Top 20 Canadian Hockey Players (1980 to Present)

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Top 20 Canadian Hockey Players (1980 to Present)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Hockey is Canada's sport.

More than half of the NHL players are born in Canada, and even players born in the United States and Europe are increasingly playing their junior hockey in Canada to improve their chances of being drafted.

But who are the best Canadian players?

This debate comes up every time the Canadian national team is assembled for the Olympics or a World Cup, as players who would be stars for any other country are left off the roster.

I've decided to look at the best players of the last generation—roughly 1980 to the present—and pick an All-Canadian team comprised of 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies.

I've limited the field to 1980 for a few reasons.

First, the '80s were the start of the modern era of hockey. Players started training harder and being more professional, and the money was increasing as well.

Second, the further back in time I expanded the search, the harder it was to compare players. Even players from the early '80s played against players who are still playing today.

Third, and perhaps more importantly, video from that time is plentiful. Everyone has seen video of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux working their magic, even if they didn't watch it live. The number of people who watched Gordie Howe in his prime with the Red Wings is quite a bit smaller.

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