It’s an iconic image, one stamped into the minds of a generation of hockey fans. It was one of the greatest moments to ever happen to the Canucks and this photo caught that moment on film forever. Seeing it immediately brings fans back to 1994 and all the emotions involved. And now, Sports Illustrated has named it the best hockey photo of all time.
Unfortunately, it’s not the photo you’re thinking of.
The greatest Canucks photo of all time is undoubtedly the iconic image of Trevor Linden, bloody but unbowed, leaning on Kirk McLean at the conclusion of game 6 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. After already down and injured, Mark Messier hit the Canucks captain, leaving him to crawl to the bench in the final minute of the game.
Jim Robson’s call of “He will play! You know he’ll play! He’ll play on crutches! He will play and he’ll play at Madison Square Gardens on Tuesday night!” sums up Linden’s determination in words, but that picture captures Linden’s determination in a single image. In 2008, Cliff Ronning revealed that Linden played the last 4 games of that series with cracked ribs and torn rib cartilage and his teammates could hear him screaming from down the hall as painkillers were injected into his ribs. Then Linden would walk into the dressing room like nothing had happened.
You can see that pain and exhaustion in Linden’s face, but you know he’ll return for game seven, scoring two goals and almost single-handedly willing the Canucks to the Stanley Cup.
But that wasn’t good enough for Sports Illustrated, apparently.
They created a feature called the 100 All-Time Greatest Photos. It’s a fantastic collection of brilliant moments caught on film, from Ali’s iconic knockout of Cleveland Williams to Michael Jordan’s buzzer beater to win the 1998 NBA Finals. Only 5 of the 100 come from hockey, but when it’s an American publication that shouldn’t be too surprising. What is surprising is their choice of the best hockey photo of all time. While it does feature the Canucks, it’s certainly not their finest moment.
The above photo finished at number 9 on Sports Illustrated’s top 100. While it doesn’t look like much, that photo shows Wayne Gretzky’s 802nd career goal, the one that broke Gordie Howe’s all-time record. The goal was scored on March 23rd, 1994 and it was against, of course, the Vancouver Canucks.
It’s certainly a fine photo, but for it to be named the top hockey photo of all-time is ridiculous. The greatest hockey photo of all-time is the classic flying Bobby Orr shot from the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. That photo comes in at number 80 on Sports Illustrated’s list.
In fact, 2 of the 5 hockey photos on the list are of Wayne Gretzky, illustrating that Sports Illustrated’s knowledge of hockey is remarkably shallow. Ahead of the classic Bobby Orr photo comes the celebration from the Miracle on Ice, which makes some sense from an American perspective. Next is Wayne Gretzky’s retirement spin on the ice as a member of the New York Rangers in 1999, which has no business being ahead of Bobby Orr. The final hockey photo on the list is an admittedly gorgeous shot of Jacques Plante from 1957.
Hey, at least the Canucks got on the list, right? The sad thing is, the video of Gretzky’s goal is far more iconic, because it includes Gretzky’s running-on-ice goal celebration, as well as the gorgeous pass by Marty McSorley that gave Gretzky such an empty net to shoot at.
Even then, that video can’t hold a candle to a bloody Linden leaning on McLean. Way to screw up, Sports Illustrated.Kirk McLean, photos, Trevor Linden, Wayne Gretzky