The Triple Gold Club
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Originally published in the 2008 IIHF World Championship official program
By Lucas Aykroyd
Hockey history is full of memorable hat tricks of various types. How about Bill Mosienko’s never-equaled three goals in 21 seconds for Chicago versus the New York Rangers in 1952? Or you could point to Paul Henderson’s three consecutive game-winning tallies for Canada versus the USSR in the 1972 Summit Series.
But perhaps the greatest hat trick of all involves joining the IIHF’s Triple Gold Club.
That prestigious group includes players who have won IIHF World Championship gold, Olympic gold, and the Stanley Cup. It’s no easy feat. It requires skill, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time. Only 19 players have done it.
Prior to the 1990’s, the notion of a Triple Gold Club would have been virtually useless. If you were winning Stanley Cups back then, you weren’t competing for Olympic gold, and vice versa. Before 1977, Canada, whose players dominated NHL rosters, sent amateur teams to the Worlds instead of using NHL pros. And the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Sweden won every World Championship between 1962 and 1994. Just a few Swedes cracked the NHL, while even fewer players from the Communist Eastern Bloc made the leap, since defecting was risky.
However, since the fall of Communism, players from all over the world have vied for hockey’s three biggest prizes. So far, Sweden, Russia, Canada, and the Czech Republic have monopolized Triple Gold Club membership. But with the talent that the USA, Slovakia, and Finland possess, one of those nations could break in not too long from now. The Americans would need their first World Championship title since 1933, plus an Olympic title. The Slovaks need their first Olympic gold to create an opportunity for players who won the Worlds in 2002, and the Finns are in the same boat with their 1995 world champs.
Tomas Jonsson, Hakan Loob, and Mats Naslund inaugurated the club in 1994 when Sweden edged Canada for Olympic gold in Norway. Two years later, Peter Forsberg and Russia’s Valeri Kamensky and Alexei Gusarov came on board when Colorado captured its first Stanley Cup. The Russians kept coming in 1997 as Igor Larionov and Viacheslav Fetisov sipped Stanley Cup champagne with Detroit, and in 2000, Alexander Mogilny and Vladimir Malakhov did the same with New Jersey.
It was Canada’s turn to shine with four new Triple Gold Club members at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City: Rob Blake, Scott Niedermayer, Joe Sakic, and Brendan Shanahan. The Czech Republic’s gold medal performance at the 2005 Worlds in Austria sealed the status of Jaromir Jagr and Jiri Slegr. Nicklas Lidstrom and Fredrik Modin joined when Sweden won the 2006 Olympics, and Anaheim’s 2007 Stanley Cup triumph made Canada’s Chris Pronger the latest member.
At the 2008 IIHF World Championship, the IIHF will award commemorative medals to the 19 current Triple Gold Club members to formalize their status.
Within Striking Distance
Here are five NHLers who could join the Triple Gold Club:
Martin Brodeur (Canada)
Stanley Cup 1995, 2000, 2003
Milan Hejduk (Czech Republic)
Stanley Cup 2001
Jere Lehtinen (Finland)
Stanley Cup 1999
World Championship 1995
Mattias Ohlund (Sweden)
World Championship 1998
Eric Staal (Canada)
Stanley Cup 2006
World Championship 2007