December 30, 2014
The Greatest Players By Sweater Number: 21-40
We continue our look at the greatest players by sweater number. Yesterday we looked at 0 through 20. Today we look at 21 through 40.
21 -- Stan Mikita - One of the all time true greats, Mikita won four scoring titles in a five-year span, was a first-team All-Star six times, won the Hart Trophy as League MVP twice -- and even earned a pair of Lady Byng trophies for his skill and gentlemanly play after changing his approach as one of the dirtier players in the game. Peter Forsberg and Borje Salming get consideration here, too.
22 -- Mike Bossy - It would not take much to convince me that Mike Bossy was the greatest goal scorer of all time. He was the first rookie to score 50 goals and then scored at least 50 in each of his next eight seasons. A bad back that forced him to retire at age 30 with 573 goals. Brad Park, Steve Shutt and fan favorite Tiger Williams also wore 22. And of course special mention to Jordin Tootoo.
23 -- Bob Gainey - The Soviets called him the best player in the world at one point. Bob Gainey was such a proficient defensive forward they pretty much created the Selke trophy just for him. Other 23s of note include Brian Bellows, Bob Nystrom, Paul Reinhart and "Clear The Track For Eddie Shack!"
24 -- Chris Chelios - Recent Hall of Famer played an amazing 1,651 games, earning three Norris Trophies and five First-Team All-Star berths along the way. Bernie Federko, Doug Wilson and Terry O'Reilly also wore 24.
25 -- Dave Andreychuk - The NHL's all time leading power play goal scorer edges out Joe Nieuwendyk and Jacques Lemaire at 25.
26 -- Peter Stastny - At age 24 Peter defected from Czechoslovakia in 1980 and instantly dominated the NHL. He finished his career 1239 points in only 977 games, and is the second highest scoring player of the 1980s, behind some guy named Wayne Gretzky. With all due respect to Brian Propp, Patrik Elias and Mats Naslund, Peter Stastny is the clear winner at 26.
27 -- Scott Niedermayer - The effortless skater won every title there was to win, including 4 Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic gold medals, world and world junior titles and the Memorial Cup. Frank Mahovlich and Darryl Sittler also make strong cases at #27.
28 -- Steve Larmer - The always underrated Steve Larmer was a consistent goal scorer and notable ironman. Brian Rafalski and Reed Larson get consideration here, too.
29 -- Ken Dryden - For some reason 29 seems to be a number either worn tough guys or by goaltenders in more recent years. We can thank the goalie influence to the great Ken Dryden who won 258 of his 397 games and six Stanley Cups in a little over 7 seasons! We'll give the skater nod to Joel Otto.
30 -- Martin Brodeur - The NHL's all time winningest goaltender easily takes top billing at #30, with all due respect to Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Miller, Rogie Vachon and Chris Osgood.
31 -- Billy Smith - Another goalie-only number, usually. Playoff hero Billy Smith led the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cups in the early 1980s. Then another #31 came along and led a new dynasty to Stanley Cup reign - Grant Fuhr of the Edmonton Oilers.
32 -- Dale Hunter - One of the dirtiest but most effective players in NHL history was Dale Hunter. Another very similar player was Claude Lemieux. Both were reviled villains who wore #32. Hmm....maybe it's the number?
33 -- Patrick Roy - Considered by many to be the greatest goalie of all time, was there any doubt that Patrick Roy would get top billing at #33? Playmaker extraordinaire Henrik Sedin comes in as runner up.
34 -- John Vanbiesbrouck - The Beezer narrowly edges out Miikka Kiprusoff. Both goalies backstopped some pretty average to weak teams valiantly.
35 -- Tony Esposito - The last goalie dominated number is 35. Tony Esposito wins this one over Mike Richter, Tom Barrasso and Andy Moog. Tony O is the only player in Chicago history to have worn #35.
36 -- Jussi Jokinen - This shootout specialist tops this thin list. Hey I bet you didn't know Bobby Clarke wore #36 for his rookie season. That doesn't get him looked at here however.
37 -- Olaf Kolzig - "Olie the Goalie" led the Washington Capitals to theStanley Cup Final in 1998 and won the Vezina Trophy in 2000. That's enough to give him the edge over long time defensive great Eric Desjardins.
38 -- Pavol Demitra - The late Pavol Demitra was once one of the NHL's most consistent offensive players and a legend in his native Slovakia. Runner up: Jan Hrdina.
39 -- Dominik Hasek - The Dominator is the obvious choice here, with his six Vezina trophies, back-to-back Hart trophies, and 389 victories despite not becoming an NHL regular until he was 29. Doug Weight also got a look here.
40 -- Henrik Zetterberg - Detroit's 2008 Conn Smythe champ outdistances Alex Tanguay, most notably of Colorado fame. Zetterberg constantly challenges Pavel Datsyuk as Detroit's top player in the post-Steve Yzerman world.