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Can Bottrel’s record be equaled?

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Canadian Jason Bottrell won three consecutive IIHF World Junior Championship gold medals from 1994 to 1996. This may be the hardest junior singles record of all time. In fact, it may never be equalized.

Sure, other records have stood the test of time. For example, 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the individual tournament record set by Swede Peter Forsberg (24 assists, 31 points) and Markus Naslund (13 goals).

No one in the 21st century has come close to scoring goals like Canadian Brayden Sheen (18 points) in 2011 or American Trevor Zegras (18 points) in 2021. When it comes to goals, the nine is the highest watermark of our century, directed by Swede Max. Friberg (2012), Russia’s Kirill Kaprizov (2017), and Kiefer Bellows from the United States (2018).

However, if Canadian Conor Bedard maintains his current strong pace in Halifax (6 + 8 = 14 in three matches), he will at least scare Forsberg and Naslund. And if Bédard fails, another year will see one or two teams well below par in the Premier League, as when Forsberg collected 10 points in a 20-1 win over Japan in 1993. That would open the door for a single result. log in fall.

But Bottrill’s golden trio is still lonely.

Three gold medals? When exactly will any other team win three consecutive gold medals in today’s volatile global junior environment, let alone an individual?

The country most likely to dry three people is Canada. Since the Soviet era of 1977 to 1980, no country other than Canada has won three consecutive World Junior Championships. The Canadians have had two triple-colors, one in which a Bottrill triple occurred (1993-1997) and a third that created the backbone of the last two men’s Olympic gold-winning teams in 2010 and 2014 (2005-2009).

However, a three-time player returning to Canada is highly unlikely at the moment. You need someone good enough to be included in the list of the nation that dominates the world with over 360,000 registered rookie players. However, this person does not have to be completely ready to become a full-time NHL player. It’s a rare combination.

Case Bottrell, the 1994 Dallas Stars’ first-round pick (20th overall), was a perfect storm in many ways. The tall forward vowed to complete his economics degree from the University of Michigan, where he would become a captain his freshman year from 1996 to 1997. During that time, his skating improved dramatically. So he was good enough to break into the NCAA All-Star teams, but he wasn’t quite ready for the NHL.

Because of her can-do attitude—a trait shared with her sister, three-time Canadian women’s hockey gold medalist Jennifer Bottrell and her father, sports psychologist Dr. Cal Bottrell—Bottrell became “the sticky guy.” The teams he plays. to me. As a result, he was again well received with his two-way effort, although Canada has historically not used many American college players on its U-20 teams.

Additionally, Botterill played during the dawn of the NHL’s “Dead Puck Era” (1995-2004), when size, strength, and grinding made it difficult for young players to break into the league and make an impact, unlike today.

Although Botterill played at 193 cm and 100 kg, he did not get a taste of the NHL until the age of 21 with Dallas in 1997-98. (He would never become a full-time NHL player and retired after the 2004-05 season, after suffering multiple concussions. He has had more success in management, including a Stanley Cup as an assistant general manager in Pittsburgh, and is currently an assistant general manager in Seattle.)

In the 1990s, only two Canadians won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable rookie, and both were goaltenders who had never played in a World Junior Championship: Ed Belfort (1991) and Martin Brodeur (1994).

Canada simply did not produce as great talent in the 1990s as it did in the new millennium. And that opened the door for someone like Botterill to come back.

Even in a stacked 1995 team that won seven straight games with NHL-ready players during the lockout, the people who went into the senior pros and IIHF were Ryan Smith, Jeff Friesen, Ed Jovanovski, and Eric Days. Good players, but not Triple Gold Club members like Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron or Corey Perry.

Fast forward to today. Let’s say Canada wins the 2023 World Junior Championships. The only player who could theoretically return to the 2024 tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden, and win a third straight gold medal is Bedard, born in 2005. However, no one expects him to be available – especially not the team. who drafted him first overall in June.

Can another country achieve a gold medal three times? The United States will have a similar problem as Canada when it comes to seeing their best young stars graduate early in the NHL today. And of course, the Americans didn’t even come close to winning three straight titles. The Russians (who are currently suspended from participation in IIHF events) have had longer periods between gold medals than the Americans in recent years, not to mention Sweden who has only two gold medals (1981, 2012).

Finns can get an outside shot. They are in contention every year now and also have a smaller talent pool than the other big nations. Imagine if defender Aaron Kiviharjo starred for the team this year as a 16-year-old and the Finns won gold. Kiviharju may also have come back at 17 and 18 before seeking his fortune in the NHL. But then again, winning three gold medals in six years (2014, 2016, 2019) is the closest the Finns have come to getting three shots. So it’s really long.

The truth is, we could see Conor Bedard break Alex Ovechkin’s NHL record before someone else “does Jason Botterill” with three gold medals in the World Junior Championships. And four gold medals? You are more likely to encounter hobbits, orcs, and dragons in Halifax than to see them happen.

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