The tallest and smallest players in Canucks history

Pass it to Bulis

When Tyler Myers steps on the ice for the first time in a Vancouver Canucks jersey, he’ll set a new franchise record. At 6’8”, Myers will be the tallest player in Canucks history.

At least, according to official NHL records.

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North America’s reliance on imperial measurements means that it’s hard to be exact with such a statement, particularly when the height and weight of hockey players is so frequently prone to exaggeration. But, according to the NHL, there has never been a player on the Canucks that has measured in at 6’8”, so Myers will be the first.

Prior to Myers, there are two contenders for the tallest player in Canucks history, one of which could still make a comeback and, perhaps, play alongside Myers.

Nikita Tryamkin is listed at 6’7” and played 79 games for the Canucks in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. Tryamkin struggled at times with the transition to the NHL, but showed flashes of quality: his skating ability alone at his massive size had fans fantasizing about his future potential.

After all, every team wants that big, intimidating defenceman, someone that can take away practically every passing lane in the defensive zone with one sweep of his Willie Mitchell-length stick, or erase opposing forwards in front of the net or along the boards.

 

 

Unfortunately, Tryamkin chose to return to the KHL. Whether it was because of a lack of ice time or homesickness, Tryamkin didn’t want to stay in Vancouver. He has talked about returning, however.

“We’d love to have him back,” said Benning last month, revealing that he had recently met with Tryamkin’s agent. “As we’re watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and we’re seeing size and strength of St Louis’ defence, he could be a big part of our group and he’s a young player.”

Tryamkin will be 25 at the start of next season, which is arguably no longer “young,” per se. Recent work on aging curves in the NHL suggests that players tend to plateau from around 22 to 25, then gradually decline from there, but it’s certainly true that Tryamkin could still have a long NHL career ahead of him if he decides to come back to North America.

A defence pairing of Tryamkin and Myers is a tantalizing idea. They would be a combined 13’3”, easily the tallest pairing in the NHL. Whether they’d be an effective pairing or not, it would just be fun to see.

At the very least, Tryamkin should be able to hold his own on a third pairing in the NHL, even if he never quite becomes that Zdeno Chara-esque beast on the backend. He’s been averaging over 20 minutes per game in the KHL for Avtomobilist, and over 21 minutes in the playoffs. Though his offence dried up this past season, he was 24th among KHL defencemen in shots per game

Tryamkin, however, isn’t the only 6’7” player in Canucks history, and here is where the waters get a little muddy when trying to figure out who is the tallest Canuck.

The other Canuck listed at 6’7” is Chris McAllister, their second-round pick from the 1995 draft. It was the kind of pick that would have fans up in arms nowadays: McAllister was 20 years old, in his third year of draft eligibility, and had managed just 10 points in 65 games in the WHL. Most egregiously, that was the Canucks’ first pick of the draft, as they sent their first-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Alexander Mogilny trade.

Marc Savard, who had 43 goals and 139 points in 66 OHL games in his first year of draft eligibility, didn’t get picked until the fourth round that year. Teams evidently had no clue what they were doing at the draft in those years.

To McAllister’s credit, he carved out a 310-game NHL career for himself, primarily as an enforcer. 64 of those games came with the Canucks in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.

So, who was taller? Tryamkin or McAllister?

It’s hard to say.

If we had their precise measurements in centimetres, it would be a lot easier. We do know Tryamkin’s height in centimetres: he’s listed at 200 cm according to the KHL, which is actually just a bit short of 6’7”. It actually comes out to 6 feet and 6.74 inches.

How tall was McAllister in centimetres? It depends on where you look.

Elite Prospects lists McAllister at 197 cm, which comes out to 6 feet and 5.5591 inches. Even rounding up, that only puts McAllister at 6’6”, giving Tryamkin the easy win. Other sites, like Wikipedia and HockeyDB, list McAllister at 201 cm, which is almost exactly 6’7”, which suggests that they took his listed height from the NHL and extrapolated his height in metric from there.

If McAllister is 201 cm tall, however, then he is the reigning height champion in Canucks history.

McAllister did play a couple seasons in England for the Newcastle Vipers, which should give us measurements in metric, but no amount of searching was able to turn up his official height on the Vipers roster, partly because the original Vipers website is gone. It did, however, turn up suggestions that McAllister was neither 6’6” nor 6’7”: he was 6’8”.

An article from Newcastle in 2005 when he first joined the Vipers during the NHL lockout claims McAllister is 6’8”. The same is claimed by CBC back in 2000 when McAllister was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Philadelphia Flyers, as does a Philadelphia source from 2002

Hockey Reference lists McAllister as 6’8” and 203 cm, putting him at the same height as Myers. QuantHockey lists him at 204 cm, a centimetre taller than Myers.

In this fight, McAllister looks at least a little taller than the 6’5” Wade Belak. Jim Hughson announces his height as 6’7”, clearly going by the official NHL measurements, but is McAllister two inches taller than Belak? Three inches taller?

As you can imagine, this is extremely distressing. Will Myers actually be the tallest Canuck in franchise history or not? This is very, very important!

On the plus side, Tryamkin has a firm grip on the record for heftiest Canuck: his official weight with the NHL was 265 lbs, dwarfing the comparatively minuscule McAllister, who was listed at just 250 lbs. Myers, who weighs in at a more slender 229 lbs, won’t threaten that record.

Thankfully, determining the smallest Canuck of all time is a lot easier. It’s Bobby Lalonde, and he has no competition.

Like McAllister, Lalonde was a second-round pick for the Canucks, albeit way back in 1971. Lalonde quickly made his way into the lineup for the fledgling Canucks and became a reliable scorer for five seasons. That included 20 goals in 1972-73 and 50 points in 1975-76.

That’s particularly impressive when you consider he was the shortest skater in NHL history at the time. He was just 5’5”.

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Lalonde was challenged for the crown by his contemporary, Douglas Palazzari, who was also 5’5”, but Palazzari only played one full season in the NHL and had 15 lbs on Lalonde, who weighed in at just 155 lbs. Since Lalonde’s time, the 5’4” Nathan Gerbe has unseated him as the smallest skater in NHL history.

While Lalonde was the shortest skater, goaltender Roy “Shrimp” Worters had him beat by 2 inches at 5’3” and just 135 lbs. Despite his size, Worters was one of the best goaltenders of the pre-Original Six era. He won the Hart trophy as the league’s MVP in 1929, won the Vezina in 1931, and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.

Lalonde may not be the smallest player in NHL history, but he certainly is in Canucks history. The next shortest Canucks skaters have three inches on Lalonde, like the 5’8” Stan Smyl and Cliff Ronning. The closest Canuck is goaltender Richard Brodeur, at 5’6”, though some sources list him at 5’7”.

Even Petrus Palmu, the smallest prospect in the Canucks system, has an inch on Lalonde at 5’6”.

You can catch a glimpse of Lalonde in this classic footage from the 1976-77 Canucks. He’s the one wearing #20 and a helmet that makes him look like an extra in Spaceballs.

You can catch some more glimpses of Lalonde in this ESPN Classic footage from a 1974-75 game against the Chicago Blackhawks, again wearing #20 and a bulbous helmet, along with a jazzy soundtrack. Also, you get some jokes about Gary Smith getting a concussion that are extremely painful in retrospect.

In part 2 of the video from ESPN Classic, you can even see a goal from Lalonde, as he drills a slap shot from the blue line past Tony Esposito about three minutes in.

Will we ever see a Canuck shorter than Lalonde? Possibly. After all, Nathan Gerbe showed that a player shorter than 5’5” can play in the modern NHL. 5’3” Sean Dhooge (who was one of the best names eligible for the 2017 draft) was an invite to the Arizona Coyotes’ development camp this year and he believes his stature is secretly an advantage, giving him a low centre of gravity, quicker changes of direction, and better puck control. It’s hard to bet against him: he led the University of Wisconsin in goals and points last season at 20 years old and is determined to make the NHL. Maybe he, or someone as tall as him, will one day suit up for the Canucks.

For now, Bobby Lalonde is the smallest player in Canucks history, while Tyler Myers will soon be the tallest, as long as the NHL is right about Chris McAllister’s height.
 

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