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Childhood Memories of Canucks vs Red Wings

The Vancouver Canucks are in Detroit tonight for a 4:30pm game.

When I was a kid I used to love it when the Canucks would play mid-week east coast games. The Canucks didn't get on TV a lot in those days. Hockey Night in Canada was reserved for the Toronto Maple Leafs as much back then as they are nowadays. There was no double header back then either. Western fans were treated to Edmonton Oilers games back then, especially if Wayne Gretzky and company played another Canadian team.

The Canucks were a radio experience by and large for this youth. I wouldn't have had it any other day as allowed for a lot of imagination that kids nowadays experience through their Xbox games, I guess.

But when the Canucks headed out east CTV's British Columbia affiliated, cleverly named BCTV, would pick up a few games each either. Bernie Pascal used to call the games before Jim Robson, the great radio voice, would do both radio and TV at the same time. Howie Meeker, Barry Houlihan, and Garry Monohan were all involved too before Tom Larscheid arrived.

I used to race home from school in great anticipation to watch my heroes. In the pre-Trevor Linden era that meant Tony Tanti in particular. Petri Skriko, Doug Lidster and Stan Smyl, too. And, of course, King Richard Brodeur in net.

Detroit was always special. Partly because a young Steve Yzerman was so, so good. Partly because local boy Jeff Sharples played on the team at times. Partly because it was the Detroit Red Wings - Gordie Howe's team! And, rightly or wrongly, partly because the Red Wings weren't so great back then. The Canucks - who were generally worse - had a chance to win.

I suspect I share these memories with more than a few Canucks fans of my generation. But when it comes right down to it, there probably is only one memory that has stood the test of time: Craig Coxe vs Bob Probert:


Probert was on his reign of terror as the NHL's heavyweight champion. Only Dave Brown was a serious contender to the unofficial title, but then came along this kid from Chula Vista, California of all places. Right in the appropriately named Joe Louis Arena, Coxe dropped his gloves with Probert and instantly made a name for himself. He didn't win the fight, but he didn't lose it either. The two threw fists of fury, landing a few dozen punches total in a long fight in which the linesmen just left them alone until they were too tired to throw any more. It was one of the few times that Probert didn't destroy a guy, at least in his prime years.

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