The slap shot.
Until the 1950's in the NHL, coaches frowned on the use of the slap shot during games because it was thought to take too long for a player to get it off. Why waste time winding up and allowing defenders and goalies to set up for the shot?
It was thought that there were much better, more effiecient ways to get off a shot at the net, then taking a lengthy wind-up and firing it inaccurately.
But since that time when the slap shot was brought into the game, it has been the most lethal weapon for players from generation to generation, striking fear into goaltenders and allowing the NHL's most powerful players to strut their stuff on a league-wide level.
As the art of the shot has evolved, so too has the technology of the equipment used; particularly the stick. Gone are the days when players use a wooden stick, fresh of the trunk of a tree and nowadays it's all about the composite.
Introduced late in the 1999-2000 season when Easton Hockey had then-rookie for the New Jersey Devils, Scott Gomez try out the first Easton Synergy. Since that time, almost every player in the league uses some form of the composite stick, which allows more power and the ability to get the shot of quicker due to the stick's lightweight feature.
It changed the way the game was played, but don't think for a second that players before the composite stick era didn't have canons either. Some of the most feared slap shots in history come from players who used wooden sticks all though their careers, and still managed to clock some of the fastest shots ever taken.
It's difficult to rank the fifty players with the hardest shot, only because of how much the game has changed and advanced.
Questions will always remain about comparing players of today's NHL to yesterdays, and whether a harder shot now with better technology trumps a hard shot 'back in the day' with a wooden stick, or visa versa.
Players are bigger and stronger now than they ever were, but that doesn't necessarily mean guys with hard shots now are better than every guy who had a hard shot back then, does it?
It's also much more than just looking at the All-Star weekends' hardest shot competitions (which has only been around since 1990) and comparing shots taken over the years. Having a hard shot is more than just a one-time display of power in a non-game setting. It's about being known league-wide for having the ability to unleash a rocket at any moment in a game.
Recognition is an much apart of this list as anything. But recorded shot speeds will also be taken into consideration, as well as era they played in, and how effective their shot really was during games. It all comes into play.
The slapshot represents the evolution of hockey, each time a player winds up to unload, with the crowd growing in anticipation just as the puck is launched, knowing that in less than a second the entire game could change. It's more than just a shot. It carries with it an attitude and swagger that few other areas of the game do.
And with all the changes the NHL has seen over the years, that attitude, that swagger carried by those who own one of the hardest shots in history, that is something that will never change.
Here are the fifty players in NHL history who did it best.