growing and his teammates seem to realize how much he’s been through mentally and how strong he’s become.

No. There is no similarity because the 1998 Red Wings had already won a Stanley Cup, and these Canucks haven’t done that yet.

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Comments

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Gallagher forgets to mention how when Ozzie was in the zone, he was one of the toughest goalies in the playoffs.

Posted by Ryan from Ohio on 05/16/11 at 03:32 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

You dismiss (correctly) the comparison to the 1998 Wings, but what would you have said if the comparison was to the 1997 Wings?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 03:55 AM ET

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Osgood never reached that level and the loveable Wing never made $10 million U.S. per season nor managed the swagger and intimidation factor Lui often takes into games.


Yeah, and he always had those damned Stanley Cup Championships hangin over his head. Lame.

I’ve been saying it for years: Luongo is easily one of the most overrated players in the game.

Posted by godblender on 05/16/11 at 03:55 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Regarding a 1997 Wings comparison, who’s Brendan Shanahan? Or Nicklas Lidstrom? or Mike Vernon? The comparison doesn’t work personnel-wise.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/16/11 at 05:04 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

These comparisons only make sense on a team level.  No two teams will have all the same style players at the same points in their careers at the same time.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 05:08 AM ET

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There’s an arrogance from the Vancouver players and coaches, as well as a majority of the Canadian media, that is a kind of repulsive.  The Canucks needed a 4:1 advantage in power plays and for the Sharks to blow another 3rd period lead to eek out a win at home after a long rest, so let’s slow down with the comparisons to some of the great teams of the last 20 years.

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 05:09 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Arrogance of the fans is a similarity grin

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 05:13 AM ET

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Arrogance of the fans is a similarity

Between Canucks and Wings fans, or between Canucks and Sharks fans?

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 05:15 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Vancouver and Detroit.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 05:16 AM ET

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Vancouver and Detroit.

Yeah, not a Wings fan but good effort.

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 05:19 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Sorry.  I don’t understand the point are making.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 05:21 AM ET

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I don’t understand the point are making.

The point is that I don’t think the comparison is wrong just because I’m a Wings fan, I think it’s wrong because I’m a hockey fan.  Comparing these Canucks to a team with 5 current or future Hall of Famers is a little ridiculous, don’t you think?

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 05:26 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

More than anything, I want to see the serious opinion of a Detroit Red Wing fan instead of outright dismissing the idea.

Its ambitious to compare any team with the 1997 Red Wings before that team wins their first Stanley Cup (if they ever do).  That said some team will be as good as the 1997 Red Wings.  Will we be able to pick them out before they win any Stanley Cups?  If we are astute hockey fans we should be able to.

I am not saying Vancouver is that team.  But they do have four players who I could project to having Hall of Fame careers in both Sedins, Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler.  That compares relatively well to the five Hall of Famers you claim on the Red Wings (incidentally which of - Yzerman, Shanahan, Lidstrom, Larionov, Fetisov and Fedorov do you claim is not a Hall of Famer?)

I would argue that no team today could be as good as the 1997 Red Wings.  I think the salary cap and liberalized free agency of the last CBA prevents them from even forming.

That said, I would still like to hear a Red Wing fan discuss the idea a bit without out right rejecting it.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 05:35 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

and Larry Murphy too.  So you reject 2 Hall of Famers?  Which 2?  I suppose in 1997 nobody was projecting Lidstrom to get there so you can reject him at that time.  Just as you could imagine some Canucks player could emerge as a hall of Famer who we do not project now.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 05:39 AM ET

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(incidentally which of - Yzerman, Shanahan, Lidstrom, Larionov, Fetisov and Fedorov do you claim is not a Hall of Famer?)

Forgot about Fetisov and Murphy, so that makes 7.  Of those 7, 3 are Hall of Fame defensemen and I don’t see anyone on the Canucks blueline with a chance to even sniff a nomination let alone enshrinement.

As far as current Canucks being projected as Hall of Famers, I could go either way on Luongo but there’s no way you can project anyone for the Hall of Fame before they’ve produced for at least 500 games (Kesler’s at 484).  There are just too many players who have put up 3-4 good years and then had fine careers that never reached those levels again, or in the case of someone like Lindros, put up some monster years and then dealt with career ending injuries.  I’m also hesitant at the moment to project the Sedins at this point because they haven’t been point a game players, haven’t produced in the playoffs, and aren’t noted for their 2 way play.  Obviously their per game averages are hurt by the fact that they started in the league so young and struggled in their first couple years, but they are 30 years old so chances are they don’t have more than 5 premiere seasons left.  I think they are borderline and it will come down to how healthy they stay for the next 5-7 years.

We all know how great Lidstrom and Yzerman and Shanahan were in their careers, but Federov may be the best player I’ve ever seen in person.  Granted I never saw Orr or Gretzky in his prime, but TV was never really able to capture the way Federov’s speed jumped out and impacted everything in those days.  You always knew when he was on the ice.  Even if you couldn’t see his number right away you could just tell.  The Canucks absolutely do not have anyone that is even close to what he was back then.

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 06:00 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

The reason I do not like your answer is you refuse to project into the future.  With that approach you won’t know that a team came along that is as good as the Detroit Red Wings until five years after somebody already did it.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 06:07 AM ET

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The reason I do not like your answer is you refuse to project into the future

I’m a small hall person so if you pinned me down I’d say no to Kesler, yes to Luongo (though I think he’s overrated), and no to the Sedins (though it will probably be close).  Regardless of exactly where I come down I don’t think it’s a stretch to call the Sedins and Kesler borderline whereas those Detroit teams had at least 3 guys who were clearly on a Hall of Fame track back then (Shanahan, Yzerman, Federov).

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 06:13 AM ET

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March 26, 1997. 

Thats what is needed to make a comparison to the 1997 Red Wings.

For me, as a Wings fan, any comparison to the 97 Wings, would need to include a March 26, 1997 moment.  Not neccesarily a fight, but some event, that served as a catalyst.  Uniting and motivating the team, and letting everyone know, that this year is different.  That this team will not be denied, and will overcome the adversity and disaspointment of previous years.

Then of course, they actually have to win the cup.

Posted by jwad on 05/16/11 at 06:29 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

My take is events like that are usually found in hindsight.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 06:31 AM ET

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So you think projecting the twins in the HOF is going out on a limb?

They are both Art Ross winners.  Every eligible Art Ross winner in history is in the HOF.  Everyone not yet eligible will be there unless injuries slow down Malkin. 

I’d say not projecting them as HOF-ers is a big stretch.

Posted by CallMeJerry on 05/16/11 at 06:35 AM ET

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They are both Art Ross winners.  Every eligible Art Ross winner in history is in the HOF.

How many Art Ross winners won their first and potentially only awards at age 29 or 30?  My guess would be not many.  Both twins are currently well under 1 pt/gm for their careers, have had no playoff success, do not rack up PIMs (ie fights) and are not known as shutdown players.  Depending on what they do over the next 5 years they may get closer to 1 pt/gm but I think it’s unlikely they finish their careers above that mark and there are a number of guys who are over 1 pt/gm that are not in the HOF.  If you don’t believe me check this list:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/leaders/points_per_game_career.html

I’m not saying pts/gm is the end all be all, but when all you are really bringing to the table is scoring you had better do it at a historically elite level and thus far they haven’t done that.

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 06:40 AM ET

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My take is events like that are usually found in hindsight.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 04:31 AM ET

My point is that the comparison should be less about individual players and player stats.  Whether there were 5 or 6 HOFs on each team, or How many points per game, is kinda silly. 

There are some parrallels for both teams for sure.  Long cup droughts, being considered a contender for several years, several years of playoff disapointment high expectations, etc. 


All of this is pointless unless Vancouver wins 7 more games.

Posted by jwad on 05/16/11 at 07:37 AM ET

Chet's avatar

this story is trash. there is no comparison, we all know it.

please do not waste space, GM. we value your voice; to dilute it with this level of silliness is demeaning to you and your readers.

we all know you guys have to pay bills, but…seriously?

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 05/16/11 at 07:41 AM ET

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Because no one can possibly compare to the sainted Winged Wheel, right?

Tony has every right to make the comparison.  Its about the best team in the league winning the Cup.

That’s the comparison.

Your haughty dismissal is pretty funny.  It makes no matter that one is your valued team, and another is one you think sucks.

Thats it. Period.

Posted by dan on 05/16/11 at 08:06 AM ET

thethirdcoast's avatar

There’s an arrogance from the Vancouver players and coaches, as well as a majority of the Canadian media, that is a kind of repulsive.

RoneFace correctly posits that the entitlement attitude is the bothersome factor.

Detroit and many of their fans, including myself, had that same attitude in 1995 and we were all humbled in the SC Finals by New Jersey.

After Detroit went down to Colorado in the ‘96 WCF myself and many other fans that I knew really started to wonder if that core of players could really win the Cup in Detroit. I remember having a lot of doubts even after Shanahan was acquired from Hartford and March 26th happened.

Posted by thethirdcoast from Algiers, DZ on 05/16/11 at 08:31 AM ET

monkey's avatar

The Red Wings appeared in the Stanley Cup Final three times in four years from 1995 to 1998, winning twice.

Comparing any team in the the cap age to the 1998 Red Wings does not work.

If I had to pick a Wings team to compare this Canucks team to, it would be 2007.  Don’t like the comparision too much myself, but that is the closest one I can come up with.

Its about the best team in the league winning the Cup.

The Vancouver Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup nor have they earned the label of “best team in the league”.  Saying the Canucks are the best team in the league is exactly like saying San Jose has vanquished their playoff demons (hint: it is only possible for one of these things to come true later this year.  The other will have to wait).

I like the idea that all you have to do to prove your worthiness to the Hall is lead the league in points once.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 05/16/11 at 09:06 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

You dismiss (correctly) the comparison to the 1998 Wings, but what would you have said if the comparison was to the 1997 Wings?
Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 01:55 AM ET

There is a critical swing and miss being conducted by this entire comparison, that being that the 1995 Red Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup finals and the 1996 Red Wings advanced to the Campbell Conference finals.

I think it is foolish to compare this Canucks team to anything related to a team that made it to a cup finals in the history of the game.  Perhaps in another week or so, this article (using a different team) will be a relevant discussion.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 05/16/11 at 10:56 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Who cares?

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 05/16/11 at 11:07 AM ET

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I guess the question is why compare them to the 1998 Wings? Why not the 1996 Avalanche? Or the 2010 Blackhawks? All teams with some highly skilled players, some hunger and some grit.

I don’t really see an Yzerman-type player on the Canucks. Honestly of any current player, Toews seems more in the mold of an Yzerman or a Sakic—a serious franchise leading play-making captain. The Sedins seem to be their own thing. A synergistic one-two punch that have dominated in the regular season, but apart from Henrik’s game winner last night, they have yet to really put much of a stamp on these playoffs. Kesler, well, the analogy to Messier might have something, but he doesn’t seem to match up with any late 90s Red Wing. He doesn’t have the astonishing speed and skill of Federov and he isn’t a power forward like Shanahan. And I’m sure plenty of Canucks fans would be appalled to have Luongo compared to Osgood, even if Osgood is perhaps underrated and has three Stanley Cups and Luongo is perhaps overrated and probably overpaid has a gold medal. Honestly, the Canucks seem more like a 2008 or 2009 Wings team. The Sedins and Kesler having more in common with Datsyuk and Zetterberg than Stevie or Shanny or Federov, and of course Michael Samuelson is a common denominator.

Though really, it seems that probably 3 out of the 4 remaining teams can be compared to some Red Wings team of the last 15 years or owe some debt to the Red Wings model. McClellan has brought some Red Wings style of coaching and play to the Sharks, and Stevie Y obviously brought some Red Wings brain trust ideas to the Lightning (and Scotty Bowman praised the 1-3-1 and compared it to what he was doing for a while in the late ‘90s), and the Canucks keep being compared to the Wings for their Swedes and their puck possession style of play. Can’t really think of a Wings analogy for the Bruins though.

But none of these teams have won anything yet. So we’ll see.

Posted by anony2 on 05/16/11 at 12:06 PM ET

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Honestly, the Sharks (should they make the finals) compare better to those Wings of old. Plenty of regular season success and a second trip to the conference final (with no playoff success yet). A core of guys who have have been on the team for a few years now, and all look great on paper, but just can’t seem to win the big one.

I know it sounds sacrilegious now, but remember when a lot of the crap people say about Joe Thornton used to be said about Steve Yzerman? Not saying that Joe is even close to Steve on the leadership spectrum, but winning (or not winning) championships has a noticeable effect on how players are perceived, rightly or wrongly.

Again, no one can really “compare” to the 97 Wings in this era because no team can ever be that stacked again. But the history of regular season success with no reward, playoff runs that get tantalizingly close then fizzle out, constant questioning of the organization and players and doubts about their ability to close the deal—that is what the Sharks know today, and that’s what the ‘93-‘96 Red Wings knew all to well.

In my mind, that’s a better comparison than Vancouver, which has not matched San Jose’s regular season OR playoff success since the lockout (until this year, the Canucks’ last trip to the conference finals was in 1994), and have a core largely constructed of guys who are either new to the team (the defense was largely remade this season) or have only recently become elite players (Sedins, Kesler).

Detroit in the 90s was built slowly, and had to get through several seasons of disappointing failure and heartbreak before winning. San Jose’s in close to the same boat. Vancouver is not.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/16/11 at 12:30 PM ET

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Really, the only relevant comments are Chet’s and MsRedWinger.  Tony Gallagher is a meally mouthed nasal-toned erudite little weasel that most of us Canuck fans loathe with a passion.  When you haven’t won nothing yet it’s pretty bad karma to project in that fashion.  He’s not worth the keystrokes, end of story.

Posted by MattinSurrey on 05/16/11 at 03:24 PM ET

UMFan's avatar

I can’t believe nobody has mentioned the accident involving Vladdy. That should be the end of the arguement right there in terms of the 98 team. Vancouver doesn’t have that type of incident to deal with, thankgoodness. That accident made that team unique as it has an impact on both a team’s psyche and their ability. You see it sometimes when teams have something tragic happen; ie 2007 Indiana football team where Hoeppner died or the 2001 Yankees with 9/11. Sometimes it works out in their favor, sometimes it doesn’t. But in my mind, the only team that could compare with the 1998 team or any other team that endured something like that would have to endure a simular tragedy.

With the 1997 team, I think that March 26, 1997 had a lot to do with that run. Without it, I think Colorado would still be in their heads and they lose that series and the team gets blown up. Vancouver doesn’t have that nemesis to vanquish just yet.

Posted by UMFan from Denver, Colorado on 05/16/11 at 03:43 PM ET

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Its about the best team in the league winning the Cup.

Have they proven to be the best team yet though?  They played in one of the weakest divisions in recent memory so I’m not as impressed by their season point total as some others apparently are.  I’ve seen a lot of people talk about this Canucks team like they are some juggernaut (hence the 98 Wings comparison) and I just don’t see it.  The Canucks may go on to win the cup (though I think they’re in for a tough series because they got every break and still had to come from behind in the 3rd at home), but I don’t see the Canucks as some historically great team that people outside of Vancouver will be telling their kids about some day.  In ten years will anyone marvel at how the Canucks were able to put together a team with the Sedins, Kesler, Luongo, Burrows, Bieksa, Ehrhoff, and Max Lapierre?

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 06:06 PM ET

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Good Lord , get over yourselves.

It is hilarious how butthurt you guys get over stuff like this.

Its a perfect comparison.  The Canucks ran away with the league.  Its a comparison about one YEAR’S team, not the whole history of the Wings.

Which, BTW, your team has never had a season as dominant as that one. #1 in GF. #1 in GA. #1 in PP. #3 in PK.

Plus, the dismissal about the division is just sad.  The Canucks had a similar record against the Central and Pacific.

I guess that was just luck though huh?

What a bunch of anal retentive folks over here. Does this happen every time the Wings get beaten?

Posted by dan on 05/16/11 at 07:48 PM ET

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Which, BTW, your team has never had a season as dominant as that one. #1 in GF. #1 in GA. #1 in PP. #3 in PK.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995–96_NHL_season

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/16/11 at 07:54 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Just to summarize the Red Wings 1995/96 season that Sven links to.  Goals for 3rd.  Goals against 1st.  Power Play 2nd.  Penalty Kill 1st.  Playoffs: SemiFinal loss.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/11 at 08:07 PM ET

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The short point being:

1. Yes, the Red Wings have had a regular season as dominant as this year’s Canucks. More dominant, really. SIXTY TWO wins. No other team even broke 50.

2. No, regular season dominance doesn’t earn you jack, as the Red Wings’ playoff loss to the Avs that year proved.

Hey, I like the Canucks and I’d feel just fine and dandy about them winning the Cup this season. And I do believe that they’re the best team in the NHL by a fairly wide margin. But enough with the proclamations of this simply “being their year” before the third round is even done. They’ve still got two mountains left to climb.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/16/11 at 08:23 PM ET

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Plus, the dismissal about the division is just sad.  The Canucks had a similar record against the Central and Pacific.

The Canucks had the two worst teams in hockey in their division.  They finished 6 wins ahead of the Sharks and 7 wins ahead of the Wings while the Sharks played 6 more games against playoff teams and the Wings played 4.  You’re crazy if you don’t think consistently playing against a lower level of competition in less meaningful games is not a benefit.

Posted by RoneFace on 05/16/11 at 08:34 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Its a perfect comparison.  The Canucks ran away with the league.  Its a comparison about one YEAR’S team, not the whole history of the Wings.

The 1998 Red Wings did not run away with the league, nor even their own conference.  They were #2 in the West and #3 overall.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 05/16/11 at 10:52 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.