Tag Archives: Marcel Dionne


by Ron Spence

Vancouver wasn’t always a hockey hotbed.

A quarter of a century after hockey was highly popular in eastern Canada, many Vancouver fans still hadn’t see a game.

“Most of [opening night fans] had never seen a hockey game before, but they became ardent enthusiasts long before the finish,”The Province wrote in 1912.

Vancouver supporters remained enthusiastic as the Millionaires (later called the Maroons) became a winning team. They took the PCHA titles in 1915, 1919, 1921 and 1923, and played for the Stanley Cup in 1915, 1918, 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1924.

They won Lord Stanley their first try, in 1915, but never again.



Vancouver fans were deprived of great hockey when the coast league folded in 1926, but the semi-pro PCHL circuit (which was renamed the North West Hockey League in 1933, and re-renamed the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1936) premiered two years later. The new Vancouver Lions won five titles in thirteen years, before folding in 1941 (The Vancouver Forum was built prior to the 1934-35 season, but had only 3500 seats. When the Denman Arena burnt down in 1936, it became Vancouver’s premier rink.).

A new team, the Canucks started playing after the War. Continuing the tradition of the Millionaires and Lions, the Canucks won the PCHL Championship their second season in the league. In 1953, the PCHL and the Western Canada Senior Hockey Leagues merged and formed the Western Hockey League. The Canucks won the championship Lester Patrick Cup in 1958, 1960, 1969 and 1970.

Vancouver fans supported their minor league Canucks, but still wanted a Big Tent team of their own. They were disappointed when the NHL doubled in 1967, without including a Vancouver franchise.

But, they optimistically built the 16,000-seat Pacific Coliseum, which housed the WHL’s Canucks for two and one-half years.


THE PACIFIC COLISEUM - courtesy of http://www.vancouver2010.com

Finally, Vancouver along with Buffalo, were admitted to the NHL in 1970 for a $6 million fee. Norman “Bud” Poile was named the Canucks’ first GM, and Hal Laycoe their inaugural coach.

Vancouver’s first NHL game was held on October 9, 1970 against the L.A. Kings. The game was broadcast on the CBC and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Premier W.A.C. Bennett, and NHL President Clarence Campbell attended. The NHL Canucks lost their first contest 3-1, but beat Toronto 5-3 two nights later.

Vancouver finished their first season with 24 wins and 56 points, placing them ahead of California and Detroit in the standings. As would be the case for most of the franchise’s history, Vancouver finished near the bottom of the league, but never low enough to take that year’s best draft picks. Montreal had traded for California’s pick, and took Guy Lafleur, while Detroit selected Marcel Dionne. Vancouver would take Jocelyn Guevremont.

Their second season, the Canucks finished with only 20 wins and 48 points, a franchise low. The team continued to falter, and by 1981 the Canucks had yet to win more than one playoff game in a series, let alone a series.



But then things changed in 1982. With players like goalie Richard Brodeur, Tiger Williams, Thomas Gradin, Stan Smyl and Ivan Boldirev the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup finals, before being swept by the New York Islanders.

Vancouver had beaten Calgary, Los Angeles and Chicago to get a sniff of the Cup.

During the Blackhawks’ series, Vancouver coach Roger Neilson waved a white towel at referee Bob Myers, after a bad call. Tiger Williams and other Canucks then hoisted towels on their sticks, and further taunted the ref. Thus, towel power was created, and Vancouver fans have since waved white flags in support of their team.

Following the series, 100,000 fans lined Vancouver’s streets to salute their parading Canucks. It was twelve years before another parade, however.

Then, led by the offense of Russian-born Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden, Geoff Courtnall, Cliff Ronning and Gus Adams, and the goaltending of Kirk McLean, the Canucks came back from a three to one deficit, to win three overtime games against the Calgary Flames. Next they beat Minnesota and Toronto, to represent the west in the finals.

The Canucks pushed the highly favoured Rangers to seven games, before New York ended their fifty-four year drought to win the Cup. The final 1994 game came down to a faceoff to the right of Mike Richter, with 1.6 seconds left to play.

The Canucks returned to Vancouver at 5:40 the following morning, to tens of thousands of fans.

They were every bit as ardent as the Millionaires’ supporters had been eight decades before.


The above was written for the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame

HOCKEY SALARIES: 1987 1988 1989 1990

by Ron Spence

When Bob Goodenough took over the NHLPA in February, 1990, he introduced salary disclosure. It’s something that’s taken for granted today.

How important was it?

Wayne Greztky’s father, Walter admitted to Terry Jones: “I knew Wayne was getting traded days before he did because Nelson Skalbania phoned me and asked, ‘How much does Wayne make?’

I said ‘Why?’

He said ‘Because Peter’s shopping him to the highest bidder.’

I said ‘No he’s not.’

He said ‘Yes he is.’

That was during the 1988 Stanley Cup finals – a year and a half before salary disclosure.

Of course Pocklington knew how much his star was making, as did Wayne and his father, but it wasn’t public knowledge like it is today.

Hockey Zone Plus has compiled a comprehensive database of some 2500 players who’ve played in the NHL from 1989 until the present.

Also, a hockey fan, who calls himself Ogopogo, has located copies of Sport magazine, which ceased publishing in 2000. In his issues were the: 1987, 1990, and 1991 NHL salaries.

I have included the Hockey Zone’s 1990 salaries, along with those listed by Sport.

I would note, however, that the two lists for 1990 aren’t always the same – some are calculated in American funds, some Canadian. But, I am including both, as they provide a good idea of NHL salaries at that time.

I would ask the reader to also note, that the years from 1987 until 1990, was the time in which Offer Sheets were first being presented.

SPORT – June, 1987

1. Wayne Gretzky – Oilers – $950,000 CDN – (converted to $717,250 USD)
2. Marcel Dionne – Rangers – $700,000
3. Mike Bossy – Islanders – $650,000
4. Bryan Trottier – Islanders – $625,000
5. Dave Taylor – Kings – $600,000
6. Mario Lemieux – Penguins – $550,000
5. Denis Potvin – Islanders – $550,000
8. Mike Liut – Whalers – $450,000
9. Rod Langway – Capitals – $400,000
10. Barry Pederson – Canucks – $350,000

SPORT – June, 1989

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2 million
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $1.5 million
3. Trottier – Islanders – $950,000
4. Taylor – Kings – $700,000
5. Dionne – Rangers – $600,000
6. Liut – Whalers – $550,000
7. Goulet – Nordiques – $510,000
8. Messier – Oilers – $510,000
9. Savard – Blackhawks – $500,000
10. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
11. Duguay – Kings – $475,000
12. Hawerchuk – Jets – $467,500
13. Stastny – Nordiques – $446,250
14. Carpenter – Bruins – $425,000
15. LaFontaine – Islanders – $425,000
16. Gustafsson – Capitals – $410,000
17. Stevens -Capitals – $400,000
18. Pederson – Canucks – $400,000
19. Bourque – Bruins – $380,000
20. Fuhr – Oilers – $340,000
20. Robinson – Canadiens – $340,000

SPORT – June, 1990

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2.72 milion
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $2.15 million
3. Chelios – Canadiens – $1 million
4. Trottier – Islanders – $975,000
5. Taylor – Kings – $950,000
6. Bourque – Bruins – $925,000
7. Messier – Oilers – $875,000
8. Nicholls – Rangers – $725,000
9. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000
10. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $600,000
11. Carson – Oilers – $585,000
12. Robinson – Kings – 550,000
13. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000
14. Dineen – Whalers – $510,000
15. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000
16. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000
17. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000
18. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
19. Stastny – Nordiques – $480,000
20. Hawerchuk – Jets – $462,000

HOCKEY ZONE PLUS – 1989-90 (U.S. Dollars)

1. Lemieux – Penguins – $2,000,000

2. Gretzky – Kings – $1,720,000

3. Messier – Oilers – $855,271

4. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000

5. Trottier – Islanders – $ 575,000

6. Robinson – Kings – $550,000

7. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000

8. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $517,980

9. Bourque – Bruins – $500,000

10. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000

11. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000

12. Taylor – Kings- $500,000

13. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000

14. Chelios – Canadiens – $496,398

15. Coffey – Penguins – $450,000

16. Liut – Capitals – $445,000

17. Salming – Maple Leafs – $435,000

18. Kurri – Oilers – $431,650

19. Howe – Flyers – $425,000

20. Stastny – Nordiques – $414,384

21. MacInnis – Flames – $410,068

22. Sandstrom – Kings – $410,000

23. LaFontaine – Islanders – $400,000

24. Nicholls – Rangers – $400,000

25. Gartner – Capitals – $400,000

25. Carson – Oilers – $400,000


by Ron Spence

It’s been going on a month since Detroit hoisted the Stanley Cup, a week since the Kings hired a new coach, and the Islanders are now looking for one of their own.
Thinking of these three teams, reminds me of one of hockey’s finest gentlemen, Dave Lewis.
Dave played with the Islanders from 1973-74 until 1979-80, when he was traded to the Kings. He played in L.A. from 1979-80 until 1982-83, then to New Jersey for three years, and finally a season and a bit in Detroit, before retiring during the 1987-88 season.
Dave was an assistant coach in Detroit for 15 seasons, under three coaches, and had his name engraved on the Cup twice as an assistant. He succeeded Scotty Bowman in 2002, a month after Bowman had won a record-ninth Stanley Cup. Lewis had 48-victory seasons in 2002-03 and 2003-04, but his contract wasn’t renewed when his teams didn’t advance beyond the second round.
Lewis coached the Bruins during the 2006-07 season, and was fired when Boston didn’t reach the post-season. And last season, he was named an assistant by Marc Crawford, but when Crawford left, so did Dave.

Dave Lewis has thus been in the NHL for well over three and a half decades, and has coached and played with some of the best players in the game’s history.
A few years back I talked to him about some of these stars.

The following is an excerpt from an article which I wrote, and was published by Vancouver’s Sports Vue magazine:


On bottom-feeding teams, Marcel Dionne still accumulated a remarkable 1771 points in 1348 games. He played in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York from 1971 to 1989. He won the Art Ross Trophy once and was the runner up three times.

“The first thing,” Lewis says, “Marcel was very exciting. He was quick, skilled, and very dangerous in the offensive zone. Marcel wasn’t a big guy but he had very outstanding lateral movement. He could beat a defenseman or two just going laterally. And I think Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor really complimented Marcel in his offensive production. Charlie Simmer was just a natural goal scorer from 10 or 12 feet in. It seemed any time he had the puck close to the goalie he could find a way to get it in. Dave Taylor on the other hand was the ultimate worker. He was the guy to go in and forecheck, hit players, digging pucks out for Marcel. But, Marcel had great vision. All these players have a tremendous vision of the ice.”


Mike Bossy entered the league a half a decade after Dionne. He played from 1977-78 to 1986-87. His career was hampered by a back injury, but he tallied 1126 points in 752 games. Bossy won four Stanley Cups and the Conn Smythe Trophy with the Islanders.

”My analogy of him,” Lewis explains, “is a shark just waiting to feed on other teams’ goaltenders. Very dangerous. Outstanding shot. He always knew where the goal was from the marks on the ice. He knew if the goalie was a standup goalie or a flopping goalie and would shoot accordingly. He never missed the net. He didn’t have the lateral movement like Marcel. He’d put the puck through you and slip by you. He was a very slippery-type player. Marcel used the ice more, but Mike would patrol down the right side and rarely get on the other side of the rink.”


Bryan Trottier was Bossy’s linemate. He played from 1975-76 to 1993-94 and accumulated 1410 points in 1238 games. He won the Art Ross Trophy once and was the runnerup a second year. Like Bossy, Trottier won both the Calder and Conn Smythe Trophies. Because of his aggressive play, Trottier never won the Lady Byng like Dionne and Bossy. But, he was the runnerup for the Frank J. Selke Trophy. And as Dionne had been nominated for the Hart Trophy (for the value to his team), Trottier won the award once and was a runner-up twice.

”Bryan was more of a bulldog type,” Lewis continues, “where he’d go right through you. He’d challenge you physically. He would go to the net and defy you to move him. He would get into traffic and make plays. He’d draw two players to him and feed Bossy. That was more his style. He was more a strong, bull-headed player who would challenge the other team to stop him.

“Try ‘n stop me!” was his attitude.

As Trottier and Bossy were Calder winners, Stevie Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov were runners-up. Yzerman entered the NHL in 1983-84 and accumulated 1755 points in 1514 games before retiring after the 2005-06 campaign. Fedorov joined Detroit in 1990-91, has played on three other teams to date, and had 1146 points in 1196 games by  last April.


According to Lewis, Yzerman is ”kind of a cross between Marcel and Brian. Stevie is highly-skilled. Has tremendous vision of the ice. And he also has that determination. But, he has that ability to beat you one-on-one. He doesn’t go through you as much as around you like a Bossy. But, he also challenges you.

He says, ‘Try and stop me!’

That’s been his strength. His skating is something when he’s going. He’s just dancing on the ice. He has Marcel’s lateral movement. He can beat you one-on-one. The puck finds a way to go in for him.”


Like Trottier, Fedorov has been rewarded for both his defense and offense. He has been a runner-up for the Art Ross Trophy and has won, and been the runner-up for, the Frank J. Selke Trophy. And like Dionne, he has won the Lester B. Pearson Award.

“Federov is a tremendously skilled skater, a power skater,” Lewis concludes. “And tremendous hands. He can go through you. He can go around you. He can beat you one-on-one. He can take the puck from behind your net to the other end. He’s one of the few guys who can do it now, in today’s game with such great skaters as there are. He’s one of the best skaters is the league.”


So, who’s the best of these legends? Lewis won’t say.

He just smiles that, “They’re all great players and all of them will be in the Hall of Fame.”

But, he’ll admit who was the best he played against.

“I remember playing against Bobby Orr,” he grins, “and I was on the left side and he went around me like I was standing still.”