Back in the 1980s and 1990s I cheered on many of the underdogs on the Canadian national team. I cheered for them not just because they represented Canada, but because they represented each and every one of us. True, most of them were hoping to springboard their international experience into a NHL career, but in the moment they were not playing for fame and fortune, but rather for the love of the game and the love of the country.
Perhaps no one better represents that era of player than Fabian Joseph, two time Olympic silver medalist including in 1994 when he was the team captain.
At 5'8" and 165lbs, it was little wonder why he got not much of a chance at a NHL career. He was speedy but easy for hulking NHL defensemen to knock him off the of the puck. Despite an incredible junior career with the WHL Victoria Cougars, he slipped all the way to 6th round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, where the Toronto Maple Leafs took him 109th overall.
Joseph switched to the Ontario League after being drafted, playing for the Toronto Marlies right in the Leafs backyard where they could keep a close eye on him. The adjustment to the new league was a bit of a tough one for the undersized Joseph, and the Leafs soon lost interest in their prospect.
Instead of going to the minor leagues the Leafs arranged for Joseph to join the Canadian national team 1985-86 season, starting an international relationship Joseph would relish in. In parts of 5 seasons with the Nats, Joseph would play in 298 games for his country (all stats incomplete), scoring 69 goals and 99 assist for 168 points.
The highlights were of course the two silver medals (1992 and 1994), as well as scoring the overtime championship winning goal at the 1992 Spengler Cup.
Joseph's tenure with the national team was broken up with stints in Italy and Switzerland, as well as a three year stint in the Edmonton Oilers organization. Though he never got a chance to play with Gretzky and the boys, he jumped at the opportunity to play with the Oilers farm team near his home in Nova Scotia.
Joseph was the first Nova Scotian to represent Canada in Olympic hockey. Al MacInnis and Sidney Crosby (in 2010) have since joined these sparse ranks.
Joseph ended his career with three seasons as an independent farm league player with the Milwaukee Admirals. He would later be introduced to coaching in Milwaukee. He would soon return to his beloved Canadian maritimes to continue coaching with the junior Moncton Wildcats and collegiate St. Marie's Huskies and Dalhousie Tigers.
Fabian Joseph was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1984 after registering a 57 goal – 127 point season with the Victoria Cougars in the WHL. The native of Sydney , Nova Scotia also played for Cape Breton and Halifax in the American Hockey League where he averaged 30 plus goals each season and accumulated over 200 points. He won Silver Medals with Team Canada at the 1992 and 1994 Olympic Games where he was Team captain.