Cam Neely deal spelled Canucks' Cup doom (yes, he can explain)

 

 
 
 
 
New Canuck Zack Kassian.
 

New Canuck Zack Kassian.

Photograph by: Christian Petersen, Getty Images

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When two young stars like Zack Kassian and Cody Hodgson are exchanged as they were Monday, talk radio hosts are delighted because it causes fuel for banter for at least a week, sometimes longer.

But it goes on much, much longer than that in reality. How long if you really examine all the details? Well, if you're a Vancouver hockey fan you shouldn't ask, because the answer to that question is simple. The Cam Neely trade more than helped the Boston Bruins punt the Canucks' posterior in last year's final.

Before you think the writer has gone further off the deep end than usual, be patient and listen to this trail of woe as it unfolds over the 25-plus years it's taken. You may have heard this before, but it came as news to me when Andrew Marchrones responded to a discussion Barry MacDonald and your agent were having on the Team 1040 Tuesday.

As everyone knows, Cam Neely was dealt in June '86 by the Canucks along with their first-round pick in '87 for Barry Pederson. The reasons for the trade are extensive and convoluted, but that's the deal as it stood.

As everyone knows, Neely's career ended prematurely, far too soon for such a great player, and he wasn't the problem. But Glen Wesley, ah, there's the rub. He was that '87 Boston draft pick and he played seven seasons with the Bruins before being traded to Hartford in '94 for an amazing three first-round picks. Can you imagine even for one moment a deal like that today? Unthinkable, but we digress.

The '96 pick was Johnathan Aitken, which went virtually nowhere with respect to this discussion. But the other two eventually took a sizable chunk out of the Canucks' Cup hopes after all these years.

The '95 pick, Kyle McLaren, played seven years in Boston before being traded to San Jose for Jeff Jillson. Jillson was traded straight up to San Jose for Brad Boyes. Boyes was then traded by Boston to St. Louis straight up for Dennis Wideman and Wideman became the major piece (along with a first- and a third-rounder) in the June 2010 deal with Florida that landed the Bruins Nathan Horton and NHL MVP Greg Campbell.

As you may recall, Horton's concussion not only got Aaron Rome out of the Vancouver lineup, he may or may not have provided a rallying cry for the team in that final series — although why players would need more motivation in a Cup final is and has always been a total mystery here.

That one hurts, but nothing like the trail of Sergei Samsonov, the '97 first-rounder the Whalers (by then Hurricanes) had given Boston in the Wesley deal.

Samsonov played seven seasons in Boston before being traded in '06 to the Oilers for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a second-round pick. And you guessed it: It's always that draft pick. Reasoner was eventually moved and it involved picks who went nowhere, as was Stastny, but if you haven't guessed who that second-rounder is by now, we may as well confess it was Vancouver's own Milan Lucic.

Didn't he have something to do with the absence of Dan Hamhuis in the final after the Vancouver defenceman tried to check him in Game 1? There you have it. Not only did the Canucks lose a Vancouver kid in the Neely deal, one eventually comes back in a Boston uniform as a descendant from that deal 25 years later, almost to the day, and hoists the Stanley Cup on Vancouver ice.

And the nightmare clearly isn't over. You know the Bruins will eventually trade Lucic for a first- or second-rounder somewhere or some other good young player that comes back to haunt over and over again. The only way this ends is if Lucic finishes his career in a Boston uniform, and even though that looks like a possibility now, the odds are against it.

Blame Jack Gordon, who was GM at the time, but he would no sooner have presumed to make that trade than leap off the Pacific Coliseum roof. If you must, blame former Canucks owner Frank Griffiths Sr., who actually made the Neely deal happen with his insistence the team sign Pederson as a free agent requiring compensation. But it changes nothing.

And people wonder why Vancouver fans sometimes seem a tad negative. You get the feeling discussion of this Hodgson-Kassian et al. deal just might last a little longer than a week or two.

Follow Tony Gallagher on Twitter @tg_gman.

 
 
 
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New Canuck Zack Kassian.
 

New Canuck Zack Kassian.

Photograph by: Christian Petersen, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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