Team Canada will unveil the first 16 selections for its World Cup roster Wednesday evening. The announcement is expected to generate controversy because, well, this is Canada, and complaining about international rosters is just a thing that we do up here. Somebody will be a surprise, somebody else will be snubbed, and we’ll all take a few days to yell at each other about it.
And none of it will be especially new, since there’s a long history here. Canadians have always sent a powerhouse to the World Cup and its predecessor, the Canada Cup. They’re the sort of teams that can send you down a rabbit hole of watching old highlights and marveling at the collection of talent assembled onto one roster. And when you do, you can bet that you’ll eventually notice at least one player that will make you go “Wait, that guy was on the team too?”
So while we get set to spend the rest of the week arguing over whether Marc-Edouard Vlasic is better than P.K. Subban, let’s look back at five of the more surprising Canadian selections from past Word/Canada Cup entries.
1981 – Barry Beck
One thing you can count on whenever a roomful of hockey executives get together to nail down a Team Canada roster: they love their hard-nosed defensemen. In 1981, that role went to Beck, the big-hitting Rangers captain who was coming off a 231 PIM season.
To be clear, Beck was no goon, posting 65 points in 1979-80 and playing in two NHL All-Star Games. But he wasn’t quite in the same class as 1981 teammates like Denis Potvin, Ray Bourque and Larry Robinson. Instead, he and fellow Team Canada blueliner Brian Engblom were there to keep order in the defensive zone. And it worked… at least until the final.
(Also, Beck may have once been traded because of a run-in with Don Cherry’s dog. I just wanted to mention that story.)