Like all sports, hockey has it’s greats and some who are just in a league of their own, Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr are just that and there’s not much arguing in the hockey community about it. Here’s our pick of the 10 greatest Hockey players in the National Hockey League:
10. Doug Harvey
Harvey won the Norris Trophy seven times and helped the Montreal Canadiens win six different Stanley Cup championships (1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1960). He also played for the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, and St. Louis Blues.
Harvey won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the best defenceman seven times, and was named to the end of season NHL All-Star Team eleven times, he’s widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders in NHL history.
9. Bobby Hull
Hull was legend for his speed on the rink and his massive slap shot, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks he had five 50-goal seasons in the NHL (scoring a high of 58 in 1968-69), ending his 15-year career with 604 goals
Hull won the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) in 1964-65 and 1965-66 and secured 12 All-Star accolades while in the NHL.
8. Gut Lafleur
From 1974-75 through the 1979-80 season, the Montreal Canadiens right winger posted at least 100 points per season. He was the first player in the history of the NFL first player to score 50 or more goals and reach the century mark in six consecutive years.
Lafleur won five Stanley Cups with Montreal and 2 of MVPs. He hit 1,000 points in only 720 games, while his 1,353 points still rank 27th in NHL history.
7. Jean Beliveau
1972 Hall of Famer Beliveau won 10 Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens, and was the league MVP twice (1956-64). During this time he also led twice in league goals.
He’s one of only 47 players in history to hit the 1,200-point mark, amassing 1,219 for his career and made 13 All-Star teams.
6. Mark Messier
15-time All-Star Messier celebrated the majority of his accolades with the Edmonton Oilers, winning five Stanley Cups and winning one MVP. He won another championship with the Rangers in 1994, and also played for Vancouver Canucks
Messier made the 100-point mark six times, he ranks third all-time in points with 1,887 and second all-time in playoff points at 295.
5. Maurice Richard
The Canadian “Pocket Rocket” played 18 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens. Richard earned 14 All-Star nomination, and accomplished the feat in a 50-game 1944-45 season. He won eight championships with the Canadiens over an 18-year career and also became the first player to 500 goals.
When he retired, Richard’s 544 markers stood as an all-time record. He totalled 965 points in 978 appearances en route to a 1961 induction into the Hall of Fame.
He was the first to score 50 goals in a season, and the first to score 500 goals in his career. He led the league in scoring five times, and finished with 544 career goals.
4. Mario Lemieux
Lemieux won six NHL scoring championships, including 1988-89 when he finished with 85 goals and 199 points. While Gretzky may have the record for most goals and points, Lemieux finished his career with a better goals-per-game scoring average and he owns four of the 17 highest single-season outputs in league history.
The Canadian “Super Mario” played with the Pittsburgh Penguins over 17 NHL seasons from 1984 to 2006. After initially retiring in 1997, he soon became the majority owner of the franchise. Lemieux eventually returned to the ice in 2000 and played five more seasons.
His six foot four, 200-pound frame made him a very physically dominant player and the Pittsburgh legend totalled 1,723 points, won three Hart Trophies and two Stanley Cups and made nine All-Star teams.
3. Gordie Howe
Starting in 1946, the Canadian legend played 32 professional seasons, between the NHL and the World Hockey Association. His first 25 seasons were spent with the Detroit Red Wings where he won winning six league MVP awards, six scoring titles and four Stanley Cup championships.
Nicknamed “Mr. Hockey”, Howe is often considered the most complete player to ever play the game and one of the greatest of all time. A hugely physically dominant player, Howe scored 801 goals in 26 NHL seasons, and 174 more in six NHL World Hockey Association seasons. Nobody has appeared in more NHL games (1,767), and his 22 consecutive 20-goal NHL seasons remain unmatched. Howe scored his last NHL goal, at age 52, during the 1979-80 season
2. Bobby Orr
Orr was one of the fastest and most powerful skaters in the NHL, he could literally skate circle around entire teams. He turned NHL tradition upside down when he won the scoring championship as a defenseman with 120 points in 1969-70. He topped 100 points six times in his short career. Orr finished second with a career-high 139 the next season before returning to the No. 1 spot with 135 in 1974-75.
But his offensive contributions are only part of Orr’s greatness; he secured eight straight Norris Trophies as the league’s top defenseman.
Injuries shortened his career to 10 seasons but Orr notched 270 goals and 645 assists for 915 points—all of which were records for his position at the time—in just 657 games.
1. Wayne Gretzky
Canadian Gretzky’s scoring abilities were off the charts, he totalled 1,963 assists and 894 goals over his 21 years. No player in history has collected more goals and assists. Gretzky Gretzky registered over 160 points nine times in a season, the most ever being 215 points and breaking 200 four times. He still holds the record for most goals in a season and is the only player in NHL history to record more than 200 points in a season.
Know as ‘The Great One”, no player has ever dominated his own era like Gretzky did, He holds numerous career records in his 21 year hockey career—most notably points, goals and assists—in both the regular season and playoffs.