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Saturday’s retro night got off to a great start, as they welcomed fan favourite Canucks from the mid 90’s for the ceremonial puck drop. I legitimately got emotional at the sight of Gino Odjick, who two summers ago was expected to live for just months or even weeks, step out on the ice, looking hale and hearty.

It was the right way to set the tone and the jerseys legitimately looked great, but the rest of the night was an utter disaster, as the Canucks didn’t just lose to the Maple Leafs, who basically iced an AHL lineup, they got crushed. The Canucks mustered just 19 shots, the lowest number given up by the Leafs all season. It was sad, pathetic, and disheartening.

Look, I know the Canucks have far too many different and bizarre jerseys and logos in their history and that most Canucks fans want the team to stick with one design and identity long term, even if they don’t always agree with design it should be.

But it turns out the Canucks have a good reason for all the jersey changes: it’s the only way they can see new success.

Stick with me here: let’s start with this video from the 1982 playoffs, the origins of towel power as Roger Neilsen forever earned Vancouver’s love by calling out the referees for what he saw as biassed officiating.

Notice the jerseys? The “Flying V” jerseys were much maligned around the league, not to mention in Vancouver, but that’s the jersey the Canucks were wearing during their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. I still have a massive soft spot for those jerseys: during the 1994 playoff run, that’s the jersey I wore to school handed down from my older brother.

Let’s jump ahead, to 1994 and The Save from Kirk McLean.

That save is part of the reason the Canucks made it to their second Stanley Cup Final. While the colour scheme is the same, the logo and design are different. This is the jersey that Canucks fans of my generation venerate and the one the current Canucks dishonoured on Saturday.

Finally,
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we have 2011, as Alex Burrows slays the dragon.

The Canucks made it back to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in franchise history and in a third jersey, this time with a completely different colour scheme.

Sure, changing jerseys doesn’t guarantee success for the Canucks, but it appears to be a necessary element. Without a new jersey, all the other changes the Canucks could make are just superficial and surface level. It doesn’t matter what players the Canucks draft, trade, or sign; you have to get to the heart of the matter, the real meat and potatoes of the issue: what jersey the players are wearing.

Quite frankly, if the Canucks had come in the third period of Game 7 wearing completely different jerseys, D2 style, they would have won the game and the Cup. Heck, the Canucks were down by three goals, just like the Mighty Ducks. It’s practically a guarantee that the Canucks would have come back to win in a new jersey.

Need more proof? Every time the Canucks try to recapture the past success of various jerseys, they’ve crashed and burned. Whether it was the retro jersey on Saturday or the various fiascoes while wearing the Vancouver Millionaires jerseys, it just doesn’t work.

The lesson we need to learn from this is not just that going back to an old jersey leads to disaster, but that staying with a current jersey is equally disastrous, even if it’s more of a slow burn than a mighty conflagration.

All the arguments between Team Tank and Team Playoffs completely miss the point. It doesn’t matter whether it would be better for the future of the team to tank for a high pick or to give the Canucks youth playoff experience. Either way, the Canucks won’t get anywhere in the future unless they get a new jersey.
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