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The 10 Greatest Players In NHL History

If every NHL fan was asked to name the best players in history, almost every list would be different, whether because of the players they included, where they ranked them, or both. There’s no right or wrong “ultimate ranking,” and everyone has their personal favorites. However, when it comes to the greatest of all time, there are a few names that’d likely make 99.9% of lists. How does your list compare to this one…?

Photo: thehockeynews.com/RICH CHERE
  1. Martin Brodeur

Marty Brodeur is the only goalie to make the cut. He’s the Gretzky of goalies, sitting at the top of the record books in both wins and shutouts. Over his more than 20 seasons in the league, he captured three Stanley Cups, and four Vezina Trophies for best goalie.

Photo: wikipedia.org/Michael Miller
  1. Sidney Crosby

As with Brodeur being the only goalie to make the list, “Sid the Kid” is the only active player to get a mention. He’s already got quite the resume. Highlights include multiple Stanley Cups, Hart Trophies, Conn Smythe Trophies, Art Ross Trophies, and “Rocket” Richard Trophies. This future Hall of Famer will surely continue to rise in the record books.

Photo: nhl.com/John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

     8. Bobby Hull

“The Golden Jet” scored over 600 goals in his career, thanks in large part to his speed (hence the nickname). He also reached the 50-goal plateau five times over his 15+ years. The 12-time All-Star won two Hart Trophies and three Art Ross Trophies.

Photo: nhl.com/John Mackinnon

     7. Mark Messier

Giving Gordie Howe a run for his money in the longevity department, Mark Messier played 25+ seasons before finally retiring at the age of 43. During his run, he amassed nearly 700 goals and 1,200 assists. Some of his success came as a teammate of Gretzky. However, one thing he can hang over “The Great One” is his six Stanley Cups.

Photo: allhabs.net/Montreal Canadiens PRESS RELEASE
  1. Jean Beliveau

A teammate of “Rocket” Richard (#5 below), Beliveau spent his entire 20-year career with Montreal. He won an incredible 10 Stanley Cups, and also got double-digit All-Star nods in the process. Over the years, he led the league in goals twice, won two Hart Trophies, and was the first ever Conn Smythe Trophy recipient.

Photo: icehockeyincanada.blogspot.com/NHL
  1. Maurice Richard

Maurice “Rocket” Richard was the first player ever to score 50 goals in a season, and also the first player to reach the 500 goal milestone in a career. Those are two reasons why there’s now a trophy named after him given annually to the league’s top goal scorer. The 14-time All-Star hoisted the Stanley Cup eight times.

Photo: nhl.com/Stu Hackel

     4. Mario Lemieux

A player who had his amazing career shortened due to injury (and a cancer diagnosis, and an early retirement before returning to play again), Mario Lemieux still managed to make history time and time again. His offensive magic was the closest thing to Gretzky, as he once reached 199 points in a single season, including 85 goals. His 10 seasons with 100 or more points also stands out. Honors include two Stanley Cups, three Hart Trophies, and nine All-Star selections.

Photo: theglobeandmail.com/The Hockey Hall of Fame

    3. Gordie Howe

“Mr. Hockey” played professionally for over five decades, skated alongside his two sons in the league, and enjoyed his last game at age 51 to boot. Synonymous with Detroit, Howe spent 25 seasons there, racking up four Stanley Cups, six Art Ross Trophies, six Hart Trophies, and 21 All-Star appearances. To this day, an unofficial stat is named in his honor: “The Gordie Howe Hat Trick” is when a player scores a goal, assists on another, and gets in a fight all in the same game.

Photo: thehockeybeast.com/RASMUS SENATOR

     2. Bobby Orr

Injuries shortened his career, so the fact that Bobby Orr still ranks second really stands out. Famous for his leaping celebration in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, he was the first great offensive defenseman. He was also the first defenseman to ever lead the league in points, when he tallied 120 in 1969-70. Some of his hardware collection includes eight Norris Trophies, two Stanley Cups, two Art Ross Trophies, and two Conn Smythe Trophies.

Photo: nhl.com/Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs

    1. Wayne Gretzky

You knew this was coming, right? It’s only fitting that “The Great One” tops the list. His number 99 is retired by every team in the NHL, an honor that no other player to ever play the game holds. Only one other player has ever reached 160 points in a season (Lemieux, #4 above). Gretzky did it nine times, and broke 200 points four times for good measure. He has the most goals, assists, and points in NHL history (both regular season and playoffs), and it’s not even close in any of those categories. Additionally, he has four Stanley Cups, 18 All-Star selections, 10 Art Ross Trophies, and nine Hart Trophies.