by Dan Adkisson
Canada is home to one of the most thriving hockey leagues in the world. Even more, the North American country has produced outstanding athletes in the sport for the rest of the world.
The NHL has seen many heroic players from different nationalities, including the United States and several European nations. However, news sites, fans, punters who engage in hockey betting on sports betting sites Canada, and the rest of the sporting world will never forget some legends that have played in the league.
This article is a tribute to the best Canadian hockey players in history since the NHL formed 105 years back. They are:
5. Mark Messier
No doubt, Wayne Gretzky is the first name that’ll come to mind when anyone thinks of the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s. However, Gretzky had a supporting cast that had Mark Messier as a prominent member. Mark Messier won an outstanding six Stanley Cups in his career.
Five of his Stanley Cup wins came while he fielded with the Edmonton Oilers, and his last came while at New York Rangers. Of course, Messier had other hardware to show for his 1,756-game heroic career. He has two Lester. B Pearsons Trophies (now, Ted Lindsay Award), two Harts, and the Conn Smythe Award in his rack.
Messier brought incredible offensive skills to the pitch, registering 1,887 career points (third-highest in history). His vibrant offensive also shows off in his number of goals (694), but that’s not all about this heroic hockey player. Messier was also one of the best leaders in the history of the NHL, which led to the league creating a Mark Messier Leadership Award in his honor in 2007.
4. Gordie Howe
Fondly called ‘Mr. Hockey,’ Gordie Howe couldn’t have been omitted from this ranking. Howe had held the reputation as the best player ever in the league for a while – before athletes like Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr became famous too.
For hockey fans within and outside the country, Howe’s popularity is mostly tied to his career’s longevity. He featured in 1,767 career NHL games and 419 outings in the World Hockey Association.
Howe has six Art Ross and Hart Trophies and four Cups in his career. Scoring 801 times, only Wayne Gretzky has had more goals than Gordie Howe since the NHL began in 1917. In addition, the hockey star’s 1,850 points come only behind three others on the all-time charts.
3. Bobby Orr
Before Bobby Orr, athletes on the defensive line would rather keep the puck away from their net than go all out in an offense. Thanks to the Ontario-born sportsman, all that has changed. Orr finished his career with over 100 points in six different events, showing his dominance in the game during his career.
Moreover, the talisman had 1.393 points per game – the fifth best in NHL’s record books, and could have registered the most scoring defenseman, save for recurring injuries. Nevertheless, Orr still recorded an astounding 270 goals and 915 points in only 657 matches. Add all that to the several awards, and he’s unarguably the best defenseman in the league’s history.
2. Mario Lemieux
Like Orr, Mario’s career was severely limited by injury bouts. Yet, his achievements during his limited career earned him a strong reputation as one of the best the NHL has seen. In his 915 career games, Lemieux recorded an outstanding 1.883 points per game (second all-time).
Now to awards, Lemieux lifted the Stanley Cup two times, won the Art Ross Trophies six times, and the Lester B. Pearsons Trophy four times. Lemieux’s 1,723 points in the 915 games, despite playing in far fewer games than any other athlete, and 690 goals (11th all-time) give him the second spot on this list. Also, Lemieux won three Harts, two Conn Smythes, a Calder, and a Bill Masterton before retiring from the game.
1. Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky is unarguably the most popular Canadian hockey player ever. He’s not only the best Canadian hockey player ever, but some consider Gretzky as the best player in the game’s history anywhere.
Recording 200 points in four seasons (no one else ever did that once), Gretzky also has the number of goals in one season (92) plus many other records to show he’s the greatest in the sport’s history. 10 Art Ross Trophies, 9 Harts, 5 Lester B. Pearsons, 5 Lady Byngs, and 2 Conn Smythes, no one else comes even close.
Here’s a key point to illustrate his sterling career: Take away all Gretzky’s 894 career goals, and he’ll still sit as the player with the highest points; his 1,963 assists are more than anyone else’s career points.
The Bottom Line
For a list of the most popular Canadian hockey players in the history of the NHL, there’d be different opinions from different quarters on who was what.
Fans and journalists may prefer the first on our list, while others may choose number 2 or 3. Well, the sport is for everyone to debate. If you think some players should be on this list but aren’t, let’s know in the comment session.