The Vancouver Canucks did not join the National Hockey League until 1970, but that’s not to say that they didn’t exist as a team long before that. The Canucks have been around, in fact, since 1945, when a franchise was established in Vancouver by the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL). This team was quite successful in its own league, so when, in 1965, it was announced that the NHL was looking to expand into new markets, the Canucks’ owner applied.
Unfortunately, due to a poorly-planned pitch and animosity between the Vancouver owners and the owner or the Red Wings (Bruce Norris) and the owner of the Leafs (Stafford Smyth), their application was unsuccessful. You may have thought that this mess may have required plumbing contractors to clean it up, but this setback, however, didn’t stop an arena being built in Vancouver on the grounds of the Pacific National Exhibition.
It wasn’t until 1970 that the Vancouver Canucks actually joined the NHL, as a promise in return for not filing a law suit against the NHL for killing a deal which would have given Vancouver the Oakland Seals franchise that had failed in Oakland). The WHL Canucks were purchased a group of people led by an entrepreneur from Minnesota, and thus the Vancouver Canucks became part of the NHL.
Interestingly, though the played in the west, the Canucks started their NHL career in the East Division due to a condition of the expansion that all new teams would join the Eastern Conference, and the Chicago Blackhawks would move to the Western one. Being in the already-established Eastern Conference with five of the six original teams was not easy for the Canucks, and they struggled in their first few years. However, in 1974, the divisions within the NHL were shifted around, and the Canucks found themselves in the Smythe Division, where they fated much better, immediately producing their first winning season.
That said, after winning their first division title in 1975, the Canucks went on to total fifteen consecutive losing seasons. Depressingly, this remains a record for North American professional sports. But such bad luck wasn’t to last forever, and the Canucks made their first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals in 1982. Granted, the New York Islanders swept the floor with them in four games, but at least they were there. The won two consecutive division titles in 1992 and 1993 after acquiring a few new, promising players (including Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure), and made their second appearance in the Stanley Cup finals in 1994 against the New York Rangers.
They took them to seven games, but, unfortunately, couldn’t hold out in the seventh and lost it to the Rangers. The Canucks were a consistently successful franchise in the early 2000’s, becoming a team that was generally expected to qualify for the playoffs, and were regularly in the running for the Northwest Division title. The team had its ups and downs in the following decade, and made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011 against the Boston Bruins. In a thrilling seven-game series, the Bruins shutout the Canucks in the seventh game, preventing the Canucks from finally being able to hoist the Cup.