International Ice Hockey Federation

Golden hat trick?

Golden hat trick?

Defending champs among favourites again

Published 04.05.2017 00:26 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Golden hat trick?
Matt Duchene is one of the returning players from last year’s golden World Championship team. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Winners of 19 of the last 20 World Championship games, Canada is the two-time defending gold medallists and is looking for a third straight title.

GM Ron Hextall has recruited successfully, so all eyes will be on a very talented group. Canada has its full complement of goalies already. Eric Comrie, Cal Pickard, and Chad Johnson will compete for the number-one job. Pickard was a member of last year’s gold-medal team, playing two games and allowing only one goal. Johnson was the backup goalie with the Calgary Flames this year while Comrie played this past season with the Manitoba Moose in the AHL. He also made his NHL debut, with the Jets, and won gold with Canada’s U20 team in 2015.


The 30-year-old Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks is the stud on the blue line. This is his third World Championship after 2009 and 2012, but he also played on Canada’s gold-medal team at the 2014 Olympics as well as the World Cup championship team this past September. Joining Vlasic is Michael Matheson, an unsung but reliable defenceman who was on last year’s World Championship team. Other blueliners include Tyson Barrie, Calvin de Haan, Jason Demers, and Josh Morrissey. Collectively, they have it all – mobility, skill, size. This is a formidable group that will rival any of the other 15 nations for best defence.


Up front, Canada has nothing short of a stellar lineup. Mitch Marner, one of the NHL’s most dynamic rookies this past season with the Maple Leafs, is here. So is Nathan MacKinnon, who was sensational for Team North America in the World Cup last September. Matt Duchene, Mark Scheifele, and Ryan O’Reilly were also gold medallists last year and all played at the Word Cup. They’ll be joined by Claude Giroux, who won U20 gold in 2008, World Championship gold in 2015, and World Cup honours last year. Brayden Schenn (third Worlds), Wayne Simmonds (second Worlds), and Jeff Skinner (fourth Worlds) have also accepted invitations. In all, these players form a dynamic attack capable of generating huge amounts of offence. Top to bottom, this might be the most talented team of the last three years.


Jon Cooper has been coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning for more than four years. He took the team to the Stanley Cup finals in 2015 (losing to Chicago), and at the start of this past season he was an assistant coach for Team North America at the World Cup. The 49-year-old British Columbia native is an energetic, forward-looking coach who will bring imagination to what will be his first tour of duty in international hockey.

Projected Results

Experience, winning, skill. This Team Canada doesn’t have a weak link with the possible exception of goal. A medal is definitely within reach and if Canada wins gold, no one could be surprised. Knowing what it takes to win is half the battle, and virtually every member of the team has won a gold medal or championship at some level. This year’s team is one to be reckoned with.


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