For a small province, Nova Scotia has churned out quite a few superstar NHLers over the years. In fact, two of the biggest names in hockey right now call it their home province. One of them even brought the Stanley Cup home for a visit three times and is widely considered one of the best players in the world. Not bad for an island that only has a population of under a million. He is just one of the players in this lineup that could give any NHL team a run for its money. Let’s take a look at the others as we unveil the starting lineup for an all-Nova Scotia team.
Left-Wing: Brad Marchand (Halifax, NS)
Brad “The Rat” Marchand is undoubtedly the best left-winger to come out of Nova Scotia. As of this writing, he has not only posted 315 goals and 703 points in 795 career NHL games but has hoisted the Stanley Cup and has been named a First-Team All-Star three times as well. He is also a four-time 30-goal scorer, a six-time 20-goal scorer, and has only dropped below 20 goals once in his career and that was during a lockout-shortened campaign.
Marchand has played his entire career with the Boston Bruins and is arguably one of their biggest draft steals of all time. Drafted all the way down in the third round in 2006, he is 115 goals and 304 points ahead of the next best Nova Scotian Mike McPhee and continues to be a thorn in the side of every opponent he faces. To go along with his offensive prowess, he also has 800 career penalty minutes which points to his ability to get under the skin of almost anyone in the NHL.
In addition to his many NHL accolades, Marchand has also represented his country at the World Junior Championship, World Championship, and World Cup of Hockey capturing gold three times.
Center: Sidney Crosby (Cole Harbour, NS)
This was a tough one, especially with all the great centers that have come out of Nova Scotia over the years. Except it’s hard to argue with what Sidney Crosby has done in the NHL so far in his career. Nathan MacKinnon may take the crown eventually, but it’s “Sid the Kid’s” for now and likely well into the future.
All Crosby has done since entering the NHL is put up six 100-point seasons and win the Stanley Cup three times. No big deal right? He also has a plethora of awards in his trophy case consisting of two Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Memorial Trophies, two Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies, two Conn Smythe Trophies, and finally, three Ted Lindsay Awards. He is also the youngest captain ever to win the Stanley Cup.
All in all, Crosby has accumulated 481 goals and 1,317 points in 1,030 career games and sits 35th in all-time NHL scoring ahead of legends Jean Beliveau and Bobby Clarke. Before the end of his career, he should be well into the top-20, which is amazing considering the superstars that currently sit there.
Crosby has represented Canada at various international competitions, most notably the 2010 Winter Olympics when he scored the Golden Goal in overtime against Team USA’s Ryan Miller. He also led his country to three other gold medals at the World Juniors and World Championships. He is by far, not only the best player to come out of Nova Scotia, but the country of Canada as a whole.
Right-Wing: Glen Murray (Halifax, NS)
On right-wing, we have another long-time Boston Bruin in Glen Murray. One of the best power forwards of the 2000s, he played over 1000 games in the NHL starting and ending with the Bruins in 1991 and 2008 respectively. Sandwiched in between were stops with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings where he posted two 20-goal seasons. Though, his career really took off when he returned to Bean Town to complete his NHL career.
After a trade with the Kings in 2001 that sent Jason Allison and Mikko Eloranta to Los Angeles, Murray exploded offensively with back-to-back 40-goal seasons, including a career-high 44 goals and 92 points in 2002-03. By the time he retired in 2008 at age 35, he had 337 goals and 651 points in 1,009 games making him the highest-scoring right-winger from the province of Nova Scotia.
Left-Defence: Flash Hollett (North Sydney, NS)
For our first defenceman in the starting lineup, we have to go back to 1933 and Flash Hollett. Similar to Murray on the forward side, his career didn’t take off until he was traded to the Bruins in 1936 for a bag of cash. Once in Boston, his potential was realized when he showcased his speed, puck handling ability, and gritty style to the Bruins faithful and helped lead them to two Stanley Cups. During parts of nine seasons with the team, he scored 84 goals and posted 199 points in 353 games, breaking the NHL’s goal record at the time for defencemen with 19 goals in 1941-42.
Hollett hit double digits in goals seven times in his career, including a career-high 20 goals with the Detroit Red Wings in 1944-45 at the ripe age of 33. He ended up retiring a season later at 34-years-old, thus completing a career that saw him record 132 goals and 313 points in 560 games.
Right-Defence: Al MacInnis (Inverness, NS)
Boasting one of the hardest slap shots in the history of the NHL without the benefit of a composite stick, Al MacInnis was a constant threat from the blue line during his eye-popping 23 years in the league. So, he obviously gets a spot on the top pairing of this team, a place he’s very familiar with after his successful stints with the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues.
MacInnis entered the NHL during the 1981-82 season at the young age of 18 but didn’t start his dominance of the league until his first full campaign in 1983-84. After logging 45 points in 51 games, he just continued to get better and better culminating in a career-high 28 goals and 103 points during the 1990-91 season.
The now Hall of Fame defenceman, Norris Trophy winner, and Stanley Cup champion finished his career with seven 20-goal seasons, in which he recorded more than 50 points 14 times. He was also feared on the power play, a place where he feasted to the tune of 166 power play goals. His mastery of the one-timer and slap shot from the point was legendary. By the end of his career, he had logged 340 goals and 1,274 points in 1,416 games, ranking him third all-time in goals and points amongst defencemen behind only Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque. He also sits 11th all-time in games played.
To put all that in perspective, only Crosby is ahead of MacInnis in points amongst Nova Scotia-born players, and he’s a forward with multiple 100-point seasons. It’s pretty amazing to see a defenceman hit 100 points, let alone over 70 points, something he did six times. He’s not only one of the best defencemen from Nova Scotia but the world as well.
Starting Goaltender: Joey MacDonald (Pictou, NS)
Nova Scotia may be a factory for all-star forwards and defencemen, but not for goaltenders. Of the seven that made it to the NHL, Joey MacDonald was the only one that finished with a career goals-against average (GAA) of under 3.50 and a save percentage (SV%) of over .900. Those statistics alone give him the starting job in this lineup.
MacDonald had his moments in the NHL, most notably during the 2008-09 season with the New York Islanders when he started a career-high 49 games. After that, he bounced around the NHL with stops in Toronto, Detroit and Calgary where he played the role of backup or third-string goaltender. He never really had a sniff at any starting job and finished his career with a 3.00 GAA and .902 SV% to go along with two shutouts.
Honourable Mention: Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax, NS)
If Crosby wasn’t born in Nova Scotia, MacKinnon would be sitting pretty in the starting lineup instead of hanging out as an honourable mention. The first overall pick in 2013 is every bit of a superstar as Crosby, just a few years younger. His speed and skill with the puck rival the best the NHL has to offer and his point totals are just starting to scratch the surface of what he could ultimately become in the league.
MacKinnon has yet to hit 100 points in the NHL but has three straight seasons with over 90 points, one of which he hit 99. In that span, he scored over 30 goals three times and was the runner-up for the Hart Memorial Trophy twice. Again, if another superstar in Connor McDavid wasn’t piling up the points, he would have two of those trophies instead of none.
There you have it, a very solid starting lineup along with an honourable mention that could easily step in as a replacement for Crosby, and the team wouldn’t miss a beat. If this five-man unit jumped over the boards in the NHL today, they would be hard to stop.
My name is Matthew and I cover the Vancouver Canucks, and Vancouver Giants here at the Hockey Writers. I am also the head of the prospects and NHL Draft coverage. In addition to writing, I host the Canucks & Pucks podcast as well. I am passionate about the Canucks, prospects, and all things hockey.