By The Numbers, The Greatest NHL Players, #11-20
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 eleven through twenty.
Number 11: Mark Messier
One of the easier selections in this list, Messiers accomplishments are too many to name by this writer. A member of the high powered Oilers in the 80s playing in the shadows of Gretzky, Messier finally stepped into the limelight as he went on to lead two teams to Stanley Cups. Known as one of the greatest leaders in pro sports history, the NHL named an award after number 11.
Worthy Mentions: Gilbert Perreault, Mike Gartner
Number 12: Jarome Iginla
Though Hab fans might disagree ( 2 Hall of Famers who wore 12), Iginla is the first active player listed on this list, on the pure fact that in his thirteen seasons in Calgary he has established himself as a top 5 player, and one of the best power forwards of all time.
Worthy Mentions: Dickie Moore, Yvan Cournoyer
Number 13: Mats Sundin
Although starting his career with the lowly Nordiques, the first European-born player to be drafted number one overall made his name in the worlds biggest hockey market. Though never winning that historic Stanley Cup for his Leafs, he finished his career in Toronto as the all time leader in goals and points.
Number 14: Dave Keon
To fans in Toronto he may be best remembered for his public feud with Harold Ballard, which eventually led him to the WHA, to the hockey world he is more fondly recalled for being one of the brightest offensive stars of his era, and of his virtuoso performance in the '67 playoffs where he shutdown Montreal great Jean Beliveau en route to the Conn Smythe trophy.
Worthy Mention: Thereon Fleury
Number 15: Bobby Smith
Drafted number one by the North Stars in 1978, Smith proved to be worth the hype as he won the Calder Trophy at the tender age of 20. He went on to score over 1000 points in his career while capturing the Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1986.
Number 16: Bobby Clarke
Henri Richard won 11 Stanley Cups, Marcel Dionne was one of the best offensive players of all times, and Brett Hull was probably the greatest sniper in NHL history, but the best player to wear number 16 is none other then the leader of the Broad Street Bullies himself, Bobby Clarke. Being the face of a brand of hockey despised by fans and media alike, he nonetheless led the Flyers to the championship, making the team the first non original six to hoist the banner.
Worthy Mentions: Henri RIchard, Marcel Dionne, Brett Hull
Number 17: Jari Kurri
Scottie Pippen, Alvin Harper, anyone to ever hit behind Barry Bonds...
Its not easy being a sidekick in pro sports, but if anyone ever managed to pull it off it was Jari Kurri. Playing alongside Wayne Gretzky for most of his professional career, 364 of his 601 goals where setup by the Great One. On the flip side, Kurri assisted on 196 of Gretzky markers. Over ten years after his retirement, he still ranks as the second highest scoring European in league history.
Worthy Mention: Wendel Clark, Rod Brind' Amour
Number 18: Denis Savard
The Savardian Spin-O-Rama is one of hockeys most electrifying moves, and the man its named after is none other then the diminutive Denis Savard. While the Montreal Canadiens decided to skip over the hometown star for Doug Wickenheiser, the Blackhawks wisely chose him, and he rewarded them with ten superb seasons and the chance to acquire Chris Chelios.
Worthy Mentions: Serge Savard, Davve Taylor
Number 19: Steve Yzerman
Before the arrival of Steve Yzerman in Detroit, the team languished for years in the bottom half of the league. But the young man from Cranbrook, went on to become the face of the most dominant dynasty the NHL has seen since the days of the Oilers. While he was known more as an offensive powerhouse in his early years, Stevie Y eventually transformed his game to become one of the true all-time greats the league ever saw.
Worthy Mention: Joe Sakic
Number 20: Luc Robitaille
A quiet guy on and off the ice, all Luc Robitaille accomplished in his NHL career was establish himself as the greatest left-winger of all time.