Did your favorite player make the cut?
Gretzky revolutionized the game of hockey, showing that speed ? not strength ? puts the puck in the net. With over 61 National Hockey League (NHL) records, four Stanley Cups and two Canada Cup MVP wins, Gretzky shattered many existing hockey records and made a name for himself amongst the best to ever to play the game. Considered the greatest stick-handler in the history of the game, Gretzky deserves his spot on the list of the top 10 hockey players.
Considered the first offensive defense player of the NHL, Orr won the coveted Art Ross trophy, an award for the League’s highest scorer. This Canadian-born defenseman played junior hockey in Ontario, Canada until he was old enough to go pro. In his first year of NHL play with the Boston Bruins, Orr won the coveted Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year. Although his career was cut short by a knee injury, Orr is remembered as one of the greatest players of the game.
One of the club’s greatest scorers, Lemieux has been called the greatest player of the NHL. Drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario became a hockey icon. With two Stanley Cups under his belt and the distinction of being the MVP for both, Mario became a household name in 1997 when he scored the winning goal at the Canada Cup.
Known as The Rocket, Canadian-born Richard was the first player to score 50 points in 50 games and is often considered the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history. In 1944 he became the first NHL player to score eight points in one game, a record that held until Darryl Sittler’s 10-point game in 1976. During his career he won eight Stanley Cup rings.
Howe played in the NHL until he was 52 and has played more games than any other player in NHL history. The term Gordie Howe refers to the hat trick of a goal, an assist and a fight that is still used today. In 32 pro seasons, Howe scored an amazing 1,071 goals, played in 29 All-Star games and won MVP seven times.
Lafleur was a member of the 1970s Canadiens, which is considered one the greatest teams of all time. From 1976 to 1977 the team only lost eight out of 80 games. Lafleur is the only player to ever score 50 goals and 100 points in six straight seasons.
No other goalie shut down more shooters than Hasek ? his unorthodox style changed the face of NHL goaltending. His butterfly style made it extremely difficult for shooters to get past him and soon other standup goalies were changing their ways to keep up. His greatest career moment was in the 1998 Olympics where Hasek stopped all five Canadian shooters in the shootout.
Messier is second in the NHL in career games and points. Although he played under Gretzky’s shadow in Edmonton, he won five Stanley Cups with the Oilers before leaving to play for the New York Rangers where the team then won its first Stanley Cup in 50 years. Messier was a natural born leader who deserves his spot among the top 10 hockey players.
This Canadian-born hockey center played 18 seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. This member of the Hockey Hall of Fame was the first player to score 100 points in a season in 1967. He scored 126 in 1969 and topped 100 goals per season five years in a row. Esposito was on the NHL All Star team six consecutive times between 1969 and 1974 and won the Hart Trophy as the League’s MVP in 1969 and 1974.
One of the legends of the NHL, Sawchuk played for the league for 21 seasons. During his career he won 501 games and recorded 115 shutouts. In 1952 this goalie led the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup; in each of his first five years with the NHL he led the league in wins. Terry Sawchuk is considered by many to be one of the NHL’s greatest goal keepers.