It is, as described by International Ice Hockey Federation president René Fasel, “the most exclusive club in professional hockey.”
Over 7,000 players have been after the Stanley Cup since 1893, more than 6,000 have tried to win the IIHF World Championship since 1930, and over 3,000 have participated in the Olympics since 1920.
Only 22 players have won all three, and those 22 were honoured Monday night at Molson Canadian Hockey House at the official induction ceremony for the IIHF Triple Gold Club.
The first three players to complete the trifecta did so at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, but it took 16 years for an official induction ceremony to take place. All 22 members of the club were on hand, including five Canadians.
Rob Blake, Joe Sakic and Brendan Shanahan joined the Triple Gold Club when Canada won gold at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Scott Niedermayer added his name to the list two years later with gold at the 2004 IIHF World Championship, and Chris Pronger joined when his Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007.
“There’d be even more players in the club if the NHLers had been able to play in world championships (before 1977) and the Olympics (before 1998), but sure, look around the room and all you see is great hockey players,” Sakic told IIHF.com. “It’s a great honour to be a part of this; it’s a very special feeling.”
The 22 players inducted into the IIHF Triple Gold Club on Monday night were:
Tomas Jonsson – SWE (1994 Olympic Winter Games)
Mats Naslund – SWE (1994 Olympic Winter Games)
Hakan Loob – SWE (1994 Olympic Winter Games)
Valeri Kamensky – RUS (1996 Stanley Cup Final)
Alexei Gusarov – RUS (1996 Stanley Cup Final)
Peter Forsberg – SWE (1996 Stanley Cup Final)
Vyacheslav Festisov – RUS (1997 Stanley Cup Final)
Igor Larionov – RUS (1997 Stanley Cup Final)
Alexander Mogilny – RUS (2000 Stanley Cup Final)
Vladimir Malakhov – RUS (2000 Stanley Cup Final)
Rob Blake – CAN (2002 Olympic Winter Games)
Joe Sakic – CAN (2002 Olympic Winter Games)
Brendan Shanahan – CAN (2002 Olympic Winter Games)
Scott Niedermayer – CAN (2004 IIHF World Championship)
Jaromir Jagr – CZE (2005 IIHF World Championship)
Jiri Slegr – CZE (2005 IIHF World Championship)
Nicklas Lidstrom – SWE (2006 Olympic Winter Games)
Fredrik Modin – SWE (2006 Olympic Winter Games)
Chris Pronger – CAN (2007 Stanley Cup Final)
Nicklas Kronwall – SWE (2008 Stanley Cup Final)
Henrik Zetterberg – SWE (2008 Stanley Cup Final)
Mikael Samuelsson – SWE (2008 Stanley Cup Final)
The club is true hockey royalty – combined, the 22 members have won 25 Olympic gold medals, 38 IIHF World Championships and 37 Stanley Cups, spanning four decades and four countries.
“I’ve played with a lot of these guys and I watched others play,” Sakic said of the group he joined onstage at MCHH. “I was 16 when I saw Montreal and Naslund play against the Soviets. It really is special to be here.”
So who is next? There are seven players in Vancouver who have won the Stanley Cup and the IIHF World Championship, and need just Olympic gold to earn induction into the IIHF Triple Gold Club:
Sergei Fedorov – RUS
Jere Lehtinen – FIN
Pavel Kubina – CZE
Miroslav Satan – SVK
Josef Vasicek – CZE
Eric Staal – CAN
Ilya Bryzgalov – RUS
Will hockey’s most distinguished membership add a new name on February 28?