John Garrett remains the Vancouver Canucks’ best NHL All-Star Game story.
You can understand Canucks fans basking in Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Thatcher Demko all taking part in this midseason showcase, which gets going Thursday in Toronto. Coach Rick Tocchet is there, too. It speaks to the kind of season that the franchise is having.
For pure yarn, though, it’s going to be hard to ever top Garrett’s turn at representing the Canucks at the 1983 game in Uniondale, N.Y.
The event was on a Tuesday. Garrett had been a Canuck since Friday, obtained from the Quebec Nordiques to give the squad added depth in net behind starter Richard Brodeur. Defenceman Anders Eldebrink had gone to the Nordiques in return.
Brodeur had already been named to the all-star game. He got hurt on the Saturday in the Canucks’ visit to Toronto, suffering a punctured right ear drum from a rising shot off the stick of Dan Daoust. Garrett finished that game and had the Vancouver net for a 4-4 tie the next night in New Jersey. After that, it off to the all-star game. Every team needed a representative, and Brodeur had been the lone Canuck slated for the game at that point.
“I am going as the undefeated goaltender of the Vancouver Canucks,” Garrett joked to reporters. “I promise to take all you guys for a ride in the new car.”
He was kibitzing then there, too, about the prize awarded to the NHL All-Star most valuable player.
He was, in fact, strong enough in the Campbell Conference net in the second half of the game that there was some buzz about him getting the honour. Wayne Gretzky quashed it — like he did with so many Canuck hopes over the years — when he scored four goals in the third period in a 9-3 win over the Wales Conference.
“After I made my first two saves, Lanny McDonald came over and said, ‘You’ve got the glove compartment so far,’” Garrett told the media after the game, pointing to Calgary Flames winger, who was a Campbell teammate. “After a few more, he said, ‘Now you’ve got a tire.’
“When Gretz got his third, he said ‘Sayonara.’”
In honour of Garrett, and of the six Canucks taking part this year, here are five other notable Canuck all-star moments.
Dale Tallon, 1971
Vancouver’s first-ever first-round draft pick was their first-ever all-star representative. Vancouver started out as an East Division team and Tallon, who was a 20-year-old rookie defenceman then, was part an all-star defence corps that included Bobby Orr and Brad Park.
He told reporters that he had phoned his parents immediately after finding out.
“My mom kind of took it in stride, like she expected it. But my dad was excited,” Tallon reported.
Dennis Ververgaert, 1976
The winger scored two goals for the Campbell Conference 10 seconds apart in the third period, set up both times by New York Islanders forwards Bryan Trottier and Billy Harris. The Campbells won 7-5.
That stood up as an NHL all-star game record until Owen Nolan counted two goals eight seconds apart in 1997.
Dave (Tiger) Williams, 1981
He was best known as a tough guy, but Williams, along with Vancouver defenceman Kevin McCarthy, was voted to the Campbell Conference first two lines by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association that year. All-star coach Al Arbour of the Islanders rounded out the rosters.
“The closest I’ve been to the all-star game was when (Darryl) Sittler once gave me his all-star sweater,” Williams was quoted as saying at the time, pointing to his former Maple Leafs teammate.
Williams had 23 goals and 38 points through 48 games when the teams were picked. He finished with career highs in goals (35) and points (62), and also led the NHL in penalty minutes (343).
Brock Boeser, 2018
Boeser, who was in his rookie season, won the accuracy shooting contest to start the weekend and then copped the most valuable player honours and the car that went with it after leading the Pacific Division to back-to-back wins in the three-on-three tournament.
“I was definitely nervous coming into it,” Boeser told the assembled media afterward. “I had some sweat going down my palms yesterday before the shooting contest. But I think once you get here and meet the guys and have some laughs, it’s easier to enjoy the experience. I wasn’t too nervous about today. Just have fun, smile and enjoy playing hockey. That’s what I did.”
Quinn Hughes, 2020
Wayne Gretzky was wearing a mic while guest coaching the Pacific Division team. A one-handed deke by Hughes for a breakaway goal had Gretzky saying: “Wow, that lad is a defenceman? Better hands than I had.”
Hughes told the media upon returning to Vancouver practice: “It was very nice what he said and it was more joking than anything, but pretty cool to meet him.”