The two-way forward. Maybe it's a term too often thrown around in the hockey world these days. However, some of the greatest players our game has seen have been of this mold.
Names like Steve Yzerman, Doug Gilmour, Guy Carbonneau, Jere Lehtinen, Sergei Fedorov etc.—they pepper the list of the greatest two-way players of all time.
It's a skill that is highly coveted by most teams, a player capable of combining high production offensively, with solid defensive responsibility.
The Los Angeles Kings, throughout their history, have had a number of very good two-way forwards. Are they in the conversation for greatest of all time? No probably not, but they certainly have been the best this franchise has seen, and aren't names to scoff at.
Some are younger, some donned the purple and gold, and silver and black of years past. Here are my five greatest two-way players the Kings organization has ever had.
Dave Taylor had five seasons over 90 points in his Kings career. But that wasn't the only thing he was known for.
Although he had 12 seasons over 20 goals, teams were more worried about the tough, physical and hard-nosed game Dave Taylor played. Quite simply, Taylor was one tough S.O.B. to play against.
It's one thing to be able to punish the other team with goals, but it's another thing to punish them physically when they possess the puck. I don't think it's unrealistic to speculate that Taylor would have been among the league leaders in hits if the stat had been kept back in the day.
In his career spanning 17 seasons with the Kings, he was a plus-181, and was just under a point per game pace. (1,111 Games played, 1,069 points.)
Zigmund 'Ziggy' Palffy. One of the best hockey names to ever grace a Kings uniform, and also one of the greatest two-way forwards.
In five seasons with the Kings, Palffy endeared himself to the L.A. fans for his fantastic speed, great hands and hard work-ethic.
Those qualities are what made Palffy a three-time 30-plus goal scorer with the Kings. And they also helped him accumulate a staggering 44 power-play goals, and 10 short-handed goals during his Kings career.
He never had a minus season even though he was a King through some difficult years. He finished plus-85 overall with L.A.
Palffy will almost always be remembered for his offensive game, but his defensive play is what made him such a valuable piece in the minor successes of the franchise in the early 2000s
Goring was one of the premier two-way specialists in the game during the 1970s.
In 10 seasons with the Kings, Goring only twice finished below 50 points, and four times had 30-plus goals. But Goring made himself valuable with his fantastic faceoff abilities and knack for keeping himself on the ice almost all the time.
Although the officiating was much looser in the 1970s, Goring finished four seasons with just a single minor penalty levied against him. Only twice did he finish above 10 minutes in penalties. Even with loose officiating that is still an incredible statistic.
He was the Kings go-to centerman for power plays and penalty killing alike. He accumulated 19 shorthanded goals with the franchise along with 46 power-play goals.
Is it a bit early to be saying this? Yeah probably. But is a lot of this potential real? Definitely.
For Kopitar to be on this list, he's had to leapfrog a lot of players whose contributions are statistically better than his—so far.
However, Kopitar has one thing that all Kings players throughout history don't have: a Stanley Cup.
Is it worth that much more? I think so. Kopitar just turned 25, and has grown with the Kings organization. His defensive game is among the best in the league; he's an all-situations player, and he only continues to get better.
It IS tough for me to call Kopitar one of the best two-way forwards the Kings organization has seen because we have seen so very little of him compared to others. However, Kopitar already has all the tools and the greatest accolade in hockey. At the age of 30, I don't think it will even be in question whether he ranks among the Kings' all-time two-way players.
I know what you are thinking, "Come on man, that's too easy."
Well, you don't get the nickname "The Great One" by being great at just one end of the ice. (You hear that Ovechkin?)
But let's talk about some stuff that people often forget when it comes to Gretzky. We all know about his offensive accolades, so those can remain unsaid.
Gretzky, over his career, led the league in takeaways 15 times. He is the only player in history to ever accumulate over 1,000 points and over 3,000 intercepted passes. His defensive zone draw rate was in the low 70s, and he had 73 short-handed goals for his career.
It wasn't all about the goal-scoring and assists with Gretzky. He truly was an all-situations player. His vision and hockey sense on ice are still unparalleled to this day. He read plays offensively and defensively better than everyone.
It was hard to find a real flaw with the game of Gretzky, which is why he is the greatest player to ever play the game. It may seem too easy to put Gretzky on a top-five list by default (unless we are talking about fighting) but that is just how good he was in almost every aspect of the game.