When Team Canada steps onto the ice on Boxing Day (following the *RBC Road to the World Juniors pre-tournament that kicks off on Friday), we will we be looking at the future of Canadian hockey, as well as the future of the NHL.
If you need convincing the World Juniors represent what’s to come in the NHL here are some stats from Hockey Canada that you need to know:
- There were 396 players on this year’s opening day NHL rosters who had taken part in at least one World Junior Championship.
- Every team in the NHL started this season with at least two Canadians on their roster who had played in a World Juniors.
- Only three NHL teams are without a Canadian gold medallist from the World Juniors. Can you name them? Answer at the bottom of this article.
Team Canada has a long history of fielding teams that are powered by top-level goal scorers and playmakers. However, recently their formula for success seems to be off.
Members of the 2010 team reflect after losing the gold medal game to the USA in overtime (Photo: CP)
Can we forget our recent misfortunes?
At the past two World Juniors tournaments, Team Canada has failed to win a medal of any colour. Since their last gold in 2009 (which was their fifth gold in a row), Canada has only managed to take home silver in 2010 and 2011 as well as bronze in 2012.
This year’s squad will be trying to snap the streak of 5 straight tournaments without a gold medal. Unfortunately, they will be forced to do so without the help of several big name World Juniors-eligible NHLers, including Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Aaron Ekblad, Sean Monahan, and Bo Horvat.
However, the team will likely feature NHLers Anthony Duclair and Sam Reinhart and could possibly include Ottawa Senator and 2014 alumnus Curtis Lazar (whose status for the tournament is still uncertain). There is a chance that seven players from last year’s team will return to be a part of the 2015 squad as well: Zachary Fucale, Frédérik Gauthier, Lazar, Connor McDavid, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan and Reinhart.
16 year-old Connor McDavid celebrates a goal during the 2014 World Junior Championship (Photo: CP)
One of the most talented players on the team, and also one of the youngest, is 17 year-old Connor McDavid, who is likely going to be this year’s first overall selection in the NHL entry draft. He and Lawson Crouse are the only players on the team who have yet to be drafted.
Prior to being a part of last year’s World Juniors squad, which finished fourth, McDavid led the 2013 under-18 team to gold in Sochi as a 16 year-old. He was the top scorer at the U-18 Championship, finishing with 14 points (8G, 6A) in only seven games played. McDavid was named the tournament’s MVP as well as the top forward.
If McDavid and his compatriots this year are looking for a team from the past to emulate, then they should watch as much game film of the 2005 team as they can. The ’05 squad is widely considered the best Team Canada, and possibly the best team ever, at a World Junior Tournament.
The “All-Star” Team of 2005
Back in 2005, the world watched in amazement as an impressive batch of Canadian stars stole the show. Thanks to the NHL lockout, several players who should have been playing professionally were able to join the national U-20 team for the World Juniors (see below for full roster).
Team members sing O’ Canada after winning gold at the 2005 World Juniors (Photo: CP)
The biggest star of them all was a kid named Sidney Crosby, who was only 17 years-old and had yet to be drafted 1st overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Other notables included team captain Mike Richards, leading goal-scorer Jeff Carter, and leading scorer and tournament MVP Patrice Bergeron. When he joined the team, Bergeron had already played a full NHL season and helped Team Canada win gold at the 2004 World Championship.
Coming off a heart-breaking loss in the gold medal game in 2004, the team had a lot to prove, and prove they did. They outscored their opponents 41-7 during their six games, including a 6-1 pounding of Alexander Ovechkin and the Russians in the final en route to capturing the gold medal. Their win kicked off a streak of 5 straight World Juniors where Canada took home the top prize.
The 2005 team was as deep as any team that Canada, and possibly anyone, has ever sent to the World Juniors. Here is a look at some interesting facts as well as the full team roster:
Signs of a super team
- Seven players were a part of Canada’s 2010 or 2014 Olympic gold medal-winning teams: Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Brent Seabrook, and Shea Weber.
- Nine players have won at least one Stanley Cup: Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter (2), Sidney Crosby, Colin Fraser (3), Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Ladd (2), Corey Perry, Mike Richards (2), and Brent Seabrook (2).
- Patrice Bergeron is one of only 25 players in the Triple Gold Club (Olympic gold, World Championships gold, and a Stanley Cup).
- Only three players never played an NHL game: Stephen Dixon, Jeff Glass, and Réjean Beauchemin.
- In six games played, Canada’s leading scorers were: Patrice Bergeron – 13 Points (5G, 8A), Ryan Getzlaf – 12 Points (3G, 9A), Jeff Carter – 10 Points (7G, 3A), and Sidney Crosby – 9 Points (6G, 3A).
- Goaltender Jeff Glass won all five of his starts, posting a 1.40 GAA and .922 SV%. In his only appearance of the tournament, Réjean Beauchemin stopped all 17 shots that he faced for the shutout.
- Three players were named to the tournament’s all-star team: Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter and Dion Phaneuf
2005 Team Roster
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Jeremy Colliton, Sidney Crosby, Nigel Dawes, Stephen Dixon, Colin Fraser, Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Ladd, Clarke MacArthur, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Anthony Stewart
Defensemen: Cam Barker, Shawn Belle, Braydon Cobourn, Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook, Danny Syvret, Shea Weber
Goalies: Jeff Glass, Réjean Beauchemin
Head Coach: Brent Sutter
Hopefully this year’s squad can take some notes from 2005 and kick off another 5-year reign. GO TEAM CANADA!
To answer the trivia question above, the only three teams in the NHL without a Canadian gold medallist for the World Juniors are the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils.
*Leading up to the RBC Road to the World Juniors, RBC delivered Learn to Skate programs in each of the eight host communities. Children from these RBC Learn to Skate programs will have the chance to go out on the ice during the RBC Road to the World Juniors games to demonstrate their newly-learned skating skills.