Seven players wore the number before Stan Smyl did, but no Vancouver Canuck will ever wear it again. And up until a decade ago, it was the only number hanging from the rafters at their home arena: 12.
This isn’t a regular mail day post, no sir. In fact, one of the featured jerseys was purchased locally and the other arrived last year. However, I picked up the jersey after getting it customized just a little while ago and couldn’t wait to share. It took me a while to decide on a player to put on it, but I am sure I made the right choice.
When the Vancouver Canucks were awarded an NHL franchise for the 1970 Expansion, the team elected to go with Joe Borovich’s stick-in-rink logo along with the distinctly-Pacific Northwest colour scheme.
After a disastrous first couple seasons in the league, however, management wanted a change and looked to San Francisco-based marketing firm Beyl and Boyd for a new team look. Viewing the then-current blue and green colours as “too tranquil,” the firm built the Canucks’ new design around an aggressive orange, yellow, and black scheme. It was a unique colour scheme, so it’s only fitting that it evolved into one of the most unique uniform designs in the league.
A hockey uniform design is traditionally very horizontal, as exhibited by the original Senators and 1912-13 Canadiens. By the mid-1970s, uniform designs have gotten (fortunately) less stripey, and mostly stuck to a consistent formula: a large crest with horizontal stripes along the sleeves and bottom hem.
Beyl and Boyd decided to break that mold, designing around a central V-shaped stripe and relegating the team crest to the sleeves above another set of orange-and-yellow Vs. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, horizontal about these jerseys. Nonetheless, the Canucks stuck with this formula for the next seven years, although there were several small changes through the years.
As much of an eyesore I’ll admit it is, this is probably my favourite Canucks jersey design (other than the Millionaires special uniforms, but that’s mostly due to it’s history). The entire design was incredibly simple yet distinctive, and the bright, diagonal stripes gave it a very sharp look. And it doesn’t hurt that this style was worn during one of the most memorable moments of the franchise.
These two jerseys were both manufactured by Sandow SK, and are made entirely of mesh except for the elastic V stripes. My best guess is that they were sold during the 1980-81 season, when the on-ice jerseys were made of similar (but heavier) mesh with a tight-knit fabric along the shoulders and arm.
Although both jerseys are a size large, they fit smaller than a small Premier. I originally guessed that it was so because they were washed a few times, although the fact that both jerseys were sourced from different sellers but are still the exact same size leads me to believe that a size large was smaller back then. Whatever the case may be, I am very happy with the fit. My only concern is the durability of the elastic, but seeing that they’ve already survived almost three decades, I think they’ll be fine as long as I’m careful.
Check out: My Hockey Jersey Collection
Player Spotlight: Stan Smyl
It’s what makes us jump up and down when your team slays a dragon, and what makes our heart sink when Edler’s stick breaks.
It’s the reason why our favourite players aren’t always the most talented or well-known player on the roster.
When we watch hockey, we want to watch players who are like us; players that share our passion and excitement for the sport.
And for 13 seasons, The Steamer laid his heart and soul out on the ice every shift he played, etching his name into the fabric of Vancouver hockey.
Well, Stan Smyl was actually around even before being drafted by the Canucks in 1978. From 1974 until then, he played with the New Westminster Bruins in the West Coast Hockey League before being selected in the third round.
Smyl made a name for himself right away with his new team. Although one of the smaller players at only 5’8″, he developed a reputation for his hard-nosed, physical style and uncanny ability to elevate his play when it mattered most. He made a difference on the scoresheet as well, scoring 38 points in his rookie season.
By the 1981-82 season, he was already a leader in the locker room. So much so that, when the team captain at the time, Kevin McCarthy, was injured during practice late in the season, Smyl was tapped to wear the C.
He definitely wore it well, leading the team to its first-ever Stanley Cup Finals despite their subpar regular-season. Through the 18 playoff games played, The Steamer scored 19 points – good for second on the team behind Thomas Gradin.
Smyl remained captain of the team until his retirement in 1991 as the Vancouver franchise’s all-time points leader. Post-retirement, he remained in the Canucks organization, first as assistant coach then as the head coach of its then AHL-affiliates, the Syracuse Crunch and Manitoba Moose. Currently, Stan Smyl serves as a Senior Advisor with a focus on player development.
My jerseys are customized in the style he wore during the 1982 playoffs, with notable features including the colour of the captain’s C and TV numbers at the end of the sleeves. The jersey saw big changes the next year as the TV numbers moved up to the shoulders and CCM took over as manufacturer.
The dark road jersey was already customized with Richard Brodeur when I purchased it. However, it was done with an incorrect kit (and number, weirdly enough), so I had to strip it off:
Other than that, I don’t anticipate any more next steps. If you’re interested in reading more about jerseys, however, make sure to check out my other hockey jersey updates. If you’re looking to purchase, I have a For Sale section alongside the rest of my Hockey Jersey Collection.