This is not my own work, its courtesy of this mornings Newark Star-Ledger, but I thought that this was too good not to share with everyone out there, not just Devils fans but fans of the game...
Here is a lesson on hockey history from a surefire future hall of famer.
Which NHL dynasty was the best team: the Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s, the Islanders of the 1980s, or the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s?I would go with Montreal. It's not fair to the Islanders and the Oilers, but I never lived there. Not that I really noticed because I was so young, but from what I've heard, all the players that played in that era were tremendous. Everybody's around. Everybody's a coach or a GM. It's crazy.
You look at the Oilers and it's the same thing. With the Islanders, you don't really see that a lot. But look at the Oilers, and there are MacTavish and Lowe and Messier, who eventually will be somebody somewhere. It's amazing.Is there anything about your game that is modeled after somebody you watched growing up?Actually, I was a little older. When I saw Felix Potvin come in his first year, and he had tons of success and brought Toronto to the conference final, he had the paddle down, and I do that a lot. I still do it on almost every shot.
That's one of the first things I picked up from another goalie, because I never really paid attention to goalies. I was doing it my way.Does Potvin know this?Probably not. And I know him pretty good, too. So I never really had the conversation. I'm sure if he hears about it, he'll have a kick out of it.Do you have a top starting NHL lineup of all time?Definitely, it's the obvious. Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, and Wayne Gretzky are playing on my top line. I'd probably have Scott Niedermayer and Lidstrom on defense. And if I can't pick me, I'd probably pick Patrick Roy.We'll allow you to pick yourself. Do you want to?No, that's all right. I'd get too much grief if I do.You don't hear Niedermayer's name in discussions of the great all-time defensemen. Why is that?He's just so good in every facet of the game that he gets lost because he's not super at one thing -- he's good at everything. Maybe that's why he didn't get the recognition some guys got who excelled at one thing. His personality, too, keeps him on the down-low.Who was the better player, Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky?For my money, Mario's a more dominant player. But how can you go against Wayne Gretzky? I mean, that's my problem. Mario Lemieux -- his speed, his shot, his toughness, he was big, his moves. Gretz was able to do it a different way because nobody really went after him that much. He was older than Mario when I played him, and I didn't play him in his prime. Mario, he had some great years against us.Who is your favorite goalie?My favorite to watch was Ron Hextall. I just loved it, and that's why I kind of imitate him, with playing the puck, you know?
I loved to see a big guy like that being a rough and tough goalie. When I was a junior, I was sticking guys, too. I changed a lot, because guys in the minors were older than me and I had to stop.What is the best jersey design ever in the history of the NHL?Chicago Blackhawks. It's just great with the tomahawks on the shoulders. The best colors are the Original Six teams. That red in Montreal, with the blue pants. The blue of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the red of Detroit. It's just something that characterized them a lot differently than the new jerseys that we have.You're a goalie who respects and cherishes your defensemen. Who is the best defensive defenseman of all time?I know Rick Green when he was in Montreal was a guy that never got recognition. He was a solid, solid defenseman. I had a chance to play with Dano (Ken Daneyko), and there's a guy who was tremendous.Offensive defensemen are a little easier to pick out. Who's the top guy?Paul Coffey. When I think of that, that's just right away. Denis Potvin is another guy I've seen tapes of.Ken Dryden was huge for Montreal when you were growing up. Is he underrated?It's because he was part of a dynasty. He was part of a team that was so good that nobody gave credit to one person.
If you're the goalie, it's not that you get overlooked, but you're not going to get the reward like somebody that, every single night, is the reason why they're winning. When you win all the time, people take it for granted, and I think that's what happened.
I met him in New York at a dinner for Hockey Night in Canada. I was really, really impressed at how big he is.Is there another goalie who deserves more recognition?It's hard because the top guys are the top guys. If you look at the history of the league, if you win the Stanley Cup, that's all you're judged by.
You'd look at Ken Dryden a little bit, you'd look at Billy Smith a little bit. Guys that played in dynasties. Grant Fuhr. It can't be an easy job to have to face 45 shots. Even though they score five goals, you've played an awesome game, because that's how they went, go, go, go. The game was a lot different in the '80s than in the '90s and in the new millennium here.
It was different, different equipment, everything was different. (Fuhr) is one guy who did get some recognition. Everybody says he should be an icon, and I think so, every time I see him. Billy Smith, the same thing. These guys were part of something unbelievable. Whenever you win more than one Cup, you did something pretty good.