NHL @ 100: The Best Players From Canada, Ontario

(CP PHOTO) 1998 (stf/Paul Chiasson)

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 Europe, the U.S., the Maritimes and Quebec. Here are the greatest from Ontario and the choices are extremely difficult to make (from goalies to defencemen and then forwards). Suffice to say, Connor McDavid doesn’t make the list, but it was hard to leave him off.

20. George Hainsworth, G

In the earliest days of the NHL, way before the term “butterfly” was ever used to pertain to goaltending style and long before the advent of gladiator like padding, netminding wasn’t that easy. Of all goalies in the first decades of the league, Toronto’s George Hainsworth was a gem. Why? Because in all but one of his 10 full seasons, Hainsworth started every game for his teams, including seven seasons in Montreal and three in Toronto. Hainsworth, who played most of his hockey in Kitchener as an amateur, replaced Georges Vezina himself in Montreal for the 1926-17 season, after the legendary goalie died of tuberculosis. In his first two seasons in Montreal, he started every game (88 in total) and posted 27 shutouts, winning the Vezina both seasons. In 1928-29, he had an incredible 22 shutouts in his 44 starts, with a miniscule 0.92 goals against average, winning the Vezina for the third and last time. Hainsworth won to Stanley Cups with Montreal and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1961.

Source: yourememberthat.com

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