The inaugural edition of the Vancouver Canucks, prior to playing their first-ever NHL game on Oct. 9, 1970 against the Los Angeles Kings. Front row (L to R) George Gardner, Danny Johnson, Ray Cullen, Lyman D. Walter (Vice President), Orland Kurtenbach, Thomas K. Scallen (President), Gary Doak, Wayne Maki, Dunc Wilson. Middle row (L to R): William Winnett (Vice President), Bud Poile (Vice President & General Manager), Mike Corrigan, John Schella, Barry Wilkins, Charlie Hodge, Paul Popiel, Bobby Schmautz, Garth Rizzuto, Hal Laycoe (Coach), Babe Pratt (Asst. To the Vice President). Back row (L to R): Greg Douglas (Public Relations Director), Ed Shamlock (Trainer), Andre Boudrias, Rosaire Paiement, Pat Quinn, Dale Tallon, Murray Hall, Ted Taylor, Bill Gray (Trainer) Miles Desharnais (Ticket Manager). Photo courtesy of the BC Sports Hall of Fame
Next weekend, the NHL Draft will be held at Rogers Arena. So, it seemed like a good time to look back at the first draft the Vancouver Canucks participated in, on June 10-11, 1970.The Canucks and Buffalo Sabres had recently been admitted into the NHL as the 13th and 14th teams in the league. To fill out their rosters, there was an expansion draft on June 10 for players from existing teams. But the one that really mattered was the amateur entry draft on June 11, where budding superstar Gilbert Perreault was the prize.The first spin of the wheel was for the expansion draft, the second for the amateur draft. The wheel was numbered one to 13, and the Canucks had under seven, the Sabres over seven.“The first spin came up eight, which gave the (Sabres general manager) Punch Imlach the first dip into the expansion grab bag,” wrote The Sun’s Hal Sigurdson. “But (NHL President Clarence) Campbell called the second spin number one, an announcement that sent (Canucks owner Tom Scallen) leaping from his chair to wrap (coach Hal Laycoe) in an exultant embrace.”But there was a problem — Campbell hadn’t read the number right.“Unfortunately for the Canucks, Buffalo’s chief scout Al Millar has sharper eyes than Campbell,” Sigurdson wrote. “‘Miscall!’ he screamed. ‘That’s not number one, it’s number 11!’”Campbell made the correction, and Buffalo got the first choice in both the expansion and amateur drafts. The Sun’s headline was “Canucks Off To Grim Start in NHL.”With the second pick in the amateur draft, the Canucks settled for Dale Tallon, who had a solid career but wasn’t a game-changer like Perreault. To nab Tallon, the Canucks also passed on several players who went on to become stars, including Darryl Sittler (who went eighth), Reggie Leach (third) and Rick MacLeish (fourth).
Vancouver Canucks’ best-dressed player Dale Tallon in a photo for The Sun’s fashion section on Nov. 20, 1970. Deni Eagland/Vancouver Sun
In the third round, the Canucks picked goalie Ed Dyck, who played 49 games in three years with the team. But they passed on Billy Smith, who went 59th overall to the LA Kings. Smith would go on to backstop the New York Islanders to four Stanley Cups, and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Perreault and Sittler.Wikipedia has a page on that year’s amateur draft that includes the countries the players hailed from. Of the 115 players taken, 111 were Canadian, four were American.By contrast, in the 2018 draft, 217 players were taken, from 12 countries. Canada had 73 players drafted, the most of any country, but it was only one-third of the overall total. Fifty-two Americans were taken, 30 Swedes, 20 Russians, 16 Finns, 11 Czechs, four Slovaks, and four players from Switzerland. There were two players from Belarus, two from Germany, and one each from Norway and the United Kingdom.In the June 10, 1970 expansion draft, the Canucks got 20 players. Defenceman Gary Doak was the team’s first choice, followed by future team captain Orland Kurtenbach, forward Ray Cullen and defenceman Pat Quinn.Quinn would go on to become a Canucks legend as coach and general manager. Which is why it’s ironic the team’s first GM, Bud Poile, told The Sun that Quinn was “tough (and) aggressive, but needs coaching.”
Vancouver Canucks player (and future coach) Pat Quinn towers over eight-year-old Bobby Whitty at a Pacific Coliseum practice on Dec. 28, 1970. Deni Eagland/Vancouver Sun
Other notables in the first expansion draft were goalies Charlie Hodge and Dunc Wilson, defenceman Barry Wilkins and forwards Rosaire Paiement, Wayne Maki and Eddie Hatoum, the only player in NHL history who was born in Beirut, Lebanon.In retrospect, the biggest sports story that week was a no-hitter thrown by Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates against the San Diego Padres on June 12. Ellis was fairly wild that day, walking eight and hitting one.“The ball I was throwing was moving,” Ellis said after the game. “After the sixth inning, I just tried to throw the ball down the middle and I was catching the corners.”In 1984, Ellis admitted there was another reason he was wild: He was on LSD. Ellis had gone to Los Angeles to visit a friend and partied the night before. He took LSD around noon, then his girlfriend read in the paper that he was slated to pitch that night.Ellis had thought he was off that day. But he took a plane to San Diego and dominated the Padres, perhaps because they were scared he was going to hit them.“I was psyched, I had a feeling of euphoria,” said Ellis. “The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes. Sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t.”firstname.lastname@example.org
Dock Ellis, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, delivers a pitch during the MLB All-Star Game on July 13, 1971 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.
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Former Canucks player Ed Hatoum, playing for the Vancouver Blazers, 1973. Photo courtesy of Ed Hatoum,
1972 file photo of Rosaire Paiement of the Vancouver Canucks being hypnotized by Peter Reveen. Caption reads Paiement scored 34 last season and has scored only one so far this year. At a Hotel Georgia luncheon today, Reveen worked to break the jinx. Dan Scott/Vancouver Sun
Barry Wilkins (#4) scores the first-ever goal for the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 9, 1970 vs. the Los Angeles Kings. Photo courtesy of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
The Canucks’ picks in the 1970 expansion draft, from the June 10, 1970 Sun.
The Vancouver Sun’s breakdown of the Canucks picks in the expansion draft, June 11, 1970.