Tag Archives: Roger Neilson


by Ron Spence



The boring people select chairs. They sit and watch games while eating their wife’s homemade popcorn. They have maybe one beer, two if their team gets to the Stanley Cup finals. Unfortunately, the guys sitting on the Montreal chairs will probably be drinking lots of beer this season.

The people who wander a little closer to the edge fork out for more daring items.

Brian Helm, a chef from St. Augustine, Florida takes no prisoners.

Over a urinal in the Men’s Room of his restaurant, is the caption: “I wanted a Pittsburgh Steelers bar, but this is what I got.”

His Steel Curtain biffy stands below Superbowl memorabilia.


You too can have your own jock biffy.

Next spring they will be auctioning off parts of the Wachovia Spectrum, before the implosion takes place. Rumours that the Broad St. Bullies will be showing up with sledge hammers are just that – rumours.

There will of course be seats – or benches – for those of you who are boring.

But, more important, there will be: two penalty box doors, plus doors from both the Home and Visitors’ benches.

Myself, I would like the door to the Flyers’ Coaches room. I was a big fan of both Fred Shero and Pat Quinn. I know Bob MacCammon, now a Detroit scout who attends games at GM Place, and have enjoyed talking to Ken Hitchcock, Roger Neilson and Terry Simpson.

A new door to my office would be great.



There will be the parts from the old kiosks, where they sold hot dogs and beers – great for the family room.

My second preference – if I lived in Philly – would be a window from the GM’s office.

I would stand and look out my new window, and wonder what Russ Farwell was thinking when he structured the Lindros trade.

To get Lindros, he gave up: Steve Duchesne, Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci and Chris Simon.

And then he threw in two first round draft picks and $15 million bucks to boot.

Sure, Philadelphia improved after the trade, but they could have gotten a lot better had they kept those players and hired a different coach.

Just keeping Forsberg alone would have been better than Eric.

As it was, Philadelphia would pay Forsberg $11.5 million over two years – 2005 until 2007 – at the same time that Toronto signed Lindros to a $1.55 million, one year contract.

Of course, I won’t be looking for any Rocky sports memorabilia in the old Spectrum. The arena was just set up for Establishing Shots, but the two Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed movies were actually filmed in Los Angeles.

Something I will bid on – and can have shipped out to the West Coast – will be the mirror from the GM’s bathroom.

I will stare into it and ask, “Bobby, what did you see? And what were you thinking?”



The Shibe Park stadium hit the dust – old school, wrecker and balls, etc. – in 1976.

In 2009 they will be blowing up the Spectrum. Hopefully you will have part of it in your home beforehand.


If you really want to enjoy yourself, read the DEMOLITION FORUM WEBSITE below.

Now, those guys know how to have a good time.



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