Tracking down Canada’s golden 2006 WJC team

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Canada’s Jonathan Toews and Russia’s Artyom Anisimov wait for the puck drop during World Juniors play. photo: Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images
It’s stunning to realize how much the world has changed since Canada won the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Twitter didn’t exist. The iPhone didn’t exist. Jack Hughes was four years old. Rogers Arena was named…uh, er…let’s say “General Manager Place.” You get the idea.

Regardless, it was a glorious time for the then-record tournament crowds of 325,138 who attended the 31 games in Vancouver, Kelowna, and Kamloops. This was the first time the IIHF’s annual U20 showcase had ever come to British Columbia.

Under returning head coach Brent Sutter, Canada brought a more workmanlike roster than the year before. The invincible 2005 team with Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Ryan Getzlaf outscored opponents 41-7 en route to gold. In 2006, an uncompromising defence-first mentality earned Canada its second of five consecutive World Junior titles. The Canadians defeated a Russian squad featuring tournament MVP Yevgeni Malkin 5-0 in the final.

So what became of those victorious Canadians who now range between 30 and 32 years of age? Eleven of them returned for the 2007 team in Sweden. Some experienced tragedy, while others rose to the peak of the hockey world. And many are somewhere in between.

Let’s take a quick look at the 22-player roster.

Goaltenders

Devan Dubnyk
Then: Kamloops Blazers starter saw no WJC action as back-up
Now: Minnesota Wild star, played in three IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships (2011-13)

Justin Pogge
Then: Canada’s starter posted tournament-best 1.00 GAA, 95.2 save percentage, and three shutouts
Now: Former Leafs prospect playing second year with Sweden’s Rogle Angelholm

Defencemen

Cam Barker
Then: Won second straight WJC gold as lone returnee from 2005
Now: 310-game NHLer released from pro tryout after one goal with Finland’s Ilves Tampere

Luc Bourdon
Then: Named to tournament all-star team, leading all D-men with six points
Today: Top Vancouver prospect tragically deceased in motorcycle accident on 21 May 2008

Kris Letang
Then: Scored PP goal in 4-0 semi-final win over Finland
Now: Three-time Stanley Cup champ and all-time leading scorer among Pittsburgh defencemen

Ryan Parent
Then: Played on top shutdown pairing with Marc Staal
Now: 106-game NHL veteran hired as Binghamton Devils assistant coach in 2018

Sasha Pokulok
Then: Saw limited ice time as Canada’s seventh defenceman, dressing but sitting for entire games
Now: Playing seventh straight season in Quebec’s LNAH, with new Petroliers du Nord team

Kris Russell
Then: Scored winning goal in 4-0 semi-final win over Finland
Now: With Edmonton, just hit 750 career NHL games, still among league’s top shot-blockers

Marc Staal
Then: Sudbury Wolves captain named Best Defenceman of 2006 WJC
Now: Alternate captain with New York Rangers, approaching 800 career NHL games

Forwards

Dan Bertram
Then: Boston College winger played on fourth line with Tom Pyatt and Ryan O’Marra
Now: Retired from ECHL in 2011, now VP of Business Development with Alaris Royalty in Calgary

Michael Blunden
Then: Chicago prospect scored twice in gold-medal win over Russia
Now: 127-game NHLer with five clubs now plays for EBEL’s HC Bolzano in Italy

Dave Bolland
Then: Future Blackhawk scored three goals and two assists for Team Canada
Now: Ankle issues stopped two-time Cup champ in 2015, now volunteer coach with London Knights

Dustin Boyd
Then: Led Canada with four goals
Now: Joined KHL’s Barys Astana after 220 NHL games, represented Kazakhstan at 2016 Worlds

Kyle Chipchura
Then: Captained 2006 WJC team
Now: After 481 NHL games, jumped to KHL in 2017, currently with Slovan Bratislava

Andrew Cogliano
Then: Scored final goal in 4-0 semi-final win over Finland
Now: Former NHL ironman hit 900 games with Anaheim, married to Dan Bertram’s sister Allie

Blake Comeau
Then: Led Canada with seven points (3-4-7)
Now: In 15th NHL season with Dallas Stars

Steve Downie
Then: Canada’s chief agitator scored gold-medal winner against Russia, made all-star team
Now: Out of NHL as of 2016 after 434 games and five teams

Guillaume Latendresse
Then: Used as Canada’s 13th forward
Now: After 341 NHL games, retired due to concussions in 2014, coached in QMAAA till April

Ryan O’Marra
Then: Played heavy bodychecking style on fourth line
Now: Works in finance in London, England, won 2018 Allan Cup with the Stoney Creek Generals

Benoit Pouliot
Then: Racked up five assists in gold-medal run
Now: Unrestricted free agent after 625 career games with seven NHL teams

Tom Pyatt
Then: Scored Canada’s third goal in 4-3 round-robin win over Swiss
Now: With Ottawa, over 440 NHL games, plus two seasons with Switzerland’s Geneve-Servette

Jonathan Toews
Then: Youngest player on Team Canada added two assists
Now: Captain of Chicago, member of IIHF Triple Gold Club since age 22