Most Memorable Keepers of the Cage
By Kelli Gustafson
So far our #20in20 nights have celebrated some of Rogers Arena’s Greatest Guests, including the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Queen, the other Queen (Oprah), the UFC, and many more. Now it’s time to celebrate the masked men who tend twine as the last line of defence.
On December 3rd, we’ll recognize some of our past and present Keepers of the Cage, and show our appreciation for their ability to handle the position with grace, and celebrate the focus and perseverance they bring to the team.
To celebrate, we have compiled a list of some of our most memorable Keepers of the Cage who have played for the Canucks in the past 20 years.
Keepers of the Cage:
Kirk McLean (1987-1998)
McLean just makes the cut-off for this list, since he actually played his first game with the Canucks on Oct. 8, 1987 (before Rogers Arena was built). However, he did play at Rogers Arena for his last 3 seasons with the Canucks. McLean played with the Canucks for over 10 seasons, and was recognized as the second inductee in the Canucks’ Ring of Honour on November 24, 2010.
In his time with the Canucks, McLean set both regular season and playoff franchise records at that time for wins, shutouts, and games played. McLean was also nominated twice for the Vezina Trophy, and represented the Canucks at the NHL All-Star Games in 1990 and 1992.
We can’t mention McLean without mentioning “The Save” – arguably the greatest save in Canucks history:
It was game 7 of the 1994 Western Conference Quarter-finals against Calgary, and McLean robbed Robert Reichal of a seemingly empty net, making the save with his toe. Flames fans couldn’t believe it, they were already celebrating the red light. Instead, the game was pushed into overtime, giving the Canucks the chance to steal the series.
Currently, McLean works for the Canucks Hockey Operations department and is heavily involved with fundraising initiatives throughout the local community. You can see his plaque in the Canucks’ Ring of Honour, bordering the rafters, next time you are at Rogers Arena.
Dan Cloutier (2001-2006)
Dan Cloutier played his first game with the Canucks on February 10, 2001, against Calgary. Cloutier helped take the Canucks to playoffs for the first time in four seasons. Although not many goals seemed to get past Cloutier, unfortunately most fans will always remember the one that did: a centre ice shot from Nicklas Lidstrom, in Game 3 of the 2002 playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings.
The following year Cloutier and the Canucks opened the regular season with a 3-0 shutout against the Flames, marking the first time in Canuck history that the team began a season with a shutout.
Cloutier became the first goalie in Canucks history to record three consecutive 30-win seasons. Cloutier left the Canucks in 2006 after four and a half seasons, ranking second in the club for shutouts, following McLean. After posting a 10-1 record, Cloutier was awarded NHL’s November 2002 Player of the Month Award. In his NHL career, Cloutier recorded 139-142-33, with 15 shutouts.
Currently, Cloutier works for the Canucks as Goaltending Consultant.
Alexander Auld (2002-2006)
Alex Auld’s first game with the Canucks was played on January 23, 2002, a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars. Acting as back-up for Cloutier, Auld became starting goalie following Cloutier’s injury in 2005. In his four seasons with the Canucks, Auld was recognized as MVP by the team, awarding him with the Cyclone Taylor trophy for the 2005-06 season. Auld was also awarded the Molson Cup during his last season with the Canucks.
In his NHL career, Auld totaled 237 games played, with a .904 save percentage. Today, Auld works as a professional goaltending coach, working with NHL goalies including former Canucks tender Eddie Lack.
Roberto Luongo (2006-2014)
Roberto Luongo played his first game in a Canucks jersey on Oct. 5, 2006. Luongo played eight seasons with the Canucks, and served as the captain during the 2008-09 and 2009-2010 seasons. He set franchise records for wins with 252 and 38 shutouts.
There are many moments where Luongo proved himself a true Canuck, but a few that top the list are:
January 16, 2007- After taking a puck to the throat during practice the day before, Luongo spent all night in the ICU in a Montreal hospital, before returning to the rink the next day, where the Canucks beat the Canadiens 4-0. That night, Luongo made 30 saves for his third shutout.
April 26, 2011 – Facing elimination in Game 7 against the Blackhawks, Luongo saved a shot made by Patrick Sharp during an OT penalty kill. This save proved vital, as the Canucks Slayed the Dragon, winning 2-1.
Canucks fans will always have a special place in their hearts for LUUUUUUU.
Ryan Miller (2014-Present)
Ryan Miller played his first game as a Canuck on October 8, 2014, and by October 28, 2014, Miller reached his 300 career win. Although this is only Miller’s second season with the Canucks, he has already proven himself to the fans.
Currently, Miller ranks first in the league for games and minutes played in net, and has faced the most shots against than any other goalie in the league. He also currently ranks third in the NHL in saves. And we can’t forget about that time when he purposely missed the team bus leaving training camp back in September, because he was determined to make sure everyone got an autograph.
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) September 19, 2015
Tickets for #20in20 Keepers of the Cage Night