Harold Snepsts was drafted in the fourth round in 1974 as a twenty year-old by the Canucks and joined the Canucks on the upswing. Snepsts actually played in 27 games during his first year and though he managed only 1 goal and 3 points, his role was clear. At 6’3″ and well over 200 pounds, Snepsts was a physically dominant player on the ice. His role was to protect his team and keep the puck away from his net. In the 1975-76 season, Snepsts took on a much larger role, quickly becoming a fan favourite for his physical role and willingness to stand up for his teammates. Snepsts played in 78 games and managed 18 points, along with his 125 penalty minutes.
Snepsts remained a reliable defensive player who always worked his hardest even as the Canucks began losing frequently in the late 70s. In 1977, Snepsts was selected to go to the NHL All-Star game, representing Vancouver. In 1978, a young kid by the name of Stan Smyl dared to hit Snepsts hard in a training camp scrimmage. Instead of reprimanding him, Snepsts later went up to Smyl and said “That’s what we need here. Don’t let anything bother you as a player. You keep doing those things.” Snepsts went on to have the best offensive year of his career in 1978-79, scoring 7 goals and 31 points, just behind Dennis Kearns among the team’s defensemen.
While Snepsts was known for his physical and defensive play, every now and then, he would make a surprise rush up the ice and get all the fans out of their seats. When Snepsts managed to score, as seldom as that was, the fans in the Pacific Colosseum would go wild, rumbling the arena with their excitement. Snepsts would see his PIM numbers rise to over 200 for a couple of years, peaking at 212 PIM in the 1980-81 season. Fans who loved Snepsts effort would give loud chants of “HAAAARRROOOOLD” to urge him on. Snepsts returned back to the All-Star game in 1982 and then helped the Canucks to a miraculous run to the Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Islanders. In the first game when Vancouver shocked the hockey world by taking the Islanders to overtime, it was Harold who gave the puck away to Mike Bossy, giving him the overtime winner. When the Canucks came back home for games three and four, instead of being treated with contempt, Harold was celebrated and showered with praise from the fans. He was truly a fan favourite.
Snepsts would play two more season with Vancouver before being traded to the Minnesota North Stars by Harry Neale. Snepsts would play one season in Minnesota and three in Detroit before signing with the Canucks in the summer of 1988 as a free agent. While Harold now produced even less offense than in his younger years, he was still a hero to Canuck fans everywhere. Realizing the impact that Harold had on the Canucks, management would choose to make him the road roommate of Trevor Linden in his earliest years. Snepsts was traded late into the 1989-90 season to the St. Louis Blues, who wanted experience for a playoff run. Snepsts would play one final year with the Blues in 1990-91 before retiring at the age of 36.
When Harold Snepsts was traded from the Canucks the last time, he was second all-time in games among Canucks behind only Stan Smyl. Snepsts played just over 1000 games in his NHL career, including 781 for Vancouver along with 195 points and 1446 PIM in a Canuck uniform. Harold was inducted into the Canucks’ Ring of Honour in 2011 as one of the four original inductees.
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