Land of the Brave, Home of a Surprising Number of Canuck Players, past and present.
Not many of them stuck around for long, and at least one current player springs automatically to mind, but Americans have had a second home in Vancouver throughout the team's history. And never mind the "tough Canadian kids" stereotype - we got a lot of grit from our Southern neighbours. The decision for Best American may not be as open and shut as our current roster would have you believe, with a nominee from each position:
Let's see who's here (with a couple honourable mentions at the end):
Yes, the same guy who boasted about taking gold from Team Canada on their home ice. Just goes to show how fearless he is: he deliberately tried provoking his professional team's fans. But he's Ryan Kesler, so we knew (and loved) exactly what he was doing. They guy's a 6'2" madly grinning wrecking ball who just happened to have scored a third of his 157 goals on the power play. He anchors the Canucks' second line, shuts down the best players the opponents can throw at him, and will do anything asked at any time to get the win.
Let me guess: you can kind of remember who this is, yeah? You've heard the name somewhere... Didn't he marry a skater or something? The answers are "You have" and "Yes - Kristi Yamaguchi. Score!" And that's kind of the point. Hedican played over 1,000 NHL games as a smart, dependable defender who came into the NHL with St. Louis, joining Vancouver just in time to be a big part of the 1994 Stanley Cup run (7 points in 24 games). During his time here, he picked up 102 points in a mere 310 games, never getting top ice time, but always earning what he got. Respect for the Middle Man!
He may not be with us any more, spending his time with the Devil(s), but his impact was felt over the 98 games he played: 55 wins, 9 shut outs, .927 save percentage. Again, in less than 100 games. Meaning... What, exactly? He's a goalie, so his total number of games is going to be much less than a skater's; he was a game breaker for a lot of games he was in; he had taken the starter's slot from the gold medal winner. But is that enough time to tell if the numbers are going to drop later to a more human level, or is he an All-World player? Decisions, decisions...
That's your list! Some of the folks who didn't make the cut were "Put-Him-Anywhere-And-He'll-Do-It" Trent Klatt; and Gerry O'Flaherty, an early stalwart who managed 193 points in 435 games. Oh, and when I mentioned grit coming from Americans? Check this list out: not just Kesler and Klatt as "playing grinders", along with current skaters Chris Higgins, David Booth, and Andrew Alberts, but top team goonballs Donald Brashear (388 games, 1,159 PIM), Craig Coxe (177 games, 535 PIM) all have Stars and Stripes flags at home.
Let's have your vote!