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ESPN's top 100 NHL players of all time


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#1 of 65 Christ Reynolds

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Posted July 28 2004 - 01:03 PM

link

interesting to see who they picked. nice to see mike bossy so high on the list, he never seems to get as much recognition as the other top scorers, due to his career ending injury. who can argue with the top 3... what you you guys think?

CJ
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#2 of 65 Wayde_R

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Posted July 28 2004 - 01:39 PM

ESPN, hockey? I'm surprized they bother with it at all. During the stanley cup final pre-season baseball gets more coverage. Yes, I'm just a bitter hockey fan stuck watching ESPN broadcasts during the month of April. You know what really gets me? Is how casual the broadcaster belts out the name Zetty to "nickname" Zetterberg, during the one and only hockey highlight they bothered to show during the Wings/Preds game last April. No other game got highlights, no other goal from that game got hightlight... just the one from Zetty... as if he's the informal buddy of the ESPN broadcaster. Good old Zetty, we hung out just the other night over a beer discussing the Predators Defence.

Okay. It's a good list but in the top four I would have gone...

Gretz
Howe
Orr
Richard

Lemieux, next I suppose. HOwe before Orr and Lemieux. I don't mean any disrespect to Lemieux, he was a great player. But I respect longevity and firsts more than someone who played great hockey for a short time. Just my outhouse opinion.
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#3 of 65 Jeff Gatie

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Posted July 28 2004 - 02:06 PM

Anybody who ranks Gretzky above Orr never saw Orr play. I can understand Howe because of points being harder to come by in his era, but Bobby Orr was a god amongst men. I have has this argument many times and I won't argue it again. But I guarantee anyone who says Gretzky was better never saw Orr play (highlight films do not count).

#4 of 65 Christ Reynolds

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Posted July 28 2004 - 03:02 PM

i'm too young to have seen orr play live, so i couldnt say. we have a hockey-rich family that knows the game as well as nearly anyone, we even have a former olympic hockey coach (from another country, but grew up here), so i have had my share of orr-related stories. hearing the stories, i wish i was around to see him play. but the 'god amongst men' argument, while certainly true, is what some of them say made him stand out so much. he was ridiculously talented during the days when every nhl team didnt have a superstar caliber player. i'm not trying to take anything away from orr, either. who knows what could have been, if not for his knees? it's funny, i remember my dad telling me about this loudmouth defenseman called denis potvin, who would come on tv and more or less say that he was better than orr. anyway, i'll probably catch hell from a lot of people on this one, but between lemieux and gretzky, i'll pick lemieux. apart from all the stats, apart from all the injuries and what-could-have-beens, i think lemieux was a better and more complete player. even with the stats included, gretzky played along future hall of famers during the glory days in edmonton, and while scoring was at an all time high. lemieux took a team that was dead last and made them into stanley cup champions in 7 years. i suppose you cannot directly compare the two, since they had their peaks at different times, and since they are different types of players. whichever way you look at it, if you choose the best forward ever, it has to be either lemieux or gretzky.

Quote:
I don't mean any disrespect to Lemieux, he was a great player. But I respect longevity and firsts more than someone who played great hockey for a short time
well, lemieux is still an active player, despite playing only 10 games last season. he has played for a very long time, but never a full season (only 6 seasons with 70+ games out of 16 seasons). unlike mike bossy, who had outstanding numbers, but only played 9 very successful seasons, and 1 successful shortened season.

CJ
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#5 of 65 Casey Trowbridg

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Posted July 28 2004 - 03:44 PM

As someone relatively new to hockey, only been following the game for 8 years or so, I'm pleasantly surprised that I know a number of the players on this list, to one extent or another.

I've got not gripes with where Forsberg, Sakic, and Patrick Roy ended up on the list. Interesting though that Sakic is a spot higher than Forsberg, I find both of them great but I've wondered if Forsberg wasn't better.

#6 of 65 Christ Reynolds

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Posted July 28 2004 - 03:57 PM

i was rather surprised to see forsberg that high, even though his talent is clearly world class. when i see the group that includes the likes of messier, sakic and bourque, i expect a guy like yzerman to be right up there, they are all born leaders. i dont have any other major gripes with the list, other than iginla being ranked 89 and kariya 98, that one doesnt make sense to me. adam oates (#100) should be higher, imo.

CJ
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#7 of 65 Scott Merryfield

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Posted July 29 2004 - 12:07 AM

Gretzky was maybe the greatest offensive player of all time, but for all around player (including defense), I think that Howe, Orr and Richard were better. Gretzky played during a high scoring era, so his numbers will be scewed. Also, after leaving the dynasty Oilers he actually had a negative +/- scoring record over the remainder of his career.

Orr completely changed the way a position was played. He was the first great rushing defenseman, and was a great performer at both ends of the rink.

Also, what is Eric Lindros doing on this list? He should be at the top of the most overrated players list. And Mark Howe at #64? Gordie's son was a solid player, but not one of the greatest 100 in NHL history.

#8 of 65 Christ Reynolds

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Posted July 29 2004 - 12:09 AM

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what is Eric Lindros doing on this list?
the only way i can figure it out is if they calculate pre-nhl hype into the equation.

CJ
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#9 of 65 Jeff Gatie

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Posted July 29 2004 - 12:28 AM

Quote:
Orr completely changed the way a position was played. He was the first great rushing defenseman, and was a great performer at both ends of the rink.Orr completely changed the way a position was played. He was the first great rushing defenseman, and was a great performer at both ends of the rink.


A few years ago I was watching an old Bruins playoff game on ESPN-C. Bobby had just made a "both benches come to their feet" rush from behind his own net. Pie McKenzie coughed up his pass and a Philly player had a break away the other way. He was in the clear. My father, reliving the glory days said "Don't worry, Bobby will catch him". Sure enough, he came from behind the opponent's net, accellerated like a top fuel dragster going downhill, and got down to block the shot at the other end. Orr was the only player I've seen who got a standing ovation from the opponent's bench (arch rivals the Montreal Canadiens). The man went a whole playoff, 1st game to last (71-72) with no goals against when he was on the ice. He was +124 that year, coming in 2nd for the Art Ross, as a defenseman. I saw the now legendary "kills a penalty single handed" game against California. Bobby got the puck off the faceoff, then ragged the puck up and down the ice for nearly 2 minutes, 5 Seals chasing him around like it was a Mite game and Bobby was the only one who could skate. He iced it at the end and the penalty was up. Never saw that before or since. I also saw the time he broke his stick and "soccer dribbled" the puck up the boards from the corner with 2 men on him, reached the bench, grabbed a stick and rushed in for a shot on goal. That was a first and last also.

And Yes, Mark Howe has no right being on that list (over Cam Neely!!???).

#10 of 65 Jeff Gatie

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Posted July 29 2004 - 01:31 AM

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but the 'god amongst men' argument, while certainly true, is what some of them say made him stand out so much. he was ridiculously talented during the days when every nhl team didnt have a superstar caliber player


Actually, an argument could be made that he played in an era that did not have the diluted talent pool that Gretzky did. The Great One, when he was getting his ~200 pt seasons, played in a vastly expanded league that had not yet tapped the European talent pool of today. Orr played in the pre-WHA expansion era and every team had at least a legit all-star if not a HOF'er. He did not have to contend with the original 6 days, but it was not that far off compared to the 80's. Besides, can anyone really argue that what made Bobby great was the disparity of his talent? Actually, you can, but the same argument would apply in the 80's or today. Bobby Orr, in any era, is a god amongst men.

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#11 of 65 Philip_T

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Posted July 29 2004 - 03:43 AM

Huge Av's fan, but Im suprised to Yzerman so far behind Sakic (well 15 spots or so). I almost think of those 2 as equals, with Sakic maybe having the edge, maybe not. Both class act captains that speak with their leadership and production on the ice.

#12 of 65 Chris

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Posted July 29 2004 - 04:27 AM

I have always considered Orr and Gretzky to be the two great players of the league, but for slightly different reasons. I get that people contend Orr was an arch role in the game. But Gretzky had to do something that Orr didn't.. which is that Gretzky had to help rescue a league that through expansion, bad deals, etc. was hurting to stay alive. Whereas Orr didn't have to get out in front of large crowds to appease them, Gretzky did. It is without a doubt in my mind he was not only the greatest player of his era, but that he was the right ambassador for the game that kept it on the map and grew it's popularity.

I'm not sure which order I would put them.. comparing eras is very difficult, and it's just not the same to say "this is always true" because it just isn't Posted Image Rule changes between the eras, talent, equipment, etc. made for a different game.. things that neither Gretzky or Orr could control, they were just dealt the cards they were.

But both players dominated the league in unheard of fashion; and at their prime were great competitors.

The inclusion of Mark Howe to me is a bitter dissapointment so high over so many other players who deserved that spot.
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#13 of 65 Christ Reynolds

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Posted July 29 2004 - 04:27 AM

Quote:
Huge Av's fan, but Im suprised to Yzerman so far behind Sakic (well 15 spots or so). I almost think of those 2 as equals, with Sakic maybe having the edge, maybe not. Both class act captains that speak with their leadership and production on the ice.
same here, except i'm a huge red wings fan. i think sakic may have the edge now, but they arent the same age, sakic's rookie season was yzerman's 6th season. i believe sakic and yzerman are the absolute models that all young nhl captains should emulate. they both have tons of points, both have stanley cup championships, and both set standards for performance and behavior. which is why i am puzzled to see one pretty far ahead of the other. had it been sakic behind yzerman, i'd be equally as puzzled.

Quote:
Mark Howe has no right being on that list (over Cam Neely!!???)
didnt notice that, that one is pretty bad, cam deserves to be there above quite a few guys.

CJ
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#14 of 65 Jeff Gatie

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Posted July 29 2004 - 05:06 AM

Quote:
Whereas Orr didn't have to get out in front of large crowds to appease them, Gretzky did.


Bobby Orr had to contend with a lot. He was the only hockey player known by people who never saw a game, kind of like Mohammed Ali and Michael Jordan. He was also proclaimed by many (Sports Illustrated being one) as the "Greatest Team Sport Athlete Ever". He did this all with a humility and team oriented attitude that has almost never been seen since. This is a guy who would put his head down and simply skate to the blue line after every goal, sometimes admitting he was embarrassed because he didn't like "showing off". I find it quite telling that someone had to trip him in order for him to be seen as "celebrating" the most famous goal in hockey history. He also blocked shots, gave devastating checks, never left the corner without the puck ("just another part of the game he ruined for us" - Bobby Clarke), played every PP and PK and fought every goon who came his way, beating most (led his team in points and PIM's in '69-'70).

Offensive player, it is Gretzky, no question. Best Hockey Player, no contest. Orr is in the neighborhood of the other "bests" as far as offensive numbers are concerned, but how many in that neighborhood ever won a scoring title and a Norris Trophy?

Edited for my atrocious spelling and grammar.

#15 of 65 Wayde_R

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Posted July 29 2004 - 05:20 AM

he was ridiculously talented during the days when every nhl team didnt have a superstar caliber player.


Jeff already said it but. In those days every team had a marquee player, usually a marquee line. That is, a whole line of super stars even if the team had little hope of reaching the playoffs. Today is the era when whole teams of non-stars exist.

About Gretzky and his achievements. Get a bunch of hockey fans together and talk 'hackey' Gretz achievements are sure to come up. That's just before his name gets bashed, someone mentions his achievements aren't all that great, maybe the era of offence, maybe he was propped up by a team of super stars. etc etc etc.

I hated Gretz in his day. Always did and today I am no Gretz lover. Believe me, I still resent him showing up on commercials for Exxon. Oh that Tiger indeed. I hate his appearances on bags of chips, it puts me off Hostess products. I think Gretz is a media whore, I have little to no respect for him. As for being team Canada's GM in the Olympics. Gretz lives in Beverly Hills, and last I heard Bev Hills isn't part of Canada. He doesn't play for the local team so he's not simple an expat Canadian. I question his citizenship too, is still even a Canadian citizen? I think a "real" Canadian should GM the Canadian Olympic hockey teams and not a former canadian media whore.

That being said... There is no WAY you can possibly discount that Gretz wasn't the greatest ("offencive" or otherwise) player of any sport in any era. He holds just about any record recorded in hockey (yes, we can all name a few he doesn't). I think Gretz deserves number one, grudgingly. I know he doesn't seem like much, he was never as superhuman as Orr or Lemieux but he somehow did it, he pulled it off.

I love Orr. I have seen him play on TV back in the early 70's (I am just barely old enough). I am still to this day a partial Bruins fan just because they're the first team I ever liked outside of English speaking Canada. But his reign as God among men was short lives, as was Lemieux's. Orr's changed to the way the game is played coincided with other changes in the way the game is played also... that is the advent of European influence into the NHL, Orr's defence and Euro machine style positional hockey both had influence that coalesced into the late 70s. Gretz influence is unquestionable, he effectively created "trap" hockey.

Yes, blame Gretz for emphasis on D, blame the era that allowed him to break so many records. The Devil's came around and put would be Gretz's in check.
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#16 of 65 StephenT

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Posted July 29 2004 - 05:29 AM

Ron Francis should be higher. He's always been underrated and this list is no exception.
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#17 of 65 Grant B

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Posted July 29 2004 - 06:34 AM

Of All Time?
Maybe since ESPN has been around
There is this award called the Vezina....It is named after one of the greatest goalies of all time.

Too bad he didn't make the top 100.

20 Terry Sawchuk .....for a guy who still is in the record book that is piss poor.
Why don't they say it's from the 60s on since they disreguarded most of the early legendary players.

I bet they leave off Babe Ruth when they do a Baseball one if they get the same group of idiots
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#18 of 65 DeanR

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Posted July 29 2004 - 07:32 AM

Bobby Orr - Revolutionized the game. Made every offensive defensman before him look like a pee wee. It is a shame opponents went after his knees and he played in the pre arthroscopic knee surgery era. Wayne Gretzky - His popularity helped spread hockey interest to areas of the US like Florida, Texas, Phoenix, and Southern Cal. Best offensive player ever statisticaly. Mario Lemeuix - Unmatched size, speed, and touch. He was unstoppable in his prime. Greatest forward I ever saw. I didn't see Gordie Howe play until he reached emeritus status. Is Mark Howe even in the hall of fame? Cam Neely should be on that list. We should start a top 20 NHL tough guy list thread.

#19 of 65 Cary_H

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Posted July 29 2004 - 04:06 PM

It's not my place to dispute anyone else's opinions. Everyone works from an individual criteria set to assemble and backup their Top 100 list choices.
My list is headed up by Bobby Orr. I have trouble arriving at my #2 spot. Gretzky and Lemieux are cut from different cloth. Gretzky gets it done his way, Mario another.
It is nothing short of miraculous what Gretzky accomplished over his career. Even more astonishing given he doesn't have the type of physique that comes to mind when you think 'world-class athlete.' His on-ice vision and smarts made up for what he lacked physically. We've been blessed to see the exploits of these two. The likes of them don't come down the pipe all that often.
Where I have a problem with Gretzky is the supporting cast he had, the protection he enjoyed, and how he was afforded what I'll call, pretty much "exempt" status from physical attention from the opposition. Orr was a marked man every shift, and gave as good as he got. He had no qualms around taking the body or dropping the gloves, and took on all comers. Sure, all teams then had their so-called enforcers, but Orr was above letting someone else fight his battles for him. The game has never seen anyone that could skate like Orr. The stories of him having, and shifting into an additional "gear" and leaving opposing players sucking only vapors are legendary....despite his less than optimal set of wheels. In his one showing on the international stage, he was chosen MVP of the Canada Cup. By this point he was a mere shadow of the player he once was.
My #1 is easy. Orr was in a league of his own.

#20 of 65 Jeff Gatie

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Posted July 30 2004 - 12:34 AM

Only two players in NHL history played with both Orr and Gretzky. They were both asked who was better. The first declined to comment and is banished from my memory because of this. The second was the irrepressible Bobby "Dr. Hook" Schmautz. Dr. Hook told it straight. He said the best was Bobby, no question. His exact quote was "You have to understand, Wayne was protected, Bobby was targeted."

Just a note of trivia, Schmautz was the inspiration for the Tim "Dr. Hook" McKraken character in Slap Shot. He also inspired the "winds up and fires one into the organist's booth" scene. Schmautzie had such a nasty curve on his stick that if he did not hit it right, no one knew where it was going. It was so bad, whenever he cranked one off, the whole first balcony of the Boston Garden ducked.


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