The Golden Child may have had the Midas Touch, but do not think for one moment the man known as Sid the Kid is going back to Pittsburgh as the only man basking in Olympic glory.

When Canada’s Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal to deliver Gold to the team skating north of the border, the first two players to mob him moments after the score were Drew Doughty and Scott Niedermayer – two Canadians playing their professional ice hockey careers in Los Angeles and Anaheim, respectively.

In the irony of all ironies, California’s three NHL franchises claimed more Winter Olympic medals in the sport than any other state, with 16 players returning to the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks donning a medal. Even crazier, it was the team Disney built on the coattails of Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky who led the league in medals won in Vancouver, what with the Ducks tying an NHL record with seven players medaling at the Winter Olympics.

The Kings were not too shabby either, boasting four medaling players. As the Sharks claimed five medalists, California’s three NHL franchises were one-two-three in the league in terms of players claiming a piece of Olympic glory – and all three teams are finding its respective strides just in time for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. With Doughty returning to Staples Center donning Olympic Gold, and Corey Perry, Niedermayer and Ryan Getzlaf doing just the same down south at the Honda Center, 11 of the 16 medal-winning players hailed from Southern California’s two NHL franchises. Oh, New York’s four NHL squads cannot make that same claim, with only eight players representing the Islanders, Rangers, Sabres and Devils claiming an Olympic medal.

Ironically, it was Crosby’s current professional squad, the Penguins, who match the Ducks for most medals won by an NHL franchise during the Winter Games, with Pittsburgh setting the bar at seven in 1998. (The 2002 Detroit Red Wings also had seven medalists.)

Twelve years later, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Whitney, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne joined Perry, Niedermayer and Getzlaf down in Anaheim as 2010 Winter Games medalists. While the Kings only had four medalists returning to downtown Los Angeles in Doughty, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson and Jonathan Quick, it is interesting to note the Ducks are struggling for their playoffs lives during the now-resumed NHL season. Of course, the Kings are in position to challenge for the Pacific Division crown, which begs the question of whether quantity of Olympic medalists translates into late season success for the respective NHL franchise.

Statistically speaking, the verdict is split. The 1998 Pittsburgh Penguins won the Northeast Division and claimed the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference before losing a first-round matchup to the Montreal Canadiens in six games. Four years later, the Detroit Red Wings claimed the President’s Trophy and the Stanley Cup.

This year, Anaheim struggled mightily early on before finally breaking .500 almost midway through the season. Now, they have 67 points (30-25-7 record) and trail the Calgary Flames (30-23-9, 69 points) by two points for the final playoff spot. In between the Ducks and Flames are Detroit and Dallas, two teams that feature 12 Olympians from the 2010 Vancouver Games (with four of them medaling).

Playing in the same division as the Olympian-heavy Kings, Stars and Sharks, it will be difficult, neigh impossible, for the Ducks to significantly move up the Pacific Division ladder.

With the likelihood of the Ducks winning their division and at least imitating the regular season success of the ’98 Penguins or ’02 Red Wings, all Anaheim can do now is fight to qualify for the playoffs.

Should Anaheim settle for the No. 8 seed and San Jose keep pace as the top seed, we would be in store for one of the best first-round matchups next month, as the Ducks and Sharks – their collective rosters boasting 16 Olympians and 12 medalists – duke it out. If the Kings (37-20-4, 78 points) keep up their solid play, then California professional ice hockey might just be as entertaining to watch as the just-concluded Gold Medal match at the 2010 Vancouver Games. And why should anyone be surprised – after all, California is the place where dreams come true.