By The Numbers, The Greatest NHL Players
Sports fans love lists, from the best of all time, to the greatest goals in playoff history, and well this writer believe it is time for one of his own, though it might be a little unorthodox.
In the coming weeks, I will list the greatest players in NHL history, by the numbers the wore. Though a few may be obvious, there will surely be surprises for many of you.
Lets get on with the show, as this week we look at numbers one through ten.
Number 1: Johnny Bower
In the early days of the NHL with 6 teams, some players never got to shine in the big league, having to ply there trade in the lower level AHL. Johnny Bower played 12 season in the A, before graduating to the NHL where he went on to post 250 victories.
Worthy Mentions: Bernie Parent, Terry Sawchuk
Number 2: Brian Leetch
In 1994, the New York Rangers, ended one of the longest championship droughts, as hey captured the Stanley Cup led by Mark Messier. However the Conn Smythe winner that year was none other then Brian Leetch, who recorded an astonishing 34 points in 23 games. Not too shabby for a defenceman. Oh and he also finished with over 1000 points for his career, two Norris trophies, and 10 All-Star games.
Worthy Mentions: Tim Horton, Doug Harvey
Number 3: Pierre Pilote
Standing 5 ft 9, weighing in at 155 lbs, all Pierre Pilote did in his career was score 498 points in 13 years in the league, while collecting 3 straight Norris trophies, 8 straight All-Star selections in the 6 team era, and having his number retired by the Hawks in 2008.
Number 4: Bobby Orr
Greatest D-Man of all time, arguably best player of all time. 'Nuff Said.
Worthy Mentions: Jean Beliveau
Number 5:Denis Potvin
Yet another defenceman in this list so far, but how can you deny the merits of Potvin. An integral part of the Islanders Cup run in the 80s, he retired as the All-Time leader in points by a rearguard.
Worthy Mention: Rod Langway
Though best remembered for having his career ended by Eddie Shore, Bailey was an electrifying player in his day, leading the league once in scoring, and having the honor of being the first to have his number retired by an NHL team.
Number 7: Phil Esposito
Many of us Canadians remember Esposito for his emotional outburst after game four of the 1972 Summit Series, good enough to make this list in my opinion, but to hockey fans south of the border he is more fondly remembered as the greatest scorer in the NHL during the 1970s. Until Gretzky beat his record, 76 goals in a year was the benchmark all scorers strived for.
Worthy Mentions: Paul Coffey, Ted Lindsay, Howie Morenz
Number 8: Cam Neely
A career tragically cut short by injuries, there is no denying that Cam Neely was one of the greatest power forwards of all time. Collecting 395 goals along with over 1200 penalty minutes in just over 700 games, he is also one of only 9 players to score 50 goals in his first 50 games in a season, a feat he accomplished in 1994.
Number 9: Maurice Richard
With the number nine, we arrive at our first debate in this list. How can Richard be put ahead of Mr.Hockey himself, Gordie Howe? Well in this writers opinion it could be explained this way: First 50/50 player in the NHL, first 500 goal scorer, 8 Stanley Cups, and most importantly, Maurice Richard was a catalyst in the province of Quebec's Quiet Revolution. What other hockey player can claim that?
Worthy Mention: Gordie Howe
Number 10:Ron Francis
Though not as flashy as Guy " The Flower" Lafleur, Ron Francis quietly had a 23 year career, in which he collected over 1700 points as a player along with 3 Stanley Cups. He will be best remembered though as one of the greatest leaders to ever play the game.
Worthy Mention: Guy Lafleur