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November 18, 2017

Pucks On The 'Net: Random Thoughts Edition

* Houston will get a NHL team. I'm certain of it, and was before there was any interest expressed from Texas. Obviously the odds of a team have greatly increased, but don't expect anything imminently. Gary Bettman will tell Houston to sit patiently and they will get a team. The league likes to have interested groups with deep pockets and a ready arena hanging around as leverage. Ottawa and Calgary are going through tough negotiations to get a new arena. So are the New York Islanders and, well, the Arizona Coyotes are forever a mess. Watch Bettman use this to his benefit to clean up a couple of messes and then milk $500,000,000 out of Houston as an expansion team in 3 or 4 years.

* What ever happened to the Quebec group that wanted an expansion team. They've gone very quiet.

* Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler really reminds me of Trevor Linden in his heyday. Big bodies, great leaders. Wheeler has the same look when using his body in the slot to drive the net. But Wheeler is a much better skater.

* If I had to pick the Stanley Cup finalists for 2018 right now, Tampa and St. Louis would be my choices. By no coincidence, those teams boast the top defensemen in the league - Victor Hedman and Alex Pietrangelo.

* I'm still upset that Jeremy Jacobs is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Good to see growing support for Fran Rider. She is a true builder of hockey.

November 17, 2017

Murray Hall

It is debatable if Murray Hall was a better hockey player or a better golfer.

Hall was born in Kirkland Lake but he grew up in nearby rural Tarzwell where his family owned the general store. He grew up falling in love with the game on frozen Round lake before moving to town. The family moved to Oakville later so his father could work at the Ford plant.

That allowed Hall to opportunities to better both is hockey game and discover golf. Soon enough he was leaving home to play junior hockey with the St. Catherines Teepees. Soon enough he was close to being a scratch golfer, too.

Hall would help the Teepees win the Memorial Cup in 1960, scoring seven goals and 21 points in 14 playoff games. The following season he showed his promise over the whole season, scoring 35 goals and 76 points in just 48 games.

At the same time, thanks to Oakville's more forgiving winters, Hall also earned his Canadian Professional Golf Association card. The golf game came naturally to him, though his competitive career on the links would have to wait until he was done competing on the rinks.

Not that the NHL opportunities came easily. Despite brief appearances with Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota, Hall spent nearly a decade toiling in the minor leagues, while working as a golf pro in the summer time.

His most successful stop was in Vancouver with the WHL Canucks (plus he probably loved the year round golf in Vancouver!) When the Canucks became an NHL expansion franchise in 1970, the popular Hall was an easy choice to make the jump to the NHL.

Hall would spend a season and half with the NHL Canucks. His first season was quite strong, scoring 21 goals and 59 points while playing on a line with Orland Kurtenbach and Wayne Maki. Hall finished fourth on the team in scoring behind Andre Boudrias, Maki and Rosie Paiement.

Hall struggled in the first half of the 1971-72 season, scoring just six goals in 32 games. They demoted him to snowy Rochester.

Hall probably didn't like the golf in Rochester, nor the pay check. So he jumped at the opportunity to play with Gordie Howe and sons with the Houston Aeros. He enjoyed four strong seasons in the WHA, all while honing his golf game on the courses around Texas.

Hall played through to 1977, playing one last season with Oklahoma City of the Central Hockey League. He then returned to Ontario, setting up a skate sharpening business while playing senior hockey for the Alexanders.

November 12, 2017

Teemu Brought Skill, Passion, Enjoyment To The NHL

Teemu Selanne is set to become just the second Finnish player in hockey history to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Jari Kurri, of course, was the first, inducted in 2001.

Selanne grew up idolizing Kurri, who was the undisputed greatest player in Finnish hockey history. Now he will join his hero, though some say he surpassed him in the minds of many as the greatest Finn.

Selanne finished his career with 684 goals and 1,457 points in 23 NHL seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. He retired after the 2013-14 season as the all-time Finland-born leading NHL scorer, 83 goals and 59 points more than Kurri.

The personable Selanne won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, won four Olympic hockey medals with Finland (silver in 2006, bronze in 1998, 2010 and 2014) and ranks as the all-time leading scorer in Olympic hockey with 43 points (24 goals, 19 assists) in 37 games.

The ever lasting image of Teemu will be his ever-present smile. He is a man who truly seemed to enjoy every moment in the NHL, every moment in life.

November 11, 2017

Mighty Duck: Paul Kariya


Unable to recover from post-concussion symptoms that forced to him to miss all of the 2010-11 season and has left him with brain damage, star winger Paul Kariya announced his retirement from hockey. It was a whimper of an end to a great career. 

Known for his creative explosiveness, energy and great speed ends a stellar 15-year NHL career where he was undoubtedly one of the most skilled players of his generation.

Kariya, drafted by Anaheim with the fourth pick in the 1993 Entry Draft, had a long history of concussion troubles, including one that resulted from a crosscheck in the face made by Chicago’s Gary Suter that ended his dream of participating in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano Japan.

He was also devastated by hits from Scott Stevens and Patrick Kaleta. The multiple concussions hindered Kariya over the latter half of his career to the point where he was clearly not the same player as he was in his prime.

Kariya emerged as an NHL star with the expansion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Teaming up with Teemu Selanne, the duo formed one of the most lethal tandems in the NHL. It is worth noting that Kariya's best years came with Selanne on his wing, but his scoring fell off without him. Whereas Selanne enjoyed several great seasons without Kariya.

Yet it was Kariya who was the face of the franchise and in some ways the face of Canadian hockey.

Always approachable and affable, Kariya was easy for both the fans and the media to like. Especially the Canadian media. In the 1990s, the Canadian media was looking for the super skilled Canadian nice guy to wave the Canadian flag. The media did this in the past with Bobby Orr and with Wayne Gretzky, who was on the down side of his career. They never warmed to the big brute and bully Eric Lindros, who was Canada's top player. Both Lindros and Kariya embraced Team Canada in the years before NHL players represented  national teams at the Olympics, but it was the nice guy Kariya that they wrapped the Canadian flag around and championed.

The two-time recipient of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship, ends his career (which also saw stops in Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis) with 402 goals and 587 assists in 989 games. He also finished as the runner up to Dominik Hasek in Hart Trophy balloting in 1997, and finished top 5 in NHL scoring 3 times.

The question becomes is that enough to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame? The answer came in 2017 - yes. He was inducted alongside his close friend Teemu Selanne. 

Kariya was a special player, certainly a top 10 player in his prime. His peak years were from 1995 through 2000 when he was mentioned in the same breath as Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Eric Lindros, Jaromir Jagr and Selanne as the best player in the game. He was the best skater and arguably the most intelligent hockey superstar of his time.

Estranged from hockey for years after his forced retirement, it's good to have Paul Kariya's smile back in the game again.

November 09, 2017

Hockey Hall of Fame 2017: Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi And The Value of Longevity

When it comes to Hockey Hall of Fame debates, I've always struggled with the value of longevity.

Obviously the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee has the same problem. That's why guys like Dino Ciccarelli, Dave Andreychuk, Adam Oates and Mark Recchi all had to await their phone call from the Hall.

I would argue that, of that list, only Oates was a truly dominant player at any point in his career and that was a relatively short period of time in the early 1990s. . I've always viewed these players as very good players with somewhat inflated career totals because they played so long.

Recchi in particular irks me, as I'm not sure he was ever the best player on his own team, let alone the league. Despite his lofty career totals due to how long he played, I consider Mark Recchi to be one of the weakest Hall of Fame inclusions yet.

While longevity should count for something, I don't know how much. I've been toying with the idea of coming up with some sort of formula to grade careers, with the idea of coming up with a Hall of Fame threshold or a way of comparing different players. Here's what I've bandied about, with a player's whole career (including international play) to be graded by:

Historical Importance 20
Offense 20
Defense 15
Honors 15
Clutch Play 10 (Stanley Cup playoffs, International play)
Intangibles 10 (physicality, toughness, leadership, character)
Longevity 10

Perhaps that is too simple? Are my priorities are wrong? Perhaps forwards and defensemen should be graded differently? (Obviously a goaltender's formula would need some adjusting). Is it too subjective? Should standard levels be automatically applied (ie 20 seasons or more automatically equals a 10 in longevity)?

I'd like to hear some feedback on this. If some sort of standard could be applied I think would open up a world of interesting study and debate.

November 08, 2017

Hockey Hall of Fame 2017: Jeremy Jacobs

Jeremy Jacobs, long time owner of the Boston Bruins, is going into the Hockey Hall of Fame this weekend. 

And the question everyone should be asking themselves is: why?

Bruins fans know all too well what I mean. Under Jacob's at-times absent ownership the Bruins have won one Stanley Cup in forty three years. His lasting legacy will be as an owner who was not always willing to spend the dollars to make the Bruins the best.

Whatever. Jacobs isn't going into the Hall of Fame for being a less-than-beloved owner of a team that didn't do a whole lot. He is going in as a builder of the sport of hockey (although owners getting in as building are almost always seen as slap-on-the-back patronage appointments).

What did Jacobs do to build the sport of hockey? He was behind the multiple labour stoppages that brought in the salary cap at the expense of an entire season plus many more games. While Gary Bettman takes all the hate and the heat for these dark moments in league history, fans should realize Gary is nothing more than the owner's puppet. And Jeremy Jacobs, the most powerful owner in the league and, since 2007, the Chairman of the Board of Governors, is the puppet master.

The salary cap came at great cost - too great of a cost many will say. The owners, not surprisingly, argue that was essential, and with some validity. The league insured all member franchises - especially small market teams - could compete on an equal level as the deep pocketed teams. And, thanks in part to the league's silly three point games including points for losing, the unparalleled parity looks great.

The salary cap story line is one of the most influential aspects, both positive and negative, of modern NHL history I'm not so sure that merits the key hardliner on the owners side getting inducted

Owners being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as builders is one thing, but there are so many others who have dedicated their lives to hockey and should be considered Hall of Famer builders. Perhaps owner inductions would be easier to take if there were more Clare Drakes going into the Hockey Hall of Fame every year. 

Jeremy Jacobs is a lot of great things. He is a very successful businessman and incredible philanthropist. He is a very powerful man in the National Hockey League. And now he is a Hockey Hall of Famer.

November 07, 2017

Hockey Hall of Fame 2017: Danielle Goyette

The Hockey Hall of Fame is set to induct it's class of 2017. The outstanding class features Dave Andreychuk, Paul Kariya, Mark Recchi, Teemu Selanne, Jeremy Jacobs, and former University of Alberta head coach Clare Drake.

Over the next few days we will look at each of the honourees, starting with the female pioneer Danielle Goyette. Goyette becomes just the fifth woman to be enshrined as an honoured member — joining Angela Ruggiero (2015), Geraldine Heaney (2013), Cammi Granato (2010), and Angela James (2010).

In 15 seasons with Canada's national team, Goyette became one of the most accomplished players ever, despite not playing at any serious level until the age of 25.  The St-Nazaire, Que. native played 171 career games for Canada, scoring 113 goals and tallying 105 assists. She scored 15 goals in her three Olympic games, winning a pair of gold medals to go with one silver, and was Canada's flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.  She was also part of eight gold medal-winning teams at the World Championships.

Hayley Wickenheiser penned a great article on NHL.com about Goyette which really highlighted the realities of women's hockey compared to unreal world of the National Hockey League.

"They will talk about how she worked as a janitor at night at the Olympic Oval and trained by day. Or the part-time job at Home Depot working in the plumbing section at night after long days of training. Steel-toed boots and concrete floors for 6 to 8 hours a day just to play the game she loved. Yup, she did all of that, and more. I can't tell you how many times myself and other teammates had her over to fix our plumbing, or lay flooring or do general contractor work."

Over at The Athletic (sorry, it's behind a paywall), Cassie Campbell Pascal talks more about Goyette the hockey player in a fantastic article by another Hall of Famer, Eric Duhatschek.

“The one thing about Danielle that people don’t know is, she was the smartest player – ever – to play the game,” said Campbell-Pascall. “She made it look so easy out there that sometimes we questioned her effort – because she was just always in the right position at the right time. She played with Nancy Drolet. They were a tandem for many years; and she made Nancy better. She made Wick better. Then I got to play with her – and she made me better. Vicky and I and her finished as a line together – the Old Dogs, they called us, because we were 110 years old – and she made everyone better, everyone she ever played with.”

I will continue adding to this Goyette piece as more feature articles are published in the coming days.

November 02, 2017

Nine Lessons I Learned From My Father




One of the top hockey books of 2017 is Nine Lessons I Learned From My Father by Murray Howe. Yes, Howe. As in Gordie Howe was his father. Murray, a doctor, may not be as well known as his NHL playing brothers Marty and Mark (who came out with his own book, Gordie Howe's Son, in 2013) but he is a gifted writer who, perhaps because he didn't play hockey at a high level, had a special vantage point of Gordie Howe than others did.

I have not read this book yet, but it promises to be, unlike most hockey books, a true gem.

Check out this MacLean's article featuring Wayne Gretzky interviewing Murray Howe. It in itself is a fantastic read. Be sure to watch for the bookstore on shelves this holiday season.

Pucks On The 'Net: Old Canada

With less than 100 days to go until the Pyeongchang Olympics, lots of people are trying to forecast the various Olympic hockey team rosters.

Of course that has become a much more difficult - and less fun - task ever since the NHL and IOC parted ways.

Canada's roster is particularly tough for us fans to get in on, as most of the players to be selected play in Europe. Many are players we may never have heard of, with a sprinkling of "he's still playing?!" types.

I thought CBC's Tim Wharnsby came up with a pretty good prediction roster here. Barring injuries, I think Wharnsby's predictions will largely come to fruition.

One thing that really jumped out at me is the age of the Canadians. It seems the average age of the players Wharnsby mentions is quite high, most pushing 30 years or higher.

At first glance this surprised me. Hockey seems to be more than ever a young man's game now. The NHL may see the average age of it's players this season dip below 27 for the first time ever. Moreover, Canada's brain trust - Sean Burke and Dave King in particular - should remember the pre-NHL Olympic teams were built largely on youth.

Canada largely has no choice, barring a late minute deal to land a couple junior stars. The Canadians playing in Europe tend to be older, as they trade their youth for minor league bus rides and a shot at the Canadian dream of playing in the big leagues. Not too many young Canadians hockey players head to Europe without first trying the North American pro scene.

Besides, European-league veterans are a little better acquainted with the bigger international ice surface and coaching tactics.

Beyond that, the fact that so few of those players are known to us fans actually excites me. There will be many great stories about our new cast of heroes. No, it won't be the same as Sidney Crosby and Carey Price going for gold, and the stories may prove more interesting than the games themselves.

But Olympic hockey is always interesting. 

October 29, 2017

Pucks On The 'Net: Underdog Canadians

Growing up in the 1980s, the Olympics always featured Canada as a heavy underdog to the Russians in the hockey tournament.

That changed once the NHL and IOC opened up the Olympics to all of the world's best players. Canada was always the favorite, or at least co-favorite, and fared very well with three gold medals five NHL Olympics.

Now that the NHL has removed all of it's players and pretty much all of it's prospects out of the Olympics, Canada may be icing the biggest underdog team they ever have iced.

Think about it. Canada (like all nations) can not use any NHL players, or any minor league players on NHL contracts. So that means Canada must somehow ice a team without its' top 500-700 players! As of this moment there is no deal in sight to possibly borrow a couple top junior players. Canada is basically relying strictly on, to put it bluntly, has beens and never wases currently playing in Europe, and maybe a couple NCAA players.

Now all nations are in the same boat, as almost every top player in the world is in the NHL.

But Russia is better off than most. They are not icing a team as powerful as the old Soviet Olympic teams back in the day, and stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Nikita Kucherov are staying in the NHL. But they have some pretty impressive veterans in guys like Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk. Based on talent alone they are the clear team to beat.

Interestingly, in a throwback to the Soviet days, the bulk of what is expected to be the Russia Olympic team is playing on one of two teams in the KHL - CSKA Moscow or SKA St Petersburg. Chemistry will be built in for the Russians. It's almost as if the KHL season is an extended Olympic training camp for the Russians.

On top of that the KHL times a break in their schedule prior to the Olympics to allow the Russian team to train together fully for an extended period of time.

Russia is determined to win the Olympics.

Canada will be the ultimate underdog. At least in the 1980s we had a national team that attracted some top young talent. They played together for the year or longer, and were extremely well prepared though they rarely won against the Soviets and Czechoslovaks.

There will be some no shortage of interesting storylines as we get to learn about Canada's roster. But they will need some version of their own Miracle On Ice in Korea in 2018.

October 27, 2017

Who Was Better? Henrik or Daniel

The Hockey News recently came out with a special publication where they named the top 50 players of all time, ranked by franchise.

It's a pretty fascinating exercise, with no right answers and many debates to be started. Beyond the lists there is some fantastic feature articles.

For instance ,they named a different player as the greatest Toronto Maple Leaf than did the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dave Keon, in fact, ranked 5th by The Hockey News estimation.

Wayne Gretzky tops Edmonton's list to no surprise, but where does he rank in Los Angeles in comparison to Marcel Dionne?

And maybe it's time to consider Sidney Crosby as the greatest Pittsburgh Penguin, and not Mario Lemieux?

And where do Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane rank among all the greats who have played for the Chicago Blackhawks?

Well you'll have to buy the magazine to find out these answers.

One spoiler I will give you is the top players of the Vancouver Canucks.

Despite Vancouver's emotional attachment and love affair with Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure, The Hockey News correctly identifies the fabulous Sedin Twins as the greatest players in franchise history. Hart, Linday and Art Ross trophies will do that, even though, for some odd reason, the twins haven't quite been universally loved the same way in British Columbia.

But even though you kind of want to, you can't name both of the twins as the greatest player in franchise history. You can only pick one.

So the question begs - Who was better? Henrik or Daniel?



I do say was, even though their careers are not over yet. There best years are behind them, though early results suggest that under new coach Travis Green that the twins could be rebranded as excellent support players. They are getting bottom six minutes, but dominating the shot and goal differentials early in the season, leading to Vancouver's solid start. If they can find the right linemate, could the Sedins become the best third line in all of hockey? Could the Sedins provide the secondary offense that they never really benefited from in their heyday?

Those questions will be answered in the next few weeks.  But back to the question at hand. Who was better? Henrik or Daniel?

The Hockey News chose Daniel. They openly admitted there was almost nothing to choose from, except that Daniel is the goal scorer and that name of the game is to score goals.

I also think Daniel was always expected to be the better of the two, and likely because he was the goal scorer. After all, when the Canucks drafted the twins 2nd and 3rd overall way back in 1999, they drafted Daniel and Henrik.

That's right, at one time it was Daniel and Henrik.

But that changed when they became elite superstars in this league, certain Hall of Famers.  The most creative offensive players in an era defined by systems. They became Henrik and Daniel.

And that is because Henrik is the better player.

Henrik rose to the top when Daniel got missed several weeks in the 2009-10 season. The twins were dominating offensively, and there was growing talk of a possible one-two finish in the scoring race. But when the triggerman went down, no one knew what to expect.

Henrik elevated his game, and proved he could play at a very high level without Daniel - something Daniel never has done. Despite not having his favorite shooter on his side, Henrik went on to win the Art Ross Trophy as scoring leader and the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player.

Beyond that, Henrik is regarded as the elite playmaker of his generation - with only Joe Thornton surpassing him. Daniel may be the goal scorer, but very few will mention his name when talking about the great goal scorers of the past 15 years - Ovechkin, Crosby, Stamkos, Carter.

Henrik also shoulders a lot more responsibility as a center, and as team captain.

Their time is not yet done, and their final chapter is now being written with a promising start. Regardless of what happens this season or beyond, in my mind there is no doubt that Henrik Sedin is the greatest player in Vancouver Canucks history.

P.S. Congratulations to James Benesh, an extraordinary hockey biographer and historian, for his many contributions to this publication. Well deserved.

Pucks On The 'Net: Guillain-Barre edition

One NHLer I have become increasingly impressed by is Patrick Eaves.

The Anaheim Ducks power forward with the big beard achieved a rare feat last season, having his career best season at the age of 32. That does not happen very often.

Eaves reluctantly joined the Ducks mid-season as the then-unrestricted free agent to be could not get him under contract. Eaves found a perfect fit with the dastardly Ducks, even supplanting Corey Perry from Ryan Getzlaf's right side on the top line.

Despite the age of both Eaves and Getzlaf, there seemed little concern about Eaves production falling. The Ducks signed him to a nice three year, $9.5 million deal in the off-season and he seemed like a big part of the Ducks continued push for the Stanley Cup.

Hockey was probably the least of Eaves' concerns earlier this season. By now you have heard that Eaves has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare and strange disease that somehow causes the immune system to attack the nervous system.

The good news is it is treatable and he will make a full recovery, but he is expected to be out for weeks or even months.

Its a tough thing for most of us to relate to. So kudos to Jared Clinton of The Hockey News for finding a previous hockey link involving this rare disease. Clinton tells us the story of Serge Payer, former Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators fringe player.  He also tells us a lot more about the disease.

Based on the article it appears Payer will (or perhaps already has by now) reach out to Eaves to help in a more direct role. Beyond that,  Payer has set up the Serge Payer Foundation to help raise funds and awareness to the fight against Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

October 17, 2017

Canadian Olympic Profiles 1980-1994


Over the past number of weeks this website has been focusing on profiling 1980-1994 era Canadian Olympic hockey players. A listing of all rosters and links to the completed biographies follow below.

 Most of it was written in August and I had hoped to be done all players some time ago, but the website has had some behind-the-scenes issues that have kept me busy. Hopefully I get back on track in a week or so after a fun getaway to Vancouver.

1980 Canadian Olympic Roster

Glenn Anderson
Warren Anderson
Dan D'Alvise
Ken Berry
Ron Davidson
John Devaney
Bob Dupuis
Joe Grant
Randy Gregg (C)
Dave Hindmarch
Paul MacLean
Kevin Maxwell
James Nill
Terry O'Malley
Paul Pageau
Brad Pirie
Kevin Primeau
Don Spring
Tim Watters
Stelio Zupancich

1984 Canadian Olympic Roster

Warren Anderson
Robin Bartel
Russ Courtnall
J. J. Daigneault
Kevin Dineen
Dave Donnelly
Bruce Driver
Darren Eliot
Patrick Flatley
Dave Gagner
Mario Gosselin
Vaughn Karpan
Doug Lidster
Darren Lowe
Kirk Muller
James Patrick
Craig Redmond
Dave Tippett (C)
Carey Wilson
Dan Wood

1988 Canadian Olympic Roster

Ken Berry
Serge Boisvert
Brian Bradley
Sean Burke
Chris Felix
Randy Gregg
Marc Habscheid
Bob Joyce
Vaughn Karpan
Merlin Malinowski
Andy Moog
Jim Peplinski
Serge Roy
Wally Schreiber
Gord Sherven
Tony Stiles
Steve Tambellini
Claude Vilgrain
Tim Watters
Ken Yaremchuk
Trent Yawney (C)
Zarley Zalapski

1992 Canadian Olympic Roster

Dave Archibald
Todd Brost
Sean Burke
Kevin Dahl
Curt Giles
Dave Hannan
Gord Hynes
Fabian Joseph
Joé Juneau
Trevor Kidd
Patrick Lebeau
Chris Lindberg
Eric Lindros
Kent Manderville
Adrien Plavsic
Dan Ratushny
Sam Saint–Laurent
Brad Schlegel
Wally Schreiber
Randy Smith
Dave Tippett
Brian Tutt
Jason Woolley

1994 Canadian Olympic Roster

Mark Astley
Adrian Aucoin
David Harlock
Corey Hirsch
Todd Hlushko
Greg Johnson
Fabian Joseph
Paul Kariya
Chris Kontos
Manny Legacé
Ken Lovsin
Derek Mayer
Petr Nedved
Dwayne Norris
Greg Parks
Allain Roy
Jean-Yves Roy
Brian Savage
Brad Schlegel
Wally Schreiber
Chris Therien
Todd Warriner
Brad Werenka

Legends of Team Canada: Gord Hynes

Defenseman Gord Hynes was born in Verdun and grew up in Pierrefonds, playing his minor hockey in the North Shore program. He moved to Calgary at age 11 when his father, a bank manager, was transferred
Hynes played junior in Medicine Hat and was Boston's fifth choice (115th over-all) in 1985, at age 18. But it took the 6-foot-1, 170 pounder another seven years to make it to the NHL. In between there were two seasons in the minors - he shared a home in Moncton with Brett Hull - one in Italy and three full years with the Canadian national team under coach Dave King, where Hynes said he learned to play the game.
"When I was drafted I had big eyes. My sights were set on the NHL," he said. "But I wasn't big enough, good enough or strong enough. I wasn't that good. I didn't know how to play and I wasn't that smart. I had to learn how to play. And I matured."
He scored 12 goals and 30 assists in 57 games last season with the national team, adding another 12 goals and 22 assists in 49 pre- Olympic games this year. In seven games at Albertville, Hynes had three goals and three assists.
Following the Olympics, and a free agent by this time, Hynes went home to contemplate his future. He was considering returning to Europe, and even enrolling in school and retiring from hockey, when Bruins assistant general manager Mike Milbury called.
"I thought I had the talent and knew I'd get better," he said. "And now here I am in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Go figure."
He scored his first NHL goal at the Montreal Forum.
"It was very exciting t score here," he said. "I was born here. I was a Montreal Canadiens fan. When I went to bed I dreamed of scoring a goal as part of the Montreal Canadiens. To score in the Forum is the next best thing."
He ended up signing with the Philadelphia Flyers in the off-season, toiling in 37 games with them the next season.  But he soon disappeared and had a long career playing in Germany.

October 16, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Patrick Lebeau

Patrick Lebeau was always an offensive force - something Canadian Olympic teams in the pre-NHL era were infamously lacking.

He scored 68 goals and 174 points in his final season of junior and 50 goals as an AHL rookie. in 1991-92 he had 33 in 55 games when he departed the AHL season to joined the Canadian national team to pursue Olympic glory in Albertville. 

Lebeau's reasons for leaving the Montreal Canadiens farm team were not entirely about the Olympic medal. He was upset with Montreal management not giving him more opportunity to prove he could play in the NHL. There were rumors throughout his career in the Habs organization that he had asked for a trade.

Lebeau joined the national team, ironically around the same time the Canadiens ran into a rash of injuries. 


"I don't regret it," he said of missing a chance to be recalled. "I lived a good experience. It was good for my career. I'm a better player from the Olympics."
"I don't know if I'm in the Montreal organization's plans," continued the younger brother of Montreal centre Stephan. "If I do the best possible and they say, `you're not on our team,' I'll have to think about something else."
Ultimately Lebeau was not in the Habs plans. He was sent to Calgary in the off-season, but GM Serge Savard never liked the way the whole Lebeau-to-the-Olympics thing worked out.
Savard was particularly upset that it was Lebeau and his agent who approached Dave King's team without first informing Montreal.
"The Olympic program is a joke," says Canadiens boss Savard. "All kinds of money is being spent to develop a team, and then when the Olympics come along, they're picking up players who can't make their NHL teams."
The Calgary assignment looked promising, at first, as the Flames had just hired Dave King to his first NHL job. 
"Naturally, I know (Flames coach) Dave King and he knows what I can do," Lebeau said. "I was expecting to be traded by the Canadiens and I'm happy to be with the Flames."
But aside from a single game that season, Lebeau did not make King's team. He was demoted to the minor leagues where he was the leading scorer for Salt Lake.
Aside from brief appearances with Florida (4 games) and Pittsburgh (8 games) he never made the NHL. He ended up dominating in German and Austrian leagues for many seasons.

October 15, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Dave Archibald

David Archibald played Major Junior Hockey at the age of 14! Such an early start labelled this kid as a can't miss prospect. Unfortunately Archibald did miss. And it's all because of pro hockey's mentality of rushing young hockey players before they are ready. 

Archibald had all the tools to be an above average NHL player. He was a tremendous skater, with exceptional balance and agility, though lacked breakaway speed. He was a masterful puckhandler. He enjoyed playmaking almost to a fault, choosing to pass often, and not using his excellent wrist shot as often as he probably should have. He had good NHL size, and although he was definetly not a physical player, he was not afraid to take hits or to play in traffic. 

Dave played three years of major junior hockey with the WHL's Portland Winter Hawks. He however didn't dominate the league until his draft season of 1986-87. He electrified crowds that year with 50 goals and 107 points in 65 games plus another 28 points in 20 playoff games. His strong season earned him high praise from NHL scouts who touted him as a sure bet NHLer. The Minnesota North Stars selected Archibald 6th overall in the 1987 Entry Draft. The next center selected in that draft was future NHL star Joe Sakic. 

Instead of allowing Archibald to continue to develop his game at the junior level for at least another year, the lowly North Stars opted to keep the mature-beyond-his-years forward in the bigs. His first two seasons weren't too bad considering he was used primarily as a powerplay specialist who saw little ice time at even strength, especially late in a close game. He scored 13 goals and 33 points in 1987-88 and 14 goals and 33 points in 1988-89. 

Now remember the kid was only 20 years old by the time he finished his second full NHL season. Then when Dave showed little progress in the following training camp and early part of his third campaign, the North Stars gave up on him, expecting more from a third year player. This despite giving him little chance to succeed, and despite still not reaching his 21st birthday. 

Archibald was moved to the New York Rangers on November 1, 1989 in exchange for Jayson More. After scoring just 2 goals and 5 points in 19 games with the Rangers, Dave was demoted to Flint of the IHL. It was probably the best thing for Dave, as he would get his first chance in 3 years to play regularly. He responded well by scoring 52 points in 41 games with the Spirits. 

Despite his improved play at the minor league level, Dave wasn't happy with his experience in pro hockey. He and the Rangers agreed to make arrangements that would see Dave play the 1990-91 season with the Canadian national team. Dave played well, scoring 19 goals and 31 points in 29 games, before having a quiet 1991 World Championships. He scored just 1 assist in 10 games, although he played very rarely as non-playoff bound NHLers comprised most of the Team Canada roster. 

Dave thoroughly enjoyed his time with the National team program, and definitely wanted to return the following season and be a part of the 1992 Olympics. Archibald was an offensive leader with the Nats during their regular season, scoring 63 points in 58 games. He also added a very strong 7 goals in 8 Olympic contests as Canada won the Silver medal. Also on that team was disgruntled NHL goalie Sean Burke, NHL veterans Dave Tippett and Dave Hannan, and future NHL stars Jason Woolley, Joey Juneau and Eric Lindros. 

"My joining the Olympic team had nothing to do with going to the minors," says Archibald. "I enjoyed that more than playing in the NHL. I just didn't want to do it again this year.

"People expect me to talk (negatively) about certain people. I can't do that. It was just a personal decision. I simply chose not to bother with pro hockey this year."
"I've actually enjoyed being here this year. It's a different type of environment. There's less pressure and more learning. Here you get to practise the things you used to be good at but had started to lose (in the NHL)."
After such a strong showing in 1991-92 season, Dave decided to give the NHL a shot again. He resigned with the Rangers, but was demoted to the farm team to start the season. He was off to a strong start in the AHL with 6 goals and 9 points in 8 games, but then the Rangers traded "Archie" to the Ottawa Senators. 

Dave spent most of the following the 4 seasons with the Senators, reinventing himself as a defensive checker under head coach Rick Bowness. Dave did an unheralded and reasonable job in Ottawa, even though the Sens were perhaps the worst team in hockey much of his stay there. However injuries took their toll on Dave's body, slowing down the enthusiastic Archibald. 

Dave followed Bowness to the New York Islanders for the 1996-97 season, but he only played in 7 scoreless NHL games before being released to play in Germany. Dave would play in Europe and in the North American minor leagues following his NHL days.

Legends of Team Canada: Dave Hannan

Dave Hannan was an average player in many respects. Yet he was one of the most valuable and unheralded players on every team he ever played on.

"Hanner" was an average skater and puckhandler. He liked to play a physical game but because of his size limitations, he wasn't the most effective hitter out there. Yet he played bigger than he actually was. Hannan was a good faceoff man and penalty killer, with a knack for defensive anticipation. Although he had modest tangible skills, Hannan enjoyed a 16 year professional career with more than 900 games under his belt. He lasted that long because of his great attitude, hard work and leadership abilities.

After playing his junior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie and Brantford of the Ontario Hockey Association, Hannan was drafted 196th overall in the 1981 Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hannan played his first NHL game during the 1981-82 season with the Pens, but spent the rest of the year with the Pens farm team in Erie of the AHL.

Dave spent most of the 1982-83 season with the Pens, scoring 11 goals and 33 points, but spent most of the following two seasons in the minors. He did appear in 54 NHL contests over those years but it wasn't until the 1985-86 season that Hannan had finally made it to the National Hockey League to stay.

Hannan played a solid role as a penalty killer and defensive specialist in what was essentially his 2nd full NHL season. But Hannan also chipped in with his best offensive season, scoring 17 goals and 35 points.

"Hanner" was on course for a similar season in 1986-87 but he was limited to only 58 games due to injuries. He scored 10 goals and 25 points

Dave began his seventh pro season in the Penguins' organization before he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers during the 1987-88 campaign. Hannan was part of the huge deal that saw Paul Coffey leave Edmonton. The deal essentially was Hannan, Craig Simpson, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph for Coffey, Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp. That year he helped the Oilers win the Stanley Cup, the first of his career, an obvious highlight of his career. 

"Winning the Cup in Edmonton and playing with some great players, it was a big stepping stone for my career," Hannan said.  "I learned how to win in Edmonton and how to care about your teammates." he said. 

Hannan's stay in Edmonton was short however as the Penguins re-acquired him for the 1988-89 campaign. The Pens picked up the likeable center off of the preseason waiver draft list. He played in 72 games for the Pens that year, scoring 10 goals and 30 points. He played aggressively, picking up a career high 157 penaty minutes.

Hannan joined the Toronto Maple Leafs the following year where he played parts of three seasons with Toronto. One of the highlites of his stay in Toronto came in his third year. He was having a long season as he wasn't playing very much and was obviously counting down the days until he was moved from Toronto. Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher suggested that Hanner should join Dave King's Olympic program. It would give Hannan a chance to resurect his career and Team Canada desperately wanted his veteran leadership. For Hannan, the choice was obvious and had no regrets.

"I really enjoyed the '92 Olympics because I'd never been to Europe and I didn't really realize how big the Olympics were till I got there," Hannan said. "Once I got over there to practice with the team and started seeing the hoopla and the media and the attention that you get, and then when I marched into the stadium with the team, I felt like a young kid again with this team jacket on. It was incredible. 

"I went over there and had a fairly good tournament and we won the silver medal," Hannan added. "I didn't really realize it at the time, I mean it was great to win it (the silver medal), but as the years passed on it sunk in more and the Olympic experience was something I'll never forget." 

Following the Olympic tournament, he returned to the NHL and was traded to the Buffalo Sabres where he completed the 1991-92 season.  The Sabres were impressed by his play in the Olympics and decided to take a chance on him. It worked out really well for all involved as Hannan spent parts of five seasons with the Sabres as a key defensive forward and sound penalty killer.

Hannan began the 1995-96 campaign with Buffalo but midway through the season he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. He played a key role in the Avalanche's Stanley Cup championship run that season and looks back at that Cup victory, the second of his career, with fond memories. 

"I think getting traded and going to Colorado, which was at the time where my career was probably almost over, to go through that and then watch guys win Cups and have success for their first time was amazing," he said. 

Hannan then played 34 games with the Ottawa Senators during the 1996-97 season before deciding to hang up the blades. He retired from the NHL with career totals of 114 goals and 305 points in 841 regular season games.

October 14, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Joe Juneau

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to be a good NHL player, but in the case of Joe Juneau it certainly didn't hurt.

Juneau, one of the most interesting people ever to lace up the skates, left his hometown of Pont Rouge, Quebec unable to speak much English. He didn't let that deter him from balancing hockey and education at the famed Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York state. He graduated from RPI with a degree in aeronautical engineering, also known as rocket science, in 1991.

Boston's 81st overall draft choice back in 1988, Juneau was far from a blue chip NHL prospect at this point. It would have been easy for Juneau to walk away from the game and begin working in the engineering field. But at the conclusion of his final two seasons at RPI he extended his season by skating with the Canadian national team. When coach Dave King offered him a chance to spend the entire 1991-92 season and audition for the Olympic tea, Juneau but his engineering ambitions on hold.

Juneau really emerged into a top prospect during this season. He led the team in scoring, and impressed many with his speed and passing abilities. Many NHL scouts closely scrutinized the Canadian national team that season. All amateur players at the time, scouts and media took unusually high interest in the season because of the presence of Eric Lindros on the team. Juneau, the leading scorer in those Olympics, led Canada to a silver medal, leading Juneau to proclaim those Games as the highlight of his career.

"I think the top would be the (1992) Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. We were all amateurs [on the Canadian men’s ice hockey team] and we managed to get a silver medal, and I was the high scorer in the tournament. It was great. I went to the Stanley Cup finals twice, and as much fun as it was, I didn’t think it was like the Olympics were."

Juneau, a certified pilot who spent his off-seasons rebuilding his own deHavilland Beaver float plane, continued his high flying ways when breaking into the NHL immediately after the Olympics. He stepped in with 5 goals and 14 assists in 14 games to close off the regular season, and added 12 more points 15 playoff games. He proved those numbers were no fluke when in his official rookie season of 1992-93 he scored 32 goals and 102 points.

Juneau was the beneficiary of some great line mates in Boston, namely Adam Oates and, when healthy, Cam Neely. When the Bruins traded Juneau to Washington in 1993-94, he was never able to duplicate the same lofty scoring totals. He remained a good playmaker that was a strong presence in back to back Stanley Cup finals, 1998 with Washington and 1999 with Buffalo, despite falling short both times.

Juneau would spend 6 seasons in the U.S. capital. His offensive production would never challenge his previous numbers, but he earned great acclaim for rounding out his game and becoming a very versatile player. His offense slowly dried up, but he became a key penalty killer and checker. He underwent an interesting transformation from scoring star to a jack-of-all-trades utility player noted for his work ethic and strong defensive play. While his scoring totals diminished, his hockey sense remained as strong as always. It was just used in different fashion and, to his credit, he never complained about his role.

The highlight of Juneau's stay in Washington was the 1998 playoffs when the Capitals unexpectedly made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Juneau was a big part of that run, scoring 17 points in 21 games, including two overtime game winning goals. Unfortunately the Capitals couldn't pull off the upset.

After bouncing around the league late in his career, Juneau returned home to Pont Rouge and became a partner with the engineering company Harfan Technologies. Juneau, who also spends lots of time at the companies Maryland office, spends much of his time promoting the small company that develops infrastructure asset management solutions for the private and public sector.

An avid outdoorsman who enjoys flying his float plane to the remotest fishing holes in northern Quebec, Juneau was troubled by social conditions in some of Quebec's isolated and usually native communities in the region known as Nunavik. He has begun working with communities in Nunavik, using hockey as a tool to boost self confidence and scholastic performance of the region's youth.

Legends of Team Canada: Todd Brost

Todd Brost is hardly the most recognizable player of Team Canada's 1992 Olympic team.

The 5'8" center went goalless in eight Olympic games while picking up four assists. The University of Michigan grad never went on to play anywhere close to the NHL. In fact, a couple of seasons later he was off the ice entirely.

So it should come as no surprise that the Olympics must rank as Brost's career highlight.

Sure, winning silver medals and playing on the world's grandest stage will do that to a guy. But he also will remember for getting engaged just prior to the Games, and for having his family - parents and fiance - travel to France to experience the Olympics with him.

Brost spent much of the 1993-94 season back with the Canadian National Team program but was cut before the puck dropped on the Norway Olympics.

After taking off his skates Brost became a minor league coach until about 2005. Then he put his economics and financial planning degree from Michigan to good use and became a financial planner in picturesque Corning, New York.

October 13, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Robin Bartel


Another anonymous name from Team Canada's 1984 Olympic hockey team in Sarajevo is that of defenseman Robin Bartel.

Team Canada's defense had a number of players who went on to long and notable careers. Players such as Bruce Driver, James Patrick, Doug Lidster and J.J. Daigneault. Bartel only went on to play 41 NHL games and is long forgotten by most hockey fans.

But Bartel had a couple of things going for him.

Bartel played junior hockey as the defense partner of James Patrick, so they had instant chemistry.

After junior hockey Bartel, who was never drafted by a NHL team, enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan and helped the Huskies capture the Canadian collegiate championship.

The coach of the Huskies was none other than Dave King.

The next season King jumped to the Canadian national team to become head coach. Bartel followed suit, putting his education on hold in hopes of an Olympic medal.

"If it wasn't for (King) I would not have committed to the program," Bartel said.

Bartel still had to earn his spot as he was not guaranteed to go to Sarajevo by any chance. He did keep his role on the team and helped Canada to a fourth place finish, just out of the medals.

"Even if we didn't do quite as well as we were hoping, it was still unquestionably the highlight of my career. Not only to be a part of the spectacle that is the Olympics, but the chance to travel and grow. It was a great experience."

Legends of Team Canada: Dan Wood


Dan Wood was about as anonymous of a hockey player as there was on Team Canada's 1984 Olympic team.

That was until he found himself as the center of controversy on the eve of the Sarajevo games.

These were the days of amateur hypocrisy, where the Soviets and Czechs could bring their top players because they drew their official salary as members of the military. Yet their full time job was like any NHL player - completely focused on hockey. Maybe once in a while someone like Vladislav Tretiak would have to pose for a photo with a tank just for propaganda reasons.

Canada, meanwhile, had to take true, cash-starved, hungry amateurs to the Olympics.

In 1984 Canada tried bringing along four players who had already signed NHL contracts, but were not yet NHL players. Two players - Don Dietrich and Mark Morrison - had played a handful of NHL games. Two others - Wood and goalie Mario Gosselin - had not.

In an attempt to throw Team Canada into distraction, Team USA waited until the very last minute to launch a complaint that resulted in the eruption of controversy. Ultimately it was decided that anyone who had played even a game in the NHL would not be allowed to play. Dietrich and Morrison, along with three Canadians playing for low ranking European countries, were kicked out of the Olympics just as the Opening Ceremonies were beginning.

Wood and Gosselin remained. Gosselin became a bit of a household name for his acrobatic efforts in net. Wood, a Kingston junior who was drafted by the St. Louis Blues, picked up just one assist in seven Olympic games.

The banning of Morrison and Dietrich led to the end of amateurism in hockey at the Olympics by 1988. It was decided all players - amateur or professional - would be allowed to compete. But the crooked Eastern Bloc countries that controlled the IOC had little to worry about as they new the world's best professionals would not be allowed to leave their NHL teams at that time. That did not come until a decade later, long after the Eastern Bloc fell apart politically.

October 12, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Dave Gagner


During his prime, Dave Gagner was a skillful scorer whose game was aided by his great determination and grittiness. Standing just 5'10" and 180lbs, Dave played much bigger than his listed size. He was an aggressive and fearless little guy who was a 30+ goal threat when at his best. Twice he topped 40 goals.

An intelligent player, Gagner wasn't a great skater but knew how to shake his check to get open. A finisher more than a playmaker, Dave possessed a good shot with a quick release. An adequate-at-best defensive player, Gagner was an on-ice leader. He was an admirable NHLer, giving everything he had on every shift.

Despite being a high draft pick, Dave took a long time to justify his lofty selection. The 12th pick in the 1983 Entry Draft by the NY Ranger's, Dave played for the Canadian Olympic Team at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo and finished the tournament as the team's third leading scorer. 

It was not an easy decision to play internationally for Gagner. When the Rangers let him know he would not immediately play in the NHL, he wanted to return to junior to chase a Memorial Cup championship. The Rangers wanted him to play under Dave King, and learn the defensive side of the game.


When he did turn pro, Gagner's tough adjustment to the pro ranks continued as he alternated between the Rangers and their AHL affiliate during the 1984-85, 1985-86, and 1986-87 seasons.

The Chatham Ontario native moved on to Minnesota in 1987-88. Despite tearing up the IHL with 16 goals and 26 points in 14 games, Dave was still unable to make any impact at the NHL level, scoring just 8 goals in 51 games.

Things changed for the better for Dave in 1988-89. Voted as the North Stars' Most Improved Player, he exploded with 35 goals and 78 points, proving to be a top 2 line center.

So why did he finally succeed after so many failures in the past? Well, opportunity is the main reason. The North Stars brought in a new coach in Pierre Page that season and he immediately liked Gagner's spunk and energy. After a strong training camp, Page called him "the hardest worker in the National Hockey League." Under Page's coaching systems, Gagner was finally in a perfect fit, and finally was given a chance to succeed.

And succeed he did.

Dave had an incredible start to the year. 22 goals and 41 points by mid season. He slowed down a bit in the second half of the year but ended up with 35 goals and 78 points in what amounted to his first full NHL season.

Page would only coach the team one more year, but Gagner's success continued for many years to come. He followed up his breakthrough season with a 40 goal, 78 point 1988-89 season. He had a career high 82 points including a second consecutive 40 goal year in 1990-91. Which saw him win team MVP honors as well as an appearance in the All Star game.

He continued to be a consistent scoring threat, scoring 31, 33, and 32 goals in the following 3 years before slowing down a notch. He scored 14 goals in the lockout shortened 1995 season.

Half way through the 1995-96 season, after 14 goals in 45 games with the Stars, the team traded Dave to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal that was designed to strengthened the Leafs. The Leafs already had superstar Doug Gilmour on their lineup, and Gagner's style of play was similar. Though nowhere near as good defensively, Dave was a poor man's version of Gilmour - very spirited, fearless play with good offensive output.

Dave however wasn't able to supply as much offense in Toronto as was hoped. He scored 7 goals in 28 regular season games, as well as 15 assists. However he registered only 2 assists in 6 playoff games in a disappointing spring for the Leafs.

Toronto traded the grizzled veteran to Calgary come the 1996-97 season. He had a decent year in Calgary, scoring 27 goals and 60 points in the offensive drought of the late 1990s. It was good timing for Dave too, as he was an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. As a result, Dave signed a lucrative contract with the offense hungry Florida Panthers.

Dave was never able to supply what was expected in Florida. Scoring 20 goals and 48 points for a player who signed for over 2 million dollars a year, Gagner was soon on the trading block. The trade came in the form of a blockbuster as Gagner was part of the Florida package sent to Vancouver for hold out star Pavel Bure!

Vancouver was weak at center and it was hoped that Gagner, in the last year of his contract, could step in and help out. Unfortunately Gagner, who was ultimately nothing more than a throw-in in the Bure deal in order to make financial sheets balance, Gagner was very ineffective. He scored just 2 goals in 33 games with the Canucks.

Following his awful year, no teams were interested in Gagner and he had little option but to retire.

"I'm very fortunate to have made a living playing the game I love. At this time, I would like to spend more time with my family and pursue other interests."

Dave will always be remembered as a solid NHLer, a hard worker and a great team guy.

Legends of Team Canada: Dave Tippett


"He's the sort of player only a coach would appreciate."

Those are the words used by Dave King to describe his star shut-down center and team captain Dave Tippett at the 1984 Olympic games in Sarajevo.

Tippett of course would go on, like King, to his own lengthy and successful coaching career and probably appreciates that comment now more than ever.

When Tippett returned to the Olympic in 1992 as a grizzled NHL veteran, the ecstatic King said, "Dave Tippett is one of my favorite players. He's also the best defensive player I've ever coached."

Dave King loved defensive forwards to a fault, so singling out one as the best is quite the compliment for Tippett.

A native of Moosomin, Saskatchewan, the left wing played for the Prince Albert Raiders before heading south to play collegiate hockey. Between 1979 and 1981, Tippett was an offensive standout helping the Raiders win the Century Cup in 1981.

Tippett then notched 28 goals, 59 assists and 87 points in his two years at the University of North Dakota. As captain, he helped lead a squad full of future NHLers to both the MacNaughton Cup (regular season championship) and the NCAA championship in 1982.
Despite his record, Tippett was overlooked in the NHL draft.  Instead, he played a full season with Dave King's national team and was chosen as Team Canada's captain at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. And he built a great reputation for shutting down the opposition's top players.


Tippett was tasked with shutting down a young American superstar named Pat Lafontaine.


''We wanted to neutralize him so he wouldn't be a big factor,'' Tippett said. ''Dave wanted me to work on him. He wanted me to talk at him, too, to get him upset, but I decided not to do that. ''The largest part of it involved staying high and letting my wings do the forechecking so I could pick him up at his blueline and stop him from getting the fast centre drives he does so well.'' 

He also played well against the top Soviet players, who were as good as almost every NHL superstar.

"You just can't make mistakes in front of them or they capitalize. We know about the drop passes, behind-the-back passes and lateral feeds. The biggest difference will be the skill level," he said.

Tippett was no miracle worker. The Soviets ended up winning gold that year, while Canada finished without a medal. But Tippett was finally able to catch the attention of the NHL, signing with the Hartford Whalers. He immediately played the last 17 games of the 1983-84 season.
While unable to become an offensive leader at the NHL level, over the next six years in Hartford Tippett built a reputation as a solid defensive winger who could contribute a handful of goals and assists. His efforts did not go unnoticed by the team, as he was named alternate captain, and earned Community Service, Unsung Hero, Mr. Hustle, and Best Defensive Forward awards.
In 1990, he was traded to the Washington Capitals, where he spent another two years as a steady third and fourth line wing.
Chosen to represent Canada again at the 1994 Albertville Olympics, he came home with a silver medal, not to mention painful torn rib cartilage that he played through.


"I`m grateful for the opportunity," Tippett told The Washington Post at the time. "It`s tough not playing here every night. But it`s an opportunity to go play very competitive hockey. Anybody would be crazy to think playing in the Olympics isn`t a great thrill. The `84 Olympics were one of the biggest thrills of my career."


''At the start of the year I wasn't playing much and the whole season we haven't run into any injury problems, so I just wasn't getting the games,'' said Tippett, a veteran of seven NHL seasons. ''I talked to Dave (Poile, Washington's GM) and we agreed that me coming here would be a win-win situation for both of us.

''Coming here is good for me personally. I'll get three weeks of high-quality competition and then return to Washington in time to contribute to the stretch drive.''
Tippett then spent just two more years in the NHL, signing one-year deals with first the Penguins, then the Flyers.  In 1994, he moved to the IHL Houston Aeros, first as a player/coach, and then as head coach.

Of course Tippett would go on to become a top NHL coach himself.

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