Team Canada’s claim to being the dominant hockey nation has never been more secure. Out of five Olympic events featuring NHL players, Canada has won gold on three occasions. During that 20-year period, it was solidified that Canada is hockey’s greatest nation.

It should be noted that this almost wasn’t the case. Consider that had Sweden defeated Canada in the gold medal game at the 2014 Olympics, each country would have won gold twice in the NHL-Olympic era, arguably giving Sweden just as much of a claim to hockey greatness. Luckily for Canada, Mike Babcock was never going to allow that to happen

Including World Cup of Hockey events in 2004 and 2016, Canada has won gold 5 times since 2002 in best-on-best tournaments. The only failure in that time period was the 2006 Olympics, where they were eliminated by Russia in the quarter-finals.

But heading into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Canada was far away from having established dominance. Not only was the international program frustrated from the loss in Nagano to the Czech Republic in 1998, but also the loss to Team USA in the finals of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

When Team Canada suited up in 2002, we had failed in the last 2 best-on-best series, and speculation was that parity had reached international hockey. It was the team in Salt Lake City that changed the momentum for Canada. Arguably this team was the most important in Canada’s history (with all due respect to the 72 Summit Series team).

24. Al MacInnis

via foxsports.com

via foxsports.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 0
Assists: 0
Points: 0
Plus/minus: 3

This was Al MacInnis’ fourth and final time representing Canada, and he concluded his international hockey career by winning Olympic gold.

His first time putting on the Team Canada jersey was in 1990 for the IIHF World Championships, where the team would finish fourth. The following year he would play in the Canada Cup, with Canada defeating the USA 2 straight in a best of 3 to win gold.
MacInnis was also on the 1998 Olympic Team that suffered heart break at the hands of the Czech Republic in the semi-finals.

Unfortunately, MacInnis would be forced into retirement shortly into the 2003-04 season due to an eye injury. His #2 is retired by both the Blues and Flames.

MacInnis has continued to live in St. Louis following his retirement in 2004, and began working in the Blues front office shortly after his on-ice career ended. His current role is that of Senior Advisor to the General Manager. He has spent a lot of time coaching his kids hockey as well. His son Ryan was drafted by the Coyotes in 2014 and is currently with the Tucson Roadrunners in the AHL.

23. Eric Brewer

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 6
Goals: 2
Assists: 0
Points: 2
plus/minus: 0

Brewer was just months away from his 23rd birthday during the 2002 Olympics. He would win gold twice in best-on-best tournaments, in 2002 and again at the 2004 World Cup. He would also win gold on 3 occasions at the World Championships.

Despite spending 15 seasons in the NHL, the bulk of Brewer’s team success came from international play. In his decade and a half in the NHL, he only played on a team that made it past the first round of the playoffs once, when he made it to the conference finals with Tampa Bay. His teams only made the playoffs on 3 other occasions, each time getting knocked out in the first round. But he can always show people his gold medal to prove he can play on a winner.

He retired following the 2014-15 season when nobody offered him a contract.
He married his wife Rebecca in 2004. They live in Vancouver and have two daughters together.

22. Rob Blake

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 6
Goals: 1
Assists: 2
Points: 3
Plus/minus: 2

Blake would take part in 4 best-on-best tournaments for Team Canada, winning gold just once in 2002. Blake was on the 1996 World Cup team that lost in the finals, and the 98 Olympic squad that lost to the Czechs. He would also be on the 06 Olympic team that lost in the quarter-finals to Russia.

Blake continues to be involved with Hockey Canada, and was the team’s General Manager for the 2014 Men’s World Championships. He is an assistant General Manager with the Los Angeles Kings, and won a Stanley Cup in the franchise’s front office in 2014.
He is married to his wife Brandy, and then have two sons and a daughter.

21. Paul Kariya

via twitter.com

via twitter.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 3
Assists: 1
Points: 4
Plus/minus: 5

Including his junior career, this would be Kariya’s 8th and final time dawning the maple leaf. He won gold at the 1993 World Juniors, and again at the 1994 World Championships. He won a silver at the Olympics in 1994, before NHL players were involved. This would be his only best-on-best tournament for Team Canada.

Paul Kariya retired shortly after taking the entire 2010/11 season off due to the effects of multiple concussions. He also stated that the league wasn’t doing enough to prevent such injuries. His involvement in hockey following his retirement has been sparse. Though he did attend his friend Teemu Selanne’s final game in 2014.

According to a 2015 interview, Kariya spends most of his time surfing. He still spends time with old Ducks teammates Selanne and Scott Niedermayer regularly, as they all still live in California.

20. Owen Nolan

via twitter.com

via twitter.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 0
Assists: 3
Points: 3
Plus/minus: -2

The 2002 Olympics was Nolan’s only best-on-best international tournament.

Following these Olympics, Nolan opted to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2003-04 season. The team happened to be coached by the same guy that coached this team to a gold medal, Pat Quinn. Nolan would spend two dramatic seasons with the Leafs, before spending his final years bouncing from Calgary to Phoenix to Minnesota.

Owen Nolan officially retired from hockey in 2011, and seems to be spending his time outdoors as much as possible. He is the host of the series Sportsman 360 TV on Wild TV, a specialty network in Canada. He also co-owns the Britannia Arms pub and restaurant in San Jose. He made some local headlines in California, when he sold a large property of his to the Nature Conservancy. Doing so allowed a state park to be enlarged.

He and his wife Diana have two children together.

19. Jarome Iginla

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 6
Goals: 3
Assists: 1
Points: 4
Plus/minus: 4

Is it any surprise that the one guy who is still playing in the NHL is Jarome Iginla?
This was the first of 3 Olympic games for Iginla, who would also be on the 2006 team which lost in the quarter-finals, and the 2010 team which took gold in Vancouver.
Twice Iginla played a huge role for Team Canada in the gold medal game. In 2002, he scored two goals, and in 2010 he assisted on Sidney Crosby’s “Golden Goal”.

Iginla is set to turn 40 on July 1st of this year. He is currently a member of the Colorado Avalanche, and the only player from this team still playing in the NHL.

He is married to his wife Kara, and together they have 3 children. He operates a hockey school in Calgary and has a stake in the Kamloops Blazers.

18. Brendan Shanahan

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 6
Goals: 0
Assists: 1
Points: 1
Plus/minus: -1

Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan won gold with Canada on 3 occasions. He first did so at the 1991 Canada Cup, then in 1994 at the World Championships, and finally in 2002 at the Olympics. He was also part of the 1987 World Junior team that was disqualified after the “Punch-up in Piestany” brawl with the Soviet Team.

After retiring in 2009, Shanahan served various roles with the NHL front office. The title he was given in December of 2009 was “Vice President of Hockey and Business Development”. In 2011 he was named the NHL’s Senior Vice President.

In the spring of 2014, Shanahan was named President of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Shanahan’s first year as President of the club saw them land the #1 draft pick, which they used to select Auston Matthews.

17. Steve Yzerman

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 6
Goals: 2
Assists: 4
Points: 6
Plus/minus: 4

As a teenager Steve Yzerman was a member of the 1984 Canada Cup team which took gold, though he wouldn’t register a point in 4 games. It would take 3 more tries in best-on-best tournaments for him to win gold again. He was part of both the ill-fated 96 World Cup team and the 98 Olympic team. He was also named the Executive Director for Team Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.

Yzerman worked in Detroit’s front office following his retirement in 2006, but took the role of President and General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010.
He is married to his wife Lisa, and together they have 3 daughters.

He still wins, as he always will, because that’s what Steve Yzerman does.

16. Ed Belfour

via thestar.com

via thestar.com

Games Played: 0

Ed Belfour served as back-up goaltender twice for Canada in best-on-best tournaments. The first time was for the gold medal winning Canada Cup team in 1991 when he backed up Bill Ranford. Then he did the same in 2002. It says a lot about your country’s depth at goaltending when a future hall of famer can’t even get any ice time.

Eddie no longer has his gold medal, as it was auctioned off earlier this year. It was part of 66 pieces of memorabilia that Belfour put up for auction in order to raise money to go into business with his son.

The father and son business is called “Belfour Distilleries” and is still in its early stages. They plan on making vodka, bourbon and whiskey on site. When describing the location they plan on opening the distillery in, Belfour had this to say, “It’s going to be very majestic, unique and a central hub for fun. I want a group of people to be able to talk too loud and have too much fun here.”

15. Simon Gagne

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 6
Goals: 1
Assists: 3
Points: 4
Plus/minus: 5

This was Gagne’s first of three best-on-best tournaments for Team Canada. He would also play on the team that would win the World Cup in 2004, but also on the team which lost to Russia in the quarter-finals of the 06 Olympics.

Gagne had some great years with the Flyers after these Olympics. He had two straight 40 plus goal seasons from from 05 to 07, but unfortunately chronic injuries started to take their toll. He would spend almost a decade playing shortened seasons after his 41 goal season in 06-07.

Gagne is only 36 years old, but retired officially before the start of the 2015/16 season. He is married to his wife Karine and has a son and a daughter. Gagne has kept quiet in the 15 months since announcing his retirement.

14. Joe Nieuwendyk

via canescountry.com

via canescountry.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 1
Assists: 1
Points: 2
Plus/minus: 0

Nieuwendyk also played on the 1998 team that lost in the semi-finals to the Czech Republic. He was also one of the players that couldn’t solve Dominik Hasek in the ill-fated shootout.

He would retire due to chronic injuries in 2006, and started his hockey front office career almost immediately. He first started as a consultant to the Panthers’ General Manager, but would be named General Manager of the Dallas Stars in 2009. He was let go from the team following the 2012-13 season, and currently serves as a scout and an advisor in the Carolina Hurricanes organization.

Joe and his wife Tina have 2 daughters and a son together. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011.

13. Scott Niedermayer

via nytimes.com

via nytimes.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 1
Assists: 1
Points: 2
Plus/minus: 5

Niedermayer played in 4 best-on-best tournaments, winning gold on 3 occasions. His first best-on best tournament was the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, which saw Canada lose a best-of-3 series with the American team in the finals. From then on it was only gold for Niedermayer however, winning Olympic gold in 2002 and 2010 (captained the team), as well as at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

After retiring from his playing career in 2010 he remained with the Ducks organization in various roles. At one point he was a consultant to the General Manager, but now holds the title of “Special Assignments Coach”.

Scott lives with his wife and four sons in Newport Beach, California.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2013.

12. Martin Brodeur

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 5
GAA: 1.80

Heading into the 2002 Olympics, nobody was sure who was going to be the #1 goaltender.
Patrick Roy had turned down the opportunity to play in these Olympics after having been the team’s net minder in 1998.

Brodeur would also suit up for Canada at the World Cup in 04, winning gold there as well. Unfortunately he would also be on the 2006 team that lost to Russia in the quarter-finals. Finally, Brodeur ended his International career by backing up Roberto Luongo to a gold medal in 2010.

Brodeur just retired in 2015, and appears to be spending time with his wife and four children. His son Anthony plays with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League after having been drafted by the Devils in 2013.

11. Curtis Joseph

via twitter.com

via twitter.com

Games Played: 1
GAA: 5.00

Despite winning a gold medal, there were rumoured hard feelings between Curtis Joseph and Team Canada head coach Pat Quinn stemming from Quinn’s decision to go with Brodeur for the remainder of the tournament. Joseph started the tournament getting roughed up by Team Sweden 5 to 2.

Joseph had been Quinn’s goaltender in Toronto heading into the Olympics, but ended up leaving the team that off-season for Detroit. Some say that hard feelings between Cujo and Quinn led to his decision to leave.

This wasn’t Joseph’s last time suiting up for Team Canada however. He would win gold with Team Canada again at the 2007 Spengler Cup.

Joseph is back involved in hockey for the first time since his retirement in 2009. He is now working as a goaltending consultant for the Carolina Hurricanes, and is working with the teams goaltending prospects. He joined the franchise this off-season.

Away from hockey he is busy helping to raise three kids.

10. Mike Peca

via youtube.com

via youtube.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 0
Assists: 2
Points: 2
Plus/minus: 0

This would be the last of 3 times that Peca wore the maple leaf for Team Canada. He first did so in a gold-medal winning effort at the 1994 World Juniors. He was also on the Team Canada squad at the 2001 IIHF World Championships which came in 5th place.

To nobody’s surprise Peca has transitioned into a coaching role since ending his playing career in 2009. He is currently the director of hockey operations and general manager for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, a Junior A team in the OJHL. He coached the same team from 2012-2014, winning the OJHL Coach of the Year award in 2013.

He has two children with his wife Kristin, and they live in Getzville, New York.

9. Chris Pronger

via sports.yahoo.com

via sports.yahoo.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 0
Assists: 1
Points: 1
Plus/minus: 2

This was the first of two Olympic gold medals for Chris Pronger, as he would win another one in 2010. He was also on the Olympic team in 2006 that lost to the Russians in the quarter-final. He won gold with Canada at the 1993 World Juniors and again at the 1997 IIHF World Championships.

Unfortunately Pronger was forced to retire (sort of) in 2013 while a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. After sustaining multiple concussions and dealing with post-concussion symptoms he was shut down for good in mid-December 2011. He wouldn’t officially retire however, as doing so would mean his salary would count against the Flyers cap. Instead the team continued to place him on long-term IR at the beginning of each season. The Flyers ended up trading his contract to Arizona in the summer of 2015, just days before he was voted into the Hall of Fame.

In 2014, Pronger signed a contract with the NHL to serve in its Player Safety Division.
He lives in St. Louis and he and his wife have two sons, born in 2002 and 2004.

8. Adam Foote

via denver.cbslocal.com

via denver.cbslocal.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 1
Assists: 0
Points: 1
Plus/minus: 1

This was Foote’s 3rd of 5 total best-on-best tournaments, but his first time winning gold. He would do so again at the 2004 World Cup. His first two best-on-best tournaments were the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, losing in the finals, and the 1998 Olympics, losing in the semi-finals.
He would unfortunately also be a part of the 2006 Olympic team which was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Russia.

Foote had already won the Stanley Cup twice heading into this tournament,  having done so with the Avalanche in 1996 and 2001

He retired from hockey in 2011 and now spends his time with his wife Jennifer and two sons. Both sons are following in their fathers footsteps, and are currently teammates on the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.

7. Ed Jovanovski

via espn.com

via espn.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 0
Assists: 3
Points: 3
Plus/minus: 1

Jovanovski would only go to the Olympics once, but that’s all the opportunity he needed to win a gold medal. He also played in 1 game with Team Canada for the 2004 World Cup. His World Junior Team Canada team also took gold in the 1995 World Juniors.

At the time of this tournament, Jovanovski was playing with the Canucks, but he would move onto the Coyotes a few seasons later. After spending 5 seasons in Arizona, he signed back with the Panthers for his final 3 seasons.

One of the younger members of this Team Canada squad, Jovanovski just turned 40. He last played in the 2013-14 season with the Panthers. He went back to Florida to end his career, as that was where he was first drafted. It is also where he, his wife Kristin and their four children call home. As of March 2016 he had still yet to officially file his retirement papers.

6. Mario Lemieux 

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 5
Goals: 2
Assists: 4
Points: 6
Plus/minus: 4

This was the 2nd of 3 gold medals Lemieux earned at best-on-best international tournaments. His first was the dramatic 1987 Canada Cup, and his final would be at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

The only person in history to have their name on the Stanley Cup as both a player and an owner is Mario Lemieux. Lemieux became part owner of the Penguins in 1997, a year after his initial retirement (he would return from 2000-06). He would win a cup as a player in 91 and 92, and again as an owner in 2009 and 2016.

When he is not busy being the owner of the Penguins he spends a lot of time with the “Mario Lemieux Foundation”, which focusses its effort on cancer research and children’s cancer programs.

He married his wife Nathalie Asselin in 93 and together they have four children. He is now a naturalized American citizen, and is involved in politics. He is a registered Republican.

5. Theo Fleury

via chicagotribune.com

via chicagotribune.com

Games Played: 6
Goals: 0
Assists: 2
Points: 2
Plus/minus: 1

How great this was to see Fleury get this gold medal, especially after having such a gritty performance in the tournament 4 years before go to waste.

This was Fleury’s 3rd gold medal with Team Canada. The first he won at the World Juniors in 1988,  the year after playing a major role in the brawl with the Soviet Team that got the 87 team disqualified. He again won gold with Canada at the 1991 Canada Cup. He was part of the 96 team that lost in the World Cup finals as well.

Fleury has been in the media a lot following his retirement from the game. It was revealed in his autobiography “Playing With Fire” that he had been sexually abused by junior coach Graham James. He now serves as a public speaker and advocate for sexual abuse victims. He co-wrote his second book with therapist Kim Barthel, which deals with strategies to overcome abuse.

4. Eric Lindros

via sportsnet.ca

via sportsnet.ca

Games Played: 6
Goals: 1
Assists: 0
Points: 1
Plus/minus: -3

This was the ninth and final time Lindros would suit up for Team Canada, and the 3rd time he would win gold. His first two gold medals were at the 1990 and 91 World Junior tournaments. Lindros had tasted defeat internationally however, having been on both the 96 World Cup Team (lost to USA in finals) and the 98 Olympic team which lost to the Czech Republic in the semi-finals.

Despite refusing to play for the Nordiques when drafted, Lindros married a native Quebecer and together they have three children. They live in Toronto, where he would spend his second-to-last season, and are heavily involved with charity work.

Lindros was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016

3. Joe Sakic

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 6
Goals: 4
Assists: 3
Points: 7
Plus/minus: 6

Tournament MVP Joe Sakic was also a part of the ill-fated 1996 and 1998 Team Canada rosters which failed to bring home gold. He was part of the 1988 World Junior team which took home gold however. Sakic would also win gold with Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, but was part of the disappointing finish at the 06 Olympics, when Canada was eliminated in the quarter-finals.

After taking two years off following his retirement in 2009, Sakic began working in the Avalanche front office. In 2013 he was formally announced as the team’s General Manager.  After having been drafted by the Nordiques in 1987, he has spent almost 3 decades with the same franchise.

Sakic is married to his wife Debbie, and together they have three children.

2. Ryan Smyth

Chris Austin-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Austin-USA TODAY Sports

Games Played: 6
Goals: 0
Assists: 1
Points: 1
Plus/minus: -4

Smyth may not have played a large role on the 2002 Team Canada, and he may have had the worst plus/minus on the team. But Smyth made a larger contribution to Hockey Canada than most players who dawn the maple leaf. He made playing in international hockey a priority throughout his career.
Smyth would win gold with Canada on 7 occasions. Twice in the World Championships, the 2004 World Cup, 1995 World Juniors, 2012 Spengler Cup, and the 2002 Olympics. You could argue that no other hockey player has made international hockey more of a priority than Ryan Smyth.

Smyth retired in 2014 after playing 19 seasons in the NHL. It wouldn’t be long before he would be back helping Hockey Canada, however. In the summer of 2015 Smyth began working with the program again after being named to the U-18 management team. Smyth works with and scouts some of the top prospects in the system.

1. Coaching Staff and Front Office

via o.canada.com

via o.canada.com

The Executive Director for Team Canada in 2002 was Wayne Gretzky. Of course it was Gretzky’s emotional reaction in 1998, choking back tears after losing to the Czechs, that would be played over and over again for four years leading up to this tournament.
Gretzky just recently accepted the position of Vice-Chairman with the Oilers, returning to the franchise which originally drafted him.

Bob Nicholson was the President of Hockey Canada at the time, it would be a position he would hold until after the 2014 Olympics. He now works alongside Gretzky as the vice-chairman of the Oilers.

Ken Hitchcock, assistant coach of Team Canada in 02, is currently coaching the St. Louis Blues.

Jacques Martin, also an assistant coach for Team Canada in 2002, is currently an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Wayne Fleming was an Assistant coach on the 2002 gold medal Olympic team and the 2004 World Cup team. He was also the Vice President of Hockey Canada for both tournaments. Fleming died of brain cancer in 2013 at the age of 62.

Finally, head coach Pat Quinn passed away in 2014 at the age of 71. He also was the coach of Team Canada at the 2008 and 2009 World Junior teams and also won gold at the World Cup in 2004. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this year.

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