In goal was Vladislav Tretiak of the Soviet Union. On defence was Swedish legend Borje Salming and Slava Fetisov of CCCP. Up front, Canada’s Wayne Gretzky and two more Soviets—Valeri Kharlamov and Sergei Makarov.
But now the IIHF is 110 years old. On this day today 110 years ago the IIHF was founded in Paris.
Here is one subjective list of the top players from 2008 to 2017:
Sidney Crosby (CAN)—The last time Sidney Crosby lost a game playing for Team Canada was at the 2010 Olympics. Since then, he had led Canada to 26 straight wins (spread over two Olympics, one perfect World Championship, and one World Cup). Crosby is the only member of the Triple Gold Club to captain all events needed for inclusion. He is, hands, down, the top player of the decade.
Honourable Mention: Yevgeni Malkin (RUS)—Teammates with Crosby in Pittsburgh but adversaries internationally, Malkin played in five World Championships, two Olympics, and the World Cup, winning two gold, two silver, and a bronze in World Championship competition.
Other notables: Centre is crammed with great international stars of the last decade, including Mikko Koivu (FIN), Nicklas Backstrom (SWE), Jonathan Toews (CAN), and Tomas Plekanec (CZE).
Jaromir Jagr (CZE)—A sure Hall of Famer both in Toronto and in the IIHF Hall when he decides to retire, Jagr was a dominant force in this decade. He played in five Worlds (gold, bronze) and two Olympics and brought his signature style of play to countless arenas around Europe and North America.
Honourable Mention: Teemu Selanne (FIN)—Although his last international event was the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Selanne was the epitome of flair, skill, style, and grace. He helped Finland win bronze at the 2008 World Championships as well as back-to-back bronze medals at the 2010 and ’14 Olympics.
Alexander Ovechkin (RUS)—The Great 8 played in nine World Championships during this decade, winning three gold, two silver, and two bronze. The greatest scorer of the modern era, his inclusion goes unquestioned.
Honourable Mention: Ilya Kovalchuk (RUS)—A seven-time participant at the Worlds, as well as the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Olympics, Kovalchuk is a dynamic player with tremendous speed and a ferocious one-timer. His abilities and successes are clear as crystal.
Drew Doughty (CAN)—Although he has played for Canada only four times in the last decade, Doughty won three and earned a silver medal at the 2009 World Championship. He blossomed before our eyes at the 2010 Olympics as a 20-year-old and was a stud in 2014, helping Canada win consecutive gold medals. Doughty also helped Canada win the 2016 World Cup.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (SWE)—A key player with last year’s gold-medal winning Tre Kronor, Ekman-Larsson also won silver at 2014 Olympics and 2011 World Championships. He played at the 2016 World Cup and has skated in four Worlds in all. A smooth-skating puckhandler, the 26-year-old has many more appearances with Tre Kronor in his legs, no doubt.
Honourable Mention: Jack Johnson (USA)—The American blueliner has shown unique devotion to the national team during his NHL years, the NTDP well in the rear-view mirror. Johnson has played at five World Championships as well as the 2014 Olympics and 2016 World Cup.
Mark Streit (SUI)—In all, Streit has played at 13 World Championships, and in this decade in question he has represented Switzerland at four WM, as well as two Olympics and the World Cup. The greatest defenceman to come out of his country, he reached a level of play for the next generation of Swiss players to aspire to.
Carey Price (CAN)—Although he played in only two events during this decade, Price was letter perfect at both the 2014 Olympics and 2016 World Cup, backstopping Canada to victories at both events while sporting a perfect 10-0 record, allowing but 10 goals, recording three shutouts, and posting a GAA of just under 1.00.
Honourable Mention: Sergei Bobrovski (RUS)—No goalie won as many medals as did Bobrovski during this 11th decade. He won a gold in 2014, silver in 2015, and bronze in 2016. Additionally, he played at the 2014 Olympics and 2016 World Cup.
Mike Babcock (CAN)—The only coach in IIHF history to earn Triple Gold Club credentials, and then some, Babcock coached Canada to victory at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics as well as the 2016 World Cup. Three for three in best-on-best is a record that deserves top honours.
Honourable Mention: Oleg Znarok (LAT/RUS)—Znarok is the only coach of the decade who combines longevity with success. He coached the Latvian team from 2007 to 2011, keeping the team in the top level but not coming close to winning a medal. Then, from 2014 to 2017, he coached the Russian team, winning a medal in each of his four years—gold, silver, bronze, and bronze.
Do you agree with this All-Star Team? What would be your selection? Comment on Facebook and Twitter!
with thanks to Szymon Szemberg and Gord Miller