For those of you with sufficient knowledge on the topic, who would you say are the greatest Latvian hockey players of all time? If you could, could you compose an all-time team of the greatest Latvian players?
In 2006 Sporta Avīze carried out a survey of the Latvian Dream Team (since regaining independence in 1992). The guys leading the list were Arturs Irbe, Sandis Ozolinsh, Karlis Skrastins, Sergei Zholtok (all NHLers). I doubt that since then we could add anyone else to the list just yet. Probably we'll have guys like Karsums, Girgensons, Kulda being regarded as Latvian greats in ten years or so, but time will tell.
During Soviet era there is one clear stand-out who is often regarded as the best Latvian player ever - Helmuts Balderis. He made the Soviet team on 1980 Olympics, five World Championships. He was the top scorer of the Soviet league two times, three times he was the top goal scorer. In 1989, after being retired for four years, he played for North Stars. He was drafted at the age of 37. Had nine points in 26 games.
The pre-war era and early post-war era had the likes of Herberts Kuskis, Leonids Vedejs, Arvids Petersons, also Harijs Mellups (he was the goaltender during the first-ever Soviet national team game), Eriks Koneckis in post-war West Germany. Most of them are rather unknown to the Latvian fans, though.
My version of the post-1992 All Star Team:
Karsums - Vitolins - Belavskis
Kercs - Zholtok - Nizivijs
Darzins - Znaroks - Vasiljevs
Pantelejevs - Semjonovs - M.Redlihs
GX's roster is looks good, though I kinda want to see Andrejs Maticins in place of Lavins and Sergejs Naumovs as our backup goalie. In my eyes, Skudra has done as much as Balderis in international competitions. And if Skudra can make our team, then probably Girgensons qualifies too.
I'm too young to remember much of Sergejs Cudinovs play, but he had a bomb of a shot, that I'm yet to witness since then. Need to think about this a bit more.