NHL: The Most Iconic Player in Each Franchise's History
The ultimate goal in hockey is to bring home the Stanley Cup. Along the way, teams create magical moments that are forever burned in the memories of their fans. Some might call these moments iconic.
Well, someone has to deliver those moments, and the ones who do tend to do so over and over again. Those are the legends of the NHL.
Every franchise needs a face, and every franchise has defining moments. Here is the most iconic player in each NHL team's history.
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne
Having played twelve of his twenty NHL seasons as an Anaheim Duck, he has become the most beloved and iconic player in the franchise's young history. Selanne has piled up over a decade's worth of points for the Ducks and hoisted the franchise's lone Stanley Cup.
Boston Bruins: Bobby Orr
This is an obvious choice. Any time a player has such an iconic moment as is pictured above, they become a folk hero of sorts. Bobby Orr changed hockey in Boston forever. Orr brought the Cup to Boston, making children in the Boston area want to play the sport. Most importantly, he still makes contributions to the organization.
Buffalo Sabres: Danny Gare
Danny Gare may not be a household name, but given the lack of truly inspiring moments in Buffalo Sabres' history, he takes the cake for this franchise.
Gare is the man who lifted the Sabres into their first Stanley Cup Finals with a terrific game winning goal. Until someone steps up, that moment will make Danny Gare the most iconic player in the history of the Buffalo Sabres.
Calgary Flames: Lanny McDonald
Lanny McDonald may not be the longest tenured or most talented Calgary Flame of all time, but he was part of the only Stanley Cup championship in Flames' history. After a long career bouncing around the league, McDonald landed in Calgary and finally hoisted the Cup.
Carolina Hurricanes: Rob Brind'Amour
Ten hard-nosed seasons in Carolina resulted in Rob Brind'Amour becoming the city's hero during the 2006 Stanley Cup Championship run by the Hurricanes. Brind'Amour captained the team and also contributed a 70 point season in addition to some clutch goals during the playoffs.
The stat sheet doesn't concern Canes' fans, though. It's Brind'Amour lifting the Cup and delivering the first Championship to Carolina that makes him a hockey legend for the Hurricanes.
Chicago Blackhawks: Bobby Hull
The Golden Jet is without a doubt one of the most iconic players in NHL and Chicago Blackhawks history. His resume is littered with awards from the Hart and Art Ross Trophies to hockey's ultimate prize. One of the greatest goal scorers the game has ever seen, Hull is a legend in Chicago, which is not easy to accomplish.
Colorado Avalanche: Joe Sakic
Despite a relatively brief history in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche have already had a few legendary players pull on their sweater. Chief among the legendary members of the Avalanche is Joe Sakic. He played every game of his career in the organization, piling up over 1,600 career points and bringing a pair fo Stanley Cups to Colorado.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Rick Nash
Though it is not exactly a huge accomplishment, Rick Nash has clearly established himself as the best player the Columbus Blue Jackets have ever had. He has had some big moments in the rare postseason play the Jackets have had, and he has been productive for a number of years now. Here's hoping his most iconic moment is still to come.
Dallas Stars: Mike Modano
Despite departing for Detroit prior to the end of his career, Mike Modano is by far the most beloved Dallas Star in the history of the organization. He has it all; loyalty, production, leadership, class, and most importantly a Stanley Cup Ring.
Detroit Red Wings: Gordie Howe
With an organization as storied as the Detroit Red Wings it is tough to pick just one iconic player. Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan could certainly make a case for this list, but it would be tough to leave off "Mr. Hockey" himself.
Gordie Howe had such an outstanding impact on the Detroit Red Wings franchise both on and off the ice and will forever hold a special place in the organization's heart.
Edmonton Oilers: Wayne Gretzky
Is this even a question? Pick anyone of a dozen moments in Gretzky's career and it is quite obvious to see where he gets the nickname "the Great One." His impact on the Edmonton Oilers was immeasurable and goes without saying. His impact on the game of hockey may have been even greater.
Florida Panthers: Pavel Bure
A franchise as sorry as the Florida Panthers almost doesn't deserve a spot on this list of iconic individuals. However, despite the shortcomings of the Florida Panthers' organization, Pavel Bure made iconic moments via highlight reel goals instead of postseason success.
Los Angeles Kings: Luc Robitaille
The Los Angeles Kings are a franchise devoid of postseason success. Thus, the most loyal and productive player to ever dawn the Kings' purple, Luc Robitaille, takes the cake as the franchise's most iconic player. A humble and quiet producer, Robitaille was well respected around the league and loved in L.A.
Minnesota Wild: Marion Gaborik
The Minnesota Wild are yet another franchise lacking a big time icon in their franchise's history. The lone true franchise player the team has ever had is Marion Gaborik. Gaborik enjoyed plenty of success early in his career with the Wild as the team reached the postseason and he was a mainstay on the highlights.
Montreal Canadiens: Guy Lafleur
Given the sheer quantity of championship banners hanging from the rafters at the Belle Centre, it's no surprise that the Candiens are a difficult team for which to choose one iconic player. However, despite the greatness of Rocket Richard, Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden, and others, Guy Lafleur is the epitome of Canadiens' hockey. He has the stats and the rings to back it up.
Nashville Predators: Shea Weber
The Nashville Predators went farther in the playoffs this past season than they ever have in the existence of the franchise. A big part of that was the play of Shea Weber, who has established himself as one of the top defenders in the league. He is poised to do bigger things than any Predator ever has.
New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur
Marty Brodeur is decorated with every goaltending award under the sun and has become a legend amongst the New Jersey Devils' faithful. His ability to step up in big moments lifted the team to a pair of Stanley Cup Championships.
New York Islanders: Mike Bossy
The New York Islanders define their franchise by the outstanding run of success the team enjoyed during the 1980's. The key cog to that success was forward Mike Bossy, who many argue could have put up gaudy statistics if not for injury. Regardless, Bossy was a legend.
New York Rangers: Mark Messier
Mark Messier was constantly stuck in Wayne Gretzky's shadow during his playing days for the Edmonton Oilers. However, once he moved on to the New York Rangers, Messier established his legacy as a remarkable captain and clutch performer. The Stanley Cup the Rangers won in 1994 is one of the shining moments of the franchise, and Messier delivered it.
Ottawa Senators: Daniel Alfredsson
The Ottawa Senators have not enjoyed the success they did nearly a century ago, but the team still has some celebratory players in its history.
For one, Daniel Alfredsson has been an amazing player for the Senators and been there for his entire career. The Swede has enjoyed some postseason success with the club and brought them as close to the Cup as Ottawa has been in its existence.
Philadelphia Flyers: Bobby Clarke
The Philadelphia Flyers' franchise has been defined by hard-nosed hockey that borders on chippy at times. The Broad Street Bullies of the 1970's define this team, and Bobby Clarke was the meanest of the bunch. The last Flyer captain to bring the Cup to Broad Street, Bobby Clarke has delivered many of the most memorable moments to Philly hockey fans.
Phoenix Coyotes: Shane Doan
Shane Doan embodies the Phoenix Coyotes organization. He has been with the club through thick and the thin, and while he has not enjoyed much postseason success, Doan is easily the most beloved and productive player the franchise has ever had.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Mario Lemieux
Few players have been able to conjure the kind of emotion in the fans that Mario Lemieux did throughout his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. His on ice ability was top notch, but his determination and ability to overcome adversity was an even bigger part of who Lemieux was as a human being.
San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton
The San Jose Sharks have consistently been an elite regular season performer but fallen a bit short in the postseason. As it turns out, Joe Thornton embodies the same pattern of production. There haven't been too many iconic moments in the history of the Sharks, but Joe Thornton has been a part of the majority of them.
St. Louis Blues: Brett Hull
Brett Hull never exactly had the passion for hockey that most of the players on this list have exemplified, but he was an insanely productive player for the St. Louis Blues. His stats were as good in the postseason as they were in the regular season. So, the fact that St. Louis did not enjoy a tremendous amount of postseason success while Hull was there is no indictment on him.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Vinny Lecavalier
Once a prized prospect of the Tampa Lightning, Vincent Lecavalier has become one of the most successful players the franchise has ever had. Lecavalier has piled up points and brought a championship to Tampa Bay. He has the shining moments in both the regular and postseason to be considered a landmark player in this history of this organization.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mats Sundin
There may not be a franchise as storied as the Toronto Maple Leafs that is so deprived of postseason success. Not having one a Stanley Cup since 1967, the Leafs have searched for the shining star of the organization ever since.
The closest thing to a true iconic player is definitely Mats Sundin. Sundin was loyal to the organization and was a clutch performer during his time there.
Vancouver Canucks: Markus Naslund
Markus Naslund is a true gentleman. He quietly went about his business, playing in over 1,000 career games for the Canucks. His 869 points are the best the franchise has ever seen, and though he never won a Stanley Cup ring, neither have any Canucks, so he is not alone.
Washington Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin
Nobody is a bigger icon in the NHL today than Alexander Ovechkin. Ovi is a self promoter who absolutely adores the game of hockey. He has quickly become the face of a franchise that desperately needed one. Something tells me there are plenty of iconic moments in Number 8's near future.
Winnipeg Jets: TBA
The iconic player of the Winnipeg Jets is yet to emerge. The Atlanta Thrashers were such a disaster that mentioning any of those players as iconic is nothing but a huge stretch. Time will tell which players will emerge for the newfound Jets' franchise.
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