They have taken the NHL by storm. 2 of them already have Stanley Cup rings. 3 of them are prominent players in the league, key pieces to their team’s success. At this point I know what you are all thinking “we know, there are 3 brothers in the NHL and 1 who still isn’t.” Nope, Jarred was fortunate enough to be drafted in the 2nd round of the 08 draft and is currently in Carolina’s system. No, there is another. And he is the truly forgotten Staal…
I’m referring OF COURSE to Gunner Staal. So disgraced by his family that they will no longer allow him to share the spelling of the families great last name, Gunner represented Iceland at the 1994 Jr. Goodwill games, surprisingly an event that never took off. As we all know in 1994 Canada wasn’t much of a power at the Pee-Wee level (maybe that actually explains the 99 draft!), and so having duel citizenship (it’s the best I could come up with), the eldest Staal brother took his talents toIcelandwhere they were the overwhelming favorite.
Originally having changed the spelling of his last name to “Stahl” as ordered by the Icelandic government, Gunner had a very strong tournament. He was the leading scorer for the great hockey power Iceland, not an easy accomplishment when you consider their rich hockey history specifically at the Pee-Wee level.
But then came the gold medal game. They were matched up against a feisty American squad. Iceland had no problems with the Americans in there round robin game, annihilating them 12-1. And despite team USA having noted cake enthusiast Adam Banks back in the lineup and the addition of future SNL star Russ Tyler, Iceland was an enormous favorite. It appeared as though things would go according to plan as Iceland breezed to a 4-1 lead after 2 periods of play. However, team USA coach Gordon Bombay had one more trick up his sleeve….the vaunted uniform change.
This calculated risk completely turned the game around. Iceland didn’t receive any help from the officials either as on 1 US goal the lead linesman missed an obvious offside call which may have been the most pivitol play of regulation. After the 3rd, the now Mighty Ducks (after the uniform change…of course) had tied the game at 5. A shootout was going to determine these Jr. Goodwill games.
Being the leading scorer in the tournament of course meant that Gunner would be shooting, and with the American Mighty Ducks (???) holding a 4-3 lead in the shootout, the game was on his stick. His family watched on with pride, fully confident that he would score to extend the shootout and eventually go on to be the 1st of 4 brothers to play in the NHL. But it didn’t happen. After watching several hours of film along side assistant coach Aunt Becky, coach Bombay noticed that Gunner was indeed fancy and naturally that means he would go glove side….after the always mind boggling triple deke. An Alan Bester esq glove save later, it was over. The Americans had pulled off the upset.
He was never the same. Henry and Linda were so humiliated by their son’s terrible attempt to extend the shootout that he was told to stay in Iceland, disbanded from the family that once loved him. As we all know, Iceland’s Bantam and Midget levels of hockey are an enormous drop off from Pee-Wee’s and Gunner never developed into the star player he was once projected to be.
Nobody seems to even know if Gunner is even still alive to this day. Looking back, it’s ALMOST as if he was a fictional character. Who knows what may have happened had Gunner lead his Iceland team to victory that day? Perhaps he would be the top Staal brother in the league? But we will never know…
Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups or the site @Soups_on_Sports