To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the IIHF World Junior Championship, TSN gathered a panel of 25 hockey minds with one mission: name the top 40 all-time Canadians to participate in the tournament. The list is heavily populated with today’s NHL stars, who were perhaps a little more baby-faced when they received the honor of representing their country, although some greats from the past are in there as well.
The top 10 is as follows:
1. Jordan Eberle
2. Eric Lindros
3. Wayne Gretzky
4. Jason Allison
5. Manny Legace
6. John Tavares
7. Ryan Ellis
8. Jonathan Toews
9. Patrice Bergeron
10. Jimmy Waite
As the top of the list, Eberle receives $5,000 to donate to the charity of his choice. He’s chosen the Hospitals of Regina Foundation to help his hometown.
Eberle played in the 2009 and 2010 tournaments, getting gold and silver respectively. During the 2009 tourney against Russia in the semifinals, Eberle gave Canada something big to cheer about in the last few seconds of the third period. As Russia held precariously onto a 5-4 lead and Canada had an empty net, Eberle sneaked a goal in and tied the game:
(Fellow top-10s Tavares and Ellis play a role in this goal too.)
Eberle had a pretty good run of it over those two years. He got tournament MVP, led the team in goals and points in 2010 (eight and 13 respectively), holds the Canadian record for most goals (14) and earned points in all 12 games. But I think the voting panel may have made a mistake in putting him ahead of Lindros or Gretzky.
Lindros played in three tournaments (1990, 1991, 1992), was named Best Forward and All-Star in 1991 and got two gold medals in 1990 and 1991. He led Canada in points in two tournaments (1991 and 1992), captained in 1992, holds the country record for points (31), is among the entire tournament’s all-time best for assists and points and earned points in all but three of his 14 games.
That’s to say nothing of Gretzky, who was just 16 years old when he went to his only World Junior in 1978. Keep in mind that the World Junior is a U-20 tournament, so Gretzky was going up against bigger, stronger 19-year-old guys. Like Lindros, he too got the Best Forward and All-Star honors. He led Canada in all three metrics with eight goals, nine assists and 17 points–again, as a person who was basically just old enough to start driving. He’s tied for second most points in a single tournament for Canada.
I would have slated Gretzky first, then Lindros, then Eberle–and apparently at least one of the 25 voters did put the Great One in first place, but that voter obviously didn’t have enough people who agreed.
Now let’s focus on the Boston Bruins in the top 40 list.
Jason Allison, who was a Bruin from 1996 to 2001 and was captain for a time, comes in fourth. He played at the 1994 and 1995 tournaments, winning gold medals both years, plus an All-Star distinction in 1995. In 1995, he led the team in assists (12) and tied for the lead in points (15). He still holds the record for the most Canadian helpers in a single tournament with that 12 marker–and that’s fifth all-time in the world. Over those two years, he got at least a point in all but three of the 14 games played.
Patrice Bergeron takes the ninth spot on the list. He was part of the 2005 team that won gold and had actually won gold at the senior-level tournament the year before taking place in the junior-level one. (Other familiar faces on the 2005 team: Brent Seabrook, Shea Weber, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards and Corey Perry.) Canada didn’t lose a single game en route to their win.
Plus, Bergeron was the first to be named tournament MVP because the honor was introduced in 2005. He led the team in points, notched points in all six games and finished with five goals and eight assists to his name.
I would’ve placed Bergeron a little higher than ninth because of the feats he achieved in the tournament and the fact that he came in with a gold medal from playing against full-grown men in 2004.
Martin Lapointe, who was with the Bruins from 2001 to 2004 and helped mentor a young Bergeron who could barely speak English upon his arrival in the Hub of Hockey, is in 19th place on the list. He played at three different World Juniors in 1991, 1992 and 1993. In 1991 and 1993, he won gold. In 1993, he led the team in points (nine) and tied for the lead in goals (five) as team captain. He is part of the record for most career World Junior games at 21 and most tournaments played in at three. In total, over those three years of competition, he got nine goals and eight assists.
The full list of all 40 players is available at TSN.ca.