Here is my final listing of the Top 10 hockey players of all time, and just to create some more controversy, I thought I’d put them in order. My list features strong emphasis on career accomplishments, awards and championships, and, perhaps most importantly, legacy. Ability takes a back seat to these other categories.
In total I have 11 centers, 10 defenseman, 6 RWs, 3 LWs and 6 goalies. I have 4 players from pre-1950, 11 from the Original Six days, 6 from 1967-1980, 10 from 1980-1994 and 4 from 1995 through present, 3 of which are still active. I’m really happy with that balance. I have 29 North Americans and 7 European trained players. Some say I’ve included too many International stars, some say not nearly enough.
1. Wayne Gretzky:
Is anyone surprised? He is the best player in NHL history and no one can even dispute it. His records will never be broken and he will always remain every child’s idol. 13 straight seasons with well over 100 points. Sometimes even over 200. Absolutely mind-blowing.
2. Bobby Orr:
Bobby Orr’s career was also shortened but while it lasted he was the best player in the NHL (arguably). He scored six straight years with over 100 points and is the only defenseman to win the scoring title. He scored 953 points in 657 games. He scored points like no one’s business and invented the D-Man rush.
3. Gordie Howe:
Gordie Howe played for 26 seasons and scored over 70 points in 21 straight seasons. No one in hockey can match that stat. He won Stanley Cups and he won scoring titles. He even played with his sons, on the same team! And he was better then them.
4. Mario Lemieux:
Ten seasons with over 100 points with the highest being 199 in 76 games is a great way to start. Almost scored more points per game then Wayne Gretzky. Still he won two Stanley Cups and is one of the greatest players ever. If his career was not shortened by injury he would have challenged Gretzky’s points record.
5. Maurice Richard
Maurice Richard changed the game of hockey forever the way he played. He is an icon and always will be. Oh and he happened to win five Stanley Cups.
6. Ray Bourque:
Ray Bourque is the highest scoring defenseman in NHL history. Played in over 20 straight NHL All-Star games. Bourque only won a single Cup.
7. Phil Esposito:
Phil was one of the greatest players ever to step on the ice. He was a key member of the 72 summit series and he scored over 130 points five years in a row. He won five Art Ross trophies and one Stanley Cup.
8. Steve Yzerman:
Steve Yzerman went from being one of the best offensive players in the league to being the best two-way player (maybe) ever. He scored 155 points in a season and won four Cups. He has 1,755 points and was a hero in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
9. Paul Coffey:
Paul Coffey won five Stanley Cups and is the second highest scoring defenseman in NHL history. He scored 48 goals as a defenseman which is a record for d-men. He is fifth all time in playoff scoring.
10. Mike Bossy:
Mike Bossy had nine straight seasons with 50 goals and over 90 points. He scored 1,126 points in 752 games. He only played 10 season as his career was cut very short due to injury. If he didn’t get injured he would be in the top five in scoring and first in goals.