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In Search of Gold: How the Habs have fared at the WJC

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With the world juniors upon us, it's time to look back and see how current Habs have fared at the best junior hockey tournament in the world

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It's easier to find a World Juniors alumni on the Habs than it is to find a player who didn't play. In total of current Habs have participated in the tournament. Our current Habs are built on a pretty good pedigree.

Let's get to it, who played and how did they do? I'll save gold for last.

Not Applicable - Not Selected

Mike Weaver, Brandon Prust, Tom Gilbert, Dale Weise, David Desharnais, and Joey MacDonald never donned their country's colors to play in Under 20 tournament. For the most part, particularly in the case of MacDonald, Weaver, and Prust, these players were all late bloomers and were long shots to make their respective teams, if considered at all. If only the Netherlands had iced a team, Dutch Gretzky might have re-written some history.

David Desharnais was a prolific scorer in the Q, but not surprisingly was never called to Team Canada. His size and the fact that he played in the Q where gaudy offensive numbers are seen as a regular occurrence worked against him. If he had played chances are he would have been drafted and DD and the Habs would have never gotten together.

Not Applicable - Called But Did Not Serve

Every year there's a player who could help a team who for whatever reason is not available. This seems to always be Canada's excuse - in 2013 Charles Hudon missed the tournament because of injury, in 2012 it was Devante Smith-Pelly, and in 1984 Mario Lemieux didn't played because he hated Dave King.

Bryan Allen was expected to be a leader for the Canadian team in 2000, but he missed the tournament due to injury. Manny Malhotra probably would have been called to the 1999 edition of Team Canada, but he was too busy playing in New York with Wayne Gretzky.

Certificate of Participation

Going to the tournament and coming back with nothing is ok for the Swiss (Sven Andrighetto, 2013, 8 points in 6 games) or the Danes (Lars Eller, 2008, 6 points in 6 games), but it has an entirely different meaning for Canadians. Thankfully no current Canadian born Hab has gone to the World Juniors and not medaled, that will change when Charles Hudon (2014) makes the big team. He'll have some good company though, Max Pacioretty's 2008 US team came up empty and Pacioretty was held pointless in 6 games. Drayson Bowman and Eric Tangradi participated in the next edition of Team USA (2009) and they too went home without a medal.

Jiri Sekac (Czech Republic, 2012), Tomas Plekanec (Czech Republic, 2002), and Sergei Gonchar (Russia, 1993) all went home without medals. Gonchar was facing the likes of Markus Naslund, Peter Forsberg, Paul Kariya, and Jere Lehtinen just to give you some perspective on what century that was.

Manny Malhotra's first crack at the tourney was in 1998 at the age of 17. He and the rest of the squad went home without a medal after losing to Russia 2-1 in a heartbreaking quarter final.

Bronze

The Czechs haven't medaled since winning a bronze in 2005. If they won a bronze this year they would be considered a feel good story and it would point to their program being on track. The Canadians haven't medaled since 2012. If they won a bronze this year most of Canada would urge them to give it back and go commit seppuku. Bronze is nobody's friend in Canada.

Having said that, good on Andrei Markov for winning bronze in 1997. Mike York was the scoring leader that year and I only bring that up because I want remember the FLY line (Theo Fleury - Eric Lindros - Mike York). That seems forever ago.

Manny Malhotra was able to participate in 2 tourneys. While the Rangers wouldn't let him go in 1999, they did loan him out in 2000 when he was still eligible and Team Canada was the beneficiary of a team captain who already had a full season of NHL experience under his belt.  Malhotra came home with bronze.

Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, and Nathan Beaulieu were all a part of the aforementioned 2012 Canadian team that won bronze on home ice. 2012 is hardly that long ago, but for Canadians it seems like it might have well been in the days of the FLY line.

Silver

How many  EOTP readers remember the 2003 World Juniors in Halifax (and Sydney)? P.A. Parenteau does! Parenteau had 7 points in 6 games for the 2003 squad that featured Marc Andre Fleury between the pipes. That 3-2 loss against Russia in the final seemed like the biggest letdown, but then the 2004 final happened. Is that when Fleury's bad reputation started?

Other Habs nabbing silver include Andrei Markov (1998), Bryan Allen (1999), and Alexei Emelin twice (2005, 2006),

Gold

Everyone wants it, not everyone gets it. The Habs have 6 WJC gold medals. The earliest gold medal comes from - you guessed it - Pleks. Had to be Pleks. In 2001 Tomas Plekanec and the Czechs captured gold behind the offensive prowess of Pavel Brendl.

From 2005 to 2009, Team Canada captured 5 straight gold medals. Which seems ridiculous until you realize that wasn't even the first time Team Canada captured 5 straight golds. They did the same thing from 1993-1997. Bonkers. Carey Price, PK Subban, and Dustin Tokarski were a part of that second string of 5. Price lead Team Canada in 2007 with a 1.14 GAA and .961 save percentage. Subban was a part of the 2008 and 2009 squads and was named to the tournament all star team in 2009. Tokarski was the goalie of record for the 2009 squad and had some rough outings until the final when he stopped 39 of 40 shots in a 5-1 win over Sweden.

The most recent Hab to win gold was Alex Galchenyuk with Team USA in 2013. Galchenyuk had 8 points in 7 games during the Ufa held tournament that saw me getting up at 5 AM and going to some awful bars to watch hockey.

All told 14 current Habs players have captured 16 WJC medals in participation that spans twenty years (1993 to 2013).