Naslund honoured to join Hall of Fame

Former Vancouver Canucks captain feels grateful to join special group in B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame

FORMER VANCOUVER CANUCKS captain Markus Naslund will be among the inductees for the 2015 B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday.

FORMER VANCOUVER CANUCKS captain Markus Naslund will be among the inductees for the 2015 B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday.

When Markus Naslund picked up his phone, he was pleasantly surprised by what Bernie Pascall told him.

The former Vancouver Canucks captain was informed by Pascall, a committee member for the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame, that he would be inducted in Penticton this summer.

“I feel grateful to be a part of a special group that includes some of my former teammates as well as other players and hockey people that I have a lot of respect for and look up to,” said Naslund in an email from Sweden.

Naslund is being inducted with Curt Fraser, Rob Niedermayer, Cam Kerr and the 1979 B.C. Canada Winter Games champs.

Naslund, who finished his pro career with Modo hockey in Sweden after one season with the New York Rangers,  spent 11 full seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. Naslund is the Canucks franchise leader in goals with 346 and is third in points with 756 and ranks fifth in games played at 884. Naslund, known as (Nazzy) to fans, has his jersey retired alongside Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure.

Naslund, who isn’t able to attend the induction ceremony due to family reasons, said he has many great memories of playing for the Canucks.

“The playoffs when you see all the white towels and it’s so loud that you can’t hear yourself speak is definitely special though,” he said.

Naslund, who is now involved with property development, tries to make it back to Vancouver once a year. He keeps tabs on the Canucks and sees Henrik and Daniel Sedin in the summer. He asks them about how the team is doing and the NHL. Naslund was the general manager of the Modo hockey club in Sweden, but stepped away from that about a year ago.

“Being GM there taught me a lot of valuable lessons and also made me realize the hard work that goes on behind the scenes,” he said.

Team BC won the 1979 Canada Winter Games with 19 junior B players. The team won six straight games at the Canada Winter Games in Brandon, Man. including a 8-0 win over Nova Scotia in the gold medal game. It was BC’s first ever gold at the games.

“I remember just the way a group of guys, who have never played together before, were able to come together from Day One,” said Trail Smoke Eaters assistant coach Barry Zanier to Black Press.

The team was coached by Colin Patterson, who was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2013.

Zanie recalled Patterson’s calm presence behind the bench.

“In the opening game against Quebec, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau came out for the ceremonial puck drop. Then when he left he shook the Quebec players’ hands but not ours. I think that rattled us a bit but Colin calmed us down.”

B.C. went on to roll over Quebec en route to four straight wins, the gold medal and completing a string of 13 straight wins, which began during exhibition matches prior to the Games.

“We had such a solid team,” said Zanier. “There was no first or second lines.”

Niedermayer, born in Cassiar, BC, and raised in Cranbrook, he played three seasons with Medicine Hat and was drafted by Florida in 1993. He played 17 seasons in the NHL and won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 with brother Scott. He was a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2004 World Hockey Championships, now retired where it all started in Cranbrook.

Fraser played his minor hockey at the NS Winter Club before embarking on a junior career with the BC junior Kelowna Buckaroos and the WHL Victoria Cougars. He was selected 22nd overall in the 1978 NHL draft by Vancouver, where he played five seasons and suited up for 704 NHL games before retiring as a player and turning to coaching in the professional ranks for 22 seasons. He coached the Atlanta franchise and currently is an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars.

Kerr has been involved in BC Hockey for more than 40 years. Playing junior with the WHL Saskatoon Blades, he then joined the UBC Thunderbirds before focusing on a career of hockey development. Kerr was a founding member of the BC Hockey High Performance program, he also coached minor hockey and on the international level with national programs.

The ceremony is July 25 at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 7 p.m. The evening begins with a gathering in the Hall of Fame from 5 to 6 p.m. Tickets are available to be purchased at 414 Ellis St.