Welcome back to Peculiar Side of Sports. Every so often something in sports perplexes me, and I just hate not knowing something. So, I do what any normal, sane sports fan does – I search ad nauseam for the answer by any means necessary. The good news is that I take all my hard work and relay the results to you. If you are a fan of Sports History, check out the other articles I have written – “Sports History”.
I have debated ad nausea with friends of mine over the years about who are the best players from each team in the NHL. So, I thought I’d take some time and look into each team’s history and award Three Stars for each. If you missed it, here are the other installments: Central Division.
Of course there is a big hurdle, and that is players who have played for several teams. For instance, does Wayne Gretzky count as an Oiler, King, Ranger or all three? I decided to allow a player to appear only once. Also note I am choosing based on franchise, not necessarily limiting to current team. So for the Colorado Avalanche I am including Quebec Nordiques, and for Phoenix Coyotes I am including Winnipeg Jets (the old one).
Remember, these are just my opinions having read the statistics and considered the player’s importance to his team, and are not meant to be authoritative – entertainment purposes only. I am not basing it solely on statistics, as many stats are entirely reflective of the team and not the individual. Again, a player can only appear for ONE team!
Without further ado, I present to you today’s Peculiar Side…
Los Angeles Kings
Note: The first, two, Dionne and Robitaille, were quite easy to pick, however I was contemplating Vachon and Bernie Nichollas.
Marcel Dionne – Dionne played most of his 17 seasons with the Kings, with his beginning in Detroit and end in New York (actually, he played in the IHL for the Denver Rangers before retiring). At the time he signed in Los Angeles it was richest deal in history. For a while he held the record for points by a rookie (77), which he earned with Detroit. Dionne currently sits fourth in goals scored with 731, and his 1771 points is good enough for 5th in hockey history, only 79 behind Gordie Howe (who played many more games). Having won two Ted Lindsay awards and two Pearson trophies, Dionne is an obvious choice.
Luc Robitaille – Luc Robitaille is the highest scoring left winger in the game’s history. While his record of goals in a season for a left winger (63) was recently beaten by Ovechkin in 2007-2008, he remains as the record holder for points in a season at the position (125). His 1394 career points in 1431 games leaves him just shy of a point per game – excellent for a left wing player.
Rogie Vachon – Rogie (born Rogatien Vachon) was known for two things – his unbelievable glove hand, and the fact that he did not give up a penalty shot goal in his entire career. Once called a “junior B goalie” by Punch Imlach, while he was playing for Montreal, Vachon went on to have a Hall of Fame caliber career, but has seemingly been overlooked due to playing most of it in Los Angeles. He holds many Kings records, some of which were broken only recently. Until Jonathan Quick, Vachon held records for most wins, shutouts, lowest GAA (2.24), and shutouts in a season.
Honorable Mentions: Bernie Nicholls, Rob Blake, Dave Taylor, Charlie Simmer,
Note: All three players I went with I feel are as deserving as anyone else in the organization’s history, which includes the Winnipeg Jets. Out of the three I went with, Doan and Hawerchuk were simple to pick. I was going back and forth between Numminen and a couple of the others, but because of his length of stay with the organization, and his success year after year, I went with Teppo.
Shane Doan – For much of his 15 seasons in Phonenix (his first year was with Winnipeg), Doan has been the heart and soul of the franchise. Flirting with a point per game many times over his career despite being on a team that had many poor rosters proves his offensive capabilities. Doan will also be remembered for his feisty, hard-nosed play.
Teppo Numminen – Teppo played most of his long 21 professional seasons in the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise, with stints in Buffalo, Dallas and a year in Europe. Despite being a part of many weak Coyotes teams, Numminen still managed a positive +/-, with a fantastic +25 in 1997/98. He is a career +56 with 637 points.
Dale Hawerchuk – Dale played 16 seasons in the NHL. His 1409 points in 1188 points puts him well above the point per game mark and have him the top 20 players in points total in history. Dale has earned many honors, including the 1982 Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie. He was the greatest player in the Winnipeg era of the franchise.
Honorable Mentions: Jeremy Roenick, Ed Jovanovski, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sean Burke, Keith Tkachuk, Thomas Steen, Randy Carlyle,
San Jose Sharks
Note: San Jose was the easiest team in the Pacific to award three stars. Really, there can’t be any discrepancies here.
Joe Thornton – Averaging virtually a point per game split between Boston and San Jose, Joe Thornton has carried with him high expectations wherever he has gone. He has amassed 1118 points in 1125 games, with 754 assists. In 2006, he scored 125 points in 81 games (92 in 58 with San Jose)- the best point per game ratio of his career. Joe is an easy choice here.
Owen Nolan – Owen played in San Jose from the 1995/96 season through 2002/03 seasons. He also spent seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche (only 9 games), Toronto Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild. Nolan was known as a gritty and hard-nosed player, and was the quintessential Power Forward for most of the 1990’s – his 1793 career PIM in his 1200 games is good evidence of the way he played. But he was also a decent scorer – he had almost as many goals (422) as assists (463).
Patrick Marleau – Marleau was another easy choice, as he holds many Sharks team records. He is the franchise leader in points, goals, power play goals, power play points, and shots. He has spent his entire NHL career with in San Jose after being selected second overall in the 1997 draft, just 1 pick behind Joe Thornton, who has been his frequent linemate in recent years.
Honorable Mentions: Evgeni Nabokov, Jeff Friesen, Mike Ricci
Note: Keeping Perry and Getzlaf off this list was quite difficult. While Selanne was an easy pick, I went back and forth with Kariya and Giguere, Perry and Getzlaf.
Teemu Selanne – The Finnish Flash is currently the oldest player in the NHL (42), though he doesn’t play like it. Selanne has spent 14 years (in two separate spells) with the Ducks, to go along with a few years with each of the Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Sharks, and Colorado Avalanche. Over his career, Teemu has better than a point per game – 1430 points in 1387 games, with his best season in 1992 when he scored 76 goals, 56 assists for 132 points in 84 games. What made that mark particularly impressive was that it occurred in his rookie year (a record). He currently holds every major scoring record for the Ducks – points, goals, assists, power play points, etc. Very easy pick.
Paul Kariya – Paul Kariya spent the majority of his career with Anaheim (also stints with Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis). In his first full season with the Ducks he tallied 108 points in 82 games, which was his most productive year as far as scoring in his career. Interestingly, Kariya retired with 989 points in exactly 989 games, making him a career 1.00 points per game player. Kariya was runner up for the Hart trophy in 1997, and he won two Lady Byng trophies (most gentlemanly player) in 1996 and 1997. He was the Ducks offensive leader in their surprising run to the 2003 Stanley Cup finals, and his goal after being levelled by Scott Stevens is an iconic moment in hockey history. Unfortunately for all hockey fans, Kariya missed a lot of games, and was ultimately forced to retire due to the cumulative effects of the concussions he suffered.
Jean-Sebastian Giguere – Giguere joined Anaheim in 2000 (which was technically his rookie year), and played with the Ducks until 2010. It was his first full year, 2001, that was his real break-out year statistically – 2.13 GAA and a .920 Save %. While he turned many, many heads, it was his next season (2002/03) that made him a star. In that year the Ducks had one of the greatest Cinderella playoff runs in recent memory. In round one he debuted with 63 saves against the Red Wings – the Ducks won four straight. In the second round he stopped 60 shots against Dallas in game one, in a contest that lasted five overtime rounds! The Ducks won in six. In the third round he faced the Wild, and in the entire series he gave up just one goal – he even went 217 minutes without a goal against. He continued his hot play against the phenomenal New Jersey Devils, who eventually won in seven. Despite the loss, he still won the Conn Smythe trophy for the playoff’s best performer. Giguere was also the starting goalie when the Ducks won the cup in 2007.
Honorable Mentions: Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf
Mike Modano -Modano is absolutely no suprise. He is the all-time American-born points and goals leader. Playing all but his last season for the Stars (he played a season with the Red Wings before retiring), 1374 points in 1499 games. He also holds a few Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars records as well – most goals (557 regular season, 58 playoffs), assists (802, 87) and points (1359, 145). He was an eight time all-star and helped Dallas win the Stanley Cup in 1999.
Neal Broten – Broten played most of his career for Minnesota/Dallas, with a couple stops before retiring in New Jersey and LA before returning to Dallas to retire. Broten has many accolades, including the distinction of being voted the best player to ever play from Minnesota (voted by Minnesota Wild fans). He was voted to the All-star team several times, he won the Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 1995, won the Lester Patrick in 1998 (for contributions to ice hockey in the United States). Broten’s #7 was retired by the Dallas Stars in 1998. Broten was voted to the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000. But perhaps Broten is best remembered for his role on Team USA who defeated the Russians in 1980’s ‘Miracle on Ice’.
Sergei Zubov – Zubov is best remembered for his offensive prowess as a defenceman – he scored 771 points in 1068 games. Zubov catapulted himself into elite status as a defenceman from his rookie season with the Rangers. In that season he scored 89 points in 78 games (77 assists). After being traded to Pittsburgh in the 1995/96 season, he was shipped again, this time to Dallas where he played the rest of his NHL career. With only a couple of exceptions, Zubov regularly had a positive +/-. Despite never scoring more than 13 goals in a season, Zubov had many excellent seasons statistically as he always had many assists.
Honorable Mentions: Dino Ciccarelli, Derian Hatcher, Brian Bellows, Marty Turco