November 13, 2007

The All World Team & Hockey's Upcoming American Revolution

According to TSN.ca, part of the IIHF's 100th anniversary celebrations will be to honour an all time international hockey all star team. 56 international hockey experts will decide who gets honoured.

"An all-time global all-star team will be announced during an IIHF gala in Quebec City when the world championship tournament is held in Canada for the first time next spring. Games also will be played in Halifax.

"If nothing else, it's going to cause some discussion if not arguments," Canadian IIHF executive council member Murray Costello of Ottawa said of the all-star selections.

To be picked, a player "must have had an outstanding playing career and significant impact in international ice hockey over a period of at least a decade."

Very interesting! What I'm not clear on at this point is how many will be honoured? Will they select 12 forwards, 6 defenseman and 2 goalies? Regardless, the decade of service criteria is certainly understandable, although it eliminates a lot of Canadian players, if not most of them. Also, the Soviets rightly should dominate this team, so it will be interesting to see how they properly represent other nations on this all world team. Likely, a few top Soviet players will get bumped, rightly or wrongly.

It's probably Greatest Hockey Legends.com's best kept secret, but I do profile many international players as well as NHLers. You can read the biographies of many international stars at http://www.internationalhockeylegends.blogspot.com/

Over the coming days I want to take a look at the candidates for the All World Team. I will look at the candidates first of all by position, and then by country. I will start on Thursday by looking at the goaltenders.

Right now I'd like to comment about the upcoming American revolution in hockey. I know, I know, Canadians are cringing and rolling their eyes, but we better face the facts: hockey may only be a regionally popular sport in the United States, but significant population numbers, an excellent junior hockey program and the high draft rankings of many American players have the American's future looking very bright.

Exhibit A: The University of Michigan Wolverines are one of the most storied college hockey powers, with one of the most storied coaches in Red Berenson. For years they have dominated thanks to Canadian imports, but now only three players are Canadian.

“In recent years there’s definitely been an emergence of players coming out of U.S. minor hockey who are just as good as Canadian kids,” Berenson said. “We’re recruiting a kid from Texas. Who would have thought that 10 years ago?”

Exhibit B: The United States has recently had striking success with their U18 national team program. Instead of sending their elite junior players all across the country to play for a wide array of teams and coaches as in Canada's junior system, most of the top under 18 American players play in a national team program, guided by one mentor.

The results: At the U18 world championships, since 2002 the Americans have won 3 gold medals and 2 silver. Canada has won 1 gold and 1 silver. Granted, the training has not paid off at the U20 world championships, the shining jewel of junior hockey. The US has 1 gold and 1 bronze in the past 6 years. Canada has 3 golds and 3 silvers.

Update: We also need to credit the USHL. James Mirtle has better look at the USHL's success.

Exhibit C: Look at the great list of American players who were all drafted high in the NHL Entry Draft in the past few seasons: Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Patrick Kane, James van Riemsdyk, Phil Kessel, Peter Mueller, Kyle Okposo, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jack Skille, and Bobby Ryan. Now likely there will be a couple of misses in that group, but as you can see, the coming generation of American teams have no shortage of talent.

All of that is for the future. Today we also celebrate the past American generation, with Jeremy Roenick scoring his 500th NHL goal and Mike Modano becoming the NHL's highest scoring American born player of all time. ESPN.com's David Amber naming his list of the top 10 American players of all time.

Say what you want about Amber's top 10 list. What I do know is that I do not disagree with his top choice.

1 comment:

Eighty-Two said...

For me, it'll always be Phil Housley.

He was the best player on so many crappy teams.