July 13, 2013

1994 Vancouver Canucks: Doug Lidster: The Lone Ranger

The following is an excerpt from my unreleased book: Remembering The 1994 Vancouver Canucks. Please see below for the full table of contents.

No matter how much we hated to see the New York Rangers celebrating with the Stanley Cup, there was one “Blueshirt” even the most dejected Canucks fan had to feel good for that night.

It was tough watching Doug Lidster skate for the Rangers. For the previous decade the Kamloops native skated with the Canucks. He may have been unheralded throughout the rest of the league, but he was arguably the Canucks best blueliner for much of that time. He was instrumental in helping bring along some of the Canucks younger players like Trevor Linden and Jyrkki Lumme. In some ways Lidster was the quintessential Canuck of the previous generation.

The summer of 1993 saw Lidster move to New York in a bizarre move that saw the Canucks acquire John Vanbiesbrouck. The Beezer was one of the top goalies in hockey, but the Canucks desperately wanted to keep both Kirk McLean and Kay Whitmore protected in that summer’s expansion draft. In a typically cagey move by Pat Quinn, he parted with his veteran defenseman to acquire the star goalie. The Canucks had to expose a goalie with NHL experience, so rather than expose Whitmore they acquired another option.

Lidster, who replaced Alexander Karpovtsev as a regular late in the post-season, played really well in a depth role in New York. In fact, both of his goals that post-season were scored against the Canucks in the Final.

While it was awkward for us fans to watch one of our guys playing for the Rangers, it was equally odd for Lidster. After the game seven victory, Lidster was said to have been struggling with mixed emotions.

“Once we won (the Stanley Cup) and we were shaking hands, I realized that I knew the Canuck players better than I knew my own teammates,” Lidster said years later.

“One of the advantages of being a west-coast team, because you travel so much, you have the opportunity to really bond with your teammates. I felt a real camaraderie with (the Canuck players). To win the cup against them was a very bittersweet moment for me.”

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