The NHL will officially start celebrations for its 100th anniversary, starting Jan. 1, 2017.
Toronto and Detroit will tangle in the Centennial Outdoor Classic at BMO Field to kick off a year-long festival honoring the game and its roots.
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.).
The ninth round of the 1994 NHL draft sure did produce a lot of solid to spectacular NHL goaltenders. They included Tim Thomas (217th overall), Johan Hedberg (218th), Evgeni Nabokov (219th) and finally Tomas Vokoun (226th). Vokoun would play 700 games in the NHL after being drafted by Montreal, more than any other goalie drafted that year and his combined games surpassed that of all three goalies selected in the first round. He would play just one game for the Habs before the expansion Nashville Predators scooped him up in the draft in 1998. The native of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, would flip flop between Nashville and Milwaukee of the IHL before becoming the full time starter in 2002-03, when he got in 69 games. A four-time Vezina nominee, Vokoun would finish his career with a 300-288-78 record, 51 shutouts, a .917 save percentage and 2.55 goals against average.