It is hockey’s most exclusive and unique group – the IIHF Triple Gold Club.
For more than 80 years, tens of thousands of players have competed for the Stanley Cup, gold at the IIHF World Championship and gold at the Olympic Winter Games. Many players live for the opportunity to win just one of these treasured titles.
Twenty-four players have won all three.
As the puck drops on the 2011 Stanley Cup Final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, it is guaranteed that the club will grow by one member, regardless of which team hoists Lord Stanley’s mug.
But just who will it be? Will Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo make history as the first goaltender to gain entry, or can Boston’s Patrice Bergeron earn a place with hockey’s elite?
It is ironic that either Luongo or Bergeron will enter the Triple Gold Club at the expense of the other, seeing how the two worked together to win a pair of international gold medals.
Luongo won his first world championship gold in 2003, helping Canada end a six-year drought at the IIHF World Championship with a win over Sweden, and joined with an 18-year-old Bergeron one year later as Canada won back-to-back world titles for the first time since 1958-59 with another gold medal game victory over the Swedes.
Six years after their world championship win, the Quebec natives were part of one of Canadian hockey’s greatest moments, as they helped Canada claim Olympic gold on home ice in Vancouver at the 2010 Games. Luongo took over the starter’s role prior to the playoff round, backstopping Canada to its second Olympic gold in three tries, while Bergeron anchored the penalty kill and served as a defensive specialist.
Now, 16 months later, each needs only a Stanley Cup championship to become the eighth Canadian in the IIHF Triple Gold Club, joining Rob Blake, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Eric Staal and Jonathan Toews.