October 09, 2010

Vancouver Canucks First NHL Game: October 9th, 1970

The Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres are both celebrating their 40th anniversaries this season. Let's take a look back to the Canucks first game in NHL history - October 9th, 1970 - a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

The game was of course delayed by celebrations and dignitaries. A 73 man pipe band called the British Columbia Beefeater Band wowed the crowds before local singer Juliette Syska sang "O Canada!" to a big round of applause.

Premiere W.A.C. Bennett and Chief Dan George helped Mayor Tom Campbell drop the ceremonial puck. NHL president Clarence Campbell and the Stanley Cup were both on hand as well, but it was 87 year old Cyclone Taylor - the only surviving member of the Vancouver Millionaires 1915 Stanley Cup championship - who got the loudest round of approval.

The game was played at the Pacific Coliseum before 15062 paying fans. The prices for tickets - anywhere from $3.50 to $6.40. And yes that did draw some complaints. In fact, the very first NHL game in Vancouver history was not even sold out! The Canucks blamed that on the fact that the game was nationally televised on Hockey Night in Canada.

Bob Pulford and Orland Kurtenbach got into a fight just 4:26 into the game. Ross Lonsberry of the Kings scored the first goal of the game, a power play maker at 9:26 of the second period. Barry Wilkins finally gave the Canucks fans something to cheer about a 2:14 of the third period - and became the answer to a great trivia question at the same time. He scored the first goal in Canucks history, beating Kings netminder Denis Dejordy. But eight minutes later Bob Berry scored his second goal of the game to cement the win for the Kings. Goaltender George Gardner took the loss for the Canucks.

The full boxscore of the game can accessed here.

By the way, the Canucks (and the Sabres) paid $4 million for the right to the join the league. Who did the Canucks get in the expansion draft? Gary Doak, Orland Kurtenbach, Ray Cullen, Pat Quinn, Rosaire Paiement, Darryl Sly, Jim Wiste, Danny Johnson, Barry Wilkens, Ralph Stewart, Mike Corrigan, Wayne Maki, Ed Hatoum, Paul Popiel, Ron Ward, John Schella, Bob Dillabough, Garth Rizutto, Dunc Wilson and Charlie Hodge.


Anonymous said...

Great recap of opening night. One point of clarification, the pipe band that played on the ice was the White Spot Junior Pipe Band. I was a member of the band. The Beefeaters were a brass band that often played at BC Lion half time shows. You correctly mention the game was not sold out...as a result all of us in the Pipe Band got to stay and see the game!

Anonymous said...

The Canucks first head coach was Hal Laycoe--he was absolutely useless--he had just been fired by the LA Kings for incompetency behind the bench-why the management of Vancouver chose him has always stymied me!!!

Anonymous said...

I still have the program from that first game.

Rob79MA said...

Might it be possible that you could send me a photo of the canucks line-up from the opening night.

So far I was unable to complete it.