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NHL's Greatest Players

Who are the greatest hockey players? A question that is often asked in sports entertainment and is commonly discussed in magazines, on television shows, websites, newspapers, amongst friends and by fans in homes and bars bars all around the world. This can be a hard thing to decide and analyze without being in front of the TV all the time watching as many games as possible. Like any other list that evaluates people, this usually leads to differing opinions and brings forth the perspectives of hockey fans. Who is to say how a forward playing today would fare against goaltenders of old who did not have the same equipment we see today? Or how the goaltenders would fare against composite and aluminum shaft hockey sticks? How would old players fare in selecting hockey goalie masks? There are always the arguments of players size, the size of the rinks, equipment, changes in rules, watered down talent due to the number of teams, how the games are officiated, and the flavour of the day when it comes to coaching styles and philosophies. Are the greatest players of all time the most talented? Not necessarily since one could have great talent but injuries have been known to ruin the most promising careers. Nonetheless, when people start looking to name the all-time best hockey players they usually agree on the top five. The NHL has been lucky to have had some of the most explosive and gifted athletes in all of sport. The fastest game on ice has wowed fans from the get go, and some players have definitely had a much greater impact than others.

We begin our list with a set of ten that are most likely to be agreed by most hockey minds. Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, Terry Sawchuk, Jean Beliveau, Bobby Hull, Eddie Shore, Jacques Plante, Guy Lafleur, Glenn Hall, Phil Esposito, and Stan Mikita come from different eras of the NHL and have truly excelled at their positions. Individual ratings within this group can be left to the hockey fan. Here are the cream of the crop, the top fifteen:

Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky
Mario Lemieux
Mario Lemieux
Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr
Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe
Maurice Richard
Maurice Richard
Doug Harvey
Doug Harvey
Terry Sawchuk
Terry Sawchuk
Jean Beliveau
Jean Beliveau
Bobby Hull
Bobby Hull
Eddie Shore
Eddie Shore
Jacques Plante
Jacques Plante
Guy Lafleur
Guy Lafleur
Glenn Hall
Glenn Hall
Phil Esposito
Phil Esposito
Stan Mikita
Stan Mikita


As mentioned earlier, judging hockey players is a very subjective task. It often depends on whether you have followed a particular player's career, whether you have watched them play numerous times, if they were part of your favourite (or least favorite) team, etc. So the second list is a personal compilation of some very good hockey players who have wowed NHL fans over the last two decades. Many may belong in the same grouping as the "All-time greats", but they surely had very large impacts on their respective teams and in many cases, the game of hockey as a whole.

This second list of current and former players includes Ray Bourque, Mark Messier, Marcel Dionne, Patrick Roy, Mike Bossy, Paul Coffey, Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Jaromir Jagr, Joe Sakic, Mike Modano, Dominik Hasek, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier and Chris Chelios.

Ray Bourque
Ray Bourque
Mark Messier
Mark Messier
Marcel Dionne
Marcel Dionne
Patrick Roy
Patrick Roy
Mike Bossy
Mike Bossy
Paul Coffey
Paul Coffey
Brett Hull
Brett Hull
Steve Yzerman
Steve Yzerman
Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr
Joe Sakic
Joe Sakic
Mike Modano
Mike Modano
Dominik Hasek
Dominik Hasek
Ron Francis
Ron Francis
Bryan Trottier
Bryan Trottier
Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios
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