In 2001, the Canucks broke camp with two goaltenders: lifetime backup Dan Cloutier, and some dude. (Martin Brochu is about as "some dude" as a pro hockey player can be. In three non-consecutive NHL seasons, he got nine starts and didn't win a single one.) It was a personnel mystery that's endured to this day, mostly forgotten because Cloutier had a decent season and Vancouver would make the playoffs. But there had to be a pretty good reason why the Canucks would start the season with a backup and a third goalie, but not a true starter. There is, and it involves old favorites like Mike Milbury and Garth Snow.
There's a new book on GMs called "Behind The Moves," and Canucks Army has pulled out a passage where then-Vancouver GM Brian Burke explains just what happened:
"Islanders GM Mike Milbury really fucked me one time on a deal where we had a handshake and he agreed. It wasn't his fault; it was the owner's fault. But we had a deal for Garth Snow right before the waiver draft, and he pulled out of the deal that morning…. I had to take Martin Brochu in the waiver draft, and people have no idea. People ask, ‘Why did you take Martin Brochu?' Because Mike Milbury fucked me on a deal…. In fact, it was right after 9/11, and I was driving over the Golden Gate Bridge going to Santa Rosa, where our team was training. I said, ‘Mike, we're all set, right?' He goes, ‘No.' I said, ‘What the fuck do you mean,"no"?' He goes, ‘Charles [Wang] doesn't want to do it.' I said, ‘Who's the GM – you or Charles?'… I said, ‘You are fucking me like you can't believe. I have no plan B here, Mike. I didn't need a plan B because I had a Plan A.' He totally fucked me, but I don't blame him. It was the owner."
Charles Wang had purchased the Islanders the year before, and didn't want to part with veteran Garth Snow. Perhaps he had long-term plans for him: in 2006, it was Snow that replaced Milbury as Isles GM.
A footnote, just to point out that no one escaped this shitshow unscathed. In the 2001 waiver draft, the same one where the Canucks landed Martin Brochu, the Islanders selected Chris Osgood. Osgood would quickly win the starting job in Uniondale, relegating Snow to the bench.