VANCOUVER - On a night honouring him, Markus Naslund instead turned the spotlight on everyone else.
The former Canucks captain expressed an outpouring of gratitude in his speech Saturday – thanking a long list of people from former teammates to family to fans -– as the club retired his jersey in a pre-game ceremony at Rogers Arena.
"I expected it to be a memorable night but this is way beyond what I could even expect," said the franchise-leading scorer afterwards. "I was trying not to be nervous and just take it all in."
With his wife Lotta, daughters Rebecca and Isabella, and son Alex by his side, the Ornskoldsvik, Sweden native watched his No. 19 rise to the rafters alongside Trevor Linden's No. 16 and Stan Smyl's No. 12 -- both of whom were also at the ceremony.
Other special guests included former teammates Mattias Ohlund, Brendan Morrison, and Dan Cloutier along with former Canucks general managers Brian Burke and Pat Quinn.
"I thought that was a huge part of the night too for him to take the time to fly out," said Naslund of Burke, who's current team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, were playing at home. "Same thing with Brendan and Mattias. It says a lot about them."
In addition to an original watercolour painting of himself, Naslund, 37, was presented with a trip for two to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, two tickets to watch Olympic tennis at Wimbledon and a trip for two to Paris to watch the French Open Final.
In 12 seasons with the Canucks, the prolific winger recorded franchise-best 346 goals and 756 points. He also holds team records in hat tricks (10), power play goals (114), game winning goals (49), and points in a single season by a left winger (104). He led the club in scoring for seven straight seasons, scoring 30 or more goals six times.
Following the 2002-03 season where he finished second in league scoring behind fellow countryman Peter Forsberg, the Swede was awarded the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL's most outstanding player as voted by the players.