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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Top Ten Players of Ice Hockey of All Time

Ice Hockey is one of the most popular games in the North American countries including Canada, USA etc. This is, in fact, a very popular sports in Winter Olympic Games. Alongside American Football, basketball and baseball, Ice Hockey is also one of the most attractive sports in USA. No doubt, Ice Hockey does not have world-wide popularity because the game can only be played in the cold countries. Well, that does not mean that Ice Hockey has very small fan following. In fact, Ice Hockey has many fans and many legendary players in its history.

Here, in this article, I tried to make a list of top ten greatest Ice Hockey players of all time. Before letting you go through the list, I would like to say that the list is based on my own opinion. You do not have to agree with me; rather you may have your own opinion about the list and you can even share it with us in the comment section. I would also like to say that there are several other players who have been left out of the list. I have also stated names of some other great players who could have made it to list at the end of list of the players.

Wayne Douglas Gretzky

A player can be termed as greatest if he has the ability to mark his impact on the team he is playing for and on the overall game he is playing. Wayne Gretzky did it successfully throughout his career in ice hockey and there is perhaps no doubt, the Canadian is perhaps the greatest ever Ice Hockey player. In fact, in 1998 The Hockey News named Wayne Gretzky the greatest player in the history of National Hockey League (NHL). Gretzky was also named “the greatest player of all time” in Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the NHL. Upon his retirement in 1999, he was inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame in the same year as NHL decided to waive his 3-year waiting period as part of its tribute to Wayne Gretzky.

Wayne Gretzky’s career is full of success and statistically he still holds many NHL records. However, his greatness perhaps lies in his contribution to the teams he represented in NHL. He started his career at Indianapolis Racers of NHA (National Hockey Association) in 1978. The Following season, Gretzky joined Edmonton Oilers which was also under NHA. Following NHA being folded, Edmonton Oilers joined NHL and there Wayne Gretzky helped his club to win four Stanley Cup Championships, setting up many scoring record. He played in the centre and was very skilled in scoring. Many believe it was Gretzky who popularized Ice Hockey in the Southern United States while playing for Los Angeles Kings whom he led to reach the Cup finals in 1993.

Wayne Gretzky won Hart Trophy nine times as the most valuable player of the regular season and Art Ross Trophy on ten occasions for finishing with most points in regular seasons. He won two playoff MVP awards. After his retirement, all NHL team decided to retire his #99 jersey permanently as part of their tribute to Wayne Gretzky. He is the current head coach and part-owner of NHL team Phoenix Coyotes.

Gordon “Gordie” Howe

There are many who think Gordie Howe is the greatest ever player in the history of NHL. Well, there are enough reasons too. Gordie Howe is the only player who took part in NHL in five different decades with all-time highest 1767 appearances in NHL seasons. His 26 seasons in NHL is itself a record for playing most number of seasons in NHL. Gordie Howe still holds the record of all-time highest career points with 1850 points in his career. He assisted all-time record 1049 goals in his career. When it comes to highest career goals, Howe’s 801 goals come just after Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in the all time scoring list.

Known as Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe was well-known for his goal scoring spree as well as strong physicality on the rink. In his long career, the Canadian born player won Hart Trophy for six times as the most valuable player of the season and six Art Ross Trophies for scoring highest goals in a season. He represented Detroit Red Wings and Hartford Whalers in NHL as well as Houston Aeros and New England Whalers in NHA. In 2008, Gordie Howe was honored with NHL Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest ever Ice Hockey player of all time with many on-rink successes. The Pittsburgh Penguins great could have achieved a lot had he not suffered from several health problems including spinal disc herniation, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic tendinitis of a hip-flexor muscle, and chronic back pain. His physical ailments were so severe that he was forced to retire in 1997 and was even inducted into hall of fame in the same year as NHL waived 3-year waiting period in honor of Mario Lemieux. However, he returned to NHL in 2000 and continued playing for Pittsburgh Penguins until his final retirement in 2006. After his retirement many former greats termed him as one of the greatest ever NHL players. If Mario Lemieux did not suffer from health related problems, he could have played 1428 regular season NHL matches in stead of his 915 appearances in NHL regular season in his career. He scored 690 goals, assisted 1033 and earned 1723 points in NHL regular season during his illustrious career.

Mario Lemieux won Hart Trophy three times for becoming most valuable player in regular season in NHL. Besides, he also won six Art Ross Trophies for scoring highest points in a regular season in NHL. Becoming most valuable player in playoff season on two occasions, he won two Conn Smythe Trophies. Mario Lemieux also got success in international arena too as he won Olympic gold medal 2002 Winter Olympics and the silver medal of World Championships of Ice Hockey in 1985. Mario Lemieux is now the owner of Pittsburgh Penguins where he played throughout his NHL career.

Robert Gordon “Bobby” Orr

Bobby Orr is another Ice Hockey great whom, many consider, as the greatest ever player in the history of Ice Hockey. The Canadian defenseman could have earned many more achievements if recurring knee injury did not bring his glorious career to a premature end. During his 12-season NHL career, he achieved a lot while playing for Boston Bruins where he spent 10 seasons. He played for Chicago Black Hawks for the last two years of his career. At the time of his retirement, Bobby Orr had 657 appearances in NHL regular season with 270 goals, 645 assists and 915 points.

Despite his career being shortened by injury, Bobby Orr was able to make a number of records to his name. Scoring 139 points in 1970-71, he made the record of highest points in a season by a defenseman in NHL. He also holds the record of most assists in a season in NHL by a defenseman with 102 assists in the same season. He even also held the record for most goals in one NHL season by a defenseman from 1971 to 1986, but his 46-goal record was later broken by Paul Coffey with 48 goals. While retiring, he held the record for most goals, assists and points by a defenseman in the history of NHL. Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy have more points per game than Bobby Orr in the history of NHL.

Bobby Orr was well-known for his two-way game which saw defenseman scoring goals like an attacking player which was very unique during his time. In fact, he was the first defenseman who broke that tradition. His all-round performance on the rink was something new for a defenseman in his era. With his great skating speed, he could go up the while attacking and quickly come down while the opposition team was on attack. In 1979, Bobby Orr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Guy Damien Lafleur

Guy Lafleur is a player who had the ability to change a match by himself, showing his naturally gifted ability to dominate over the opposition players. During his 17-season-long career in NHL, Guy Lafleur spent 14 seasons with Montreal Canadiens and achieved a lot of success with Montreal Canadiens. In fact, Guy Lafleur won all of his five Stanley Cup titles with Canadiens.

Guy Lafleur has a great career record. Appearing in 1127 games, he scored 560 goals, assisted 793 and earned 1353 points in NHL regular season. In NHL playoff, Guy Lafleur had 128 appearances with 58 goals, 76 assists and 134 points in his career. Reaching 1000-goal mark in 720 matches, he made a NHL record at that time. However, the record was later broken by Wayne Gretzky and some other players. With 1,246 points (518 goals and 728 assists), he still holds the record of all-time leading scorer for Montreal Canadiens. Guy Lafleur won Art Ross Trophy on three occasions as the highest point scorer of a season and two Hart Memorial Trophies as the most valuable player of the season in NHL. He was also awarded Conn Smythe Trophy once for becoming the most valuable player to his team in NHL playoff.

The greatness of Guy Lafleur does not lie in statistics; rather his greatness lies in his style of game and the kind of impact he had on his team. With The Canadian right winger definitely deserves to be one of the greatest ever player in the history of Ice Hockey. In 1988, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Maurice Richard

You may not rank Maurice Richard as one of the greatest ever ice hockey players if you compare his career record with many others’. However, any top ten list for greatest Ice Hockey players would be incomplete without Maurice Richard. In fact, Richard achieved many achievements during his career which no other player could achieve before him. He played for Montreal Canadiens throughout his career from 1942-1960. Known as “Rocket,” Richard was the first NHL player to reach 50-goal mark in 50 games. In fact, he was the first player to score 50 goals in one season in NHL. No doubt, it happens very often today, but it was a rare feat for NHL players during his time. As a ring winger, he was very good at scoring. In 978 regular season appearance, Richard scored 544 goals, while 82 playoff goals came from his stick in 133 playoff appearances in his career. Maurice Richard was the first NHL player to have scored 500 goals in career.

Maurice Richard scored six overtime winning goals for Montreal Canadiens. In his eight Stanley Cup appearance, he captained Montreal in five. Along with Elmer Lach in the centre and Hector ‘Toe’ Blake in the left-wing, Maurice Richard formed the famous “Punch Line.” He won the Hart Trophy in 1947 as the most valuable player of the regular season. He was included to the first all-star team on eight occasions and to the second all-star team on seven occasions. This great figure of Ice Hockey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. Alike Wayne Gretzky, Maurice Richard was also shown honor by waving the three-year waiting period for induction into hall of fame.

Raymond Jean “Ray” Bourque

Ray Bourque is considered to be one of the greatest ever defensemen in the history of Ice Hockey. During his 21 glorious seasons, the Canadian legend played 1612 matches, scored 410 goals, assisted 1169 goals and earned a fabulous 1579 points in NHL regular season career. He is the current record holder for highest goals, highest assists and highest points by a defenseman in NHL. In his illustrious career, Ray Bourque represented only two NHL teams: Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. His scoring spree was instrumental behind many successes of Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. He won the James Norris Memorial Trophy five times as the top defensemen in a season. During his career, Ray Bourque made it to the first all-star team on thirteen occasions and to the second all-star team on six occasions. In the list of the one hundred greatest hockey players of all time made by The Hockey News, Ray Bourque was ranked at 14. Ray Bourque is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever defensemen the game has every seen.

Robert Marvin “Bobby” Hull

Known as “the Golden Jet,” Bobby Hull is considered to be the greatest ever left winger in the history of Ice Hockey. The Canadian born legendary figure of hockey was very popular in his time for blonde hair as well as for his great speed. That was the reason for his nickname ‘the Golden Jet’. He played in both National Hockey League (NHL) and World Hockey Association (NHA), representing Chicago Black Hawks, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers during his 23-year-long career. At the time of his retirement in 1980, he was the second highest all-time goal scorer and ninth highest point scorer in NHL. Even today, Hull is 12th highest goal scorer and 43rd highest point scorer in the all-time list of NHL.

Bobby Hull won the Art Ross Trophy on three occasions as the highest point earner in NHL season. His only Stanley Cup success came in 1961. Hull also won Hart Memorial Trophy twice as the most valuable player of the season in NHL. Bobby Hull was ranked 8th in the list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players made by The Hockey News. Hull became the third player from Ice Hockey to be on the cover of Time Magazine. Bobby Hull was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.

Douglas Norman Harvey

Douglas Harvey is a legendary defenseman in the history of National Hockey League (NHL). The Canadian shot to fame while playing for NHL team Montreal Canadiens with whom he spent 14 seasons and got several achievements. Douglas Harvey was named in the All-Star team 11 times in a row. He won NHL’s best defenseman of the season award, James Norris Memorial Trophy, on seven occasions. Breaking the traditional archetype of a defenseman, Harvey started scoring and assisting in the mid 50’s and that was instrumental behind Montreal Canadiens turning into a high-scoring team in NHL. Harvey won all of his six Stanley Cup titles with Montreal Canadiens. In 1113 appearances, he scored 88 goals, assisted 452 and won 540 points in NHL.

As a player, Douglas Harvey had great skating speed as well as passing ability. He could control the puck effortlessly that he had the ability to dominate over the opposition team and could change the game by his own. In the list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players made by The Hockey News in 1998, Douglas Harvey was ranked sixth. As part of showing tribute to Douglas Harvey, his #2 jersey was retired by all NHL teams in 1985.

Paul Douglas Coffey

Paul Coffey is best known for his scoring ability, even though he is a defenseman. This legendary former Canadian Ice Hockey has a number of scoring record as a defenseman in NHL including most goals in one season by a defenseman which he achieved in 1985–86 season, scoring 48 goals. In 1409 appearances, Paul Coffey scored 396 goals besides assisting 1135 goals which is ranked fifth in the all-time list of highest assist in NHL. He also has 1531 points to his credit in his career. Paul Coffey also shares the NHL record for most points in one game by a defenseman with Tom Bladon after achieving 8 points in a 1986 match. Assisting 6 goals in one game, he holds the record for highest assist in a game by a defenseman in NHL. Paul Coffey played for many NHL teams including Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins.

In terms of career goals, assists and points, Paul Coffey stands second all-time among the defensemen in NHL His excellent speed was instrumental behind his scoring success as a defensemen. There is no doubt, Paul Coffey is one of the greatest ever defensemen in the history of NHL.

Some other Great Players: Eddie Shore, Patrick Roy, Nick Lidstrom, Phil Esposito, Martin Brodeur, Ted Lindsay, Peter Forsberg, Vladisav Tretiak, Jaques Plante, Ken Dryden, Mike Bossy, Pavel Bure, Vladimir Petrov, Alexander Mogilny, Marcel Dionne, Mark Messier, Jarome Iginla, Boris Mikhailov, Sergei Federov, Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Pavel Bure etc.


  1. Bobby Hull is a great player! He is going to be playing in the Sports Legends Challenge along with Mark Messier and 23 other sports legends. Check out www.sportslegendschallenge.com for more information!

  2. your list is missing Mark Messier with 1887 points

  3. Anonymous2:07 AM

    you left out Messier, but listed Bure twice..

  4. Anonymous2:32 AM

    What a great day for Canadians. Thank you guys.

  5. Anonymous10:48 AM

    You should probably mention that Bobby Orr had a +/- of +124 in 1970-'71 season, which he achieved in 78 games. Pretty unbelievable statistic... Get on the Messier issue and this is a great list, nicely done

  6. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Where in the hell is Teemu Selänne?

  7. Anonymous8:39 PM

    Where is Scott Niedermayer - one of the best defense hockey players and most successful too.

  8. Anonymous1:08 PM

    Where are Teemu Selänne and Jari Kurri?