I can’t believe I used to cheer for you

In anticipation of the new NHL season, let us take a brief glimpse at some of the former Canucks that will be returning to GM Place this season.

Todd Penaltuzzi

Despite his period of brilliance with the Canucks (think the ‘West Coast Express’ circa 2002-2004), where he was arguably the most dominant power forward in the league, Penaltuzzi left an indelible mark or two on Canucks fans for rather different reasons. First, because of his infamous attempt to put Steve Moore’s head through the concrete underlay at GM Place. Second, because of his petulant play for the last few years with the Canucks, which saw him challenge for the league lead in minor penalties and time wasted complaining to the refs for having the gall to call said penalties on him for tripping or holding anyone who came near him. Keep in mind this usually occurred when the Canucks were down by a goal and trying to mount a comeback. Somehow the only guy with a worse temper in the entire NHL, Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke, saw fit to give Penaltuzzi a two year, $8 million contract, despite his precipitous drop in production over the last few years. Look for him in the penalty box next time the Ducks roll through town.

Adrian Aucoin

One of the few bright spots during ‘Iron’ Mike Keenan’s ill-fated reign in Vancouver was Adrian’s 23 goal season in 1998-1999. Unfortunately, that was about all he ever did with the Canucks, save his frequent propensity to let opposing forwards skate by him with impunity, Patrice Breeze-by style. The good news for Canucks fan is that Aucoin and Keenan will be playing the Canucks eight times this year, which should help pad the offensive stats.

Dan Cloutier

I hesitate to even put ‘Clouts’ on the list, primarily because he has surprised most Canucks fans by playing even worse since he left Vancouver, making it unlikely that he will even hold down an NHL job with the Los Angeles Kings this year. Despite Marc Crawford’s efforts to bail his sorry ass out again (seriously, Dan, it might be time to cash in those incriminating pictures of Crow you evidently have), it looks like Cloutier and his $2.5 milllion will be warming the bench with the Kings affiliate in Manchester.

Jaarko Ruutu

Yesterday’s version of current Canucks pest-extraordinaire Alexandre Burrows, with a more disturbing tendency toward taking ass hat penalties at crucial moments in the game and yet still able to proudly sport a jerk store grin. Fortunately, for us, he signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the summer of 2006. Indeed, shedding him and Penaltuzzi resulted in a dramatic decline in the Canucks’ third period penalty killing time. Ruutu will unceremoniously return to GM Place this season with the inaguaral visit of the Sidney Crosby road show. Let us hope old habits die hard, and we find ‘Roots’ seated comfortably in his old office at the Garage, the penalty box.

Kevin Weekes

This guy still holds down a job in the NHL? Jesus. I hope Martin Brodeur gets the night off when the Devils stroll into town. Brian Burke once labelled Weekes the ‘franchise goalie of the future’ when the Canucks acquired him from Florida as part of the Pavel Bure for Ed Jovanovski swap. However, it did not take Canucks fans long to realize he would probably lose a battle for the starting job to Steve Weeks.

(Dis)honourable non-player mention:
Mike Keenan

During his tenure in Vancouver over a season-and-a-half, ‘Iron’ Mike managed to publicly eviscerate the heart-and-soul of Canucks hockey, Trevor Linden, running him out of town shortly thereafter; allow Mark Messier to make all decisions at the hockey club, including what colour stick tape the trainers were allowed to provide; dismantle the team in hopes of resuscitating the 1991 Chicago Blackhawks’ third and fourth lines; and, most importantly, ensure the Canucks finished near the bottom of the NHL standings. Fortunately, Darryl ‘Sloth’ Sutter is in charge over in Dallas Jr. and hired Keenan to coach the Flames this year. I give it about two months until Huselius, Lombardi and Tanguay have been traded. Does anyone know where Adam Creighton is plying his trade these days? Stephane Matteau?

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