All-Time NHL Team: Left Wingers
The "All-Time NHL Team" series continues today with a look at the left wingers. This list, save for our starter, was a bit tougher to compile. Center, defense and goalie were by far the more obvious ones and had more top-end depth. Regardless, the choices have been made.
Our first reserve is Maple Leaf legend Frank Mahovlich.
The Big M was one of the game's first true power forwards. At 6'0", 205 pounds, he was bigger than most during his time and with a long, powerful stride, forced his way through the opposition. He had tremendous puck-handling skills and a booming shot.
Mahovlich helped lead the Leafs to four Stanley Cups, including their last to date in 1966-67, but a dispute over the renewal of his contract left him out of favor with the Leaf fans. He would spend time in and out of hospitals during his stay in Toronto, citing depression as the main concern.
Finally, after a tension-filled partnership with coach Punch Imlach, Mahovlich was traded to Detroit in a block-buster deal in 1968. In Detroit, he had three and a half stellar seasons before another front office issue forced him to Montreal. There, he joined his brother, Peter, and became a full-fledged star once again, setting a career-high with 96 points.
So why the Big M? A prototype before there even was a prototype, Mahovlich was a bull with good skating ability and a hard shot. He could be physical or go finesse, was one of the finest scoring left wingers ever (553 goals, 1103 points) and he was a proven winner as evidenced by his six Stanley Cup wins.
Joining him is another old-schooler. Detroit's Ted Lindsay should be looked up to by today's agitators like Sean Avery and Jarkko Ruutu. The difference is that Lindsay could piss you off then beat you up.
Lindsay's agitating began early in his career when he entered the NHL as a 19 year old. Despite playing amateur hockey in Toronto, he signed on with Detroit, drawing the ire of Leafs owner Conn Smythe. The two would feud for many years ahead.
As a player, Lindsay was apart of the famed "Production Line" with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel. He would earn the Art Ross Trophy in 1949-1950, while earning the nickname "Terrible Ted" for his toughness along the way.
Lindsay would stir up a bit of trouble for himself and owners when he and Canadiens star Doug Harvey lobbied to set up a small "association". The two were trying to gain players better conditions, to which most owners scoffed. With almost unanimous player support and an anti-trust lawsuit, a union went into effect in 1958.
Because of this, Lindsay, who was a star at the time, was dealt from Detroit to Chicago where he played out the rest of his days.
So why "Terrible Ted"? Well, because you probably want a guy with the nickname "Terrible" on your team. An agitator for whom "elbowing" and "kneeing" penalties were created, Lindsay could also score with the best of them. He's the ultimate combo of pest and scorer and a welcome addition to the All-Time Team.
Our third reserve is a bit more recent and I actually didn't originally want him on the team. So you could say he's a bit "lucky" to be here.
"Lucky" Luc Robitaille is a standard-bearer for longevity. Beginning his career in 1986-87 as a King and ending it in the same place 20 years later, Robitaille always flew in under the radar, despite being one of the NHL's best goal scorers through the early 90's.
Drafted in the ninth round (171st overall) of the 1984 draft, Robitaille is one of the all-time steals. He notched 40+ goals a year for his first eight seasons including three 50+ goal seasons. In 1992-93, he set NHL left wing records for goals (63, since broken by Alex Ovechkin) and points (125).
Luc would bounce around a bit during the 90's and early 00's, before ending up Los Angeles to finish out his career as a King in 2005-2006. Luc walked away with records for goals and points by a left winger, as well as being the second player ever drafted in the ninth round or later to reach 1,000 career points.
So why Luc? Consistency, consistency, consistency. It's such a hard thing to find and Luc consistently found the back of the net, as evidence by those 668 lamp lighters. Silently potent, he's the kind of guy every team needs: be quiet, do your job and do it well.
The starter on this team is the standard-bearer. The guy whom every winger looks up to and a cool nickname to boot.
The "Golden Jet", Bobby Hull is our starting Left Winger.
Hull was known for his blinding speed and flowing blonde hair, as well as the most dangerous slap shot in the game. His slapshot was once clocked at 118.3 mph and he could skate 29.7 mph.
Hull began a new trend, curving the blade of the stick, in the early 60's and it helped him dominate. He also was the first to score more than 50 goals, tallying 54 in the 1965-66 season. He would go on to pot 50 five times, one less than all the other past 50 goal scorers combined.
In the early 70's, unhappy with salaries in the NHL, Hull jumped to the upstart WHA for an-unheard-of $1,000,000. He would achieve great success in the WHA, eventually setting a then-pro record with 77 goals in one season. He would finish his pro career with 913 goals (303 in the WHA, 610 in the NHL) and leave as an all-time great.
So why Bobby Hull? Well, as mentioned, he was a superb skater and possessed one of the most feared shots ever. He used his skills well and scored more goals than all but 14 players in history.
He was one of the game's brightest stars and leaves a lasting memory of trembling goalies in his wake.
Next up: Right Wingers
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