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Who is the best ice hockey player of all time?
Difficult question. For many who are interested in the fastest team sport in the world, the answer is probably Wayne Gretzky. After all, "The Great One" set completely new standards in ice hockey.
He triumphed four times with the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup and won the "Art Ross Trophy" ten times as the player with the most points in the regular season.
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There are also numerous All Star Games and other awards. He scored an incredible 894 goals and 2857 points scorer in his career. In addition, he was the only player to be given the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame at the end of his career. Usually this takes at least three years.
But with all the records and titles, there is still a legendary club to which "The Great One" has not found entry - the Triple Gold Club.
1994 - The unofficial founding year of the Triple Gold Club
This elite group only includes players who have won the three most important ice hockey titles at least once in their careers. All members of the Triple Gold Club are world champions, Olympic champions and Stanley Cup winners. The order does not matter.
The origins of the Triple Gold Club go back to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. After the Swedes won the Olympic Games, Tomas Jonsson, Mats Näslund and Hakan Loob were celebrated as the founders of this still unofficial club.
However, the name Triple Gold Club didn't matter at the time.
2002 - The club gets its name
This only changed in 2002. At the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Canada won the gold medal in the Olympic ice hockey tournament and four players (Rob Blake, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan and Scott Niedermayer) had now also won all three titles.
This made people aware of this performance in the motherland of ice hockey and the name Triple Gold Club became established.
But it took another six years before the unofficial club became a hall of fame recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
29 players and a coach are in the club
Currently 29 players and a trainer are members of the Triple Gold Club. Of the 29 players, seven are defenders and 22 are forwards. Curiously, no goalkeeper has made it into the club yet.
These are divided between just four nations (Canada, Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic), with Canada having the largest share with eleven players. Sweden has nine players and Russia seven. With Jaromir Jagr and Jin Slegr, two actors from the Czech Republic made it.
Since Germany has not yet won a World Cup or an Olympic tournament, DEB players are not represented.
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The only coach is the Canadian Mike Babcock. He was World Champion (2004) and two-time Olympic Champion (2010, 2014) with Team Canada. He also won the Stanley Cup (2008) with the Detroit Red Wings.
The most successful Triple Gold Club member is Vyacheslav Fetisov. The Russian defender celebrated a total of seven world titles, two Olympic gold medals and two Stanley Cup victories.
Sidney Crosby is the "club captain"
The Canadian Sidney Crosby provided a special curiosity. He was the only player to win all three titles as captain of his team.
"You also need luck," said Crosby after his success, "other guys on other teams fought for it too, and they didn't make it." Like Gretzky or the second best ice hockey player Mario Lemieux.
However, today's skid cracks have it a little easier than their predecessors. Until 20 years ago, world championships were not considered an important date on the US ice hockey calendar. The Stanley Cup was more important to the NHL. But since most of the top players dueled in the NHL, participation in the World Cup was often difficult to achieve.
They were either represented in the NHL playoffs, which are usually played at the same time as the World Cup, or they needed the time to regenerate after the exhausting season. It was not until the turn of the millennium that a rethink began.
Wayne Gretzky was only able to take part in a world championship once and in 1982 had to be content with third place behind the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. Even without this title he will always be "The Great One", but the door to the Triple Gold Club will remain closed to him forever.
The members of the Triple Gold Club at a glance:
Player: Tomas Jonsson (Sweden / 1994), Mats Näslund (Sweden / 1994), Hakan Loob (Sweden / 1994), Valeri Kamenski (Russia / 1996), Alexei Gusarov (Russia / 1996), Peter Forsberg (Sweden / 1996), Vyacheslav Fetisov (Russia / 1997), Igor Larionov (Russia / 1997), Alexander Mogilny (Russia / 2000), Vladimir Malachov (Russia / 2000), Rob Blake (Canada / 2002), Joe Sakic (Canada / 2002), Brendan Shanahan (Canada / 2002), Scott Niedermayer (Canada / 2004), Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic / 2005), Jiri Slegr (Czech Republic / 2005), Nicklas Lidström (Sweden / 2006), Frederik Modin (Sweden / 2006), Chris Pronger (Canada / 2007 ), Niklas Kronwall (Sweden / 2008), Henrik Zetterbeg (Sweden / 2008), Mikael Samuelsson (Sweden / 2008), Eric Staal (Canada / 2010), Jonathan Toews (Canada / 2010), Patrice Bergeron (Canada / 2011), Sidney Crosby (Canada / 2015), Corey Perry (Canada / 2016), Pavel Dazjuk (Russia / 2018), Jay Bouwmeester (Canada / 2019)
Trainer: Mike Babcock (Canada / 2010)
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