When Brad Richardson scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights, it was his first goal for the Vancouver Canucks in over seven years.
This is Richardson’s second stint with the Canucks after he was claimed off waivers ahead of the trade deadline. His first stint with the Canucks was two seasons from 2013 to 2015, bridging the gap between the Mike Gillis and Jim Benning eras.
Richardson’s last goal for the Canucks was scored on December 22, 2014 against his future team, the Arizona Coyotes. Seven years, three months, and 15 days later — 2,662 days — Richardson scored again for the Canucks against the Golden Knights on Wednesday.
That’s quite the gap between goals and it raises the question: is that the longest time between goals for the Canucks?
In order for someone to challenge Richardson’s gap between Canucks goals, it’s going to have to be a player with two separate stints with the Canucks. Players can sometimes go on long goal droughts during one stint with a team but not seven years.
For instance, Brendan Gaunce scored his first career goal with the Canucks in his second game — also against the Coyotes, oddly enough. That was on October 30, 2015. He didn’t score again until two seasons later on December 21, 2017. That’s still just a gap of two years, one month, and 21 days — 783 days total. That’s a long time but not even close to Richardson.
Fortunately, there are plenty of players who had two stints with the Canucks. There’s Luke Schenn on the team right now, for instance, though he was only away from the Canucks for two seasons and didn’t score a goal in his first go-around with the Canucks, so he doesn’t qualify.
The return of the captain: Trevor Linden
Trevor Linden is the most famous example of a player with two stints with the Canucks. He was the team’s second overall pick in 1988 and spent the next ten seasons in Vancouver, serving as the captain for seven of them. He was then traded to the New York Islanders — an unpopular deal that paid enormous dividends — and also played for the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals before returning to the Canucks in 2001.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that when he was traded from the Canadiens to the Capitals, the namesake of PITB, Jan Bulis, was part of the deal.
Linden’s last goal with the Canucks before he was traded was on December 17, 1997, against — and you’re not going to believe this — the Phoenix Coyotes. He didn’t score again for the Canucks until November 23, 2001 against the Boston Bruins.
That’s a gap of three years, 11 months, and six days — 1,427 days total. That’s still over 1,000 days short of Richardson.
Baumer and his three — or four — stints in Vancouver
Nolan Baumgartner is a fun one. He actually had three separate stints with the Canucks, then returned for a fourth stint as an assistant coach. He played 8 games with the Canucks in 2002-03, then was lost in the 2003 waiver draft to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played five games with the Penguins, then was reclaimed off waivers by the Canucks just one month after they lost him.
It’s a good thing: two seasons later, after spending some time in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose, Baumgartner had a breakout season with the Canucks in 2005-06, scoring 34 points in 70 games.
That season earned him a free agent contract from the Philadelphia Flyers but he could never quite recapture that magic. He bounced between a couple of different teams in the NHL and AHL before returning to the Canucks organization to play for the Moose in the 2007-08 season. Eventually, he got called up in 2009-10 and played 12 games for the Canucks, scoring one goal.
That goal was scored on February 12, 2010 — four years and 19 days after he had last scored on January 24, 2006. That’s 1,480 days between goals, which is just a little bit longer than Linden but well short of Richardson.
Not quite Snepsts
There are plenty of players who had small, two-to-three year gaps between stints with the Canucks: guys like Jim Sandlak, Craig Coxe, Jere Gillis (no relation to Mike Gillis), Brad May, Matt Pettinger, and Brent Sopel. They’re not going to make the cut, so we’ll skip ahead.
Dunc Wilson had two stints with the Canucks with six seasons in between, but he was a goaltender, so didn’t score many goals.
Canucks legend Harold Snepsts had two stints with the Canucks. Like Linden, he spent the first ten years of his career in Vancouver, playing for the Canucks from 1974 to 1984. He then spent four seasons with the Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings before making his return to Vancouver in the 1988-89 season.
Snepsts didn’t score a goal for the Canucks in his second stint until his second season, giving him a hefty gap between goals. That goal came on December 27, 1989 — five years, 10 months, and 16 days after his previous goal with the Canucks on February 11, 1984. That’s 2,146 days — getting closer to Richardson, but not quite there yet.
Schmautz came just short of Richardson
Bobby Schmautz was a valuable player for the Canucks in their earliest years. He played 26 games in their inaugural season in 1970-71, then led the team in scoring with 38 goals and 71 points in the 1972-73 season.
Schmautz was traded to the Boston Bruins in 1974, bringing back future Canucks captain Chris Oddleifson. Schmautz spent parts of seven seasons with the Bruins, then was traded twice in the 1979-80 season, playing with the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Rockies, before re-signing with the Canucks for one more year.
In 1980-81, Schmautz was once again one of the Canucks top players, putting up 27 goals and 61 points in 73 games, just 8 goals behind Dave “Tiger” Williams and 8 points behind Thomas Gradin for the team lead. It wasn’t enough to earn him a new contract, however, and Schmautz retired at the age of 36.
That’s a big gap between stints for Schmautz and it leads to a big gap between goals. Schmautz scored his last goal for the Canucks before being traded to the Bruins on January 30, 1974. He didn’t score again for the Canucks until October 15, 1980.
That’s a gap of six years, eight months, and 15 days — 2,450 days, just short of Richardson for the biggest gap between goals.
We can find longer.
Slegr's short-lived second chance, eight years later
Jiri Slegr was a highly-touted prospect when he was drafted 23rd overall by the Canucks in 1990 and immediately made an impact when he got into the lineup, scoring 26 points in 41 games in his rookie season, then 38 points in 78 games in 1993-94.
Despite being seventh on the Canucks in scoring in the regular season and second among defencemen, Slegr was scratched for the entirety of the 1994 playoffs. To be fair, the Canucks had traded for Jeff Brown and Bret Hedican, which pushed Slegr down the lineup, and the Canucks seemed to prefer Dana Murzyn's stay-at-home game.
Slegr was traded the following season to the Edmonton Oilers and he proceeded to bounce around the league for the next nine years, even returning to Europe twice. It was after his second trip back to Europe that he came back to the Canucks, signing in 2003. He never meshed with head coach Marc Crawford, however, and was traded to the Boston Bruins after just 16 games.
He did score a couple of goals in those 16 games, however.
His last goal for the Canucks in the 90’s was on March 12, 1995. His first goal for the Canucks in the 2000’s was in his first game of the season, October 11, 2003. That’s a gap of eight years, six months, and 29 days — 3,135 days total, 320 more than Schmautz.
Believe it or not, there’s one more gap between Canucks goals that’s longer.
Schaefer over Morrison in 2010
Peter Schaefer was drafted 66th overall by the Canucks in 1995, eventually working his way into the Canucks lineup in the 1998-99 season. He spent three seasons with the Canucks before a contract dispute led to him sitting out the 2001-02 season. Or, rather, he went to Finland for a year.
Burke was so irked by Schaefer’s contract demands and threat to go to Europe that he famously offered to pay Schaefer’s taxi fare to the airport himself.
That led to one of the best trades in Canucks history when Burke sent Schaefer to the Ottawa Senators for Sami Salo.
Salo was seen as a steady, stay-at-home defenceman for the Senators but already had a reputation for being injury prone. With the Canucks, however, Salo added scoring to his repertoire, even if he couldn’t shake his injury woes. Salo became famous for his bomb of a slap shot from the point, adding a threat from the top of the zone to the power play to go with his excellent defensive game.
Schaefer, meanwhile, had four solid seasons for the Senators but once again had a dispute with management, requesting a trade. He was sent to the Boston Bruins in 2007 but played just one season in Boston and was subsequently sent to the AHL the following year.
After sitting out the 2009-10 season, Schaefer attempted to make a comeback to the NHL, this time with the Canucks, ten years after he last played for them.
Schaefer signed a professional tryout agreement and competed for a job at the Canucks’ 2010 training camp alongside another former Canuck: Brendan Morrison. Schaefer, with his ability to play on the penalty kill, was seen as the more useful piece for a team that had plenty of offensive talent, so he got a contract and Morrison unceremoniously got the boot.
He didn’t last long. Schaefer played just 16 games for the Canucks before he was put on waivers. Just for good measure, Schaefer once again didn’t agree with management and was unwilling to go to the AHL, so he was put on unconditional wavers, released, and signed with a German team to finish off the season.
In those 16 games, however, Schaefer managed to score one goal.
It came on October 26, 2010 against the Colorado Avalanche. His last goal with the Canucks before he was traded to the Senators came on April 1, 2001 against the Anaheim Ducks.
That’s a whopping nine years, six months, and 25 days between goals for the Canucks for Schaefer. That’s 3,495 days, eclipsing Slegr’s gap by 360 days — nearly a full year.
There you have it: Peter Schaefer, the answer to a trivia question that no one asked.