Who the 100 greatest hockey players of all time?
That is the question I will ponder all summer long. I have been for some time, actually. I hope to make my process and my findings a major feature here at GreatestHockeyLegends.com in the 2013-14 hockey season.
There are a lot of aspects to this diverse question, and I will seek your input.
But the very first question I need to determine is this: How do you define greatness?
Defining greatness is a very individual quest. As Wikipedia suggests, "Greatness is a concept that is heavily dependent on a person's perspective and biases."
So very true. Which is why I have yet to see anyone completely agree with anyone else on a list of 100 greatest hockey players or anything else. These lists, these opinions are as individual as snowflakes.
But in order for me to properly define the top 100 players in hockey history, I think I have to come up with a more concrete definition of greatness, in hockey terms.
Which is where I need your help. Email me, tweet me or post in the comments below what should be the factors of hockey greatness.
Career achievements? Era dominance? Ability? Longevity? Legacy?
What weight would you give those factors? How do we compare players from different eras? How do we compare players from different positions? How can we mitigate the personal perspective and biases to fairly compare players? Almost all of the attributes are open to individual "perspectives and biases."
These are just a few of the questions I will have to ask and ultimately answer in the process.
One thing I will enter this defining process with is a clear belief that there is a distinct difference between the best player and the greatest player. The best player we can debate more in terms of ability - skating, shooting, physical play, offensive and defensive play, etc. The greatest player takes ability in to account, but, for me, is more defined by his career and legacy. There is no guarantee that the same player tops both distinct lists.
Be sure to watch this process develop and feel free to contribute as we go along. It promises to be a fascinating undertaking.
June 19, 2013
1990 - Minnesota North Stars named Bob Gainey as their new head coach.
1992 - Hockey Hall of Fame announced its newest members: Marcel Dionne, Bob Gainey, Lanny McDonald, and veteran Woody Dumart
1995 - Darryl Sutter stepped down as coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.
1999 - Brett Hull scored the winning goal at 14:51 of the third overtime and Ed Belfour made 53 saves as Dallas won 2-1 at Buffalo, in Game 6 of the Finals, to win the 1999 Stanley Cup Championship.
2000 - Minnesota Wild named Jacques Lemaire as their Head Coach, the first in franchise history.
2002 - Hockey Hall of Fame announced it's newest members: Bernie Federko, Clark Gillies, Rod Langway and builder Roger Neilson.
Happy Birthday to Walt McKechnie, Alex Frolov, Sergei Makarov, Keith McCreary, Stewart Evans, Jack Shewchuk, Dan Ellis and Jim Corsi.
June 18, 2013
June 19th, 1999. It's the 1999 Stanley Cup finals! With 5:09 remaining in the third OT, Brett Hull, with his foot in the crease, scored the Cup-winner for Dallas.
A lot of people thought the goal illegal -- including plenty of Sabres. "Everybody is going to remember this as the Stanley Cup that was never won -- it was given away," said Joe Juneau. "The goal was not a legal goal. It's cheating, you know? It's not a loss. The game is not over, it's just not. They just decided to end it."
This was the season the NHL held a zero-tolerance stance on goaltender interference. Plenty of good goals were called back because of the slimmest of crease violations. Except this goal on Dominik Hasek.
1975 - NY Rangers traded Jerry Butler, Ted Irvine and Bert Wilson to the St. Louis Blues, in exchange for goaltender John Davidson and Bill Collins.
1986 - Terry Simpson was named new head coach of the New York Islanders, replacing Al Arbour.
1987 - In a unique transaction, the N.Y. Rangers traded their 1988 first round draft pick to the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for the Nordiques' coach Michel Bergeron.
1989 - Darryl Sittler, veteran Herbie Lewis, and Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak were selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
1993 - The new Hockey Hall of Fame had its official grand opening at BCE Place in Toronto.
1999 - Atlanta Thrashers obtained goaltender Damian Rhodes from the Ottawa Senators, in exchange for future considerations. Rhodes (obtained one week before the Expansion Draft) became the first player in Thrashers' history.
1999 - New Jersey Devils announced the signing of free agent defenseman Brian Rafalski.
Happy Birthday to Martin St. Louis, Doug Bodger, David Volek, Bob Rouse, Joe Lamb, Kyle McLaren, Chris Neil, Derek Stepan, Jan Hejda, Larry Leach, David Hale, Luke Adam, Denis Herron, Antero Niittymaki and Josh Harding
Posted by Joe Pelletier at 1:10 AM
June 17, 2013
This is Metro Prystai. "Meatball" as his closest teammates called him.
Not a lot of people remember Prystai. He's 85 years old now. He last played in the 1957-58 season. While he was a real useful player in his day, he was not exactly a household name like Gordie Howe or Rocket Richard or Teeder Kennedy.
He was also never one to toot his own horn. In fact some residents in his hometown area of Yorkton/Melville Saskatchewan knew him best as a star baseball player in the summer time and not everyone realized where he disappeared to in the winters - to the National Hockey League.
That is just one of many stories author Frank Block shared with me. Block has a new book about Metro Prystai coming out later in August 2013. The collection of old time hockey stories Block has amassed is amazing, making this book a promising title.
I will share more about the book as it comes available. Block has started sharing some content, including audio format interviews, at his website MetroPrystai.com.
You can also read my full Metro Prystai biography here.
I have always had a fascination with players who can excel at both forward and on defense. Players like Hockey Hall of Famers like Red Kelly and Mark Howe immediately jump to mind. Older stars like Dit Clapper and Ebbie Goodfellow as well, though I can't say I'm quite that old. Lately we tend to see some good solid role players excel at both, like Jimmy Roberts, Ed Westfall, Marty McSorley, and Mathieu Dandenault. Toronto even drafted Gary Leeman and Wendel Clark as defensemen in junior but turned them into stars in the NHL.
That is far from a complete listing. But one name that I often see overlooked is that of Doug Mohns, a long time Boston Bruin and Chicago Black Hawk (at that time the nickname was two words) back in the days of the original six. He extended his career through the 1970s thanks to NHL expansion, playing with Minnesota, Atlanta and Washington.
Breaking into the Original Six NHL in the early 1950s was never an easy thing to do. Many of the game's greatest players of that era played in the minor leagues before making it to the NHL - even Gordie Howe. But not Doug Mohns. Thanks to an injury to regular Jack McIntyre, Mohns joined the Boston Bruins as a 19 year old straight out of the Barrie Flyers (OHA) junior team that won two Memorial Cups. The man they dubbed "Diesel" went on to a 22 year NHL career and never once played a game in the minor leagues.
Mohns key attribute was his versatility. He was that rare player who could play the game equally as well up front or from the blue line. As a lefter winger he was one of the better two-way forwards in the league, often assigned to checking the top lines in the league. When he dropped back to defense he could change the complexion of a game with more of an offensive look, especially in terms of rushing the puck out of the defensive zone.
Needless to say, Mohns skating ability, both in terms of agility and speed, was the key to his game. As a kid he would put on skating exhibitions and compete in races and he earned the nickname "Crazy Legs." He was so good that by the age of 7 he was offered a contract with the Ice Capades. It was his skating ability that allowed him to play defense in the National Hockey League even though he had never played the position before in junior or youth hockey.
He also had a hard, booming shot. Mohns was one of the early proponents of the slap shot. Opposing goalies quickly learned to respect Mohns with the puck. The legendary Terry Sawchuk once said “Where did he ever get that shot? If I hadn’t been watching him closely he would have beaten me from the middle of the rink!”
Al MacNeil, a former player and NHL coach once said “Doug Mohns was one of the best players to have ever played in the NHL. Like Hall of Famer ‘Red’ Kelly, Doug Mohns moved from defense to forward with unbelievable ease. To do this at the NHL level was truly amazing.”
He was proficient with the physical game. He didn't fight often though he could handle himself. He played the body to make a play. What he may have lacked in size (6'0" 185lbs) he made up for with his speed increasing his impact. The injuries added up - including breaking his jaw twice in 12 months and a chronic back problem that plagued his later years - but he never changed his style of play.
Doug enjoyed eleven years with the Bruins. He played in five All Star games with Boston, one as a forward and four on defense. He was the leading scorer among the Bruins’ defensemen during his time there, and was the second defenseman in the history of the NHL to score twenty goals in a season, with Flash Hollett being the first. During his years with Boston, he played alongside the wily Fern Flaman.
Chicago Coach Billy Reay was especially pleased to have such a versatile playing in Mohns.
“Having Mohns out there is like having a third defenseman. He gets back very quickly and is a very good checker. When the Scooters were in their prime they were unbelievable. As good a line I’ve ever seen.”
Doug played left wing for Chicago in his sixth All Star game in 1965, and again on defense for his seventh and final All Star appearance with Minnesota in 1972 before finishing his outstanding career with Atlanta and finally Washington, as their team captain.
Doug Mohns played in 1,390 regular season games plus 94 playoff games. He scored 262 goals and added 498 assists in total. At the time of his retirement, only four other players had played more NHL games than Mohns: Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Tim Horton and Harry Howell. That is some very illustrious company.
Much to my surprise, Doug Mohns has his own website - DougMohns.com. Be sure to pay it a visit as it is very well done and interactive.
According to the site Mohns has done quite well for himself since retiring from hockey. He spent nineteen years in Hospital Administration with the New England Rehabilitation Hospital. He went on to become Vice President of Human Resources. He later worked at the Shaker Hills Golf Course in Harvard, Massachusetts.
Posted by Joe Pelletier at 2:20 AM