November 18, 2013

How Do You Define Greatness?


How do you define greatness? 

It is almost impossible to come to a conclusive answer to that question because the process 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 the greatest 100 hockey players ever. These lists are opinions that are as individual as snowflakes.


I have spent the past several months mulling over my own personal ranking of the 100 greatest players in the history of hockey. But in order for me to properly do that, I think I have to come up with my own concrete definition of greatness, at least I see it. That way you, the reader, can understand my thought process. Also this holds my ranking to more transparency and accountability - something rarely offered by authors of such ventures.

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not necessarily the greatest player.

The list actually came together fairly quickly, because I constantly cross-referenced other lists. I first ranked players by position, and by era, and by nationality. When I created my master list of the top 100 players of all time, I held myself accountable by staying true to those previously made lists. Some tweaking was necessary, of course, but before I adjusted the top 100 list, I had to make sure I stayed true to my original lists. 

Here are some quick breakdowns of my list.

Positions represented:

Goalies: 14
Centers: 33
Right Wings: 15
Left Wings: 13
Defense: 25

By Era:

Pre-1950: 23
Original Six (1950-1967) - 24
Post Expansion (1967-current) - 53
- 1970s - 18
- 1980 - 15
- 1990s/2000s - 20

I will present my Top 100 Greatest Players in Hockey History on Tuesday. In the meantime I'd value any feed back you have on my definition, my process or my breakdown results

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