For a province with a population that has never reached the million mark, Nova Scotia has done fairly well at sending players to the National Hockey League.
Nothing great, but okay.
Some of our communities have been able to have two or more players in the league simultaneously.
Those of us old enough to have been passionate about the sport for 60 and more years can remember when the Cape Breton city had two very fine NHLers in the 1950s. I speak of defenceman Al MacNeil and left winger Parker MacDonald.
MacNeil had 11 seasons in the big time with five clubs, then coached the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup championship, the first Maritimer to do so. MacDonald was also with five clubs during a 18-year career, and coached the Minnesota North Stars and Los Angeles Kings.
Pictou County fans, of course, know all about multi-player success.
That’s because three teammates from the Weeks Major Midgets — left winger Jon Sim, and defencemen Colin White and Derrick Walser – made it into the NHL in the late 1990s. For a short time, all three were there at the same time.
We remember it well.
Unless my memories are slipping, that was the first time three players from one Nova Scotia region were in the NHL together.
An impressive feat.
It was accompanied by a good share of highs, including three Stanley Cup wins — one by Sim with the Dallas Stars, two by White with the New Jersey Devils.
Sim played with eight NHL franchises over a 12-year period while White spent 11 of 12 NHL campaigns with the Devils. Walser was limited to 91 NHL games, all with the Columbus Blue Jackets over four seasons, but he made up for his brief stay with some noteworthy achievements in European hockey, including playing on two German champions.
I’ve used the Sim-White-Walser record as a trivia question: What was the only Nova Scotia region with three hometowners in the NHL at the same time? I’ve fooled a few people with that one but, mostly, fellow Nova Scotia fans come up with the correct names.
Records and milestones are made to be broken — in whatever matter we’re addressing.
So move over, Jon, Colin and Derrick, but stay proud of what you did.
You see, what’s been happening with three Halifax-Dartmouth hockey products is amazing. No question.
If hockey’s in your brain, you know I’m referring to Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon of Cole Harbour, and Brad Marchand of Hammonds Plains.
What a tale they’re writing!
Crosby has been in the upper echelon of superstars ever since he reached the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, he’s been heralded since he was a small youngster in Cole Harbour in the 1990s. I can swear to that. World-wide he’s been the very best player on the planet.
The Crosby feats are common knowledge. Leaving Nova Scotia as a 15-year-old, he wound up in junior in Rimouski. He was number one pick in the 2005 NHL draft. He was the first teenager to win a scoring championship in any North America major sports league. He was the youngest captain to win the Stanley Cup and has now been with three champions so far. He won gold at the world juniors, gold at the Olympics, gold at the world championships, and has been presented with numerous individual awards.
MacKinnon, eight years younger than his now-best pal Sid, followed him through the Cole Harbour association. Like Crosby, he attended and played hockey at the same boarding school in Minnesota. Unlike Crosby, his junior days climaxed with some hometown exposure with the Halifax Mooseheads, leading them to their first Memorial Cup title. He was the first overall selection in the 2013 NHL draft. Like Crosby, he went straight to the NHL, collecting points at a fast pace.
Marchand, just nine months younger than Crosby, developed with less fanfare than Sid and Nate. We got to see him play midget with the Dartmouth Subways, then he returned to Halifax and played 26 games with the Mooseheads. He was chosen 71st in the 2006 NHL draft by the Boston Bruins. He won a bronze medal at the world under-17 championships, helped grab a Quebec junior league title, and won gold medals at two world junior championships, one World Cup of Hockey, and was a Stanley Cup winner with Boston.
I’ve followed Crosby’s trail ever since I watched him as a five- and six-year-old speeding around the ice at Cole Harbour Place. I saw MacKinnon during and after his time with the Mooseheads. For some reason, though, I wasn’t a Marchand fan at first. I guess it was his role as an agitator that turned me off. But, wow, he’s captured my admiration in the last three years since becoming a valuable leader in Beantown. I admit he’s fun to watch.
It brings me to 2017-18.
Isn’t it amazing how well all three have been performing for their respective NHL clubs?
Isn’t it amazing how all three are the leaders of their teams, not just in scoring, but in all aspects of the game?
Isn’t it amazing how Crosby continues to be – okay – Crosby; how MacKinnon has become the Colorado star everyone’s talking about; how Marchand, despite the occasional suspension, is the big guy for the Bruins?
Isn’t it amazing how the three have been collecting their scoring points?
Check the numbers.
Entering the all-star break, MacKinnon had a 24-36-60 scoring line, second best in the league. Crosby was right behind at 17-38-55, also among the top 10 point-getters. And Marchand wasn’t far off at 21-29-50.
It’s not out of the realms of possibility that all three could finish with 30-goal seasons. As well, barring injuries, they could accumulate a 100-goal total for the year.
No three players from a single Nova Scotia community have ever done that.
Indeed, they’re amazing.