First of all, I would like to apologize for my Top Tensday Wednesday last week. I knew trying to rate bands and music that I rarely listened to was a shot in the dark and would like to apologize to anyone who felt discouraged by my attempt to broaden my horizons of music culture and writing abilities. However, I did appreciate the criticism (both constructive and not) and have put together a more versed and accurate list for this week.
I miss hockey. I wish I liked it as much as I used to when I was a kid. I remember a time around 4th/5th grade where I liked hockey more than football, basketball, and baseball combined. And during this era soccer wasn’t even on my radar outside of my gifted 1994 World Cup t-shirt. As most American hockey fans have, we have become less interested in hockey and more interested in football, basketball, and soccer.
However, within the last year the “working man’s” league has started a slow yet steady resurgence. Renewed rivalries, young superstars, and well-calculated marketing has brought hockey back almost to the point for ESPN to take “NHL Tonight” with John Buccigross and Barry Melrose off the shelves and put back on the air. And just in case they do I will be ready for their comeback with my correspondence and top ten hockey players of all time.
10. Sergei Fedorov: Sergei may not have made the list for being the 10th best hockey player of all time. But he has made the list for his contributions to the game and his era. He made the game fun and interesting to a younger generation of viewers in mid 90s. He played on the one of Hockeytown’s best teams with Stevey Y, Igor Larionov, Nicklaus Lidstrom, and Dominik Hasek (who I sat next to at the All-Star Game in Toronto). He claims he was married to Anna Kournikova (although her reps denied it, which I don’t know how you can allegedly be married but whatever). He was extremely fast, Russian, and brought a new style of finesse play that hockey was missing at the time.
9. Martin Brodeur: I feel Marty is the best goalie to ever wear an airbrushed helmet. You could easily make arguments for Patrick Roy, Dominick Hasek, or even for Ryan Miller to eventually top the list. But Marty has been doing it, and doing it, and doing it well in the league for 20 years and he’s still playing. He’s been a consistent wall for Canada in the Olympics both playing and as a mentor. He has spent his entire career in Jersey which if it weren’t for hockey would suck because come on it’s Jersey. He’s got 4 Vezinas, 2 Gold Medals, and has kissed Lord Stanley 3 times.
8. Jaromir Jagr: What do you think of when you see a Jofa helmet? Jaromir right? His game was in Czech! Get it? He’s from Czechoslovakia. Anyways, not only was one of the best players ever but also the right hand and right wing to Mario Lemieux. He had possibly the dirtiest mullet ever known to man, however he is a handsome man with his hair short and corporate-like. #68 has 2 cups, tons of records, Arts, Harts, and his only fault may have been his affinity for the adrenaline rush of gambling.
7. Mark Messier: Mess was my favorite player of all time. When the Rangers won the cup in 1994 and he held it up I cried and that is saying something because 7 year-olds don’t really cry happy tears. Him, Richter, and Leetchy brought home a long-awaited Cup for one of the greatest series ever. He came up with Wayne in Edmonton, branched off, and did the damn thing elsewhere. I was at his birthday dinner All-Star Weekend in Vancouver in 01 and it was a grand time. He’s a nice guy, old school, and no one rocked a bald head amidst a Cooper helmet better.
6. Ray Bourque: Hockey players are tough and they play forever if they want and Ray Borque was one of the toughest. He’s the not the only Boston defenseman on the list. He wasn’t the biggest guy or an enforcer but he was a great leader. #77 will forever be known as a Bruin but it took him going to Colorad(a) to win a cup and when he did there weren’t a whole lot of people who weren’t happy for him and it was one of the better moments in hockey. Put a sweater on because you are about to get chills.
5. Bobby Hull: Takin it back to the old school, cause he’s and old fool, who’s so cool. And if you wanna get down he’s gonna show you the way. Lefties were always a little qwerky, not Jared Loughner qwerky, just a little off and Bobby was the best at being a little nuts. Bobby and his Blackhawks were some of the toughest guys around. Not to mention he had good genes producing son, Brett (hockey legend), Bart (Boise State RB), and Blake/Bobby Jr. who played Juniors. He won a shitload of trophy’s but won the most expensive award in all of sports in only once in his 26 year career in 1961.
4. Bobby Orr: I probably know the least about Orr of anyone on this list so I had to bust out the archives for him. 8 NHL All-Star Games, 3 OHA First Teams, 8 NHL First Teams, Calder( ROY), 2 Ross Trophies, 8 Norris Trophies, 3 Hart Trophies, 2 Conn Smythes, Voted 2nd Best of All Time, Best Defenseman, Best Boston Athlete of All Time, and probably best known for this goal…
3. Gordie Howe: What is there to say about Mr. Hockey? He pretty much did it all. Cups, awards, and records. Most of which were broken by these next two guys but it doesn’t take back the fact that he did it and that he did it in a caveman’s era. He didn’t wear a helmet and did it from both sides of the rink. He was a right winger but presented issues for defensemen as he was ambidextrous. He played in Canada and in Hartford but it is only fitting that Mr. Hockey played and retired in Hockeytown. He is an ambassador to the game, a toothless gentleman, and a scholar. He makes Brett Favre’s career look like Terrell Davis’. His last season was Wayne’s first as it was extremely symbolic of his passing of the torch.
2. Mario Lemieux: Much like the preceding few players, Super Mario has countless records and awards that mean nothing when it comes to what he did for the city of Pittsburgh. He did his impression of Michael Jordan by retiring and “comin’ back like Jordan wearin’ the six six.” However, he has done what Jordan could not do, become successful in the front office, post-playing career. He has put together a cast of players to win a cup and as long as Sidney Crosby doesn’t get subsequent concussions there should be more for him to hold up as an executive. He is probably the best stick-handler ever and produced some of the best goals ever scored.
1. Wayne Gretzky: The Great One. He holds almost every offensive record. He is synonymous with the game. For people who don’t know or like hockey they know who Wayne is. He’s been in movies, commercials, and is the best to ever to play the game. It is even fair to say that Michael Jordan is the Wayne Gretzky of basketball because Wayne did that much for the sport. He took hockey mainstream with his boyish good looks and flashy play. He won with my Rangers, in Edmonton, and short stint in St. Louis but his glory days were with the Kings. No other hockey player could have had N.W.A. wearing an LA Kings hat. I mean you don’t see to man gangbangers rockin Columbus Blue Jacket jerseys. He like MJ isn’t the best in the office but whatever. His older son got lost in the shadow like Jeremy Jordan but his younger son is one of the better football prospects in the country playing with Will Smith and Joe Montana’s kids. The Great One.