Who are the greatest ever NHL players born in B.C?
With the NHL reaching its centennial (kind of, the history there is a tiny bit murky), it seems now is the appropriate time to develop lists that encapsulate the NHL over its 100 years of existence.
While this particular writer has spent a (millennial) lifetime being obsessed with the game, both its past and present, there are undoubtedly some blind spots to be had covering 100 years of hockey.
With help from the wonders of the Internet (www.hockeydb.com lists 399 NHLers from the province), here’s your B.C. All-Star Team.
* - Hall of Famer
^ - currently playing
Paul Kariya*-Joe Sakic*-Mark Recchi*
Jamie Benn^-Steve Yzerman*-Cam Neely*
Geoff Courtnall-Ray Ferraro-Glenn Anderson*
Greg Adams-Peter McNab-Danny Gare
Let’s get the big one out of the way first—Joe Sakic ahead of Stevie Y. Yes, Yzerman is entrenched as one of the best two-way forwards ever to play the game and was a part of the Detroit Red Wings teams that bought everyone available en route to three Stanley Cups in the 90s and early 2000s. Yet, Sakic has a Hart Trophy (awarded to the league’s most valuable player) to his name, something Yzerman never accomplished. They both have Conn Smythe trophies for being the most valuable player in the playoffs, but Sakic’s points-per-game percentage is better. Plus, while Yzerman was born in Cranbrook, he was raised in Nepean, Ontario. Sorry, Stevie.
At least Yzerman gets to centre a line with two incredible power forwards in Jamie Benn and Cam Neely. Both hold points-per-game averages higher than other wingers like Anderson and Courtnall who played more games but were less prolific.
Speaking of which, Ferraro, who parlayed an excellent run as a solid, productive centre into a career as one of the best analysts on TV, is slotted between the two aforementioned vets, forming a unit that can play contribute at both ends.
Rounding out the forward group is Danny Gare, who was overshadowed by the French Connection line in Buffalo but still managed to put up 89 points in a single season, with two former Canucks in Adams and McNab.
McNab was a Canuck for a brief period of time, but he’s mostly known for being part of the powerhouse Bruins teams of the late-70s and early-80s.
Many Vancouver fans will have fond memories of Adams scooping in a rebound past Felix Potvin to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994. Jim Robson screaming “Greg Adams! Greg Adams!” is a particularly memorable moment for Canucks fans.
Shea Weber^-Doug Bodger
Brent Seabrook^-Barry Beck
Doug Lidster-Dan Hamhuis^
Bodger leads all B.C. defencemen in both points and games played (though Weber will most likely pass him in both categories before his career is done). The two make a formidable, imposing first pair with over 1,000 points and 1,600 penalty minutes between them.
Seabrook has had a remarkable career with the Chicago Blackhawks, winning three Cups while playing first-line minutes with partner Duncan Keith (who was partially raised in B.C., but was born in Winnipeg). Vancouver native Beck was an offensive dynamo who also bullied his opponents for the late-70s, early-80s New York Rangers. We’re not sure what’s more impressive: 59 points in 61 games or 231 penalty minutes in 75 contests.
Former Canuck Lidster was on Vancouver for nearly 10 years, playing solid minutes for Vancouver until the 1993-94 season, when he went to the New York Rangers for one season and, of course, won a Stanley Cup for his troubles, scoring two goals against his former team in the process. He won a second Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999.
The final spot goes to another Canuck, Dan Hamhuis, who fights off Eric Brewer for the honours. Hamhuis, who’s still skating with the Stars was a very effective player in his prime, garnering big minutes for the Canucks during their Cup run in 2010-2011. The Smithers native is a plus-76 player for his career, which includes two consecutive seasons of being plus-29 with Vancouver.
Note: Scott Niedermayer was not included in the list because although he was raised in B.C., he was born in Edmonton. He would be the number one defenceman were he eligible.
Cecil ‘Tiny’ Thompson*
While Price has gotten off to a bit of a rocky season with the Montreal Canadiens, there’s no disputing his place as one of the top goaltenders in the game today. He won the Hart Trophy in 2015, cementing his place in NHL lore as only the seventh goalie to do. If the NHL was sending players to the Olympics, he’d still be the de facto choice for Team Canada.
Tiny Thompson was 5’10 and was given the nickname ironically because in 1928, when his career started, that was considered gigantic. From Sandon, B.C. (which Wikipedia unflinchingly calls a “ghost town”), Thompson would be among the smallest ‘tenders in the league if he played today. Back then, he was dominant, winning four Vezina trophies as the league’s top ‘tender.
Moog leads all B.C. goalies in games played with 713 (no other goalie has more than 600), and despite his less-than-stellar numbers, won three Stanley Cups with the dynastic Edmonton Oilers of the mid-80s.
Who’d we miss? Let us know in the comments.
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