With the National Hockey League all star game cancelled for the 2013 season, I began to think about the best players in the history of the league. After reading an article on the best A to Z players in baseball history, I wrote a similar article on basketball players, now this article on the best A to Z hockey players. Goalies are added separately from other position players, so several letters are represented by more than one player. With all of that said, my list is as follows:
A: Dave Andreychuk, left wing, 1982 – 2006
Dave Andreychuk started his career with the Buffalo Sabres in 1982. He scored 30 or more goals in a season nine times, 40 or more four times, and 50 or more twice. Andreychuk lead the league in power play goals in 1991-1992 and 1992-1993. He finished his career with 640 goals and 698 assists in 1,639 games.
B: Ray Bourque, defenseman, 1979 – 2001
Ray Bourque started his career with the Boston Bruins in 1979. He played for the Bruins through the 2000 season and finished his career with the Colorado Avalanche. Bourque was a perennial all-star defenseman and ten times had 60 or more assists in the season. He finished his career with 410 goals and 1,169 assists in 1,612 games. Bourque is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Martin Brodeur, goalie, 1991 – present
Martin Brodeur began his career with the New Jersey Devils in 1991. He has lead the league in wins ten times and shutouts five times. Playing his entire career with the Devils, Brodeur entered the 2012-2013 season with 662 wins, 120 shutouts, and a goals against average of 2.23.
C: Paul Coffey, defenseman, 1980 – 2001
Paul Coffey began his career with the Edmonton Oilers in 1980. One of the best scoring defensemen in league history, Coffey had four seasons with 30 or more goals and five seasons of 100 or more points. He finished his career with 396 goals and 1,135 assists in 1,409 games. Coffey is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
D: Marcel Dionne, center, 1971 – 1989
Marcel Dionne began his career with the Detroit Red Wings in 1971. One of the best goal scorers in the history of the league, he scored 40 or more goals ten times. Dionne scored 50 or more goals each season from 1978 through 1983. For his career which spanned 18 seasons and 3 teams, Dionne scored 731 goals and added 1,040 assists. Dionne is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
E: Phil Esposito, center, 1963 – 1981
Phil Esposito played for the Chicago Black Hawks, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers during his 18 year career. He lead the league in goals six consecutive seasons from 1969 through 1975. Four of those seasons, he scored over 60 goals, with a career high of 76 in 1970-1971. Esposito retired with 717 goals and 873 assists in 1,282 game. Esposito is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Tony Esposito, goalie, 1968 – 1984
The brother of Phil Esposito, Tony Esposito played for the Chicago Black Hawks and Montreal Canadiens during his 16 year career. He lead the league in shutouts three times, and wins twice. Tony Esposito had 423 career wins , 76 shutouts, and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
F: Ron Francis, center, 1981 – 2004
Ron Francis played for the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Carolina Hurricanes during his 23 year career. Francis never lead the league in scoring or goals scored, but was a very consistent player who finished his career with 549 goals and 1,249 assists in 1,731 games. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Grant Fuhr, goalie, 1981 – 2000
Grant Fuhr began his career in 1981 with the Edmonton Oilers. He also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, and Calgary Flames. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Fuhr twice lead the league in wins and once in shutouts. In 868 career games, Fuhr won 403, lost 295 and tied 114.
G: Wayne Gretzky, center, 1979 – 1999
The greatest offensive player in the history of the game, Wayne Gretzky played for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers during his 20 year career. He lead the league in assists each season from 1979 through 1992. Gretzky also lead the league in points 11 times and four times in goals. The NHL’s all time leading scorer is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and ended his career with 894 goals, and 1,963 assists in 1,487 games.
H: Gordie Howe, right wing, 1946 – 1980
Gordie Howe played for the Detroit Red Wings from 1946 through 1971 and for the Hartford Whalers in 1979-1980. Howe lead the league in goals five times, lead in scoring six , lead in assists three times. Gordie Howe played in 80 games at the age of 51, a testament to his longevity. He retired with 801 goals and 1,049 assists in 1,767 games.
Glenn Hall, goalie, 1952 – 1971
Glenn Hall played for the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks and St. Louis Blues during his 19 year career. One of the best goalies of all time, Hall lead the league in shutouts 6 times and never had a goals against average above 3. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Glenn Hall finished his career with 407 wins and 84 shutouts.
Dominik Hasek, goalie, 1990 – 2008
Domink Hasek could arguably go down in history as one of the top 5 goalies of all time. Hasek played for the Chicago Black Hawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators during his 18 year career. Hasek lead the league in save percentage each season from 1993 through 1999. He also lead the league in shutouts 4 times, and has a miniscule career goals against average of 2.20. For his career, Hasek won 389 games and had 81 shutouts.
I: Jarome Iginla, right wing, 1996 – present
One of the few active players on this list, Jarome Iginla has played for the Calgary flames since 1996. Iginla has been a consistent and durable player and lead the league in scoring in 2001-2002. Entering the 2012-2013 season, Iginla has 516 goals and 557 assists in 1188 games.
J: Jaromir Jagr, right wing, 1990 – present
Jaromir Jagr started his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990. He lead league in scoring 5 times with the Penguins, including 4 consecutive seasons from 1997 through 2001. Jagr scored 30 or more goals in a season for 13 straight years from 1991 through 2004. Entering the 2012-2013 season, Jagr had 665 goals and 988 assists.
K: Paul Kariya, left wing, 1994 – 2010
Paul Kariya played for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, and Nashville Predators during his 16 year career. He scored 40 or more goals in a season 3 times and over 100 points twice. Kariya retired with 402 goals and 587 assists in 989 career games.
L: Mario Lemieux, center, 1984 – 2006
Mario Lemieux played his entire Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lemieux lead the league in goals 3 times. He had over 40 goals in a season 10 times, and lead the league in scoring 6 times. Mario Lemieux retired at the age of 40 with 690 goals and 1,033 assists in 915 games.
Harry Lumley, goalie, 1943 – 1960
Harry Lumley played for 5 times over his 17 year career. One of the best goalies of all time, Lumley lead the league in shutouts three times. He also lead the league in wins twice and had a career goals against average of 2.75. Lumley, a member of the Hall of Fame, retired at the relatively young age of 33 with 330 wins and 71 shutouts.
M: Stan Mikita, center/right wing, 1958 – 1980
Stan Mikita was a durable, versatile front line player for the Chicago Black Hawks for 22 seasons. Although Mikita never lead the league in scoring, he scored 20 or more goals for 14 consecutive seasons. Mikita lead the league in scoring 4 times and assists 3 times. During his Hall of Fame career, Stan Mikita scored 541 goals and added 926 assists.
N: Bernie Nicholls, center, 1981 – 1999
Bernie Nicholls played for the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Black Hawks, and San Jose Sharks during his 18 year career. He had a career high 70 goals and 80 assists during the 1988-1989 season. Although Nicholls never lead the league in goals or assists, he had 3 seasons with 100 or more points. He retired with 475 goals and 734 assists in 1,127 games.
O: Adam Oates, center, 1985 – 2004
Adam Oates played for 7 teams during his 19 year Hall of Fame career. Although Oates never lead the league in goals or points, he lead the league in assists 3 times. His best season was 1992-1993 when he has 45 goals and 97 assists. Adam Oates retired at the age of 41 with 341 goals and 1,079 assists in 1,337 games.
P: Gilbert Perreault, center, 1990 – 2007
Gilbert Perreault spent his entire 17 year career with the Buffalo Sabres. He never lead the league in goals, assists, or total points, but was a reliable offensive player who scored 20 or more goals in 15 seasons. Perreault’s best season was in 1975-1976 when he had 44 goals and 69 assists. He retired with 512 goals, 814 assists, and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Jacque Plante, goalie, 1952 – 1973
Hall of Fame member Jacque Plante played for 5 teams during his NHL career. He lead the league in goals against average 8 times and wins 5 times. He had 437 wins and 82 shutouts. Plante passed away February 27, 1986, at the age of 57.
Q: Dan Quinn, center, 1983 – 1997
Dan Quinn played for 8 teams during his 14 year career. Quinn’s best season was 1989-1990 when he had 34 goals and 60 assists. He was a good, but not spectacular player and ended his career with 266 goals and 419 assists.
R: Maurice Richard, right wing, 1942 – 1960
Maurice Richard played his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. He scored 30 or more goals in a season 9 times, and lead the league in goals 5 times. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Richard scored 544 goals and 421 assists in his career. Richard passed away on May 27, 2000, at the age of 78.
Patrick Roy, goalie, 1984 – 2003
Patrick Roy played for the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche during his 19 year career. He lead the league in save percentage 4 times, shutouts and goals against average 3 times, and wins 2 times. One of the top handful of goalies of all time, the Hall of Fame member had 551 wins and 66 shutouts in his career.
S: Joe Sakic, center, 1988 – 2009
Joe Sakic had a 21 year Hall of Fame career with the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche. Sakic score 100 or more points in 6 seasons. Although he never lead the league in goals, assists or points, he was a very good player for a long period of time. His career statistics of 625 goals and 1,016 assists were good enough for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Terry Sawchuk, goalie, 1949 – 1970
Hall of Fame goalie Terry Sawchuk played for 5 teams during his 21 year career. He lead the league in wins for 5 consecutive years from 1950 through 1955. Sawchuk had 4 seasons with 10 or more shutouts and ended his career with a goals against average of 2.51. With 447 wins and 103 shutouts, Sawchuk is one of the best goalies in history.
T: Bryan Trottier, center, 1975 – 1994
Bryan Trottier starred for the New York Islanders from 1975 through 1990. He lead the league in assists in 1977-1978 and 1978-1979. Trottier was a consistent goal scorer with 30 or more in 9 consecutive seasons. He finished his Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Trottier retired with 524 goals and 901 assists in 1,279 games.
U: Norm Ullman, center, 1956 – 1975
Norm Ullman had a Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. Although not spectacular, he was an extremely consistent offensive player. Ullman lead the league in goals once, and he retired with 490 goals and 739 assists.
V: Pat Verbeek, right wing, 1982 – 2002
Pat Verbeek played for the New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings. He never lead the league in goals, assists or total points, but finished his career with 552 goals and 541 assists.
W: Doug Weight, center, 1991 – 2011
Doug Weight played for 6 teams over his 20 year career. He scored 20 or more goals 6 times, with a season high of 25 goals in 1995-1996. In 1,238 career games, Weight scored 278 goals and had 755 assists.
X: No players with last name starting with “X”
Y: Steve Yzerman, center, 1983 – 2006
Hall of Fame member Steve Yzerman played his entire 23 year career with the Detroit Red Wings. One of the most consistent offensive players of all time, Yzerman surprisingly never lead the league in goals, assists or total points. He had 6 consecutive seasons of 100 or more points from 1987 through 1993. Yzerman had 5 seasons of 50 or more goals. He finished his career with 692 goals and 1,063 assists in 1,514 games.
Z: Sergei Zubov , defenseman, 1992 – 2009
Sergei Zubov played for the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars during his 17 year career. Zubov was an all star, despite never statistically excellent in any category. He finished his career with 152 goals and 619 assists in 1,068 games.
This concludes my list of the best A to Z players in hockey history. I welcome any opinions and debate on my selections.