The NHL is in full blown celebration of its 100th anniversary, all starting with the Outdoor Classic in Toronto on New Year’s Day.
The Toronto Maple Leafs won a wild affair against Detroit, 5-4 in overtime.
We’ve already gotten into the spirit and published our 100 greatest players of all time. Purely subjective, but we think most would agree the picks were solid.
Since it’s a global game now, we got to thinking, who were the best NHLers to come from each country? Again, a subjective list that excludes greats like Vladislav Tretiak, who would have been a star in the NHL.
Looking at historical representation, Canada leads the list with over 5,000 (5,071 to be exact), naturally. The U.S. has put just over a fifth of that total in the league with 1,145. It’s a sliding scale from there, with talent born in far flung places like Japan and Lebanon.
So, we’ve come up with a pretty fair list that will include a team (two goalies, six defencemen, 12 forwards) each from Russia, Sweden, Finland, the old Czechoslovakia (combined), Europe (all other nations), the U.S. (two teams) and Canada (five teams: Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, B.C.).
Now that we have chronicled the best from Russia, Finland and Sweden, Czechoslovakia, the rest of Europe, the American Second Team and First Teams, here are the greatest from Canada’s Maritime Provinces (from goalies to defencemen and then forwards).
If Team Maritimes has a bit of a weakness, it’s in between the pipes. Not to say some good goaltenders haven’t come out of Atlantic Canada, but up against the rest of this vast country, few indeed. Rollie Melanson is perhaps the best of the lot, having played in 291 NHL games and winning three Stanley Cups as Billy Smith’s understudy with the New York Islanders. Melanson’s best season came in 1982-83 with the Islanders, when he recorded a 24-12-5 record and 2.66 goals against average, earning him a Second Team All-Star nomination, a share of the Jennings Trophy with Smith and a runner-up in Vezina voting to Boston’s Pete Peeters. Overall, Melanson, from Moncton, New Brunswick, was 129-106-33 with a 3.63 GAA and .875 save percentage (incomplete, as that stat wasn’t taken his first three seasons, including the big 1982-83 year he had).