Former Canucks defenceman Adrian Aucoin appeared on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast this week.
Canucks fans will remember him for the seven seasons he played in Vancouver, from 1994 to 2001. He was one of the few bright spots during a dark time for the team, scoring 23 goals in 1998-99, which is still a record for goals by a Canucks defenceman.
Aucoin shared a bunch of incredible stories from his playing days with hosts Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette, many involving former Canucks teammates and coaches. If you’re a longtime Canucks fan, it was all grade A material.
Having played on the Canucks in the 90s, the first teammate you’d have to ask about is Pavel Bure. Here’s what Aucoin said about him:
“He (Bure) was exactly what you would imagine. He was a Russian guy no one knew too much about …
“You never knew what he was up to. One time we were in Detroit. He’s got this guy that would meet us in Detroit all the time, the guy’s shoulders, he was like frickin’ Andre the Giant.
“We came into the locker room one day and the guy’s doing push-ups in the middle of the floor in our locker room. Nobody, even the coaches didn’t say anything to him.
“He grabs a soccer ball, he throws it at the wall where the jerseys are hanging, and he walks out of the room.
“Nobody says anything. It almost felt like we were in Russia because nobody wanted to get killed.”
Asked if he had to make a choice between having Bure or Alex Mogilny on his team, Aucoin quickly answered, “Mogilny.” Mogilny scored 55 goals for the Canucks when he was a teammate of Aucoin’s in 1995-96, while Bure potted 51 in 1997-98.
The former Canucks defenceman explained that Mogilny could pass as well as score goals. He also told this Mogilny story, which includes how he fared playing for Mike Keenan:
“Alex, he was not the most motivated guy because he was so fucking good. He was so good it was scary.
“He could pass, he could shoot, he could skate, he could even play really physical. I’ve seen him bury guys in the corner, take the puck and go and score because he was pissed off – at will.
“(One time) we’re in the locker room and Keenan is all over him. We were like holy shit – normally he’s not on Mogilny like that.
“Mogilny looks up, he’s like, ‘Mike, have you ever heard of how I defected, how they fucking threatened my family, how they wanted to kill everybody? You think you’re fucking scaring me?’
“We were like, ‘Holy shit.’ It was pretty crazy. Mike didn’t know what to say – he normally gets the last word.”
As one of the league’s top players for nearly two decades, scoring 1032 points in 990 career games, Mogilny made a lot of money during his career. He spent a lot, too, as Aucoin shared this funny story about his monetary needs during one of the NHL lockouts.
“During the lockout, remember they had that war chest and they were like, ‘OK, we’re going to give you stipends. How much money are you guys going to need a month? You’ve got to write it down.’
“Some guys were like $5,000/month, some guys were like $2,000.
“He (Mogilny) wrote down $120,000/month.
“I was sitting next to him like, ‘What are you doing?’ He was like, ‘A guy needs to live.’ He was serious.”
One of Aucoin’s most interesting teammates, according to his stories, was Esa Tikkanen. Despite spending only two seasons in Vancouver from 1995-97, Tikkanen, a legendary character, clearly left his mark.
“I went out with him probably three or four nights in a row and I’m like, ‘Done. Can’t do it.’ He legitimately wrote the rule book on he could not play well unless he went out – he was one of those guys. If he didn’t go out, he looked hung over. If he went out, he looked fine.
“One time we were in Montreal. All my buddies from Ottawa drive up, we’re having the time of our life. He’s at the bar and my buddy’s like, ‘Oh my god, that’s Esa Tikkanen.’ I’m like, ‘Ya, come over, I’ll introduce you.’
“He (Tikkanen) was wearing all five of his Stanley Cup rings at the bar in Montreal. I’m like, ‘Hey Esa, come meet my buddies.’
“He literally just puts his hand in their face and says, ‘There you go boys. Fuck off.’
“I think he thought it was just fans who wanted to meet him, and I’m like, ‘No, they’re my buddies.’ He’s like, ‘Oh!’ and he hung out with them.”
A lot has changed since Aucoin entered the league in the mid-1990s, including coaching. Rick Ley was his first coach before Pat Quinn took over.
You can say communication between players and coaches a little bit different than it is today.
“Pat Quinn was a great coach, but even back then, the only thing he ever told me in probably a year and a half coaching me was, ‘Don’t go to your backhand kid. It sucks.’
“That was it. He never got mad at me. He was awesome. He was a great coach but there was no personal… you know what I mean? They didn’t break plays down, there wasn’t detail. We didn’t even do video.
“We had one video when I was there for the first playoffs (against St. Louis in 1995), it was a pump up video showing guys fighting and beating the shit out of the other team we were playing against.
“It was awesome.”
One notable teammate Aucoin spoke about was Mark Messier, who Aucoin played with in Vancouver for three seasons.
Aucoin, spoke positively about what kind of leader Messier was, but this story also explains why many media members and fans didn’t think he was fully invested during his time here.
“You look at some of the best leaders now – a guy like Jonathan Toews. Toews is going to outwork you everywhere.
“Mess obviously played hard … In practice, he wouldn’t wear a helmet, he’d just kind of float around. Half the time he wouldn’t practice, but that’s the way it was back then.
“The All-Stars would sit along the boards and watch the other guys do drills. But I give him credit because he got it done on the ice, and he partied like a rock star off the ice.”
Again, Aucoin was speaking positively about his experiences with Messier. Up to you how you interpret the comments, though.