Sunday

Barry Pederson

Back in the 1980s, the Vancouver Canucks were the saddest team in the mighty Smythe Division. Weak in virtually every area, the Canucks were especially woeful down the middle. Other teams sported world class centers such as Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier in Edmonton, Kent Nilsson in Calgary, Marcel Dionne and Bernie Nicholls in L.A. and Dale Hawerchuk in Winnipeg. The Canucks sought their own superstar center, and were willing to pay whatever the asking price.

That asking price proved to be very big.

The Canucks zeroed in on Boston Bruins standout Barry Pederson. The former WHL star who grew up and played his junior hockey on Vancouver Island, Pederson was a stylistic scoring star with Bruins. Teaming masterfully with speedy Rick Middleton, Pederson scored 92, 107 and 116 points in his first three seasons. Named an All Star in two of those seasons, the 5'11", 185lb Pederson rewrote the Bruins rookie record book and established himself as a playoff warrior as well leading the Bruins in most scoring categories.

A serious health scare haunted Pederson in 1984-85. A fibrous tumor was discovered in his right shoulder muscle. Doctors were forced to cut out a 4-by-6 inch portion of his shoulder muscle. Some reports speculated that Pederson's hockey career was over.

Pederson worked very hard to prove everyone wrong. He returned in 1985-86, scoring a respectable 29 goals and 76 points in 79 games.

The Bruins felt Pederson was somehow not the same player any longer, and the two became locked in a contract dispute. The Vancouver Canucks were eager to bring the BC boy home, and offered a 1st round pick and a young Cam Neely in return.

The rest as they say is history. Neely went on to a Hall of Fame career that made him one of the greatest Boston Bruins ever. The draft pick landed Glen Wesley, a long time defenseman.

Meanwhile, Pederson struggled in Vancouver. Unable to capture the same chemistry he instantly found in Boston with Middleton, Pederson, who termed his experience in Vancouver as "frustrating," posted back to back 70 point campaigns before injuries plagued his last two seasons in Vancouver.

After leaving Vancouver, Pederson bounced around the league a bit, earning a Stanley Cup ring as a little used player on the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins, and returning to Boston in 1992.

Pederson, a cousin of NHLer Brian Skrudland, admits his shoulder dramatically altered his career.

"I was never really, I don't think, the same after that, looking back on it. But at the same time, I don't necessarily believe the physical aspect of it was the only aspect. I think the mental part was, for whatever reason."

Pederson has remained in Boston, serving as a broadcaster as well as an investment broker, putting the business degree he earned via Boston College/UBC in his summer breaks.

4 comments:

C-fanSince88 3:05 PM  

The Pederson/Neely trade may be the worst deal made in all of sports - absolutley awful how the Canucks gave up so much without doing their homework on another player coming off major surgery.

In retrospect, Pederson's numbers weren't that bad as a Canuck - he was after all playing on a brutal hockey team. But so much was expected of him, expectations may have been set way too high. And the way his numbers continued to dramatically decline each and every year - just made that trade even worse.

I didn't mind Barry as a Canuck, but he wasn't one of my faves - I was more upset about losing Tanti tan Pederson in that trade with Pittsburgh...

Anonymous,  5:42 PM  

The Pederson trade essentially was the trade that killed the Canucks. Not only did they give away eventual Hall of Famer Cam Neely, but they also gave up their third overall pick, with which they could have drafted Joe Sakic, the superstar center they needed.

Instead, Joe Sakic went to the Nordiques, who in turn became the Avalanche, who in turn hammered the Canucks endlessly, especially during the late 90s.

Without this trade, we would have had Neely, Sakic, Linden, and Bure, a core of forwards with which Vancouver may have built into Stanley Cup winners.

Anonymous,  5:50 PM  

Pederson was damn near a great player, then he got hurt/sick, and after that he was a damned good player. I think he gets a bum rap. It's easy to look back in hindsight and say the trade was awful, but Neely had done very little in Vancouver and there was no one who thought he'd be the player he became. Furthermore, I don't think he would have been that player in Vancouver as the organization was a joke at that time.

Anonymous,  12:19 PM  

Pederson is my all time favorite player. As a young Bruins fan, I was outraged when he was dealt for this Neely fellow, and for years afterward I would still look at Pederson's numbers in Vancouver and compare them to Neely's in Boston, and say 'See? See? Pederson had more points!' Although by the end of 1988, it was getting harder and harder to make myself believe Boston had made a bad deal.

Ultimately, it's become the gift that keeps on giving. Boston drafted Wesley with Vancouver's pick, who they traded to Hartford for 3 first rounders, one of whom was Sergei Samsonov, who was traded to Edmonton for a 2nd rounder, who Boston used on Milan Lucic. And in the end, Barry came back to Boston anyway - I got to see him play live in Maine! - and now I can see him most nights on NESN. Win, win, win!

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