Photo Courtesy of ET Canada
It’s an age old argument, but one that will always live on. Breaking down the top 4 hockey ever.
By Chris Yackel
Now that it is summertime not much is happening around the NHL. Barring a major trade or anything else, major news won’t be occurring until before training camp. So, with the offseason in full swing I think its time to open up a debate. An NHL Mount Rushmore if you will. Who are the four best hockey players ever? Before we dive into that though, lets give some honorable mentions to legends who didn’t make my top 4, but were strongly considered.
Sidney Crosby, C (Active Player)
Stats: GP: 864, G: 411, A: 705, P: 1,116
Crosby has been the best hockey player in the world for the past decade plus. He’s a playmaking center that is a very underrated goal scorer and makes anyone on his line instantly better. He has dominated the NHL as his resume speaks for itself. He’s captained the Penguins to three Stanley Cups two of them in consecutive years, a feat that is incredible in the salary cap era.
Individually he’s won two Conn Smythe Trophies for playoffs MVP, two Hart Trophies, three Ted Lindsey Trophies, two Maurice Richard Trophies and two Art Ross Trophies. He simply is the best player of this generation and he may eventually be on my Mount Rushmore when his career is all said and done.
Alex Ovechkin, LW (Active Player)
Stats: GP: 1,003, G: 607, A: 515, P: 1,122
Ovechkin may be the greatest goal scorer of not just this generation, but of all time. He has won the Maurice Richard Trophy for most goals in the regular season a record SEVEN times. He’s scored 50 or more goals seven times. He has won three Hart Trophies, three Ted Lindsay Trophies, a Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) and Ovechkin this past June finally won his first Stanley Cup.
Along with that cup he won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoffs MVP. If Crosby is the greatest player of this generation, Ovechkin is for sure a close second. He is also another player like Crosby that if he continues doing what he’s doing, he will be on my Mount Rushmore.
Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, RW
Stats: GP: 978, G: 544, A: 422, P: 966
He is one of the most dominant goal scorers of all time. He played in an era in which being only 5’10, 170 lbs was extremely hard to do. He took punishment, he felt pain, but he managed to be one of the greatest goal scorers ever and did it with pure grit and talent. He is an absolute legend across Montreal as helped the Canadiens to EIGHT Stanley Cup Champions.
Mike Bossy, RW
Stats: GP: 752, G: 573, A: 553, P: 1,126
Bossy just like Ovechkin and Richard is one of the greatest goal scorers ever if not the best one. He was a key to the Islanders dynasty in the 1980’s as he helped the Islander win four consecutive Stanley Cups. Many people seem to forget the fact that Bossy only played 10 seasons as he retired at the young age of 30. He still managed to score 573 goals by the time he was 30.
Imagine if he played until he was 35 or 40. His numbers may have declined gradually, but 900 goals are not out of the question. He averaged for his career 0.762 goals per game. That is the best of all time. Better then Gretzky, better than Lemieux. He probably would be a lock on the Mount Rushmore if he continued playing.
NHL’s Mount Rushmore:
Wayne Gretzky, C
Stats: GP: 1,487, G: 894, A: 1,963, P: 2,857
He is the greatest hockey player of all time. With the nickname “The Great One” there is no question on that. In total he holds SIXTY-ONE NHL records. SIXTY-ONE!!! This includes being the all time leader in goals, assists and points. Gretzky has captained four Edmonton Oilers teams to win the Stanley Cup. He revolutionized the game and made hockey popular in California. He was the consummate professional and is a great ambassador to the game. Gretzky being on the Mount Rushmore is a no brainer.
Mario Lemieux, C
Stats: GP: 915, G: 690, A: 1,003, P: 1,723
Mario Lemieux has done it all. I mean how many players are elected into the Hall of Fame, come out of retirement and become an active player in the Hall of Fame? Lemieux did. How many active players own the team they play for? Lemieux did. How many people win back to back Stanley Cups as both a player and an owner? Lemieux has. If he didn’t suffer so many injuries during his career his on ice achievements could have been even greater.
Maybe even better than “The Great One”. That however takes nothing away from what he did as a player and in my opinion is the second best to ever do it. As an owner the guy even saved the Penguins from bankruptcy, moving from Pittsburgh and has drove this second wave of hockey renaissance in Pittsburgh. Lemieux may belong on this Mount Rushmore more than anyone else.
Bobby Orr, D
Stats: GP: 657, G: 270, A: 646, P: 915
Number 4, Bobby Orr. The greatest defenseman ever to live. He completely revolutionized the position as he made it normal for defenseman to contribute offensively. Orr was like a forward playing defense. His skating was unrivaled and unlike anything ever seen in the NHL. He won a record EIGHT Norris Trophies for the league’s best defensemen. He won two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe trophies and probably has the most famous goal in the history of the NHL. Bobby Orr is a lock for my Mount Rushmore.
Gordie Howe, RW
Stats: GP: 1,767, G: 801, A: 1,049, P: 1,850
He played the most games in NHL History. He was nicknamed, “Mr. Hockey”. Captained the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cups. Howe won six Hart Memorial, Trophies and six Art Ross Trophies. He transcended the game and was even Wayne Gretzky’s idol growing up. He is another player that revolutionized the game with his toughness and ability to hold his own ground, but also be a star on the score sheet.
Howe made having a fight, goal and an assist in a game a great feat. His “Gordie Howe Hat-trick” has been a legendary part of the game for years now. In addition to his time in the NHL, Howe also played 419 games in the upstart WHA hockey league of the 1970’s. Howe would play all the way to the age of 51 after retiring at age 42 and returning at 45. Just truly incredible from a truly incredible guy. Although Howe past away just two years ago, his legacy will live forever.
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