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Behind-the-bench perspective on the Canucks

Former coach weighs in on current crop of Canucks
Phil Maloney says the Vancouver Canucks need the whole team to contibute if they are to bring the Stanley Cup to Canada’s west coast. Maloney used to play for the Canucks before they were part of the NHL and acted as coach and GM.

As the Vancouver Canucks hope to slay the Sharks for a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals, hundreds of thousands of eyes across the nation will be tuned in with hopes of bringing the title back to Canadian turf.Hockey legend Phil “Fox” Maloney will also be keeping a close eye on his former team, though at 83 years old, game nights in his Yellow Point home are much quieter these days.“They’re capable of winning the Stanley Cup, but you’ve got to have effort from everybody on the team,” Maloney said. “Guys like (Ryan) Kesler and (Alexandre) Burrows are the reason they’re there, they stand in front of the net and take a lot of punishment, but they get the goals.”With more than 22 years as a professional hockey player (19 years in the minor leagues and three NHL), and another three as a Canucks’ coach and general manager, there’s not much about the ‘best game you can name’ Maloney hasn’t seen.Maloney broke into the NHL in 1949-50 with the Boston Bruins, scoring 15 goals and 31 assists and finishing in second place in the Calder Trophy race. He played a total of 158 NHL games over his career with the Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks.So many aspects of the game have changed since Maloney’s day – there are far more teams on the ice and the players are now bigger, stronger and paid much more.The one thing that has never changed is the will to win.“In the playoffs, nobody feels any injuries.” “During the season you would probably miss a game to give your injury a chance to heal because you weren’t at your best, but in the playoffs, you don’t feel any injury, there’s too much at stake,” Maloney said. “Everybody plays a notch higher because you have a goal — to win the Stanley Cup. Second place is not going to cut it.”Maloney was acclaimed as one of the best players in the history of the Western Hockey League with a record eight points (two goals, six assists) in one game and was twice named the WHL’s most valuable player.In 1958, he led the Canucks to the WHL Championship and the Lester Patrick Trophy. He was also part of the 1969 championship.To hockey fans in generations past, Maloney was the original heart of the Canucks, long before the team joined the National Hockey League.After retiring the year before the Canucks joined the NHL, Maloney turned to coaching.Under Maloney’s guidance as coach and GM, the Canucks made the Stanley Cup playoffs twice during the 1970s, including a division title in 1974-75, his first full year as coach.He was let go in the middle of the 1976-77 season after building a record of 95-102-32.His trophies are all put away in boxes and other than a few old photographs, most of his memorabilia has been given away, but to this day, Maloney remains humble about his achievements. Even now, he jokes that his only claim to fame was rooming with Bobby Hull.“It was just a job — a fun job,” he said.Maloney, who moved to Ladysmith 14 years ago with his wife Pat, said one of the fond memories of his career was meeting Ted Lindsay.“He used to be a big star with Detroit, and because he was trying to organize the players to get a union, he was traded to Chicago, and we played together there,” he said. “He was instrumental in getting an NHL pension for the players. I really respected him for that and for his ability as a player.”Maloney said he would like to see more respect from today’s players.“They go behind a guy’s back, cross-check him into the boards, they’re high-sticking guys, and even when they don’t have the puck, they hammer the guy and give him a concussion,” he said. “When I played, we didn’t have helmets, we didn’t have mouth guards, now they have helmets, eye guards, better equipment, all kinds of things.”He has no advice to give to head coach Alain Vigneault as the last few weeks of the playoffs commence.“He’s doing a great job, and the general manager has done a good job acquiring these players. He deserves a lot of credit,” Maloney said.In the coming games, Maloney says he will be looking for more action from Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who have received much criticism over their playoff performance thus far.“The Sedins are the two best players on the team, but they’re not playing very well, and you can’t win unless the Sedins are scoring goals,” Maloney said. “They’ve had a great year, no one is denying that, they are great puck handlers.”“I hope that they get better and if the Sedins start to play better, the Canucks can go on, they’ve got a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”

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