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Best All-Time NHL Hockey Players in Sport History


A good hockey player plays where the puck is.  A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. –Wayne Gretzky

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The National Hockey League (NHL) is a pro ice hockey league with 30 member clubs (i.e. 23 in the U.S. & 7 in Canada).  The National Hockey League was organized on November 26, 1917 in Montreal, Quebec and is headquartered in New York City with the NHL considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world.  The Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America and one of the hardest to earn in all of professional sports.  It is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of a 4 round best of 7 playoff (champion must win 16 games) at the end of the season.  The Montreal Canadiens have the most championship titles with 25 Stanley Cups earned while the Chicago Blackhawks who have won most recently have 6 Stanley Cups and the St Louis Blues 0 Cups in their almost 50 year history.  The league reduced to six teams during the 1942-1943 season known at the Original Six: the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs which remained constant for 25 years.  The league draws many highly skilled players from all over the world and currently has players from around 20 different countries.  Canadians have historically constituted the majority of the players in the league, with an increasing percentage of American and European players in recent seasons.  Wayne Gretzky, who is considered one of the best NHL players ever, went on to lead the Oilers to four Stanley Cup championships in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988, and set single season records for goals (92 in 1981-1982 1981), assists (163 in 1985-1986) and points (215 in 1985–86), as well as career records for goals (894), assists (1,963) and points (2,857).

Wayne Gretzky

Best All-time NHL Players by Position:

  • Left Wing Forwards = Alex Ovechkin, Bobby Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Luc Roibitaille, Keith Tkachuk, Michel Goulet, Johnny Bucyk, Dave Andreychuk, Frank Mahovlich, Ted Lindsay, Steve Shutt, Toe Blake, Aurele Joliat, Bob Gainey, Doug Bentley, Bill Barber, Busher Jackson, Paul Kariya, Ray Whitney, Rick Nash
  • Centers = Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito, Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Stan Mikita, Joe Sakic, Alex Delvecchio, Bryan Trottier, Adam Oates, Mats Sundin, Sergei Fedorov, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Joe Thorton, Jonathan Toews, Connor McDavid
  • Right Wing Forwards = Gordie Howe, Brett Hull, Mike Bossy, Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Jamomir Jagr, Guy LaFleur, Lanny McDonald, Teemu Salanne, Alexi Kovalev, Pavel Bure, Jarome Iginla, Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko
  • Defensemen = Bobby Orr, Nicklas Lidstrom, Doug Harvey, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Larry Robinson, Scott Stevens, Chris Chelios, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, Phil Housley, Brian Leech, Scott Neidermayer, Denis Potvin, Eddie Shore, Red Kelly, Larry Murphy, Rob Blake, Mark Howe, Brad Park, Marcel Pronovost, Tim Horton, Pierre Pilote, Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietroangelo
  • Goalies = Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek, Jacques Plante, Glenn Hall, Ken Dryden, Terry Sawchuck, Bernie Parent, George Hainsworth, Bill Durnam, Tony Esposito, Mike Palmateer, Grant Fuhr, Ron Hextall, Mike Liut, Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour, Chris Osgood, Manny Legace, Roberto Luongo, Dwayne Roloson, John Vanbiesbrouck, Ryan Miller, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Carey Price
  • Enforcers = Bob Probert, Dave ‘The Hammer’ Shultz, Stu ‘Grim Reeper’ Grimson, Tie Domi, Tony Twist, Kelly Chase, Terry ‘Taz’ O’Reilly, Marty McSorley, Chris Neil, Dave ‘Charles’ Manson, Chris Nilan, Dave ‘Tiger’ Williams, Clark Gillies, Dave Semenko, Joey Kocur, Dave Brown, Gordie Howe, Bobby Clarke, Donald Brashear, Chris Simon, Dale Hunter, Bob Gassoff, Scott Stevens, Claude Lemieux, Derek Boogaard
  • Coaches = Scotty Bowman (1,244 wins), Joel Quenneville (800+), Al Arbour (782), Ken Hitchcock (755+), Dick Irvin (692) , Pat Quinn (684), Lindy Ruff (681+), Mike Keenan (672), Ron Wilson (648), Barry Trotz (634+), Glen Sather, Fred Shero, Roger Neilson, Barry Melrose, Mike Babcock
  • GM’s = Sam Pollock, Frank Selke, Lou Lamoriello, Glen Sather, Ron Caron, Keith Allen, Art Ross, Craig Patrick, Ken Holland, Jimmy Devellano, Bill Torey, Doug Armstrong
  • Announcers = Foster Hewitt, Don Cherry, Dan Kelly, Mike Emrick, Mickey Redmond, Rod Phillips, Rene’ LeCavalier, Danny Gallivan, Bill Clement, Gary Thorne, Bob Miller, Bob Cole, John Kelly, Barry Melrose (ESPN)
  • Brett Hull
  • My Best/Favorite All-time NHL Players by Position:
    • Left Wing Forwards = Alex Ovechkin, Brendan Shanahan, Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya,
    • Centers = Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Phil Esposito, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov
    • Right Wing Forwards = Gordie Howe, Brett Hull, Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Jamomir Jagr
    • Defensemen = Bobby Orr, Nicklas Lidstrom Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger
    • Goalies = Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph
    • Enforcers = Bob Probert, Tony Twist, Kelly Chase
    • Coaches = Scotty Bowman (1,244 wins), Joel Quenneville (800+), Ken Hitchcock (755+), Goaltending Coach: Jim Corsi
    • GM’s = Lou Lamoriello, Glen Sather, Ron Caron, Doug Armstrong
    • Announcers = Dan Kelly, John Kelly

    My 4 Offensive Lines:

    1. Alex Ovechkin Wayne Gretzky         Gordie Howe
    2. Bobby Hull Mario Lemieux          Brett Hull
    3. Brendan Shanahan Phil Esposito              Maurice “Rocket” Richard
    4. Keith Tkachuk Steve Yzerman          Jamomir Jagr           

    My Defense:

    1. = Bobby Orr, Nicklas Lidstrom
    2. = Doug Harvey, Larry Robinson
    3. = Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey

    My Goalies = Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek

    My Enforcers = Bob Probert, Tony Twist

    My Coaches = Head Coach = Scotty Bowman (1,244 wins)

    Assistant Coaches = Joel Quenneville (800+), Al Arbour (782), Ken Hitchcock (755+)

    Goalie Coach = Jim Corsi

    My GM’s = Ron Caron, Doug Armstrong

    My Announcers = Dan Kelly, John Kelly

    Your Best/Favorite All-time NHL Players by Position:

    • Left Wing Forwards =
    • Centers =
    • Right Wing Forwards =
    • Defensemen =
    • Goalies =
    • Enforcers =
    • Coaches =
    • GM’s =
    • Announcers =

    Your 4 Offensive Lines:

    1. =
    2. =
    3. =
    4. =

    Your Defense:

    1. =
    2. =
    3. =

    Your Goalies =

    Your Enforcers =

    Your Coaches = Head Coach =

    Assistant Coaches =

    Goalie Coach =

    Your GM’s =

    Your Announcers =

    Please post your best or favorite all-time NHL players by position or any comments.

  • Dr.  Michael Fredrick PhD is Associate Professor, Chair of Sport Studies at USSA; he can be reached at mfredrick@ussa.eduApril 8, 2016
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