Canada is by far the most successful country at international ice hockey tournaments, where NHL players have been allowed to compete. But which nation has been the second best? A rubric was developed to determine which men’s teams have been the most historically successful. The points rubric awards progressively more points the further a national team went in the knock-out rounds of the Winter Olympics, World Cup of Hockey, and Canada Cup. The analysis starts from 1976 Canada Cup, the first international tournament where NHL players were allowed to compete.
16 pts – Champions
8 pts – Second Place
4 pts – Reached Semi-Finals
2 pts – Reached Quarter-Finals
1 pt – Reached Round of 16
TOP 5 MOST SUCCESSFUL NATIONS IN ICE HOCKEY
1. Canada – 150 pts.
Ice hockey originated in Canada. Its national team is widely considered to be the best in the world, having won more Olympic gold medals than any other nation. They have also won the World Cup of Hockey twice, in 2004 and 2016. In addition, they have won the Canada Cup three times, in 1976, 1984, and 1987. The Canadian team has featured many hall of fame players over the years, including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Sidney Crosby.
2. United States – 60 pts.
Along with Canada, the United States hosts the strongest ice hockey league in the world, the NHL. The nation won the World Cup of Hockey in 1996. Since NHL players have been allowed in the Olympics in 1998, they won the silver medal twice in 2002 and 2010. The United States also reached the Canada Cup final in 1991. However it was defeated by Canada in each of these finals. The team has featured many talented NHL players, including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Quick, and Zach Parise.
3. Russia – 54 pts.
Russia is another hockey powerhouse, with a long history of success in international competition. They won the Olympic the silver medal in 1998 and the bronze medal in 2002. The Soviet Union, the predecessor to the Russian team, also won the Canada Cup in 1981. Although the Soviet Union won 7 gold medals in ice hockey, they all came when NHL players were not allowed to play. The Russian team has had many great players, including NHL stars Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Bure, and Sergei Fedorov.
4. Sweden – 52 pts.
After Russia, Sweden is the second most successful European nation in ice hockey. They won the Olympic gold medal in 2006, and the silver medal in 2014. They were also second place in the 1984 Canada Cup, having been defeated by Canada in the finals. The Swedish team has featured many talented players over the years, including Peter Forsberg, Henrik Lundqvist, and Nicklas Lidstrom.
5. Czech Republic – 46 pts.
In 1998, the Czech Republic won the first Olympic gold medal in ice hockey, where NHL players were allowed. The team also won the bronze medal in 2006. The Czech Republic was even stronger before Slovakia became an independent nation. The Czechoslovakian team went to the finals of the 1976 Canada Cup. The team has had many NHL greats, including Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, and Martin Straka.
HISTORIC RANKING TABLE OF NATIONAL TEAMS IN ICE HOCKEY
|National Team||Overall Total||1976 CC||1981 CC||1984 CC||1987 CC||1991 CC||1996 WC||1998 WO||2002 WO||2004 WC||2006 WO||2010 WO||2014 WO|