Thursday, February 25, 2010

Five Canadian Hockey Players Honoured in Vancouver

This article will be published in the February 26th edition of Main Street Week - page 8, and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

While I have been living in Toronto for the past year, my Dad has phoned on a regular basis, trying his hand a tricking me with some trivia questions or filling me in on some sports news he thinks I may have missed. As a sports columnist, I am proud to say that there is very little news that slips past me and on most occasions, I can come up with an answer to his trick questions. This time around though, I must admit, his most recent trivia question had me beat; which Canadian hockey players are in the Triple Gold Club?

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) honoured five of Canada's greatest hockey players on February 22nd, along with seventeen of their contemporaries from Europe as the only members of the Triple Gold Club. The “club” is a group of players that have won a Gold medal at the Olympic Games, a Gold medal at the World Championships and the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup.

The members of the Triple Gold Club include:
From Sweden: Tomas Jonsson, Mats Naslund, Hakan Loob, Peter Forsberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, Fredrik Modin, Mikael Samuelsson, Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg.

From Russia: Valeri Kamensky, Alexei Gusarov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Alexander Mogilny, and Vladimir Malakhov.

From the Czech Republic: Jaromir Jagr and Jiri Slegr.

Canada's honoured members include Rob Blake, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.

Winning a championship at any level is a difficult task; to win on a regular basis is almost impossible. Yet for some players, the chance to step onto the world stage and deal with the pressures that accompany these tournaments is second nature; they thrive on the responsibility and the challenge of wearing their national colours. Fighting through four rounds in the NHL playoffs and winning a Stanley Cup is perhaps the most challenging of the three championships, but the “lose and you go home” aspect of the Olympics and World Championships presents a completely different experience; if a team is unprepared or loses focus, the chance to win Gold could disappear in an instant.

Perhaps the most distinguished player on the list is Canada's Scott Niedermayer. Captain of the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL and Team Canada at the Vancouver Games, the native of Cranbrook BC is in a class of his own when it comes to winning championships. He is the only player in the hockey world with a Memorial Cup (the best team in Canadian junior hockey), a World Junior Championship Gold, an Olympic Gold, a World Cup (2006), a World Championship and four Stanley Cups.

According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, since 1930, more then 15,000 players have attempted to win the World Championship, 9,000 players have attempted to win the Stanley Cup since 1893 and 4,000 players have tried their best to win Olympic Gold since 1920; only twenty-two have won all three. Congratulations to all the players honoured in Vancouver. Have a great sports day everyone.

Photo by John Griffiths on Flickr.

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