June 26, 2013

The 100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

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.

4 comments:

Dan said...

one thing to consider when examining offensive/defensive numbers is era ie 100pts in 95> 100pts in 85

also i find the notion that great players from the past wouldn't succeed in the present preposterous; that said you're the one guy who i think has the proper perspective on players from all eras

kmad said...

relative dominance should be noted. eddie shore wouldn't last a second in today's NHL, but he should be considered at least top 15 all-time player, because he was the best when he played.

Anonymous said...

I think true greatness, first and foremost, lies in those that have changed the game in some way, shape or form - Howe, Lemieux, Orr, Gretzky, Richard - that is the first tier of greatness. The second tier, to me, would be dominance (as kmad said). Statistics and championships come further down in the tiers - and somewhere in there, pure talent should be considered... also to be taken into consideration, international competition. Is this just going to be an NHL list, or will it include players like Tretiak who, in my opinion, belongs in that first tier of greatness as a player who changed the game?

Carl said...

Most of this list writes itself, but if I could add one humble opinion, as a hockey player myself. He may not have the points or the MVPs or the Conn Smythes, but Pavel Datsyuk deserves to be on this list, even if it's only at #100. Hockey is an art and a craft. The finest players are masters at one or more areas of the game. Datsyuk is nothing less than a great painter. His brush is his stick, his canvas is the ice. Never has a player ever elicited so many "Wows" from fans and players alike. Whether it be goals, takeaways, dangles, passes, or his creativity on the ice, every time his shift starts, the arena, the benches, the fans at home all wait to see what masterpiece he'll paint next. He at least merits serious consideration of being on this list.

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