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Media panel cast votes for CHL Team of the Century

 

In celebration of the 100th edition of the Mastercard Memorial Cup, the Canadian Hockey League is asking fans to cast their vote for the Team of the Century.

With 99 Mastercard Memorial Cup champions eligible for the prestigious honour, we asked media from across the province to help identify some of the top candidates with rationale for their selections.

All five media polled shared their Top-4 picks that included two teams from the OHL, one from the QMJHL / Quebec region, and one from the WHL / Western Canada region.

The 2005 London Knights, 2010 Windsor Spitfires, 1991 Spokane Chiefs, plus select teams from the Montreal Junior Canadiens and Kamloops Blazers dynasties were among the most popular choices.  Those picks, more, and why:

Ryan Pyette – London Free Press

2005 London Knights:
They remain the benchmark for junior hockey excellence. London delivered from opening night to the Cup final, shutting out Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic 4-0. They ended the Knights franchise’s 40-year championship drought on home ice under a spotlight brightened by a season-long NHL work stoppage. They were unbeaten in their first 31 games and dropped just seven the rest of the way. They went 16-2 in the playoffs and were a perfect 4-0 at their fairy tale first Cup. Scoring star Corey Perry (Ducks) won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player in 2011 and d-men Dan Girardi (Lightning) and Marc Methot (Stars) are still grinding in the bigs.

2010 Windsor Spitfires:
I just always liked their comeback story. They were down three games to Kitchener in the Western Conference final, but rallied to take the next four — and never lost again the rest of the way. They swept 57-win Barrie for the league crown, then decimated the competition at the Cup in Brandon. The Spits pounded the host Wheat Kings 9-1 in the final for a second straight crown. For all the drama Windsor created the year before in Rimouski, this tournament had almost none. Taylor Hall (Devils) was named MVP for the second straight year.

1970 Montreal Junior Canadiens:
From everything I heard and read, they were incredible. The only guy who wasn’t drafted into the NHL was the backup goaltender. And that didn’t matter — they picked up John Garrett from Peterborough for the Cup run. Gilbert Perreault was the offensive stud on his way to becoming the first overall pick to Buffalo. He was surrounded by first- and second-round picks. The Baby Habs capped a second straight Cup by averaging more than six goals per game in a best-of-seven sweep of Weyburn. They lost once in the playoffs — a shocker to Northern Ontario champ Sault Ste. Marie — but pounded the Greyhounds the next three games by a combined 39-4.

1991 Spokane Chiefs:
They’re the best American-based team in tournament history — and one of the most dominant, period. Forwards Pat Falloon and Ray Whitney were unstoppable that season. The Chiefs outscored their Cup foes 27-9 in four games and every one was a virtual blowout in Quebec City. They were so confident, they sat out one of their most productive forwards in the final for violating a team rule. They were tough, too, and didn’t take nonsense from anybody. They rolled through their Western league playoffs with just one defeat. Whitney won the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006 and goaltender Trevor Kidd enjoyed an 11-year NHL career.

Terry Koshan – Toronto Sun

2005 London Knights:
The Knights galloped through the 2004-05 OHL regular season, capping a 59-win campaign with a fine way to celebrate the team’s 40th anniversary — a Memorial Cup championship on home ice. With widespread attention on the tournament — the NHL lockout and the presence of Sidney Crosby with the Rimouski Oceanic resulted in a large media contingent in London — the Knights romped, beating the Oceanic 4-0 in the final. Eleven members of the Knights went on to play in the NHL, including tournament MVP Corey Perry, Dave Bolland and Dan Girardi.

1964 Toronto Marlboros:
The Marlboros won 40 of 56 games during the Ontario Hockey Association regular season, scoring a league-high 336 goals while doing so. The Marlies swept Niagara Falls in the OHA semifinals before beating the Montreal Junior Canadiens in five games (four wins and one tie) in the league final. Victories against North Bay and Montreal NDG in the Eastern Canada Memorial Cup playoffs, leading to the Memorial Cup, where the Marlies swept Edmonton in four games. The Marlies sent a slew of players to the NHL, including Ron Ellis, Peter Stemkowski, Gary Smith and Mike Walton.

1969 Montreal Junior Canadiens:
The 1968-69 Montreal Junior Canadiens are considered by many to be the best junior hockey team in the history of the sport. The Junior Canadiens swept the Regina Pats in the four-game tournament final after winning the OHA championship and the Richardson Cup. No less than 15 members of the team went to play and/or star in the NHL, including Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rejean Houle and Guy Charron.

1995 Kamloops Blazers:
The 1994-95 Kamloops Blazers capped a dynasty that has not been paralleled since, winning the Memorial Cup for the third time in four years. On home ice, the Blazers, who led the Western Hockey League with 110 points during the regular season, crushed Detroit in the final 8-2. Three players — Darcy Tucker, Ryan Huska and Tyson Nash — earned Memorial Cup rings in all three championship years for the Blazers. Young goalie Randy Petruk was stellar on a Kamloops team that also included Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan.

Terry Doyle – YourTV Sarnia

2005 London Knights:
The Knights announced their presence that season with a 31-game unbeaten streak and continued it right on through beating Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic on Championship Sunday in May. This was a special team with the majority of the players going on to play professional hockey. This team did not have a weakness – forwards, defence and goaltending was all strong. While Corey Perry is the headliner from that roster, but it was an overall star-studded group.

2010 Windsor Spitfires:
While the 2009 championship Windsor team had to overcome an 0-2 Memorial Cup start, the 2010 edition dominated. From their 50-win regular season to putting up nine goals twice in the tournament, the Taylor Hall-led Spitfires left the opponents in their dust. A roster full of players who would go on to play in the NHL could play a run-and-gun style, or grind out a physical victory if necessary.

1991 Spokane Chiefs:
This team was purely dominant, posting a combined 18-1 record in the WHL playoffs and Memorial Cup tournament. Offensive stars Ray Whitney and Pat Falloon combined for 323 regular season points and 23 points in the tournament. It was not all about offence though, with Trevor Kidd in goal and future two-time Stanley Cup championship Jon Klemm on defence. Over the century of Memorial Cup teams, the 1991 Chiefs have to be considered among the most dominant post-season clubs.

2013 Halifax Mooseheads:
The dynamic duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin took the QMJHL by storm in September and brought that to the CHL stage in May to capture the Memorial Cup. The pair put up two points each per game in the regular season and playoffs before combining for 22 points in the four Memorial Cup games in Saskatoon. Add Martin Frk and the excellent goaltending of Zach Fucale and this club was virtually untouchable.

Peter Robinson – Prospects Hockey

2005 London Knights:
Where to be begin? The record-setting streak to start their season, the list of individual players starting with future Rocket Richard/Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, or their run to the Memorial Cup on home ice by defeating Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic twice?  In addition to their record, this Knights team set the standard by which other OHL and CHL teams strive to achieve in terms of attendance and local support, a legacy that continues for present-day London teams.  Another special circumstance: the NHL work stoppage that cancelled the season put the focus on the Knights, a spotlight that they seemed to thrive on.

1956 Toronto Marlboros:
It’s difficult to compare teams across eras but the 1956 team didn’t lose a game to the Regina Pats (one tie), winning the other four games and were 8-0-1, in winning in 1955 as well.  The presence of Bob Baun, Carl Brewer, Bob Nevin and Bob Pulford foreshadowed the Stanley Cups that would come later with the Maple Leafs.  Turk Broda coached both teams, showing he knew a thing or two about the game beyond stopping pucks.

1981 Cornwall Royals:
Dale Hawerchuk’s swansong netted him his (and his team) their second straight Memorial Cup. In many ways, Hawerchuk blazed the trail for the hype that would later follow Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid from major junior to the NHL.  Doug Gilmour played behind Hawerchuk and now they beside one another in the Hockey Hall of Fame.  I view this Royals team equal to the one the year previous but gets a slight nod for winning the Memorial Cup over future Hall of Famers Grant Fuhr (Victoria Cougars) and Al MacInnis (Kitchener Rangers), among many other standout NHLers who played in the Memorial Cup that year in Windsor.

1994 Kamloops Blazers:
The long trip to Laval didn’t bother the Blazers, winning all four games including the final over the powerhouse hosts.  This victory was the second of three but it was the clearest sign of the dynasty that is unrivaled either before or since.  A list of NHL alumni includes Jarome Iginla, Jason Strudwick, Darcy Tucker, Brad Lukowich and Nolan Baumgartner, among others.

Jim Parker – Windsor Star

2010 Windsor Spitfires:
Back-to-back Memorial Cup titles are rare with the Windsor Spitfires becoming just the eighth team in tournament history to accomplish the feat in 2010.  Windsor took the hard road to its first title in 2009 by becoming the first team in Memorial Cup history to lose the first two games of the tournament and win by coming through the tiebreaker.  A year later, the Spitfires rolled through the tournament in Brandon, Man. Windsor’s roster boasted 14 NHL Draft picks and two others that would earn NHL free-agent deals. Five of those players were NHL first-round picks, which included Taylor Hall, who won his second-straight tournament MVP and would be the NHL’s No. 1 pick overall in 2010.  The Spitfires rolled through the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record and outscored the opposition 28-9, which included a 9-1 win over the host Wheat Kings in the title game that tied the Memorial Cup record for largest margin of victory in the final.

2005 London Knights:
The London Knights celebrated their 40th season of operation in a big way.  London opened the season with a Canadian Hockey League record by going unbeaten in the team’s first 31 games to start the season and went on to set an Ontario Hockey League record with 120 points on a 59-7-0-2 record.  London boasted the league’s best offence with Corey Perry and Dylan Hunter finishing one-two in league scoring race and four Knights finishing in the top 10 while also boasting the league’s top defence.  With 13 NHL picks on the roster, the Memorial Cup host team went unbeaten in pool play and captured the first title in team history with a 4-0 win over future NHL star Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic in the final. Goalie Adam Dennis earned the shutout, which is just one of two posted in the final since the modern era of the tournament began in 1972.

1995 Kamloops Blazers:
The Kamloops Blazers had a dominating run early in the 1990’s in the Western Hockey League with three league crowns and three Memorial Cup titles over a span of four seasons and its final title might have been its best team.  Kamloops had an automatic berth into the tournament as the host team, but became the first team in CHL history to win its league title. That opened the door for the WHL’s other league finalist to qualify for the event.  The Blazers had plenty of star power with three future NHL first-round picks. Future NHLer Darcy Tucker, who was second in WHL scoring, was the tournament’s all-star centre. He was joined on the all-star team by WHL defenceman of the year Nolan Baumgartner and tournament MVP Shane Doan while Jarome Iginla was named the tournament’s most sportsmanlike player.  Kamloops breezed through round-robin play unbeaten to get a bye into the final and cruised to the title with an 8-2 win over the Detroit Junior Red Wings in the final.

1969 Montreal Junior Canadiens:
It was the first of back-to-back Memorial Cup titles for the Montreal Junior Canadiens in 1969, but it featured a legendary roster.  The 1969 Junior Canadiens would produce an astonishing nine players taken in the first round of the NHL Draft. Rejean Houle and Marc Tardif would go one-two at the top of the 1969 NHL Draft and Gilbert Perrault would go No. 1 overall in the 1970 NHL Draft.  Before the current round-robin format of league champions, Montreal would face the Regina Pats in a best-of-seven championship series format for the Memorial Cup.  After a 37-11-6 regular season, the Canadiens swept Regina in four games and outscored the Pats 25-13 in the series while taking the final two games in Regina.

Choose your own Top-4 at chlteamofthecentury.ca!

The first round of voting is open through April 29 at which point the top team in each league / region plus one wild card entry will advance to the final round of voting that commences May 1 and continues through May 15.  Cast your vote and be eligible to win great prizes.

The winning team will be announced as part of the centennial celebration at the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup.

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