The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not so distantly — related. Along the way we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
Marie-Philip Poulin, hockey player (born 28 March 1991 in Québec City, Québec). Poulin is a two-time Olympic champion who holds the unique distinction of scoring the gold medal-winning goals for Canada at both the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The forward has also won a world championship and two Clarkson Cup titles in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League championships. The recipient of numerous honours and awards, Poulin is considered one of the world’s top players and has been compared to fellow Canadian Sidney Crosby.
Hull won the Art Ross Trophy 3 times, the Hart Trophy twice and the Lady Byng Trophy once, scoring 610 goals and 1170 points in 15 NHL seasons. In 1972 he accepted $1 million to jump from the NHL to the Winnipeg Jets, giving immediate credibility to the fledgling World Hockey Association.
Sidney Crosby (Sid the Kid), ONS, hockey player (born 7 August 1987 in Cole Harbour, NS). Crosby is a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League and a two-time Olympic gold medallist with Canada’s men’s hockey team. He has won the Art Ross Trophy (2007, 2014), the Hart Trophy (2007, 2014), the Ted Lindsay Award (2007, 2013, 2014), the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (2010, 2017), and the Conn Smythe Trophy (2016, 2017). Crosby has also received the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete of the year (2007, 2009) and the Lionel Conacher Award as Canada’s male athlete of the year (2007, 2009, 2010).2
Lanny King McDonald, hockey player (right wing), hockey executive, humanitarian (born 16 February 1953 in Hanna, Alberta). Known for his talent, dedication and generosity — and his moustache — Lanny McDonald has thrilled hockey fans in Toronto, Calgary and across Canada since he first started playing in the National Hockey League. He began his NHL career in the 1970s with the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing alongside such stars as captain Darryl Sittler. However, McDonald is probably best remembered as captain of the Calgary Flames, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 1989. He is also known for his charitable activity, particularly his lengthy involvement with the Special Olympics. He has received many honours, including the NHL’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy (1988) in recognition of his leadership and his humanitarian contributions. He is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (1992), the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (1993) and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (2017).
Joseph Albert (Pierre) Paul Pilote, hockey player (born 11 December 1931 in Kénogami, QC; died 9 September 2017 in Barrie, ON). Pilote was a National Hockey League (NHL) defenceman and was regarded as one of the best blueliners from the Original Six era. He played a hard-hitting style but was also respected for his offensive prowess. Pilote won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961 and was awarded the James Norris Memorial Trophy three times. During his NHL career he scored 80 goals and tallied 418 assists and 1,251 penalty minutes during the regular season; in 86 career playoff games, he scored eight goals and 53 assists.
Sometimes the past is interesting, not because of its long-term historical significance or because it might teach us some questionable lesson about the present, but simply because it contains wondrous reminders of the serendipity of fate. I am fascinated by a goal that Bill Barilko scored on 21 April 1951, not because it was a precursor to Paul Henderson's life-saving marker in 1972, or to Sidney Crosby's goal of redemption at the 2010 Olympics, but because I was there.
Carey Price, hockey player (born 16 August 1987 in Vancouver, BC). Goaltender Carey Price has played his entire National Hockey League (NHL) career with the Montreal Canadiens. During the 2014–15 NHL season, Price won the Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Vezina Trophy and William M. Jennings Trophy and was the first player to win all four awards in the same season. In international competition, Price has also won gold medals with Canada at the 2007 IIHF Ice Hockey Junior World Championship in Sweden, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
Arthur Howey Ross, hockey player, inventor/innovator and NHL team executive (born 13 January 1885 in Naughton [Sudbury], ON; died 5 August 1964 in Medford, Massachusetts). Ross was considered a top defenseman during a playing career that included several years as a professional (with a brief stint in the fledgling National Hockey League). Following his retirement as a player in 1918, Ross worked as an NHL referee and coached the NHL’s Hamilton Tigers in 1922–23. The Boston Bruins hired him when they entered the league in 1924, and Ross served as coach, general manager and vice president (often holding all three titles at once) until 1954. Ross also invented improved versions of the hockey puck and goalie nets that were used for decades in the NHL, and introduced many of the rules that modernized the game.
Hayley Wickenheiser, hockey player, softball player (born 12 August 1978 in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan). A four-time Olympic gold medallist, Wickenheiser is the all-time leader in goals (18), assists (33), and points (51) for women’s ice hockey at the Olympic Winter Games and all-time leader in assists (49) and points (86) at the Women’s World Hockey Championship. She was also the first woman to score a goal in a men’s professional league. Wickenheiser retired from competitive hockey on 13 January 2017, finishing with 379 points (168 goals and 211 assists) in 276 games with Team Canada.
Thomas Laird Paton, athlete, businessman, volunteer (born 30 September 1855 in Montréal, QC; died 10 February 1909 in Montréal). Paton was an accomplished amateur athlete who excelled in lacrosse and hockey. A goaltender with the Montreal Hockey Club, he helped his team to six straight league championships (1888–93). In his final season, the club was awarded the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup — what would later become known as the Stanley Cup.
Stephen "Steve" Gregory Yzerman, hockey player, general manager (born 9 May 1965 in Cranbrook, BC). National Hockey League (NHL) superstar Steve Yzerman, a career Detroit Red Wing known for his exceptional sportsmanship and leadership abilities, is the longest-serving captain in the league's history. Yzerman was captain of the Detroit Red Wings from 1986 to 2006, and led the team to three Stanley Cup victories. In 2002, he won an Olympic gold medal as part of the men’s hockey team. He was also executive director of the men’s hockey teams that won Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014. Yzerman became vice president of the Detroit Red Wings following his retirement as a player, and in 2010 became general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Mark Douglas Messier, "Moose," hockey player (born 18 January 1961 in Edmonton, AB). A talented forward who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 25 seasons, Messier ranks near the top of many regular-season records: third in points (1887), eighth in goals (694), third in assists (1193) and second in number of games played (1756). Known for his leadership, he captained the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. Messier also won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player with the Oilers in 1990 and with the Rangers in 1992. Messier won six Stanley Cups and received the Conn Smythe Trophy (for most valuable player in the playoffs) in 1984; he is second all-time in playoff goals (109), playoff assists (186) and playoff points (295).
Cassie Dawn Campbell-Pascall (née Campbell), CM, hockey player (born 22 November 1973 in Richmond Hill, ON). Three-time Olympian Cassie Campbell-Pascall won gold medals in women’s hockey at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin. She is the only hockey player (man or woman) to captain Canada to two Olympic gold medals. She also won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. Campbell-Pascall won gold with Canada at six Women’s World Hockey Championships (1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004) and silver at the 2005 championships. In 157 games for Team Canada, Campbell had 32 goals and 68 assists for 100 points.