(Ed. Note: Welcome to the Puck Daddy 2013 summer project, the National Hockey League of Nations. We’ve recruited 30 writers/blogs to identify the best player in their favorite team’s history for each major nationality that creates the fabric of our beloved NHL: Canada, USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and The Rest of The World. It’s their criteria, as long as they can justify it. Read, debate and enjoy! If you want to do so on Twitter, it's #NHLoN.)
By Laura Astorian, St. Louis Game Time
Canada: Bernie Federko
This was tough, considering that 90 percent of the Blues’ all-time roster was Canadian.
Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, Brett Hull (kind of - we’ll get to Hull in a moment), Craig MacTavish and quite a few other Good Canadian Boys have all played for the Blues, but it’s next to impossible not to go with Hall of Famer Bernie Federko.
In 927 games with the Blues between 1976-1989, Federko had 352 goals and 721 assists. He holds the team records for most games played as a Blue, most assists in a Blues career, most points, and is the longest tenured member of the all-time team at 13 seasons.
He currently is the “between the benches” guy on FoxSports Midwest; and while sometimes you need to be drunk to understand what he is saying, it’s always an insightful experience to watch a broadcast.
Finland: Esa Tikkanen
Tikkanen gets this because he’s not Hannu Toivonen, the other “notable” Finn who suited up for the team. Tikkanen played only 54 games for the Blues, netting 40 points, but at least he isn’t known for a monstrosity like this:
USA: Keith Tkachuk
I could have gone with Brett Hull here to troll Canadian fans. I really, honestly could have, but I decided to stick with Big Walt. Who can forget his many contributions to the Blues, like showing up to training camp overweight once, never living that down, or scoring a goal with his face?
Sweden: Patrick Berglund
Much like Russia, the Blues do not have a strong Swedish tradition. That isn’t to say that Berglund gets this title by default; Bergie has 188 points in the past five seasons with the Blues. He’s a bit of an enigma sometimes, showing flashes of offense then fading away from the limelight, but he’s a big body for the Blues to have.
Also, in the great Swedish tradition of being beautiful, he was named one of Cosmo’s hottest hockey players in January.
Russia: Alexander Khavanov Vladimir Tarasenko
The Blues don’t have a strong Russian tradition. They’ve only had fifteen Russian players in franchise history, but Khavanov managed to play 284 games with them, so he gets the nod here. In that many games he had just 21 goals and 90 points, so if Wysh would have asked me to write this list a few years in the future I’m pretty sure that Vladimir Tarasenko’s smiling mug would be here instead.
Heck, Tarasenko has almost a third of Khavanov’s goals in 246 fewer games.
Who’re we kidding? Vlad’s the wave of the future, and he’s the most exciting Russian the Blues have ever had. This one goal is a better highlight than anything that comes to mind from the other 14 guys.
Slovakia: Pavol Demitra
Pavol Demitra was an offensive powerhouse, and a key part of some Blues teams that were regular-season powerhouses in their own right. He spent eight seasons with the Blues, scoring 204 goals and holding franchise records for most overtime goals scored with seven and the most assists by a right-winger with 52. He and Keith Tkachuk were good buddies, playing together on a line with Scott Mellanby.
During a game shortly after the Lokomotiv crash, Tkachuk was shown on the scoreboard in a Blues jersey and got an appreciative ovation from the crowd. That ovation turned into a roar when Walt stood up and revealed he was wearing a Demitra jersey, the number 38 on the back.
After the horrifying crash that killed Demitra and his fellow teammates, Tkachuk was called on to pay tribute to his good friend during a pre-game ceremony.
Demitra ranks fifth on the Blues’ all time scoring list.
Czech Republic: Roman Polak
Roman Polak: helmet farter. Stay at home defensive partner of Barret Jackman. Victim of the “Roman Polak Joke of the Day” in every issue of St. Louis Game Time.
Sure, Vladimir Sobotka’s good with the laaaaadies, but can he pull this off?
No. No, he cannot.
REST OF THE WORLD CATEGORY
Gotta give credit to Phillippe Bozon, one of the select few Frenchmen to play in the NHL. Denmark’s Lars Eller helped the Blues acquire Jaroslav Halak, Poland’s Nick Harbaruk apparently played for St. Louis at some point, and who can forget Germany’s Jochen Hecht who played 138 games for the Blues from 1998 to 2001.
He was a real Mannheim steamroller, wasn’t he?
I’ll see myself out.