December 31, 2016

Top 100 Hockey Players of the 1980s

Wayne Gretzky rewrote the record book and the unthinkably was traded. The Islanders were actually good - maybe the best of all time. The Stastny's defected, Ron Hextall raged, Wendel Clark was a big hit and Dale Hawerchuk tripped up the Soviets. And goalies were funny looking - really funny looking!

Those were the days. The 1980s! All of this got me wondering - Who were the best hockey players of the 1980s? 

Without further ado, here are the top players 100 players of the 1980s, followed by  the top players featured in several categories - scorers, defensemen, goaltenders, tough guys and my favorite category I term Don't Forget.

High Scoring Forwards (Yes, there was a lot of them!)

Wayne Gretzky - The Great One lived up to his nickname, and may be the greatest athlete ever.

Mike Bossy - Arguably the greatest pure sniper of all time, this goal scoring machine helped the New York Islanders capture four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships.

Mario Lemieux - Magnificent is the perfect word to describe Mario Lemieux. Number 66 is the most gifted player to ever play the game of hockey.

Mark Messier - The hometown boy was the the passion and intensity of the Edmonton Oilers dynasty

Steve Yzerman - What more can be said about Stevie Wonder? He was one of hockey's greatest players and classiest people.

Denis Savard - There was no more exciting individual player in the 1980s than Denis Savard

Bryan Trottier - Most Complete Player.

Peter Stastny - Peter Stastny was the second highest scoring player in the 1980s, behind only Gretzky.

Jari Kurri - Gretzky's wing man was great at both ends of the ice.

Dale Hawerchuk - Winnipeg great had misfortune of being in same division as Oilers and Flames.

Michel Goulet - The highest scoring left winger in the decade.

Bernie Federko - Blues great was 9th highest scorer in the decade

Glenn Anderson - Messier's right hand man saved his best for the playoffs

Marcel Dionne - 1970s holdover kept scoring through out the 1980s

Mike Gartner - Fastest skater and great goal scorer.

Great Defenders

Ray Bourque - He played in the immediate shadows of Bobby Orr, yet ranks forever as one of the game's greatest defensemen. 

Paul Coffey - Aside from Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey is the most prolific offensive defenseman in NHL history.

Scott Stevens - Scott Stevens may have been the most feared physical force in the history of hockey.

Denis Potvin - He could play it any way you wanted to.

Mark Howe - Gordie's son was a standout with Philly

Rod Langway - The best defensive dman of the decade

Phil Housley - Power play specialist generated offense from front line or blue line

Kevin Lowe - Oilers stalwart

Larry Murphy - This was the 1980s. Maybe we should great offenders.

Doug Wilson - Chicago's big shot

Paul Reinhart - Back injury didn't allow us to see just how great he really was

Brad McCrimmon - Defensive stalwart

Charlie Huddy - Paul Coffey's defense partner never got enough credit of his own.

Randy Carlyle - Most people forget he won a Norris trophy

Reed Larson - Another underappreciated American pioneer

Craig Hartsburg  - Offered a little bit of everything

Bob Murray - There were a lot of underrated Hawks players in the 1980s, weren't there?

Puck Stoppers

Billy Smith - The top playoff goalie in hockey history?

Pelle Lindbergh - His life was cut short by a senseless act of his own, but his short hockey career provided quit 
the legacy.

Patrick Roy - The greatest goaltender of all time? The Montreal Forum was St. Patrick's cathedral for many years before moving on to Colorado.

Mike Liut - Dominant, though history only seems to remember his bad game at the 1981 Canada Cup

Pete Peeters - Peeters was hot or cold, but when he was hot there were few better.

Pat Riggin - Similar story to Pete Peeters.

Tom Barrasso - His debut was as spectacular as any rookie goalies'

Richard Brodeur - The King played on some bad teams, but was spectacular.

Andy Moog - Another underrated goalie from the 1980s. Technically he was better than most.

Mike Vernon - Brought the Flames the Cup in 1989

Heavy Hitters

Wendel Clark - Wendel Clark breathed in new life into the Leafs Nation when he arrived in the mid-1980s. He took on all of hockey's villains.

Joel Otto - Otto's Alberta battles with Mark Messier were legendary

Stan Smyl - Small but feisty, Smyl was the heart of the Canucks.

Chris Nilan  - Tough guy could play, too. Most penalized man of the 80s

Al Secord - Mean and nasty winger scored over 50 goals one year.

Brian Sutter - Heart of the Blues

Brent Sutter - The best of the six Sutter brothers?

John Tonelli - MVP of the 1984 Canada Cup

Dave Taylor - Kings great was a great scorer, too

Ken Linseman - Anyone who played against him hated him, but Wayne Gretzky says he may have been most underrated player he played with or against.Laurie Boschman - Never stopped battling

Brad Marsh - Defensive defenseman tried harder than everyone

Jim Peplinski - Flames' favorite was solid 

Mike Foligno - Sabres' heart

Rob Ramage - Tough as nails

Super Soviets

Igor Larionov - The Professor

Vladimir Krutov  - Soviet power forward far better than North Americans have ever given him credit for. 

Sergei Makarov - A most beautiful player

Viacheslav Fetisov - Freedom Fighter

Alexei Kasatonov - Another forgotten star who was essential to Soviet success.

Don't Forget!

Ron Francis - He played in relative anonymity in this decade with Hartford

Guy Carbonneau - Defensive expert

Rick Vaive - Underappreciated Leafs great scored 50 goals four times

Bobby Smith - Big man quietly dominated

Tim Kerr -  Power play specialist

Kent Nilsson - Magic Man

Neal Broten - The most underrated American player in history's eyes?

Mats Naslund - Super Swede became Montreal fan favorite

Lanny McDonald - Don't forget the man with the moustache had a 66 goal season one year.

Bernie Nicholls - Pumper-Nicholl Kid was always an offensive force, but exploded when he played on Gretzky's wing.

Brian Propp - Propp will always rank on top of hockey's most underrated lists.

Steve Larmer - Another for the all time underrated list

Joey Mullen - American sniper

Bobby Carpenter - Can't Miss Kid

Dino Ciccarelli - Undrafted and undeterred

Mark Johnson - Johnson was another Neal Broten-like overlooked American star.

John Ogrodnick - Swooping left winger scored 340 goals in the 1980s

Hakan Loob - Swedish Sensation

Thomas Steen - Another for the underrated team

Tony Tanti - Vancouver's super sniper

Troy Murray - Two way threat

Reijo Ruotsalainen - Offensive defender

Dave Babych - Second overall pick proved to be solid all around players

Tomas Jonsson - Most underrated player of the Islanders' dynasty?

Moe Mantha - Cerebral defender

Mike Ramsey  - The Sabres version of Kevin Lowe

Doug Crossman - Sparkplug defender

Larry Robinson - 70s great was great in 80s too

Gordie Roberts - Who said no one played defense in the 80s?

Curt Giles - Undersized, but not under-utilized

Mike Krushelnyski - The Krusher

Greg Millen - Amazingly, only Liut played more regular season games

Reggie Lemelin - Calgary fan favorite

Don Beaupre - Heavy minute man in Minnesota

Glen Hanlon - Puck stopper turned coach

Dave Christian - Only Mike Gartner played more regular season games in the 1980s

Paul MacLean - Hawerchuk's right hand man in Winnipeg

Keith Acton - Speedy pest was one of the best


C said...

Where's Petri Skriko?!

Unknown said...

A few omissions as far as I am concerned, a major omission was Brian Bellows. I also feel Gerard Gallant deserves some recognition for his work along side Stevie Y.

Paul said...

Yeah, I'd put Bellows and Gallant on the list. Simmer, too.

Gillies > Clark (and I'm a Leafs fan).

It's a good list, but it gives a little too much love to Peplinski types. What about guys like Bullard, Nicholls and Loob?