VANCOUVER – When the IIHF holds a ceremonial induction for the members of the Triple Gold Club on February 22, it'll be fitting that it happens in Vancouver.
Many of the stars who've won Olympic gold, World Championship, and the Stanley Cup have connections with Vancouver. Some are direct, while others are more distant. Let's take a closer look.
Tomas Jonsson (SWE): This Falun-born blueliner took his very first step toward joining the Triple Gold Club in Vancouver when the New York Islanders defeated the Vancouver Canucks at the Pacific Coliseum on May 16, 1982.
Mats Näslund (SWE): Näslund, the last Montreal Canadiens to crack the 100-point barrier back in 1986, was named Sweden's Olympic GM for 2010. (Also, back in the day, certain Hockey Night in Canada announcers were in the habit of referring to Canucks captain Markus Näslund as “Mats Naslund.”)
Hakan Loob (SWE): The longtime star and current GM of Färjestads BK won his lone Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989, and that victory involved a hard-fought seven-game series with the Canucks in the first round. Loob helped set up the controversial OT winner by Joel Otto.
Valeri Kamensky (RUS): Kamensky, a top offensive force for the Soviets at Rendez-Vous '87 and the 1987 Canada Cup, played a dominant role in Colorado's first-round ouster of Vancouver in 1996 en route to his only Stanley Cup, which earned him Triple Gold Club status.
Alexei Gusarov (RUS): Gusarov, a skilled defenceman, joined Kamensky on that 1996 Avalanche team versus Vancouver.
Peter Forsberg (SWE): Forsberg was on the '96 Avs as well, and also recorded his first NHL All-Star Game point at GM Place in Vancouver (1998).
Vyacheslav Fetisov (RUS): Fetisov's last appearance in a major international tournament was the 1996 World Cup, and he assisted on Russia's first goal in a 5-3 loss to Canada in Vancouver.
Igor Larionov (RUS): The legendary centre began his NHL career with the Canucks in 1989-90, and would record 143 points in three seasons while wearing the black, orange and yellow jersey of yore.
Alexander Mogilny (RUS): Mogilny, who possessed one of the NHL's quickest wrist shots, had the second-best season of his career with Vancouver, potting 55 goals and 52 assists in 1995-96 and cracking the NHL Second All-Star Team.
Vladimir Malakhov (RUS): In Vancouver, the big, enigmatic Sverdlovsk native scored his lone goal of the 1996 World Cup in Russia's 5-3 loss to Canada.
Rob Blake (CAN): In his third full NHL season, Blake made his first trip to the Stanley Cup final with Wayne Gretzky's L.A. Kings in 1993, beating Vancouver in six games in the second round. He also edged out the Canucks in 2001 in the opening round on the way to his first and only Stanley Cup.
Joe Sakic (CAN): “Burnaby Joe” was born and played his minor hockey in a suburb just east of Vancouver before going on to a stupendous NHL and international career that ended in 2009.
Brendan Shanahan (CAN): In a career that spanned 1,524 NHL games, Shanahan potted the 100th game-winning goal of his career versus Vancouver on January 26, 2006.
Scott Niedermayer (CAN): Since the likes of Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman won't be suiting up at the 2010 Olympics, Niedermayer will likely be the biggest British Columbia-born name on Canada's roster. He played his junior hockey in Kamloops, a four-hour drive from Vancouver.
Jaromir Jagr (CZE): Playing in the East with Pittsburgh, Washington, and the New York Rangers, the greatest Czech NHL forward of all time didn't spend much time confronting Vancouver. But he racked up the odd highlight, like giving the Penguins back-to-back overtime wins for the first time in team history with a three-point effort versus the Canucks in a 6-5 barnstormer.
Jiri Slegr (CZE): The Jihlava-born defenceman was drafted 23rd overall by the Vancouver Canucks, and suited up with the club during four seasons in his 622-game NHL career.
Nicklas Lidström (SWE): Among fans of the Canucks, Detroit's captain will be forever notorious for scoring the winning goal from centre ice versus hapless netminder Dan Cloutier in Game Three of the opening round of the 2002 playoffs. The Red Wings marched to the Cup for the third time since 1997.
Fredrik Modin (SWE): Modin has a modest history with Vancouver, notching two goals and three assists in 11 career games at GM Place.
Chris Pronger (CAN): En route to the 2007 Stanley Cup that added his name to the Triple Gold Club, Pronger had to get past the Canucks in the second round. In this five-game series, the veteran rearguard scored a goal in the 3-2 OT win on May Day in Vancouver that gave Anaheim a series stranglehold.
Niklas Kronwall (SWE): At the 2006 Olympics, Kronwall replaced Vancouver's Mattias Öhlund in the Swedish lineup due to the latter's shoulder and rib injuries. It proved to be a big addition, as the Detroit defenceman scored a key goal in the gold medal victory over Finland.
Henrik Zetterberg (SWE): Zetterberg learned about overcoming adversity early in his career due to an incident involving Vancouver. In a November 2003 game, the future Conn Smythe Trophy winner had his leg broken by a slash from Bryan Allen of the Canucks and missed 21 games.
Mikael Samuelsson (SWE): Samuelsson signed a three-year, $7.5-million deal with the Canucks in July, and the 2008 Stanley Cup winner has become a reliable scoring threat with Vancouver after playing more of a secondary role with Detroit.