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Two of the most dynamic offensive superstars in the National Hockey League. Two young, All-Star defencemen patrolling the blue-line. A relatively unknown starting netminder but one who has shown an ability to stand on his head from time to time. A coach who is considered one of the best hockey minds in the League. All together on a team that just a few short years ago was immersed in a period best described as the franchise's Dark Age. <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/bc/images/images/inbydate05/dec2105/canada_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Sound familiar? The 2010 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks? Perhaps, but no. Rather, the description is of a team much nearer and dearer to the hearts of hockey fans in British Columbia: the 2002-03 Vancouver Canucks. A team captained by then four-time NHL All-Star Markus Naslund, who by season's end would become a two-time First Team All-Star and the recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award. A team that featured a dominant power forward in Todd Bertuzzi, who posted a career-best 97 points during that year's regular season and would join his best friend Naslund as a First Team All-Star at the end of the 2003 season. A team that had two former first round picks on their back end in Mattias Ohlund and Ed Jovanovski, the latter a Canadian Olympic Gold medalist. A team whose number one goaltender, Dan Cloutier, was coming off a career-high 33 wins in the regular season and beginning to build a reputation as bona fide starting netminder. A team led by former Jack Adams Award and Stanley Cup winner Marc Crawford, who would go on to become the franchise's all-time wins leader behind the bench. A team that had missed the post-season for four consecutive seasons from 1996-97 to 1999-00 and saw attendance figures plummet to a franchise low in their new home of General Motors Place in 1990-00 but by 2002-03 would be playing to near sell-out crowds every night. A team that featured arguably the most talented group ever assembled under the Vancouver Canucks banner and would surely deliver the Stanley Cup to the city of Vancouver. A team that had the third-year Minnesota Wild on the ropes in their 2003 Western Conference Semi-Final series - leading the series three games to one at one point and later holding a 2-0 lead in Game 7 - and was ready to make flight plans to Anaheim for the Western Conference Final against the Mighty Ducks. <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/bc/images/images/inbydate05/dec0705/nazzy_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">A championship team... ...that never came to be. A team torn apart by a violent, on-ice incident the following year that would scar both city and sport and a team that would be only a shell of its former self when the NHL reinvented itself in time for the 2005-06 season. A team that would eventually see three of its members going on to kiss the Stanley Cup - Brad May, Matt Cooke and Brent Sopel - but none of them together and none of them in Vancouver. A team that, though now mostly disbanded, undoubtedly watched on Wednesday as the Stanley Cup was paraded around the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia by the Blackhawks and had just one thought flowing through their collective minds: There, but for the bounce of a puck, goes us.
<img src="http://nhluploads.invisionzone.com/canucks/1262568096/gallery_43389_43_54888.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Notes: -Players will be listed according to their primary position during this decade. For example, Naslund will be listed as a left winger because he spent most of this decade as a left winger. -A player's success throughout the decade will be taken into consideration, not just individual season accomplishments. Second Team LW – Daniel Sedin After being feared that him and his brother Daniel would not develop into first line forwards, but whose saying they aren't now? Daniel Sedin has established himself as one of the top left wingers in Canucks history. A scoring threat in the offensive zone and a reliable defender in the defensive zone. Daniel has been the team's leading scorer two of the past three seasons. Honourable Mention(s): Alex Burrows C – Brendan Morrison If you needed a clutch goal, Brendan Morrison was the guy you'd look for as he is the franchise leader in regular season overtime goals. Morrison was solid at both ends of the rink and even on the point on the power play. Morrison also was an integral part of the West Coast Express with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. At the line's peak in 2002-03, Morrison had 25 goals and 46 assists. In addition, Morrison holds the franchise record for most consecutive games played. Honourable Mention(s): Ryan Kesler RW – Trent Klatt I would have liked to say somebody else, but this decade the Canucks were just not blessed with many great right wingers. Klatt was simply the best out of the right wingers that have played. You could put Anson Carter in this spot, but he played in one season or maybe Alex Burrows, but he's had less than a year with the Sedins on right wing, or maybe Ryan Kesler, but only spent half a season on right wing. Klatt spent most of his time as a Canuck as the right winger for the Sedin twins on the second line. His best season as a Canuck came in 2000-01 when he potted 13 goals and 20 assists. Honourable Mention(s): Anson Carter, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows D – Sami Salo Although seemingly made out of glass, Salo has been key contributor when he's been in the lineup this decade and has been a stabilizing presence in the back end. Always a threat on the power play with the one timer, possesses the skill set to move players out from the crease, and is excellent at moving the puck up the ice. D – Willie Mitchell Since being acquired as a free agent in the summer of 2006, Mitchell has been rock solid defensively for the Vancouver Canucks and has come as advertised. The Canucks go-to guy as the shutdown defenceman and in the process has racked up decent point totals for a defensive defenceman. Mitchell has also won the last two Babe Pratt Trophies, the team's best defenceman as voted by the fans. Honourable Mention(s): Brent Sopel G – Dan Cloutier Quite simply there was nobody else to choose as Cloutier had been the team's number one goalie from 2001 to 2005. During his tenure, he posted three straight 30 wins season from 2001-02 to 2003-04 and ranks top-five in all franchise goalie records. Cloutier still remains the franchise record holder for best goals against average in a single season. Honourable Mention(s): Alex Auld First Team LW – Markus Naslund Although you could argue Pavel Bure was the more skilled and better offensive forward, there is no doubt that Naslund was the best left winger this franchise has had. Heading into the 2009-10 NHL campaign, he is the franchise leader in goals, points, power play goals, and shots as well as third in games played and assists behind Canuck greats Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl. Naslund along with Smyl are the longest serving full-time Canucks captains at eight years. In addition, Naslund was chosen as the team's most valuable player four times, led the team seven straight years in scoring, and was the winner of the Lester B. Pearson Award winner (awarded to the league's most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHLPA). C – Henrik Sedin There were questions about whether Henrik Sedin and his brother Daniel could become legitimate first line forwards in the NHL after being picked second and third overall in 1999. The first five years of the decade, Henrik was mediocre at best, but the last five following the lockout has vaulted him into star player status. Henrik has developed into a dependable two-way forward who excels in both zones, a capable penalty killer, and a player who could win a key draw. RW – Todd Bertuzzi His time at stardom was short lived, but during that time he was the premier power forward in the NHL and was an integral part of hockey's most feared line, the West Coast Express. In the year that the Canucks were supposed to win it all (2002-03), Bertuzzi potted a career-high 46 goals and added 51 assists. His last two years with the Canucks in 2003-04 and 2005-06, he had a respectable 0.87 points per game average, but since his performance has tailed off. D – Ed Jovanovski Jovanovski did it all for the Canucks. He had skating ability, could score from the point on a slapshot or a simple wrist shot, go to the front of net to provide a screen, setup his teammates, send you through the boards with a hit, and fight. He was the complete package. D – Mattias Ohlund For most of this decade, Ohlund was the designated shutdown defenceman for the Canucks and logged upwards of 20 minutes a game nightly for the team playing on both the power play and penalty kill. Ohlund possessed great open-ice hitting ability as well and would always play through pain. Ohlund is also a four time winner of the Babe Pratt Trophy, the team's best defenceman as voted by the fans. Definitely one of the top defenceman in Canucks history. G – Roberto Luongo Need to say anything? In about three and a half seasons as a Canuck goalie, Luongo has already established himself as one of the best goalies in franchise history. Luongo holds the franchise records for the most wins in a single season, best save percentage in a single season, most saves in a single game, longest shutout streak at 242 minutes and 36 seconds, most shutouts in a single season, and most shutouts as a Canuck. Should Luongo finish his career as a Canuck, he is on pace to become the franchise leader in most goaltending categories.