The 4 Players on the Mount Rushmore of Every NHL Team
Mount Rushmore: A national monument where the image of four of America's greatest presidents—Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt—are carved into the rocks of a mountainside near Keystone, South Dakota.
But what if each NHL team had their own Mount Rushmore: A monument recognizing the four players who have meant the most to the franchise?
For some teams, it's fairly easy. For Original Six clubs, however, with 80-plus years of history, choosing just four will be very difficult.
Here are the four players that would represent each team in the NHL on their own Mount Rushmore. A few ground rules: teams that moved include their former incarnations; so the Hurricanes include members of the Whalers; the Avalanche include the Nordiques; the Coyotes include the original Winnipeg Jets, and the present-day Jets include the Atlanta Thrashers (hope that's not too confusing).
I'm sure people will have disagreements, especially in regards to the older, more established franchises.
Feel free to chime in with your opinions and say why your choice belongs more than the ones that were made. Keep in mind we are discussing the entire history of a franchise, not just the last 20 years.
Let's have fun with this.
Selanne has been the franchise's best player through both of his tours of duty in Anaheim and is the team's all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points.
For the first part of the team's history, Kariya was Selanne's set-up man and offensive partner-in-crime. He is second all-time in points in franchise history.
Giguere was an essential part of the Ducks' two trips to the Stanley Cup finals (including their only victory in 2007).
Ryan Getzlaf is the best of the Ducks' present-day performers and has been consistently excellent since joining the club in 2006.
The Bruins have a tradition of great defensemen and three of them would be immortalized on Boston's Mount Rushmore.
Orr was the best player of his generation and arguably of all time.
Shore has come to personify "old-time hockey" thanks in part to the references to him in "Slapshot," but the it's all well deserved and Shore is an all-time great.
Ray Bourque was the face of the franchise in the 1980s and 90s and is also an all-time great, let alone an all-time Bruin.
The final spot was tough.
Guys like Milt Schmidt and Johnny Bucyk have long been part of the Bruins' organization after their retirement and received serious consideration.
But in the end, the dominance of Phil Esposito in the late 1960s and 70s earned him the fourth and final spot on the list. He helped the Bruins win a pair of Stanley Cups and was one of the greatest goal scorers in league history.
Perreault was the first draft choice in Sabres' history and remains the franchise's best player.
Hasek edged out Ryan Miller for a spot, having played more games and led the Sabres to a Stanley Cup final appearance in 1999.
Phil Housley was the best defenseman in club history and averaged nearly a point-per-game over eight seasons in Buffalo.
Andreychuk spent 12 seasons in Western New York and is second all-time in franchise history in scoring and just edged out Craig Ramsey for the final spot.
Theo Fleury and Jarome Iginla have served as the face of the Flames during their respective careers and have a unique place in the hearts of Flames fans for their efforts on behalf of the franchise. They are also the top two all-time scorers in Flames' history.
Al MacInnis remains the best defenseman in team history and an integral part of the team's lone Stanley Cup title in 1989.
Vernon edged out Miikka Kiprusoff for the final spot on the mountainside despite Kipper having played a few more games. Kiprusoff led the Flames to one Stanley Cup final series but Vernon backstopped them to two and actually won one of the them.
Ron Francis was a star in both Hartford and Carolina and is the all-time franchise scoring leader when you combine both locations that the team has called home.
Eric Staal is the face of the present-day franchise and edged out goalie Cam Ward for a spot on the mountainside. He was a key part of the club's 2006 Stanley Cup win.
Brind'Amour provided leadership and steady offensive production during his tenure and was an important part of both Hurricanes teams that reached the Stanley Cup finals.
Glen Wesley played a long time for Hartford/Carolina and produced steady defensive play and leadership in more than a decade with the franchise.
Naming the top four players of any Original Six team is very difficult, and the Blackhawks are no exception.
Bobby Hull is the greatest scorer in Hawks history and is arguably the most dangerous left wing of all time.
Mikita and Hull helped lead the Blackhawks to a Cup win in 1961. Mikita then went on to spend 22 seasons in Chicago, many as team captain.
Glenn Hall spent more than a decade in Chicago and set a consecutive games streak of 502 that helped land him in the Hall of Fame.
Tony Esposito played more games in net for the Blackhawks than anybody and twice took the Hawks to the Cup final. He edged out Steve Larmer, Denis Savard and Eric Nesterenko for the final spot on the mountainside.
The Avs/Nords franchise has many elite players to choose from and limiting it to four was difficult.
Sakic and Forsberg are both elite offensive talents who served the team in both Quebec and Denver. Sakic is now in the Hockey Hall Of Fame and Forsberg will almost surely join him once he is eligible.
Stastny was the franchise's first bona fide star during the team's days in Quebec.
Roy's arrival was the final piece of the puzzle when the team won their first Stanley Cup in 1996. He again led the Avs to the Cup in 2001.
Roy edged out Michel Goulet, Adam Foote and Milan Hejduk for the final spot on the Avalanche's Mount Rushmore.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets haven't had a lot of success since joining the NHL in 2000, but there are some players who have stood out in their history.
The recently traded Rick Nash is the team's all-time leading scorer and only true star player.
R.J Umberger and David Vyborny are second and third in club history in scoring and have played steady if not spectacular roles for the Jackets.
Mason has been the team's best goalie, leading them to their lone playoff appearance in 2009. However, he has been very inconsistent since.
The Stars have had a solid history since entering the NHL in 1967 as the Minnesota North Stars.
Brett Hull was the team's top sniper ever and scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for Dallas in 1999.
Mike Modano starred for the franchise in both Minnesota and Dallas and was both part of the team that reached the Cup final in 1991 the Cup winning team of 1999. He holds almost each of franchise's offensive records.
Broton was the team's all-time leading point producer in Minnesota and also briefly appeared for the franchise in Dallas.
Goldsworthy was one of the first stars in franchise history and their top goal scorer in the first decade of their existence. He did his famous "Goldy Shuffle" dance after scoring a goal.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are a very difficult franchise to name top four players for because of the franchise's long and rich history.
Gordie Howe is a must-have for this team and is arguably the best player of all-time. He played for Detroit from 1946 through 1971 and still holds the franchise record for games played, goals and points.
Terry Sawchuk is a Hall of Fame goalie who spent his prime years wearing the winged wheel.
Yzerman and Lidstrom both served as captains of the Red Wings and as the face of the franchise for the bulk of their careers.
Just missing the list are Alex Delvecchio and Ted Lindsay. They are both very deserving, but we only have room for four players.
Tough to argue with Gretzky, Messier and Coffey as they are three of the best players ever to play the game and helped lead the Oilers to multiple Stanley Cup titles in the 1980s (and 1990 in the case of Messier).
Fuhr was a Hall of Fame goalie who backstopped the team during their glory years. He edged out Doug Weight, Ryan Smyth and Jari Kurri for the final spot on the mountainside.
The Panthers are another team without a long history of success, but there are several players who have stood out while wearing a Panthers' uniform.
Stephen Weiss has been the face of the franchise in recent years. He is the first in franchise history in games played and second in points scored.
Scott Mellanby was the heart and soul of the Panthers team that reached the Stanley Cup final in 1996. Also largely responsible for that title run was goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, who was the first star in franchise history.
Olli Jokinen is the Panthers' all-time leading point-getter, which gives him the final spot almost by default.
Los Angeles Kings
I'm sure my picks will raise some controversy but the Kings have several good choices and I drew the line on what these players did for the franchise over the course of their careers.
Robitaille was a consummate King. He is second all-time in franchise history in games played and points and first all-time in goals. Robitaille now works for the Kings organization and is the highest scoring left wing in NHL history.
Marcel Dionne was the first Hall of Famer to spend most of his career in LA. As center of the "Triple Crown Line," Dionne scored more than 700 goals in his NHL career, the vast majority of them in a Kings uniform.
Rogie Vachon was the first star the Kings franchise ever had. He helped turn a moribund team into a playoff contender and later served as coach and GM of the organization.
Dave Taylor also played on the "Triple Crown Line" and has played more games in a Kings sweater than any other player. He is third all-time in franchise history with 1,069 points.
That leaves some very good Kings on the outside looking in including Wayne Gretzky, Bernie Nicholls and Butch Goring, all of whom had some magic moments for the team.
The Wild have had only one long playoff run in franchise history and a lot of mediocrity, but some players have shined in a Wild uniform.
Marian Gaborik is by far the most dangerous sniper the franchise ever had and he has five 30 goal seasons in a Wild jersey to prove it.
Koivu and Bouchard have been consistently good players for the Wild while Backstrom has been the best long-term goalie the club has ever had.
The Canadiens are probably the most difficult team to limit to four players whose faces would be chiseled on Mount Habs, but here goes nothing.
"Rocket Richard" is one of the best goal scorers of all-time. He was the first to score 50 goals in a season and the NHL's top goal scorer each year is now awarded the Richard Trophy.
Jean Beliveau was a smooth skating leader who played 20 seasons with the Canadiens, serving as captain for the last 10 of those years. He is second all-time in Montreal history in points scored and fourth in games played.
Larry Robinson spent 17 seasons in a Montreal uniform and is one of the greatest defensemen of all-time. He was a big part of the teams that won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1976-1979.
Patrick Roy helped the Habs win their final two Cups in 1986 and 1993. He was one of the most popular Canadiens ever before his ugly trade to the Avalanche in 1995.
There are so many other Canadiens who came close to making this list. Hall of Famers like Guy Lafleur; Henri Richard; Gump Worsley; Ken Dryden; Boom-Boom Geoffrion; Howie Morenz; Doug Harvey and Yvan Cournoyer would make the list of many other teams in the NHL.
The Predators don't have as long and fabled a history as the Canadiens, but they have been a successful franchise over the years; becoming consistent winners under GM David Poile and Coach Barry Trotz.
Goalie Pekka Rinne has been one of the better netminders in the league the past few seasons but doesn't get as much media attention playing in a smaller, non-traditional hockey market like Nashville.
David Legwand has been a steady, consistent forward for the Predators for 13 seasons and is the franchise's all-time leading scorer.
The dynamic defensive duo of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter has been among the league's best in recent years. Weber will be staying in Nashville long term while Suter has moved on to the Wild.
New Jersey Devils
After a slow start in Kansas City and Colorado, the Devils franchise has been among the league's most successful since the mid-1990s, largely due to the skills of GM Lou Lamoriello.
Martin Brodeur holds the NHL record for most wins of all time by a goalie and is among the best netminders of all time.
The Big 3 defense corps of Stevens, Daneyko and Niedermayer were special and helped the Devils win three Stanley Cups in the 1990s and 2000s.
Several talented players came close to making this list, but defense was the name of the game for the Devils, which left John MacLean; Patrick Elias; Kirk Muller; Bobby Holik and Zach Parise on the outside looking in.
New York Islanders
From 1975-1985, there probably wasn't a better franchise in the NHL than the New York Islanders. Built by GM Bill Torrey and coached by Al Arbour, the Isles quickly built a dynasty.
Bryan Trottier was the best all-around forward in Isles history. He was a slick playmaker, a deadly accurate passer and responsible in his own zone as well.
Bossy is one of the best snipers in NHL history, topping 50 goals for nine consecutive seasons before a back injury ended his career.
Denis Potvin was one of the best defensemen in NHL history. He could score and hit as hard as anybody. Potvin just killed the rival Rangers every time the teams played.
Billy Smith helped the Isles win four straight Stanley Cups. Smith was one of the best clutch goalie in NHL history. The bigger the game, the better he played.
Near misses for the Isles included Pat Lafontaine; John Tavares; Clark Gillies; Bob Nystrom and John Tonelli.
New York Rangers
The Rangers are another Original Six franchise with lots of all-time greats that just won't have enough room to fit on Broadway's version of Mount Rushmore.
Rod Gilbert spent his entire NHL career with the Rangers and remains the club's all-time leading scorer nearly 35 years after he retired.
Mark Messier and Brian Leetch were the two biggest parts of the Rangers' only Stanley Cup title since 1940. Messier was the captain while Leetch won the Conn Smythe Trophy and is the franchise's all-time most dangerous defenseman.
Harry Howell leads all Rangers in games played and the Hall of Famer is an underrated and almost forgotten part of the Rangers in the 1950s and 60s.
Near misses for the Rangers include Mike Richter; Jean Ratelle; Brad Park; Ed Giacomin; Bill and Bun Cook; Adam Graves and Andy Bathgate.
Keep in mind when discussing the Senators, we are only talking about the modern-day franchise, not the team from Ottawa with the same name that played in the NHL back in the the 1920s and 30s.
Daniel Alfredsson has been the heart and soul (and captain) of the Sens in every important offensive category in their history.
Jason Spezza is second in points and has averaged better than a point-per-game over nine seasons in Canada's capital.
Wade Redden has more points than any Sens defenseman while Chris Phillips has played more than 1,000 games in 14 seasons for Ottawa.
Near misses include Dominik Hasek, Chris Neil, Radek Bonk and Alexei Yashin.
The Flyers became the first expansion team to win a Stanley Cup in 1974 and won a second won a year later. Since then they've been back to the final in 1976, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997 and 2010 but have yet to win another title.
Bobby Clarke has been the greatest leader the Flyers ever had. His hard work and determination led the Flyers to a pair of titles and earned him a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Bernie Parent's stellar goaltending was the difference for the Flyers during their championship years. Had he been healthy in 1976, they may have won a third straight Cup.
Eric Lindros may be the most talented and dominant skater the Flyers ever had before injuries cut his career short.
Bill Barber is the Flyers' all-time leading goal scorer and second all-time leading scorer.
Near misses include Ron Hextall; Brian Propp; Tim Kerr; John LeClair; Rick MacLeish and Mark Recchi.
The Coyotes/Jets franchise has not had a lot of NHL success, advancing past the first round of the playoffs last spring for the first time since 1987.
Dale Hawerchuk was the most dominant offensive player for the Jets in Winnipeg and leads the franchise in goals scored and total points.
Teemu Selanne burst into the NHL with a 76 goal season in Winnipeg and still holds the record for most points in a season with 132.
Teppo Nemminen spent 15 seasons with the Jets/Coyotes organization and remains the best defenseman in the franchise's NHL history.
Shane Doan is the captain of the franchise and has played more games than any other player in the history of the Jets/Coyotes. The Desert Dogs are worried they will be unable to re-sign Doan due to the club's financial problems.
The Penguins have won three Stanley Cups in their history and have had a lot of highs and lows in franchise history including a pair of bankruptcies.
Mario Lemieux saved the team from the brink of disaster twice, once when he was drafted and once when he bought the team after his retirement. Lemieux is one of the all-time greats on the ice.
Jaromir Jagr helped Lemieux lead the Pens to a pair of championships in 1991 and 1992 and was another of the most dynamic offensive players in the history of the game.
Crosby and Malkin helped the Pens win the Stanley Cup in 2009 and remain among the very best in the game today.
Near misses for the Pens include Tom Barasso, Jean Pronovost, Rick Kehoe, Ron Stackhouse and Marc-Andre Fleury.
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues qualified for the Stanley Cup final during their first three seasons of existence but haven't been back since.
Among the stars of their early days were the Plager brothers, Barclay and Bob (Bill also briefly played for the Blues). Barclay edged out his brother for a spot on the Blues Mount Rushmore.
Bernie Federko remains the franchise's best overall player and all-time leading scorer.
Brett Hull has scored more goals than anybody in Blues history.
Garrry Unger was the best player the Blues had offensively in the 1970s, a dynamic goal scorer who remains fourth all-time in franchise history in goals and points.
Near misses for the Blues include Keith Tkachuk; Mike Liut; Brian Sutter; Bob Plager; Al MacInnis and Red Berenson.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks have been consistent winners recently but have never reached the Stanley Cup final since entering the league in 1991.
Patrick Marleau has been with the Sharks for all 13 seasons of his career. He leads the franchise in goals, points and games played.
Joe Thornton has been the leader of the team since coming over from Boston. The big and talented center is the Sharks career assist leader and is second all-time in points.
Owen Nolan served as the captain and spiritual leader of the Sharks before Thornton was acquired and is second all-time in goals and third in points.
Nabokov has been the Sharks best all-time goalie and played more games between the pipes than any other netminder.
Near misses for the Sharks include Mike Ricci; Marco Sturm; Mike Rathje; Jeff Friesen; Joe Pavelski and Vincent Damphousse.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Martin St. Louis
The Lightning have had several superstars over the course of their existence including their Stanley Cup win in 2004.
Martin St. Louis has been a consistently strong offensive contributor despite his lack of size. St. Louis is the Bolts all-time assist leader and second overall in points.
Vincent Lecavalier is the Lightning's all-time leading scorer and has played more games than any player in the history of the franchise. When he plays two more games for Tampa Bay, he will become the first player in the history of the club to play in 1,000 games.
Brad Richards was a key part of the team's Cup win in 2004 and is still fourth all-time in points for the Lightning.
Pavel Kubina is third overall in points and has more points than any Lightning defenseman after his two tours of duty with the club.
Near misses for the Bolts include Chris Gratton, Vinny Prospal and Steven Stamkos.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The final Original Six team is also a tough organization to choose just four players to put on "Mount Maple Leafs."
Dave Keon played more than 1,000 games for the Leafs and remains third overall in points in franchise history with 858 and third in goals with 365 after playing 15 seasons in Toronto.
Darryl Sittler was the captain of the Leafs in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was one of the more exciting players in the NHL during his career. Sittler is one of only two players in Leafs history to score more than 900 career points in a Maple Leafs uniform.
George Armstrong holds the record for most games played in franchise history. He played 21 seasons for the Maple Leafs and is fifth on the team's all-time scoring list.
Mats Sundin is the all-time leading scorer in franchise history and served as captain of the Leafs for many years. He is first all-time in goals and points and second all-time in assists.
Near misses in Toronto include Borje Salming, Frank Mahovlich, Turk Broda, Ron Ellis and Tim Horton.
The Canucks have made three runs to the Stanley Cup final in their history but are still looking for their first Stanley Cup win since entering the league in 1970.
Trevor Linden was the long-time captain of the team and has played more games in a Canucks sweater than any other player. He is also third all-time in points in Canucks history.
Stan Smyl was the face of the franchise in the 1970s and a steady presence in Vancouver for 13 seasons. He is fifth all-time in points and second in games played.
Markus Naslund is the franchise's all-time points leader and their top goal scorer.
The Sedin Twins, Henrik and Daniel both make this list. First of all, we couldn't tell their faces apart on the side of the mountain anyway, and second, they are inseparable, at least on the ice.
Near misses for the Canucks include Kirk McLean, Pavel Bure, Harold Snepsts and Roberto Luongo.
The Capitals have a history filled with recent regular season success, even if they only reached one Stanley Cup final in the team's history.
Dale Hunter was the long-time Caps captain and the gutsy center who provided a lot of heart for the teams he played for (and later coached). Hunter is fifth all-time in points and the Caps' all-time leader in penalty minutes.
Mike Gartner was a very consistent 30 or more goal scorer for Washington for 10 seasons and is second all-time in Caps history in scoring.
Peter Bondra leads the Caps in goals scored and points.
Alex Ovechkin has been the face of the franchise since he joined the Caps in 2005 and is already third all-time in points in Caps history.
Near misses for the Caps include Scott Stevens; Michal Pivonka; Dennis Maruk; Calle Johansson and Rod Langway.
Remember, this is the history of the "new" Winnipeg Jets which includes the Atlanta Thrashers, not the original NHL Jets who were born out of the WHA expansion of 1979.
Ilya Kovalchuk is by far the best player this franchise ever had and leads them in goals, assists, points and games played.
Dustin Byfuglien has been a strong defenseman in both Atlanta and Winnipeg since joining the franchise in 2010.
Slava Kozlov is second all-time in franchise history in points and spent seven seasons with the Thrashers organization.
Evander Kane is the future of the franchise and presently is the Jets best young forward.
Near misses for the Jets/Thrashers franchise include Patrik Stefan; Tobias Enstrom; Marc Savard; Dany Heatley and Ondrej Pavelec.