A popular one amongst the hockey fans on staff was: Who would win in a best-of-seven series between an all-time all-star lineup of players from Quebec and the Rest of Canada?
I mean, let’s not kid ourselves. If you pit an all-time Canadian team against an all-time from any other country team it’s a pretty straight forward answer: the guys with the maple leaf on their chest. Seriously, only an all-Soviet/Russian team would avoid the sweep.
But pitting Canadians against Canadiens? That is a tough call. At first glace, you've got to give the advantage to Quebec's goaltenders. Jacques Plante. Patrick Roy. Martin Brodeur. Roberto Luongo. La Belle Provence has a sterling history of producing world-class goalies.
Naturally, defence appears to favour the Rest of Canada. Naming off the National Hockey League's best defencemen of all time reads a lot like the bench of Team ROC.
Up front is where things get tricky. Gretzky against Lemieux. The Rocket versus Stevie Y. It's a dead heat.
The rules are simple:
- Each team gets four lines of forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.
- Any player from the National Hockey League’s history is eligible.
- These theoretical rosters are composed of the players in their primes. Bobby Orr's knees are in perfect shape and Michel Goulet hasn't been concussed.
- It’s Rest-of-Canada versus Quebec, not French Canada versus English Canada. For example, Dion Phaneuf, a Francophone, could theoretically play for Rest-of-Canada, as he’s from Edmonton. Similarly, Doug Harvey is from Montreal so he’d play for Quebec, even if he is maudit anglais.Of course, English against French can be a fun exercize as well, but we’re trying to keep things politically sensitive on this blog.
- No, Brett Hull doesn’t count.
I want to know who you think would win, and why. If you’re feeling ambitious, post your rosters as well.
Here are my picks for the rosters, as well as the winner
C - Wayne Gretzky
Winner: Team Rest-of-Canada in seven games.
With goalies and forward pretty even, the largest disparity is clearly at the blue line. Yes, Bourque and Harvey are two of the best defenders of all time, but they aren’t the best.
Bobby Orr is the best offensive-defenceman of all time and Larry Robinson is the best defensive-defenceman ever. That one-two punch, coupled with the depth of their rearguard corps gives ROC a real advantage.
Rest-of-Canada’s defence is also much bigger than the average forward for Équipe Québec. Although the Richards might be able to slip by the likes of Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy a few times, they’d be exhausted when it comes time to lace ‘em up for Game 7.
Also, ROC's defence would be able to jump up into the attack. Obviously, Orr was capable of scoring just as many points as any forward for Quebec, and Coffey would be able to keep La Belle Provence's defence honest too.
One of the big surprises is that ROC is actually pretty good between the pipes. Yes, the case can be made that one of Roy, Brodeur or Plante are the greatest goaltender of all time - but the same can be said of Sawchuk. Further, Dryden and Hall aren't exactly slouches. Sawchuk, coupled with the reliable defence in front of him, would be more than enough to stop the best that Quebec has to offer.
Up front would still be a dead heat. The Rest-of-Canada couldn't possibly match the flair and play-making ability of Quebec, but with talented and tough forwards like Howe, Gilmour and Recchi bearing down on them on the forecheck, the blue-and-white would feel rushed and pressured on most of their shifts.
As I mentioned about three weeks ago, I’ve been doing some freelance work for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The Hall is moving from its current home at the Canadian National Exhibition fairgrounds in Toronto to a new building at Calgary’s Olympic Park. The move itself is a long and protracted story - detailed in the final four paragraphs of this history – but it’s suffice to say that a permanent building is long overdue.
My job is to research and write the content of displays that will be installed in the galleries of the new Hall of Fame. Specifically, I am working on entries for timelines that will be incorporated into the entrance of each gallery. These chronologies will highlight the greatest moments in the history of Canadian sport.
Conacher’s storied career had many incredible moments but I chose to focus on June 1922. In a single day he drove in the winning runs to lead the Toronto Hillcrests to the city’s baseball championship and then he took a cab to Scarborough where he led his lacrosse team to the Ontario senior championship.
With James I focused on the period of March 19-25, 1990 when she scored 11 goals and two assists in just five games as Team Canada swept through the first-ever Women’s World Championship of Hockey.
Of course, Plante’s tale revolved around the night of November 22nd 1959 when the Montreal Canadiens were playing the New York Rangers and the all-star goaltender’s nose was broken by a shot. After that he began wearing a mask, the first National Hockey League goalie to regularly wear one.
I even added a little bit about Andy Bathgate – the man whose shot broke Plante’s nose – and that the Rangers forward had intended to hit the goalie in the face with the puck.
Now I’ve got to do another 50 moments and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’m still in the planning process of picking which athletes I want to do for this phase of the project but I am thrilled that I’ve been chosen to work with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The intersection of sports and Canadian history is like a perfect Venn diagram of my interests and I am honoured to be playing a role – no matter how small it may be - in the creation of a new monument to the great athletes of this nation
This is going to be a crazy week here at JCH.com headquarters. In addition to my usual self-imposed blogging duties I’m working on an exciting freelance project for the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Specifically, I’m doing brief profiles of honoured members Lionel Conacher, Angela James and Jacques Plante. My writing will be part of the displays at the new Hall of Fame that’s being built in Calgary’s Olympic Park.
In any event, I’ll try to keep the content coming in this space, but there is a good chance that I’ll miss a day or two this week.