March 07, 2015

The Greatest Hockey Photos of All Time

"In these photos the world's fastest game stand still," Ron MacLean once said.

With that in mind I present to you a personal listing of what I consider to be the greatest photos of all time:

Greatest Photos In Hockey History #1 - Henderson Has Scored For Canada

Almost any Canadian who is old enough can tell you exactly what he or she was doing on September 28, 1972, when Paul Henderson scored the 6-5 goal at 19:26 of the final period of the final of the 1972 Summit Series. For a second, our world stood still, and then as the red light flickered behind Vladislav Tretiak, our hearts filled with joy, and relief.

"Here's a shot. Henderson makes a wild stab for it and falls. Here's another shot. Right in front. They Score!! Henderson has scored for Canada!"

As Foster Hewitt's ghostly words described the "goal heard around the world," millions of Canadians danced and hugged in a scene that was reminiscent of the celebrations at the end of World War II. Never has a single sporting moment meant so much to so many Canadians a sense of unparalleled nationalism.

Every Canadian but Denis Brodeur.

Denis Brodeur, the father of New Jersey Devils goaltending great Martin Brodeur, was one of about 3000 Canadians in Moscow's Luzhniki Ice Palace the night Henderson scored. While the hearts of every other Canadian in Moscow, including the players, and every Canadian back home filled with joy, and relief, Brodeur was busy snapping this little photo.

It became perhaps the most famous photo not only in hockey history, but Canadian history.

Several generations of Canadians were born after 1972, but they recognize this photo instantly. They know it represents more than just a great moment in hockey, but a great moment in Canada. It is a photo of Canadian pride and Canadian history. Somehow this picture continues to instill unparalleled nationalism in a country that is so often divided.

That is why I have picked Denis Brodeur's immortal photo of Paul Henderson jumping into the congratulatory arms of Yvan Cournoyer, and every other Canadian then and since, as Hockey's Greatest Photo.

More about 1972 Summit Series

Greatest Photos In Hockey History #2 - Number Four, Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr's Superman pose comes in at #2. 

Here is hockey's greatest player at the time, and perhaps of all time, scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in over time. With a little help from Noel Picard's stick, he celebrates by flying through the air like only he and the Man of Steel could do.
Ensuring immortality, this photo and video of this goal are shown constantly come every playoff season. It is a dramatic image of what every young hockey player dreams of - winning the Stanley Cup.

Greatest Photos In Hockey History
#3 Jacques Plante's Goalie Mask

By becoming the first goalie to regularly wear facial protection, Jacques Plante literally changed the face of hockey. 

Which makes this photo even more amazing - not only does it capture the epic moment as it happened, but it shows exactly why it happened.
The story of Plante's mask has been told a 1000 times. This photo tells it all, as they say, without a single word.

The Stare. 

The stare was Rocket Richard's trademark. When he came at a goalie with his eyes lit up, the opposition was terrified. Glenn Hall once was quoted sharing his memories of Rocket Richard - "What I remember most about the Rocket were his eyes. When he came flying toward you with the puck on his stick, his eyes were all lit up, flashing and gleaming like a pinball machine. It was terrifying." 

Rocket's piercing eyes are captured perfectly here in what is probably the most famous photo of the great Maurice Richard.

I just love this photo. 

It shows Gordie Howe answering fan mail in the hospital. He is there with a fractured skull, courtesy of the famous and controversial collision with Toronto'sTeeder Kennedy. Howe's career was almost over before it began. 

But Howe came back, and became the greatest player not only of his day, but perhaps of all time. I think that is why I like the photo so much. Hockey players put their bodies through the most amazing physicality and abuse, but they always come back. No other photo captures that quite like this one.

Here is another amazing though less famous photo of Howe's plight:

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#6 The Gretzky Trade

I remember this image like it was yesterday. And sometimes I still can't believe it really happened.

This is, of course, a picture of Wayne Gretzky's tearful press conference where he has to say good bye to the Edmonton Oilers and their fans. At the very heigh of the greatest career in all of hockey history he is inconceivably traded away to the Los Angeles Kings, basically for cash.

This moment here really shook my generation's beliefs about hockey right down to the ground. We grew up loving hockey for the great sport it was. Now we were all far too aware that the NHL was not just about hockey, but about business.
The picture above is admittedly the Canadian perspective. Gretzky would go down to Hollywood and take the game to new heights throughout all of America and even the world. For many of those fans, the lasting image would likely have to be of Gretzky's other press conference concerning his trade.

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#7 - Mark Messier's Guarantee

With his team down 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils in the 1994 Eastern Conference final, captain Mark Messier guaranteed New York fans that the Rangers would win Game 6 and return home for the seventh and deciding contest. The Rangers not only won the game 4-2, but Messier backed up his bold prediction by scoring a hat trick.

Of course, the Rangers would go on to win game seven, setting up the classic 1994 Stanley Cup finals against the Vancouver Canucks, leading to another famous picture of Mark Messier in a New York Rangers sweater.

Read The Full Mark Messier Biography

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#8 Miracle On Ice

The 1980 Miracle On Ice itself may be the most important event in American sporting history, let alone hockey history. So I knew I had to include it's lasting image somewhere quite high in my final standings. 

I chose the image of the Sports Illustrated magazine cover because hockey is so rarely featured by America's sporting leader. That in itself is significant. The photo of the American players racing to congratulate their goalie otherwise might not have been the lasting image without the magazine cover.

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#9 Canada Cup 1987

It was arguably the greatest hockey ever played. 

The 1987 Canada Cup 3 game finals featured thrilling end to end action between the powerful Soviet national team and Team Canada. There was little to choose from, with only one goal separating the two teams. And that goal didn't come until nearly the final minute of the final game.
This photo shows Canada's two dream superstars, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, teamed up for the only time in their careers. What magic it was, as the duo supplied the winning goal in both games 2 and games 3. 

Just thinking about it makes me want to pop in the DVD and watch series all over again for like the millionth time. 

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#10 Gretzky's Goodbye

This shot of Wayne Gretzky waving goodbye after his final game officially ended what, for many of us, was the greatest era in the history of hockey.

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#11 - Brett Hull's No Goal

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.

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#12 Bill Barilko's Last Goal

In the 1951 finals, the Leafs were facing their eternal rivals the Montreal Canadiens, and with this goal pictured above Bill Barilko became the unlikely hero.

Toronto scored with just 32 second left to force game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals into overtime. Toronto led the series 3 games to 1, and were looking to clinch the championship.

At 2:53 of the first overtime period, Barilko became a national hero. He hadn't recorded a single point in the series prior to then, but he fired a desperation shot as he crossed the blue line. He had so much effort into his shot he actually fell forward to ice after releasing the puck. The puck somehow found its way past Montreal goalie Gerry McNeil, and the Cup was Toronto's. Barilko was the unlikely hero who won the Cup.

Unfortunately Barilko didn't get to enjoy the Cup victory or his new national hero status for very long. During the off-season he and friend Dr. Henry Hudson flew to northern Ontario on a fishing trip. The plane crashed and the wreckage wasn't found for 15 years. In the wreckage of that plane lies the legend of Bill Barilko.

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#13 - Sugar Jim Henry Shakes Rocket Richard's Hand

The handshake. There is no better playoff tradition than the handshake.

There is no rule that says teams have to shake hands after going to war against each other in best of seven playoff series.

Instead it is the ultimate sign of respect and of tradition. It is the way it always has been.

No photo captures this form of sportsmanship better than this offering from Roger St. Jean from April 8th, 1952.

During the seventh game of the Stanley Cup semi finals at the Montreal Forum,Maurice Richard suffered a concussion and was knocked out of the game, returning in the third period to score the winning goal. He skated end to end, going through the Bruins players, skated out in front of the net and put the puck behind a startled Sugar Jim Henry.

Henry offers his hand in respect to the bloodied Rocket. Perhaps no photo better captures hockey's unique combination of sportsmanship and physicality.

Maurice Richard Biography - - - Sugar Jim Henry biography

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#14 - Czechs "Dominate" First NHL Olympics

Dominik Hasek
 celebrates after stopping Brendan Shanahan in the dreaded shootout to eliminate Canada and advance to the gold medal game in the 1998 Olympic games in Nagano, Japan.

The 1998 Olympics are special in hockey history because it was the first time that all of the world's best players would be allowed to compete on the sporting world's grandest stage. The NHL shut down it's schedule to permit it's players to play for their respective national teams.

Canada, with an aging Wayne Gretzky looking for the only event he had never won, was the tournament favorite, but were stoned by Hasek and bounced by the Czechs. The Czechs went on to knock off Russia in the gold medal game.

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#15 - Bill Mosienko

It is said that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. Bill Mosienko only had 21 seconds. But with this photo, he was forever immortalized.

Bill Mosienko holds an amazing NHL record that likely will never be matched. On March 23, 1952, Mosienko scored three goals in a 21 second time frame! And legend has it he actually missed what should have been an easy goal just afterwards, thus preventing him from scoring 4 goals in less than one minute! 

All three goals were assisted by Gus Bodnar, and they came in the third period helping the Hawks get by Lorne Anderson and the New York Rangers by a final score of 7-6. 

Read The Full Bill Mosienko Biography

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#16 - Lester Patrick Takes To The Net

Lester Patrick was coaching the New York Rangers in the second game of the 1928 Stanley Cup finals when his goaltender, Lorne Chabot, was knocked out by a puck to the eye.

In that era when teams carried only one netminder, Patrick asked Montreal Maroons coach Eddie Gerard if the Rangers could substitute a goalie who was sitting in the Montreal Forum stands.

Legend has it that when Gerard refused he said "If you need a goalkeeper, why the hell doesn't Lester play?"

The 44 year old Patrick is said to have snorted "I will! To hell with Gerard! I'll go in and play goal myself!"

Donning Chabot's skates and equipment, the old defenseman faced 19 shots, including several in sudden death overtime. Amazingly, "The Silver Fox" stopped all but one in inspiring the Rangers to a 2-1 victory.

Joe Miller was recruited to play the remainder of the series, ending Patrick's goaltending career at 43 minutes played. The Rangers would go on to win the Stanley Cup.

Read the full Lester Patrick Biography.

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#16 - Ken Dryden's Thinker Pose

The Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s may have been the greatest team in NHL history. They were so good that their goalie, even though he was probably one of the best in league history too, did not have to do a lot on many nights.

While the action was at the opposite end of the ice or during stoppages of plays Ken Dryden would often prop himself against his goal stick while waiting for the puck to return to his end.

Dryden's "Thinker's Pose"
 became the endearing image of the 1970s Montreal Canadiens.

Full Ken Dryden Biography

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#17 - Gretzky Hoists Stanley Cup

He went on to star in Hollywood and was the brightest light on all of Broadway, but Wayne Gretzky will always be an Edmonton Oiler.

It was in Edmonton where most of his amazing scoring accomplishments and all of his Stanley Cup victories happened. His relationship with the city has always been something cherished by all.

The undying image of Gretzky's Oilers days has to be of him lifting the Stanley Cup over his head, victorious and the undisputed greatest player of them all.

Full Wayne Gretzky Biography

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#18 - Bobby Clarke's Toothless Grin

It is a very stereotyped but strangely endearing image of hockey - missing teeth.

Perhaps no photo better captures this unique hockey sentiment than Bobby Clarke's toothless grin.

Full Bobby Clarke Biography

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#19 - The Heritage Classic

The very first NHL outdoor game was The Heritage Classic back in 2003. The Montreal Canadiens visited Edmonton where even the Oilers were prepared to play in -18C temperatures. But more than 57,000 fans were, spending all afternoon in the stands of Commonwealth Stadium to watch the game and the alumni game before that.

The toque-wearing Theodore has become the endearing image of the outdoor game.

The only challenger would be from the alumni game where, in a real throw back to the old days, the players cleaned the ice with shovels instead of a Zamboni. Guy Lafleur was captured most famously in this photo:

Greatest Photos In Hockey History 
#20 - Wayne Gretzky Meets Gordie Howe

Talk about foreshadowing! This is truly an amazing photo of the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

This photo goes back to the year 1972. Twelve year old Wayne Gretzky meets his idol, Gordie Howe, then the undisputed greatest player in the game. Howe seems to take a liking to the kid, and gives him the legendary "Mr. Hockey" hook.

Little did they know on that particular night that their careers and their lives would be so intertwined.

The photo was taken at the 1972 Kiwanis "Great Men of Sports" Dinner in 
BrantfordOntario. This photo was taken by the late Jack Bowman of the Brantford Expositor.


bamlinden said...

Some excellent choices. I was surprised by a couple and may even disagree with a few. But that's the joy of a list.

I think one snapshot that should have been included is the Terry Sawchuk photo where he is sprawling to make a save. Diving right at you. To me it's a classic.

Thanks for the great post.

sd said...

There another interesting photo of Bill Baricko's goal taken by Michael Burns Sr worth to mention.

An honorable mention is a photo of Guy Lafleur who reached his 1000 point in 1981 with a young spectator behind him who was... Mario Lemieux.

Anonymous said...

I am somewhat biased as a canucks fan, but I've always felt this is one of the best images in hockey history. After battling through 4 rounds of playoffs, trevor linden exausted, bloodied and with broken ribs to boot leaning on kirk mclean after the game 6 win.