The Men’s All-Decade Team
by Lucas Aykroyd|07 JAN 2020
Canada's Sidney Crosby, a member of the IIHF's Triple Gold Club, is also a member of our All-Decade Team.
photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images
In the 2010s, five different nations won men’s gold at the Olympics and IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships. Especially at the latter, figuring out the champion in advance became almost a fool’s errand. And whereas in previous decades you could unquestionably have named all-decade teams consisting solely of Canadians or Russians, now diversity is becoming the name of the game.

So there were tough decisions about virtuoso performances, longevity, team success, and other factors that went into picking the Men’s All-Decade Team.

There was a host of other potential candidates, including names like Canada’s Patrice Bergeron, Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, Duncan Keith, Nathan MacKinnon, Corey Perry, Carey Price, Mark Stone, and Jonathan Toews; the Czech Republic’s Jaromir Jagr; Finland’s Sebastian Aho, Mikael Granlund, and Teemu Selanne; Slovakia’s Zdeno Chara; Sweden’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson, John Klingberg, Henrik Lundqvist, and Daniel and Henrik Sedin;  Russia’s Pavel Datsyuk, Nikita Gusev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikita Kucherov, Alexander Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin, Vadim Shipachyov, and Andrei Vasilevski; Switzerland’s Roman Josi; and the U.S.’s Ryan Miller, Patrick Kane, and Phil Kessel.

Here is the Men’s All-Decade Team. Who would be on your team?

Goal: Pekka Rinne (Finland)

As impressive as Carey Price’s 0.72 GAA and 97.2 save percentage en route to the gold medal in Sochi were, the Montreal Canadiens star might have been the best-protected goalie in Olympic history. Three months later, Pekka Rinne got no such favours when he carried a virtually anonymous Finnish squad to the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship final and was named tournament MVP despite settling for silver in Minsk.

Then at the 2015 Worlds, the towering Nashville Predators veteran earned a record modern shutout streak of 237:05 that could stand for decades, as offence is on the rise. In an IIHF context, Rinne’s run put him at the forefront of an era of Finnish goaltending excellence.

Defence: Drew Doughty (Canada)

From 2007 to 2010, Drew Doughty played at a higher IIHF level each year, starting with the U18 program and culminating with the Olympic team in Vancouver. Famed for his spin-o-rama and elite offensive instincts, it was remarkable how well the smooth-skating Los Angeles Kings blueliner played in the 2010 gold medal run. And yet Doughty’s best was yet to come in Sochi.

Partnered with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, he led Canada with four goals – including the 2-1 overtime winner against Finland – and two assists and was named to the all-star team. In a potent argument against the theory that Olympic participation hurts players in the Stanley Cup playoffs, he also led all NHL defencemen with 18 points as the Kings won their second Cup in three years.

Defence: Shea Weber (Canada)

While Sweden now poses an increasing threat to Canada’s status as the top producer of elite defencemen, Shea Weber, in his prime, stood alone with his combination of high-end skill and overwhelming brute force, both applied in a controlled manner.

Weber was named to the 2010 Olympic all-star team with two goals and four assists, but his most memorable play might have been the bone-crushing hit he laid on Russia’s Maxim Afinogenov in the first minute of Canada’s 7-3 quarter-final rout to energize the Vancouver crowd. In Sochi, when Latvia threatened to pull off its version of the U.S.’s 1980 “Miracle on Ice” win over the USSR or Belarus’s 2002 quarter-final upset against Sweden, the behemoth Nashville captain ended the suspense, using the NHL’s hardest slap shot to give Canada a 2-1 win.

Forward: Sidney Crosby (Canada)

“Sid the Kid” has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to three Stanley Cups (2009, 2016, 2017), but for many observers, his most memorable achievements came in between on the IIHF stage. In the 2010 Olympic final, Crosby got the 3-2 overtime winner at 7:40 against the U.S.’s Ryan Miller in a thrilling climax on home ice, with the game attracting some 26.5 million TV viewers in Canada alone. In 2014, he wore the “C,” and he and Jonathan Toews both scored again in the Olympic final when the unstoppable Canadians blanked Sweden 3-0.

Crosby capped off his journey to IIHF greatness when he racked up 11 points for Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Prague. The Canadians scored a whopping 66 goals and went 10-0 as their relentless captain joined the IIHF’s Triple Gold Club.

Forward: Yevgeni Malkin (Russia)

Only two players have ever won the NHL scoring title and the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship scoring in the same season: Wayne Gretzky (1982) and Yevgeni Malkin (2012). The key difference is that while “The Great One” settled for bronze in Helsinki, the hulking Pittsburgh superstar hoisted the championship trophy in the Finnish capital after recording 19 points with coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s perfect Russian squad.

Malkin also played a vital role when he joined the 2014 Worlds team late in Minsk, scoring the winning goal against Finland in the 5-2 gold medal game triumph. He also won two World Championship silver medals (2010, 2015) and a bronze (2019).

Forward: William Nylander (Sweden)

The Swedes captured three IIHF World Championship gold medals in the 2010s (2013, 2017, 2018), more than any other country. Arguably the best symbol of their youth-driven resurgence was forward William Nylander.

While the 23-year-old son of 920-game NHL and two-time world champion Michael Nylander has yet to peak with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he is the top points-per-game producer at the Worlds in this decade with a staggering 32 points in 18 games (1.77 PPG). William Nylander’s tournament-leading seven goals at the 2017 Worlds in Paris and Cologne propelled him to MVP honours as Tre Kronor earned the first of two back-to-back titles. He won the tournament scoring race in 2019 (18 points).