When you think of Canadian Major Junior hockey teams that have had a lot of success and molded some of the best players to play in the NHL, it’s hard to not think of the Kamloops Blazers. The Blazers’ were a powerhouse in the early ’90s, winning the WHL President’s Cup four times (renamed the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2007) and the CHL Memorial Cup three times (92, 94, 95). In recent years, the Blazers have not been as successful, but the history of the program is a key attraction to new players who hope to relive those championship years.
This was a hard list to make, everyone kind of knows who the top five Blazers of all time are, but picking an extra five is a bit harder than it seems. With the history of the Blazers, there were multiple routes I could have gone, but I decided it was best to focus on the last 30 years of the franchise.
10. Scottie Upshall
Scottie Upshall is a player that I think gets overlooked. Scottie played three years with the Blazers from 2000-2003 and was widely known for his gritty style of play, always finishing checks and being an agitator. He had offensive traits that helped him put up 80+ points in back-to-back years with the Blazers before being selected sixth overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators.
After appearing in 173 WHL games with the Blazers, Scottie would go on to play 15 years in the NHL with the Predators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and the St Louis Blues. He would represent Team Canada six times in international play, including most recently at the 2019-20 Spengler Cup Tournament in Switzerland. After winning the Spengler Cup with Team Canada, Upshall would announce his retirement from professional hockey on Feb 24th, 2020.
9. Tyson Nash
Tyson Nash was another hard-nosed winger who loved to throw his body around and get in the faces of the opposing team. Nash was a key member of the Blazers’ historical runs back in the early ’90s, winning three Memorial Cups (92, 94, 95). He would play 225 games with the Blazers over the course of five years, totalling 166 points and 345 penalty minutes. He was drafted in the 10th round by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft and made the jump to the AHL in the 1995-1996 season where he would suit up for the Syracuse Crunch.
Finally, after three years in the AHL, Nash would get his break, he signed with the Blues and made his NHL debut in 1998-99. Nash would spend five years with the Blues before being traded to the Coyotes, where he spent the last two years of his career. In just 374 NHL games, Nash would tally up 64 points and 673 penalty minutes. Nowadays, you can catch Tyson Nash as a colour commentator for the Arizona Coyotes.
8. Devan Dubnyk
Arguably one of the best goaltenders to ever put the pads on for the Blazers. Devan Dubnyk spent four years in Kamloops, where he averaged a 2.69 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. He still holds the record for most career shutouts as a Blazers goalie. Dubnyk was drafted 14th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft to the Edmonton Oilers after being named to the CHL Top Prospects Game.
He would represent Canada twice in international play, the highest achievement, of course, came when he played for the 2005-06 World Junior team and would win gold in Vancouver, B.C. Dubnyk has played 12 years in the NHL, playing with the Oilers, Coyotes, Minnesota Wild and now the San Jose Sharks. He has been named to the NHL All-Star Game three times (2016, 2017, 2019) and is now chasing a Stanley Cup in San Jose.
7. Nolan Baumgartner
Nolan Baumgartner was an excellent two-way defender in the WHL. He spent four years with the Blazers from 1992-96 and was a key member of the back-to-back Memorial Cup championships. Baumgartner was drafted in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, 10th overall by the Washington Capitals.
In 1995, Baumgartner was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star team for the second straight year, he was also awarded the WHL playoffs MVP trophy and the CHL’s best defenseman trophy. Baumgartner played for Team Canada in the 1995 and 1996 World Junior tournaments, winning gold both years and even wore the C in 1996. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury would hinder the start of his NHL career, as he spent many years between the Capitals and their AHL affiliate, Portland Pirates.
He bounced around for a lot of his career, but during the 2005-06 season, Baumgartner found himself on the Canucks. He would go on to have a breakout season, setting career high’s in all categories and even leading the Canucks defenseman with 34 points.
After his breakout year, Baumgartner would find himself on the Flyers and then back in the AHL before making his way back to Vancouver for a third time in 2008. He played just 142 games over the course of 10 seasons in the NHL, he was most notable for his time with the Canucks AHL affiliate, Manitoba Moose. You can catch Baumgartner today behind the bench of the Canucks as an assistant coach.
6. Darcy Tucker
When you think of all-around players, it’s hard to not think of Darcy Tucker. He could score goals, create plays and would get into the face of just about anyone, as he didn’t back down. Tucker is one of only four players in the history of Major Junior hockey in Canada to win three Memorial Cup championships. He was named captain of the Blazers’ in the 1994-95 season and would put home 137 points in just 64 games and earned himself a spot on Team Canada’s world junior team, capturing gold.
Tucker was drafted in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft in the sixth round 151st overall by the Montreal Canadiens. He would play two full seasons with the Canadiens, then he was dealt with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1998. After three seasons in Tampa, Tucker was traded again to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2000, and he would go on to play eight seasons with the Leafs, where he was known as a tough guy.
Tucker would finish his career in 2010 with the Colorado Avalanche. He played in 947 NHL games over the course of 14 seasons and amassed 476 points and 1410 penalty minutes. Nowadays, Tucker is an active certified NHLPA agent.
5. Hnat Domenichelli
The NHL was a bit different back in the ’90s compared to the hockey we watch today. That is one of the few reasons why Hnat Domenichelli was never able to prove himself in the NHL. Hnat was a great two-way center that had great puck handling abilities and knew how to finish, but he wasn’t a big guy. He would play four seasons with the Blazers, recording 349 points in 248 games and winning two Memorial Cup championships. Drafted in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the Hartford Whalers, he would go on to play just 13 games before being traded in the 1996-97 season to the Calgary Flames.
From 1997-2003, Hnat bounced around between the Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and Wild before making the move to Switzerland to play for HC Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss National League. Hnat would go on to dominate the National League, as he would put up 448 points playing in 442 games over 11 years. He even found himself on the Swiss National Team for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. After retiring from pro hockey in 2014, Hnat has been involved in coaching and management where he currently is the General Manager of HC Lugano in the National League.
4. Darryl Sydor
Widely known as an offensive defenseman during his junior hockey days, Darry Sydor was a weapon on the ice. Sydor joined the Blazers in the 1988-89 season and would put up 26 points in 65 games as a rookie. The following season, he would put home an impressive 95 points in 67 games, earning himself a spot on the WHL (west) All-Star Team and even capturing the WHL President’s Cup. After an impressive year with the Blazers, Sydor was drafted seventh overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings. Sydor would go on and put up 105 points the next season, breaking a record for most assists by a WHL defenseman (78) and being named the league’s best defenseman.
He had a brief 18 game stint with the Kings in the 1991-92 season before being sent back to Kamloops, where he would help the Blazers win a Memorial Cup. Over the course of an impressive 18 year NHL career, Sydor would play in 1291 regular-season games, putting up 507 points. He captured the Stanley Cup twice with the Dallas Stars (99, 04) and would represent Canada at the World Championships three times, winning gold in 1993-94. Sydor is now a co-owner and associate coach of the Blazers, where his son Dylan Sydor currently plays.
3. Shane Doan
A key member of the back-to-back Memorial Cup championship victories, Doan was a big physical right-winger who threw his body around but showed distinct offensive traits. During the 1994-95 WHL season, Doan tallied up 94 points in 71 games and helped the Blazers go on to win their second straight Memorial Cup, where he was named tournament MVP. In the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, Doan was selected 7th overall by the Winnipeg Jets and made his NHL debut in the 1995-96 NHL season. That following year, the Jets would move to Phoenix to be renamed as the Phoenix Coyotes.
Doan was named captain of the Coyotes in 2003 and served as the captain until his retirement in 2017. Throughout his career, he achieved a great amount, winning two WHL titles, two Memorial Cups, two World Championship gold medals and a World Cup gold medal. Unfortunately, Doan is one of many greats who never won a Stanley Cup.
Doan played in 1540 NHL games over 21 years, putting home 972 total points and 1353 penalty minutes over the course of his career. He is the current Coyotes franchise record holder for goals (402), and in 2019, they retired Shane Doan’s #19 jersey. Doan is another co-owner of the Blazers, and he is still active with the Coyotes, where he is currently the Chief Hockey Development Officer.
2. Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla is one the best forwards to ever play for the Blazers, period. Iginla once said “when you put on a Blazers jersey, it’s like putting on the Canadiens [jersey]. You’ve got to perform.” That says enough about the franchise in itself. Iginla played in 183 games with the Blazers and would put up 236 total points. After winning back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1994 and 1995, Iginla was drafted in the first round, 11th overall by the Stars in the 1995 NHL entry draft. Following his draft year, Iginla would come back to Kamloops and would put home 136 points in 63 games. That season, he was named as a CHL and WHL first-team All-Star, he was also awarded the WHL Player of the Year trophy.
Iginla or Iggy as many fans referred him to, would go on to play for the Flames, where he became a legend for the organization. In the 2001-02 NHL season, Iginla would put up career highs, where he would score 52 goals and 98 points, winning the Maurice Richard and Art Ross trophies. Iginla would captain the Flames for almost 10 seasons, his #12 is jersey retired and hangs in the rafters. He had small ventures in Pittsburgh, Boston, Colorado and L.A. before announcing his retirement in 2018.
In an impressive 1554 NHL regular-season games played, Iggy would put up 1300 total points, he is one of only 20 players in NHL history to record 600 plus goals. Iginla won gold with Team Canada at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. where he assisted on Sidney Crosby’s overtime thriller. After hockey Iginla still seems to be involved in the business, he is a co-owner of the Blazers and is currently a head coach for the Rink Hockey Academy Kelowna U15 team.
1. Scott Niedermayer
The number one spot is a no-brainer to me, when you think of hockey players who have had legendary careers, it is hard not to think about Scott Niedermayer. Niedermayer was an insanely talented offensive defenseman, who was known for his effortless skating ability. He spent three seasons with the Blazers and tallied up 190 points in 156 games. He won the Memorial Cup in 1992 on that stacked Blazers roster and was named the tournament MVP. He was drafted in the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft to the New Jersey Devils where he would go on to wear his famous #27 with both the Devils and Anaheim Ducks. Niedermayer’s #27 is retired in both New Jersey and Anaheim, and his #28 jersey was retired by the Kamloops Blazers in 2013.
New retired number banners!— Kamloops Blazers (@blazerhockey) February 23, 2020
20, 26, 44, 4, 8, 28 🚫 pic.twitter.com/5dKNmqM40J
Niedermayer is considered to be one of the most decorated hockey players in the world, with a very impressive resume. He is one of only 29 players to be recognized in the Triple Gold Club, winning the Olympic Gold Medal (2002, 2010) the World Championship (2004) and four Stanley Cups between New Jersey and Anaheim. He won the Conn Smythe trophy in 2007 after winning the Stanley Cup with the Ducks along with his brother Rob.
In 2013 Scott was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and then in 2015, he was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame. Niedermayer was named one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players in 2017, and some would say he is the best defenseman to ever play. He finished his NHL career in 2010 as captain of the Ducks, as played in 1263 games over 18 seasons and would gather 740 points. Niedermayer co-owned the WHL’s Kootenay Ice from 1999 up until he sold his stake in 2016. He now resides in Cranbrook B.C. where he is a majority owner in the Cranbrook Bucks, BCHL team.
All in all, the Blazers have a wonderful and distinguished history that attracts so many. The team has been making strides recently, where they even finished first in the B.C. Division last season before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown. With players like Connor Zary, who was just selected in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, 24th overall by the Flames. As well as promising young kids like Logan Stankoven, Connor Levis, Mats Lindgren, Kaden Hammell and Dylan Sydor, it will be fun to watch the team grow and compete.
Born and raised in Kamloops B.C. and a die hard fan of the Kamloops Blazers, hockey has always been apart of my life. Now, I am looking to get into the sports media world and make it a career. I will be covering the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. Follow along on Twitter @itscrdavies for more hockey content!