BERNE – With the NHL announcing its 2009 individual trophy finalists in recent days, it raises an interesting question: which stars have managed to win equivalent trophies or honours in both the NHL and the IIHF World Championship?
As it turns out, it's not a long list.
For example, Dominik Hasek is the only netminder to win the Vezina Trophy (1994, 1995, 1997-99, 2001) and Best Goalie honours at the Worlds (1987, 1989) since the IIHF began handing out awards for top players as chosen by the IIHF Directorate in 1954.
This year, there are no past Vezina winners in Switzerland who could replicate the legendary Czech's feat.
Only two defencemen have won both the Norris Trophy and Best Defenceman, both Canadians. Larry Robinson of the Montreal Canadiens captured the Norris twice (1977, 1980) before being honoured at the Worlds (1981). Rob Blake was named Best Defenceman in 1997 as Canada won gold, and then won his first and only Norris with the Los Angeles Kings in 1998.
Slovakia's Zdeno Chara has a chance to join this elite group in 2009, however. The giant Boston Bruins captain was named Best Defenceman at the 2004 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic, and this season, he's been nominated for the Norris for the third time. Although he's up against perennial winner Nicklas Lidström of the Detroit Red Wings and flashy newcomer Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, 2009 may represent Chara's best chance yet to take home the hardware in light of the crucial role he plays on the Eastern Conference's top regular-season team.
How about winning both NHL and IIHF World Championship scoring titles, an area in which subjectivity doesn't enter the picture?
Four players have turned the trick so far.
Wayne Gretzky, universally considered the greatest scorer of all time, took the crown with 16 points in his lone World Championship appearance for Team Canada (1982), which claimed bronze that year. He also won the NHL's Art Ross Trophy 10 times (1981-87, 1990, 1991, 1994), seven times with Edmonton and three times with Los Angeles.
Sweden's Peter Forsberg racked up 11 points to top the 1998 World Championship derby en route to gold, and then won his first Art Ross with 106 points for Colorado in 2003.
Joe Thornton led the way 16 points as Canada picked up a silver medal during the NHL lockout year of 2005, and then took the NHL scoring crown with 125 points in 2006, in a season where Boston traded him to the San Jose Sharks.
Most recently, Canada's Sidney Crosby also had 16 points to finish tops in the 2006 tournament, and then won his first Art Ross in 2007 with 120 points for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This year, two former Art Ross Trophy winners here in Switzerland have a chance to join the club by capturing their first IIHF World Championship scoring title: Canada's Martin St. Louis (2004) and the Czech Republic's Jaromir Jagr (1995, 1998, 1999-01).