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In between rounds here and watching lots of hockey and loving the NHL Playoff commercials, so I thought who is the best player I have ever witnessed? I started watching hockey in the early 70s and have seen most of the modern era. I am not trying to disrespect anyone and I am doing this completely from memory. I am sure I will miss someone, just point them out to me. I am not including players that are still active in their prime. So no Crosby, Ovechkin, etc.

1. Bobby Orr
2. Wayne Gretzky
3. Mario Lemieux
4. Bobby Clarke
5. Jeremy Roenick
6. Paul Coffey
7. Dale Hawerchuk
8. Brett Hull
9. Mike Bossy
10. Marcel Dione
11. Mark Messier
12. Steve Yzerman
13. Ron Francis
14. Ray Bourque
15. Eric Lindros
Honorable mention: Joe Sakic, Guy Lafleur, Adam Oates, Jari Kurri, Luc Robataille, Bryan Trottier, Phil Esposito, Jaromir Jagr

1. Martin Brodeur
2. Ken Dryden
3. Bernie Parent
4. Patrick Roy
5. Grant Fuhr
6. Dominick Hasek
7. Curtis Joseph
8. Mike Richter
9. Ron Hextall
10. Pelle Lindbergh*
Honorable Mention: Mike Vernon, Tom Barrasso, Billy Smith

So why did I list these guys. Some are obvious and some are not. Eric Lindros changed the game, he was one of the most complete players ever. He could run you over, go around you, go through you or just blast it in the net from anywhere. I see a lot of 88 in Ovechkin. Ron Hextall changed the position of goalie forever. His stick handling and shooting the puck has created the abilities of Marty Brodeur and Turco. I know you can see my Flyer vision here, but I was blessed to watch truly great goalies in Bernie Parent and Pelle Lindbergh. I have never seen a standup goalie with faster reflexes than Pelle. It really was close between Marty and Dryden for number 1. Ken Dryden was almost unbeatable for his time in the league. He won 4 cups in 8 seasons.
I never had the pleasure of seeing Gordie Howe play in his prime or other greats before the expansion. So did I miss anyone? I am sure I did. And in the Goalie category I had to list Martin Borduer because he is the best I have ever seen.

Good Night and Good Hockey!
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Filed Under:   NHL  
April 29, 2010 9:21 PM ET | Delete
I feel like Ed Belfour was a better goalie than Richter, Hextall, Vernon, or Barrasso.
April 29, 2010 9:57 PM ET | Delete
Vernon won multiple cups, Barrasso was a cup and calder winner, Richter won a cup in NY and was a force. Hextall changed the goalie position forever. Belfour was a quality goalie I just liked the others more. Thanks for the comment! I was hoping to generate a bunch of chatter here!
April 30, 2010 12:01 AM ET | Delete
Good list, though I think Hasek is massively underrated; check the stats (particularly his save percentage) and just try to tell me he wasn't more dominant in his heyday than Roy or Brodeur. Unfortunately, I think fans today remember his late-career antics better than they do his glory years.
April 30, 2010 12:04 AM ET | Delete
Also, if I can just throw on my Wings glasses for a second, I'm assuming Nicklas Lidstrom isn't on this list because, even at 40, he still qualifies as "active in [his] prime." I'm in the super-minority here among Wings fans, but I'd say he's even greater than Yzerman. Also, one final nitpick: Coffey ahead of Bourque? Really?
April 30, 2010 4:03 AM ET | Delete
lindros over any of the honorable mentions for skaters? really? hasek is the greatest goalie ever imo. and messier is way to low
April 30, 2010 9:04 AM ET | Delete
Modano...in his prime...was a great player. He just never had the point totals of the "elite" players (over 100)...but he could skate like the wind and had a great shot. Selanne is another that comes to mind...and Forsberg...if he could have just stayed healthy long enough...
April 30, 2010 1:35 PM ET | Delete
Belfour won a Cup, a Calder, and two Vezina's compared to Barrasso's 2 Cups, Calder and a Vezina, Vernon's Conn Smythe and 2 Cups, and Richter's single Cup. Plus Belfour's career GAA and SV% is better than anyone's I've mentioned. Just saying he's at least as deserving as anyone in the tail end of your list.
April 30, 2010 2:55 PM ET | Delete
What about Brian Leetch, I mean my god
April 30, 2010 7:36 PM ET | Delete
The best I've ever seen is Peter Forsberg.
May 1, 2010 12:09 AM ET | Delete
May 1, 2010 8:32 PM ET | Delete
Thanks for the feedback. I missed Leetch and Forsberg. The others are still playing :) The problem I have with Belfour is that at the times I saw him the most, he was getting lit up by the Flyers. But he is a great player too!
May 2, 2010 6:38 PM ET | Delete
If Mario was healthy his entire career and had the teamates Gretzky had he would be at the top with no one even close. He was by far the most talented player in NHL history.
May 5, 2010 9:23 AM ET | Delete
Mario maybe the most talented ever, but Orr lead the league in scoring from the defense! He outscored all the forwards. And Gretzky is so classy that I have to give him the nod over Mario. He won more cups and was able to stay healthy. It's not a knock against Mario in any way to be behind Gretzky. If you ever saw Orr play, you had to be amazed at his skills compared to those around him. He was light years ahead of everyone else!
May 7, 2010 8:44 PM ET | Delete
Ron Francis deserved better than 13th. 5th all time in points, and with very little natural talent.
May 7, 2010 10:52 PM ET | Delete
Forsberg was probably the first player to really impress me as a kid, then Mario Lemieux. I always liked big bodied players who had grit and hands, had it not been for his injuries Lindros could have been up there. Bobby Orr was probably the greatest however, but I have only ever been privvy to archive footage
May 7, 2010 10:53 PM ET | Delete
Lidstrom and Dom Hasek as well. And my hero Steve Thomas.
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