February 5, 2023

Rick Tocchet replaced Bruce Boudreau on Sunday — the latest in Canucks history with dubious exits.

Hal Laycoe becoming the Vancouver Canucks’ first ex-coach on May 2, 1972 came as no great surprise.

Under Laycoe, the Canucks went 44-96-16 in their first two NHL seasons. They ended up being the only Western franchise in the tough East Division, playing five of the original six franchises and 1970 competitor Buffalo Sabers.

When Vic Stasiuk replaced him, Laycoe was promoted to the front office. The vice president of player development and scouting became general manager in 1973.

When Stasiuk was unveiled, reporters of the day noted that owner Tom Scallen was absent from the press conference — as was current owner Francesco Aquilini when Rick Tocchet replaced Bruce Boudreau on Sunday.

It was the latest in Canucks history with dubious exits.

Nov. 22, 1984

Roger Neilson was kicked out on January 18, 1984, about a year and a half after leading the suspended Harry Neales’ team to the Stanley Cup Finals, where he lost in a one-shot to the New York Islanders. Later in 1984, Neilson sued the Canucks for breach of contract for $53,500.

Neale stepped down behind the bench but hired Bill LaForge in the offseason. The 32-year-old NHL rookie was famous for his mantra “Pride, Hustle, Desire.”

But the Canucks started the season miserably and unhappily, with 14 losses in 20 games. So Neale fired LaForge and returned to coaching after a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in the half-empty Pacific Coliseum.

Neale was handed the ax at the end of the season, which was the club’s worst to date.

November 4, 1997

The McCaw family of Seattle invested a portion of their cell phone profits in the Canucks when the Griffiths family felt the cost overruns building downtown arenas and the Grizzlies’ exorbitant NBA expansion fees.

By 1996, the McCaws had bought out the Griffiths. Former BC Gas CEO Stephen Bellringer was installed as CEO of Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment. When the Canucks started the 1997-1998 season 3-10-2, Bellringer fired president Pat Quinn rather than head coach Tom Renney during a seven-game losing streak.

The powerful, beloved Quinn was a member of that original 1970 team under Laycoe, the team’s “superboss” since 1987 and head coach of the 1994 Stanley Cup finalist, who hired, fired and replaced coaches Bob McCammon and Rick Ley.

Nine days later, Renney was next. His replacement, Mike Keenan, was reunited with Mark Messier, the Canucks’ controversial offseason free-agent acquisition.

January 24, 1999:

More changes to Griffiths Way. After Keenan’s first year as head coach and de facto general manager, Brian Burke, Quinn’s understudy in 1987, had returned to the Canucks on June 23, 1998 to fill in Quinn’s shoes.

Under Keenan, the Canucks traded fan favorites from the machine Quinn built, including Trevor Linden and Kirk McLean. Under Burke, Pavel Bure was traded to the Florida Panthers on January 17, 1999 in a blockbuster trade with six players and two draft picks switching coasts.

A week later, Keenan was gone and was replaced by Marc Crawford, the former Canuck who coached the Colorado Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup championship in 1996.

The Canucks finished last in the Western Conference and were eliminated from the playoffs for the third straight season. The highlight of the low season proved the saying: It is darkest before sunrise.

With second and third picks in the June 26, 1999 draft, the Canucks selected the Sedin twins.

July 25, 2018

Owner Francesco Aquilini took to Twitter to say that Trevor Linden had “resigned” as President of Hockey Operations, a role the team’s greatest captain has held since April 2014.

“He’s looking forward to exploring other opportunities and spending time with his family,” Aquilini tweeted, leaving many Canucks fans confused.

The move made Jim Benning the head of hockey operations, reporting directly to the Aquilinis.

“Jim and Travis Green will continue to build the team according to our plan. A new President will be appointed in due course.”

Aquilini said he has an unfulfilled dream: “I want to bring the Stanley Cup to Vancouver.”

January 22, 2023

This dream remains unfulfilled.

The Benning and Green era ended on December 5, 2021. Bruce Boudreau replaced Green the next day and Jim Rutherford three days later as president.

The Canucks were a different team under the unassuming, easy-going Boudreau, who notched up pre-Christmas victories. Fans chanted “Bruce (There It Is)” a-la one-hit Wonder Tag Team “Whoomp (There It Is)”.

Boudreau lasted 412 days – less than Keenan’s 436. No tears were shed when Keenan departed. It was a different story for Boudreau and Canucks supporters the night before Rutherford fired him and introduced Rick Tocchet – two coaches whose career paths couldn’t have been more different.

In 1977, Boudreau had a small role in the ultimate hockey movie, Slap Shot. Tocchet pleaded guilty in 2007 — and got two years probation — to conspiracy and promotion of gambling in New Jersey under an FBI cue code called “Operation Snapshot.” Commissioner Gary Bettman reinstated Tocchet nearly nine months later, in February 2008.

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