International Ice Hockey Federation

Finding links to the Leafs

Finding links to the Leafs

Ten Toronto names who earned WJC glory

Published 30.12.2014 10:27 GMT-5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Finding links to the Leafs
Wendel Clark won World Junior gold in 1985 before becoming an NHL player with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Photo: Chris Relke / HHOF
William Nylander has four points in three games so far. It's not the first time someone linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs has rocked the World Juniors.

Nylander, the son of ex-NHLer Michael Nylander, was taken eighth overall by Toronto in the 2014 NHL Draft. Leafs fans hope the 18-year-old Swede's experiences at the Air Canada Centre will kickstart a long and fruitful career in that building.

But that's still in the future for the budding MODO Ornskoldsvik star. Let’s take a look back at 10 other names who earned World Junior gold medals, records, or individual honours, and also found a place – whether long-term or short-term – with the Buds.

Wendel Clark (CAN), 1985, Finland

One of the most popular forwards in Leafs history made an impact in more than one way when Canada, coached by Terry Simpson of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, marched to its second World Junior gold medal of all time in Helsinki. Clark knocked Mikhail Tatarinov out of the tournament with a big hit that left the star Soviet defenceman with a separated shoulder.

The 18-year-old from Kelvington, Saskatchewan, who played defence in junior but moved up to the wing here, also scored the 2-2 tying goal against Czechoslovakia that clinched the gold.

Shayne Corson (CAN), 1986, Canada

While Corson was mainly identified with the Montreal Canadiens, who drafted him eighth overall in 1984, the gritty left wing suited up for Toronto from 2000-01 to 2002-03. He also shone for Canada at the only World Juniors previously hosted in part by Toronto, leading the tournament with seven goals and 14 points.

Playing on home ice as a product of the now-defunct Hamilton Steelhawks of the OHL, he scored the lone Canadian goal in a 4-1 loss to the Soviets that gave Canada’s archrival the ‘86 gold medal.

Alexander Mogilny (URS), 1989, U.S.A.

Arguably the most world’s most talented U20 player of the late 1980s, Mogilny didn’t make the tournament all-star team in 1989, as the Russian star did the year before on home ice in Moscow in a silver-medal performance. But Anchorage, Alaska was more rewarding from a team perspective. Playing on the top line with Pavel Bure and Sergei Fyodorov, this Khabarovsk native scored a spectacular natural hat trick in the second period of a crucial 7-2 triumph over Canada. The Soviet Union won U20 gold for the first time since 1986.

Mogilny’s best individual NHL season was 1992-93 with the Buffalo Sabres (76-51-127), and he won the Stanley Cup in 2000 with the New Jersey Devils. But it was with the Leafs that this IIHF Triple Gold Club member claimed the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2002-03 as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player.

Robert Reichel (CZE), 1990, Finland

This three-time World Junior participant had his best run in 1990 when he helped Czechoslovakia earn its second straight bronze medal, potting a whopping 11 goals and 21 points. The Litvinov product still ranks second in all-time World Junior scoring with 40 points, trailing only Sweden’s Peter Forsberg (42).

Reichel, who completed his NHL career with three seasons in a Leafs uniform, will be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2015, thanks largely to his key role in the 1998 Olympic victory and three World Championship gold medals (1996, 2000, 2001).

Kenny Jonsson (SWE), 1994, Czech Republic

Swedish coach Tommy Tomth led three consecutive highly talented teams that settled for silver, and Jonsson captained the third one in ‘94. He notched eight points in seven games and was clearly the best defenceman at these World Juniors.

Chosen twelfth overall by Toronto in 1993, the Rogle product played 89 regular season games for the Leafs before being sent to the New York Islanders in 1996 in a deal that put Wendel Clark back in blue and white. His finest moment would come after leaving the NHL permanently during the 2004-05 lockout, however. In 2006, Jonsson was part of the Tre Kronor teams that won “double gold” at the Olympics in Turin (where he was named Best Defenceman) and the Worlds in Riga.

Bryan McCabe (CAN), 1995, Canada

Like Kenny Jonsson, McCabe was named Best Defenceman and an all-star at the World Juniors – in 1995, when Canada won seven straight games to capture gold during the first NHL lockout. It was his second straight gold medal. He later won another gold at the ‘97 Worlds in Finland.

A Leaf from 2000 to 2008, McCabe enjoyed his finest NHL years in Toronto. While his high salary and propensity for errors sometimes drew boos toward the end of his tenure, it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was named to the ‘06 Canadian Olympic team in a season when he earned a career-high 68 points.

Carlo Colaiacovo (CAN), 2003, Canada

This Toronto native was an offensive force from the back in his second consecutive silver medal run under coach Stan Butler. Before ecstatic crowds in Halifax, Colaiacovo racked up a team-best 10 points. That included a four-assist outing in an 8-2 romp over Sweden, which set a new Team Canada record for blueliners.

Injury-prone, he struggled to establish himself as a regular with the Leafs from 2002-03 to 2008-09. He hit his stride with St. Louis when he was traded with Alexander Steen for Lee Stempniak. This year, he’s played five games for Philadelphia.

Dion Phaneuf (CAN), 2005, United States

Currently serving as the captain of the Leafs, Phaneuf was once hailed as a potential Norris Trophy winner. Never did those trumpets sound louder than when he played on Canada’s top defence pairing and won gold at the 2005 World Juniors in Grand Forks, North Dakota alongside Shea Weber.

Under his Red Deer Rebels coach, Brent Sutter, the rugged St. Albert native not only inspired fear with his open-ice bodychecks, but also tallied six points in six straight wins en route to Best Defenceman and tournament all-star honours. He was a big part of what’s considered to be Canada’s strongest World Junior entry of all time.

Justin Pogge (CAN), 2006, Canada

Canada was even tighter defensively in their second straight gold medal run under Brent Sutter, allowing just six goals (compared to seven the year before). And goaltender Justin Pogge’s style and composure was reminiscent of a young Martin Brodeur. He posted a 5-0 shutout versus a Yevgeni Malkin-led Russian team in the final in Vancouver.

Pogge, however, was never able to establish himself as a Leaf. Spending three seasons with the AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, he recorded a 4.36 GAA and 84.4 save percentage in just seven games with the Leafs in 2008-09. Since then, he’s drifted through the minor leagues and Europe, suiting up this year with Farjestads BK Karlstad of the SHL.

Pat Quinn (CAN), 2009, Canada

Quinn, who sadly passed away on November 14 at age 71, will be best-remembered in international hockey for coaching Canada to its first Olympic gold medal in 50 years at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Yet the big Irishman added another important jewel to his IIHF crown when he led the 2009 World Junior team to gold in Ottawa, defeating Sweden 5-1 in the final. That marks the last time Canada won this tournament.

In Toronto, he was the most successful coach the Leafs have had in recent memory. He steered the club to two conference finals (1999, 2002), and you’d have to go back to the late Pat Burns (1993, 1994) if you’re seeking another example of a bench boss who even came close to bringing the Stanley Cup back to Toronto for the first time since 1967.

As a player, Quinn also broke into the NHL with Toronto, playing a rugged style on their blue line from 1968 to 1970.


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