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Top 10 NHL Alumni from Canadian U Sports Beginnings

Paul MacLean

Paul MacLean performed at Dalhousie College earlier than his profitable NHL taking part in and training careers.

For many years, U Sports activities hockey, also called Canadian college hockey, has been considered as an afterthought, a last-choice various for males’s hockey gamers. 

In Canadian markets, it’s usually the place EBUGS seem from for NHL groups in a time of want. These restricted definitions, nevertheless, don’t do justice to a league crammed with 30-goal scorers from the OHL, WHL and QMJHL, dozens of NHL draft picks, and much more gamers with skilled expertise within the AHL, ECHL and Europe. The league has additionally graduated dozens of gamers to the NHL.

Right this moment, increasingly more late-blooming prospects are utilizing U Sports activities as a path to skilled and NHL contracts. 

A kind of gamers is Vegas Golden Knights netminder Logan Thompson, a candidate for the Vezina Trophy previous the season’s one-third level. Thompson was the U Sports activities OUA Goaltender of the Yr in 2018-19 whereas attending Brock College. Final season, he was joined by different U Sports activities alumni, Derek Ryan of the Edmonton Oilers, and Zach Sawchenko, who performed seven video games for the San Jose Sharks within the NHL.

Not like the NCAA, skilled expertise doesn’t exclude a participant from U Sports activities. Some, like Darren Lowe, even return from the NHL to play college hockey. Lowe performed three seasons for the College of Toronto within the early Eighties, represented Canada on the 1984 Winter Olympics, performed eight video games for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins recording a aim and three factors after which returned to captain the College of Toronto for his senior season in 1985-86. 

Extra just lately, it was NHL second-round choose Jared Aulin, who already had 17 NHL video games and 193 AHL video games underneath his belt when he returned to play for the College of Calgary in 2007-08.

Different gamers who went by means of U Sports activities, like long-time NHL head coach Barry Trotz, former NHL goaltender and namesake for a key superior statistic Jim Corsi, and present Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Mathieu Darche, who additionally performed 250 video games within the NHL, proceed to influence the sport in different methods.

With the rising power of U Sports activities males’s hockey, right here’s a glance again at 10 of the highest retired gamers to come back from U Sports activities hockey, previously generally known as the CIAU and CIS, to the NHL.

1. Randy Gregg, D, College of Alberta

A five-time Stanley Cup champion, all with the Edmonton Oilers, Gregg accomplished 4 years on the College of Alberta, being named the CIAU participant of the yr in 1978-79. The defender twice represented Canada on the Olympic Video games, together with captaining the group in Lake Placid in 1980, and likewise represented Canada on the 1984 Canada Cup.

2. Mike Ridley, C, College of Manitoba

Starring for the College of Manitoba, successful back-to-back CIAU participant of the yr awards in 1984 and 1985, the identical calendar yr Ridley jumped instantly into the New York Rangers lineup. That season he scored 65 factors and was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Group. From the day he entered the NHL, Ridley compiled 9 consecutive seasons with greater than 20 targets, together with a 41-goal, 89-point marketing campaign in 1988-89 as a member of the Washington Capitals that noticed him chosen to play within the NHL All-Star recreation. His 758 factors in 866 NHL video games are tops all-time amongst U Sports activities alumni.

3. Steve Rucchin, C, College of Western Ontario

In 1990, Steve Rucchin was taking part in highschool and Junior C hockey. After 4 standout years growing on the College of Western Ontario, Rucchin made his NHL debut with the Mighty Geese of Anaheim in 1994. Rucchin would go on to captain the Mighty Geese, recording a number of 20-goal seasons, and totalling 506 common season and playoff factors throughout practically 800 NHL video games.

4. Paul MacLean, RW, Dalhousie College

The Dalhousie College alum might be higher generally known as a coach with six completely different NHL organizations for the reason that mid-Nineteen Nineties, together with a four-season tenure as coach of the Ottawa Senators. He additionally, nevertheless, scored greater than 40 or extra targets 3 times in a 719-game NHL profession, and 30 or extra targets in 5 further seasons totalling 324 targets and 673 factors. In 1984-85, MacLean had his greatest season, recording 101 factors as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.

5. Jack Gelineau, G, McGill College

If ever there was a netminder poised for NHL stardom within the eyes of followers and media, it was Jack Gelineau within the late Forties. After backstopping McGill College to a Queen’s Cup as champions of Quebec and Ontario in 1946, Gelineau was known as as much as the Boston Bruins throughout his senior season, taking part in 4 video games in 1948-49. The following yr, Gelineau gained the NHL’s Calder Memorial Trophy because the league’s rookie of the yr, taking part in 67 video games for the Bruins. Gelineau’s numbers improved the next season, however it will be his final within the NHL as he realized he may earn more money within the insurance coverage enterprise, than as a beginning NHL goalie…at the same time as a star netminder.

6. Joel Ward, RW, College of Prince Edward Island

Following his OHL profession with the Owen Sound Platers, Joel Ward spent 4 seasons taking part in U Sports activities hockey with the College of Prince Edward Island, graduating in 2005 when he was named Atlantic Canada’s Most worthy participant. After one season within the AHL, Ward made his debut to an NHL profession that may span 11 seasons and 726 video games with 4 groups. His greatest NHL season was a 24-goal marketing campaign as a member of the Washington Capitals in 2013-14, the identical yr he compiled 9 factors in eight video games representing Canada on the World Championships.

7. Stu Grimson, LW, College of Manitoba

The ‘Grim Reaper’ will go down as one in every of hockey historical past’s most feared fighters and enforcers. He spent 729 video games terrorizing the NHL, preceded by a number of seasons on the College of Manitoba. Over his 14-season NHL profession, Grimson amassed 2,113 penalty minutes and one other 1,001 within the IHL.

8. Cory Cross, D, College of Alberta

The hulking blueliner spent 659 video games within the NHL, most with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. Throughout his profession, the College of Alberta alumni gained two World Championship gold medals representing Canada. With Alberta, he gained three Canada West titles, and a nationwide championship in 1992, the identical yr the Tampa Bay Lightning chosen him within the NHL’s supplemental draft.

9. Todd Elik, C, College of Regina

From the College of Regina by means of the minor leagues, Todd Elik carved out a 448-game NHL profession earlier than embarking on greater than a decade-long tour of European leagues, the place he gained MVP awards, together with representing Canada on the 2000 Spengler Cup. Elik’s greatest NHL season got here in 1993-94 when he scored 25 targets and 66 factors for the San Jose Sharks after which rattled off 10 factors in 14 playoff video games.

10. Jody Shelley, LW, Dalhousie College 

It was a unique period throughout Jody Shelley’s 627-game NHL profession. He earned his residing as an enforcer, after taking part in with Dalhousie College, together with because the NHL’s most penalized participant in 2002-03, compiling 249 PIMs with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was additionally the AHL’s most penalized participant in 2000-01 when he racked up an unbelievable 357 minutes. Shelley won’t ever be remembered for his 54 NHL factors, however he undoubtedly left an influence over his profession.

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