British Columbia has developed some of the best talent the NHL has seen. Although the amount of players is not the same as in other provinces such as Ontario, there has been a lot of top-end players who were born in B.C. Most of the top players from the province have represented Canada at the Winter Olympics, and a few have had the privilege of hoisting the Stanley Cup. In this article, we will explore the starting lineup for an all B.C. team.
Left Wing: Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya is by far the best left winger to come out of B.C. Through 989 games, the Vancouver native scored 402 goals and posted 989 points in his NHL career. He was drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 1993 NHL Draft by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He spent nine seasons with Anaheim, helping them reach the 2003 Stanley Cup Final (SCF), which featured a career highlight.
The Mighty Ducks trailed the New Jersey Devils 3-2 series in the SCF, and in Game 6, Devils’ captain Scott Stevens caught Kariya with a hit and knocked the forward out. Kariya would return to the game and score one of the most memorable goals of his career, which helped his team force a Game 7. Sadly, he doesn’t remember the moment himself as he was suffered a concussion due to the hit. Their Game 7 loss to the Devils was his last game with Anaheim, as he spent the final six seasons of his career with the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, and St. Louis Blues. He retired after suffering his sixth concussion in 2009-10.
Kariya is 180 points ahead of the next left winger from B.C. in Geoff Courtnall. Concussions slew down one of the best forwards to come out of B.C., and he would’ve finished well above 1000 points had he never gone through them. Kariya also helped Canada win Silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer and Gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Furthermore, his impressive career was acknowledged by the hockey world as he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHoF) in 2017. Kariya also had his No. 9 retired by the Ducks in 2018. He was also inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Centre: Joe Sakic
Joe Sakic grew up in Burnaby, B.C., and earned the nickname “Burnaby Joe.” Drafted by the Quebec Nordique in the 1987 NHL draft, he was named the team’s captain in the 1992-93 season at 23 years old. Sakic led the franchise to its first Stanley Cup in their first season in Colorado in the 1995-96 season, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, thanks to his 18 goals and 34 points in 22 games. He also posted a career-high 120 points in 82 games during the regular season.
Sakic won his second Stanley Cup with the team in the 2000-01 season, scoring 13 goals and 26 points in 21 games. The 2000-01 season may have been Burnaby Joe’s best as he scored a career-high in goals with 54 and his second-highest total in points with 118. His impressive regular season performance led to the forward collecting the Hart Memorial Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, and Lady Byng Trophy. He also made three trips to the Winter Olympics in 1998, 2002, and 2006, as the forward won gold with Canada in 2002 and captained the team in 2006.
Sakic spent 20 years in the NHL, all with the Nordique/Avalanche franchise. He totaled 625 goals and 1641 points in 1378 games. The Avalanche retired his No. 19 in 2009, and he was inducted into the 2012 HHoF class. Similar to Kariya, he was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Right Wing: Mark Recchi
Born and raised in Kamloops, Mark Recchi slots in as the best right-wing out of B.C. Recchi played in Western Hockey League with the New Westminister Bruins and the Kamloops Blazers. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the 67th overall pick in the 1988 NHL Draft, one of the seven teams he played for throughout his 22 year NHL career.
After the draft, he spent three seasons with the Penguins, winning the first of three Stanley Cups. He then spent the next 13 seasons of his career joining the Philadelphia Flyers, then the Montreal Canadians, and re-joining the Flyers once more. He re-signed with the Penguins in the 2004 offseason but was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes mid-way through the 2005-06 season, where he won his second Cup.
Recchi joined the Penguins once more in the 2006 offseason but was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2007-08 season and signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the offseason. He was once again traded mid-way through the 2008-09 season, this time to the Boston Bruins. He won his third Cup in his final NHL season in 2010-11.
Recchi finished his career with 1533 points in 1652 games. He was inducted into the HHoF and the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Left Defenseman: Morgan Rielly
The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Morgan Rielly with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. Since being drafted, the Vancouver native has worked his way to being the club’s top defenseman. Through eight seasons with the team, he has posted 57 goals and 294 points in 549 games.
Only 27 years old, Rielly has a lot more to show in his career. In 2018-19, he was fifth in Norris Trophy voting, as he posted career highs in goals (20) and points (72) in 82 games. He won a Gold medal with Canada at the 2016 World Championships and should be a lock to make the team at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Right Defenseman: Shea Weber
Shea Weber has the most points by a defenceman out of B.C. with 584 in 1021 games. The Sicamous, B.C. native was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the second round of the 2003 NHL Draft with the 49th overall pick and has enjoyed a 16-year career so far.
Throughout his 16 years in the NHL, he has been one of the top defenders in the league while playing with the Predators and the Canadiens. Though he is yet to win a Norris Trophy, he has been top-10 in voting nine times in his career. Weber has also won two Olympic Gold medals with Canada, first in 2010 and his second in 2014. In 2014, he was tied with Drew Doughty for the team lead in points with six (three goals, three assists) in six games.
Goalie: Carey Price
The Canadiens selected their franchise goaltender with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. Carey Price has played 14 seasons with the team, and since entering the league, he has been one of the best goalies in the league.
Price proved he was one of the league’s best at the 2014 Winter Olympics as he led Canada to Gold. He posted a .972 save percentage (SV%) and allowed a total of three goals in five games. The goalie was especially impressive in the final two games of the tournament as he had a 31 save shutout over Team USA in the Semi-Finals and then posted a 24 save shutout over Sweden in the Final Round.
He followed up his impressive Olympic run in the 2014-15 season as he collected multiple awards. At 27 years old, he won the Hart Memorial Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and the Vezina Trophy.
Throughout his 14 years in the NHL, he’s played 702 games and has a record of 358-255-79. Price also holds a .917 SV% and 2.50 GAA throughout his career.
The decision at centre was a tough one between Sakic and Steve Yzerman. Both forwards had impressive careers, which included multiple Stanley Cups. The former Avalanche got the nudge over the former Detroit Red Wing as he grew up in B.C., while Yzerman grew up in Ontario. Burnaby Joe also collected impressive hardware such as the Hart Memorial Trophy, which Yzerman didn’t win.
Other players who didn’t make the list but grew up in the province include Scott Niedermeyer and Duncan Keith. Both players are known to be among the best defenceman to play in the league, but neither was born in B.C.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.