Sports fans love lists, from the best of all time, to the greatest goals in playoff history, and this writer believes 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 they wore. Though a few may be obvious, there will surely be surprises for many of you.
Let's get on with the show, as this week we look at numbers 21 through 30.
In the mid-90s, with the trap being the system used by most NHL teams, two-way players were seen as the future of the league, and none exemplified this more than Peter Forsberg. Widely considered the best player in the world at the time, he was arguably the best offensive talent while always getting the toughest defensive assignment every night. Though injuries have cut his career short, he is a sure fire Hall of Famer.
Worthy Mentions: Guy Carbonneau, Stan Mikita
Simple as this: in his first nine years in the league he scored 50 goals or more in each and every season. Another career cut short by injuries, he finished with 573 goals in 752 games. Thats 0.76 goals a game, making him number one in league history.
Worthy Mentions: Steve Shutt, Brian Bellows
In our previous installment, we mentioned that Mark Messier had a trophy named for him after he retired. Well, Bob Gainey had a trophy created to honor him while he was playing. The original defensive forward, the future Hall of Famer was such a force against opposing teams top lines the Frank J. Selke award was handed to Gainey it's first four years.
Worthy Mentions: Brian Bellows, Eddie Shack
Chicago fans might remember him as number 7, but Chris Chelios has worn number 24 for seventeen years in his illustrious career. Overshadowed by flashier defensemen throughout his career, he managed to collect 3 Stanley Cups and Norris Trophies while adding close to a thousand points in nearly 1,700 games.
Worthy Mentions: Doug Wilson, Bernie Federko
Starting with his Calder-winning rookie year in 1988, Nieuwendyk went on to a long career where he tallied 564 goals to establish himself as one of the most underrated goal scorers in NHL history.
Worthy Mentions: Dave Andreychuk, Jacques Lemaire
With all the flash that the Oilers brought in the 80s, with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier leading the way, an all time great offensive talent played in their shadows in Quebec City. Stastny famously escaped the communist regime of Czechoslovakia to become one of the greatest European players to ever grace the NHL ice.
Worthy Mention: Mike Milbury
Before Mats Sundin came to town, the last great offensive talent the Leafs had was the Senator himself, Frank Mahovlich. Tallying up 533 goals in his career, Mahovlich won 6 Stanley Cups, being an integral part of two of the greatest franchises in hockey history.
Worthy Mentions: Scott Niedermayer, Darryl Sittler
The NHL's Cal Ripken in the 1980s, Steve Larmer was the undisputed leader of the Blackhawks in his 13 year career in Chicago. He won the Calder Trophy, put up over 1,000 points in his career, and was a very important part in the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup run.
Who else but the greatest goalie of the 70s? Drafted by the Bruins in 1964 and traded to the Habs that same night, he chose to play hockey and continue his education at Cornell before finally making his debut in the League during the 1970-71 season. During the next eight years, all he did was win 5 Vezina trophies, the Calder Memorial trophy, 258 games, and—most importantly—6 Stanley Cups.
Only goalie to ever score a game winning goal....
Oh and the most regular season wins by any goaltender.