Six of Hockey’s Greatest Players, By Position
Six of Hockey’s Greatest Players, By Position
Bobby Orr - Defenseman
Playing most of his career with the Boston Bruins, Bobby Orr was known for his staggering speed. He would dart, thread and spin his way from behind his own net to the opponent's goal crease with great style.
A 1979 Hall of Fame inductee, Orr counts among his many awards the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer, the only defenseman ever to win it. And he won it twice, in 1969-’70 and ‘74-’75.
Orr scored 40 seconds into overtime of Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues, immortalizing him in Boston where there is a bronze statue of him mid-air after being tripped while making the goal.
Orr was plagued by knee problems and announced his retirement in October 1978, eleven days after making his final goal as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Wayne Gretzky - Center
In 1979, Wayne Gretzky began his NHL career, with the Edmonton Oilers. With Gretzky leading the way, the Oilers finished as Stanley Cup champions in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Nicknamed ‘The Great One’, Gretzky captivated Canadian sports. In 1983 the government of Canada issued an official Wayne Gretzky dollar coin!
In 1988, Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, leading the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993. In 1996 Gretzky went to the St. Louis Blues. After just one season he moved to the New York Rangers, where he finished out his career in 1999 and was promptly inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In all, Gretzky holds or shares 61 NHL records, including most career goals (894), most career assists (1,963) and most career points (2,857).
Gordie Howe - Right Wing
Gordie Howe played 26 seasons across five decades in the NHL. He played 25 seasons for the Detroit Red Wings, his first in 1946.
A 23-time NHL All-Star, Howe held many of the career scoring records until broken in the 1980s by Wayne Gretzky. Nicknamed ‘Mr Hockey’, Howe continues to hold NHL records for most games and seasons played. He won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring a total of six times, the second most in NHL history. He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings four times. Gordie Howe retired in 1971 at the age of 43.
Howe came out of retirement two years later to join his two sons who had been signed by the Houston Aeros, a World Hockey Association (WHA) team. He was named the league’s MVP in 1973, scoring 100 points and leading his team to the WHA championship. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972 and played his last season in 1979-’80.
Bobby Hull - Left Wing
Bobby Hull began his NHL career in 1957 with the Chicago Black Hawks. In his 23 years in the NHL and WHA, Hull played for the Black Hawks, Winnipeg Jets, and Hartford Whalers. Known for his skating speed, ability to shoot the puck at a high velocity and his blond hair, Hull earned the nickname, ‘The Golden Jet’.
During his career, Hull led the NHL in goals seven times, the most of any player in history. He won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading point scorer three times and was voted MVP twice in both the NHL and WHA. Hull was among players who liked to curve the blades of their sticks, which posed a danger to goalies who didn’t wear masks at the time. This led to an NHL rule, commonly known as ‘The Bobby Hull’ rule, limiting the size of the curve.
Hull retired in 1980 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983.
Ray Bourque - Defenseman
Ray Bourque holds the records for most career goals, assists, and points by a defenseman in NHL. Drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1979, he made an impact from the start, winning the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. His 65 points that season was a record at the time for a rookie defenseman. Bourque played for 21 seasons for the Bruins and was the team’s longest serving captain.
During his NHL career, Bourque won the Norris Trophy as the league's best defensemen five times and was named to the All-Star Team 19 times. He became famous for not only being a superb defenseman, but also as an offensive force with great shot accuracy.
Bourque was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in 2000, the team with whom he finished out his career. It was when playing for them that Bourque won his only Stanley Cup, in 2001, and shortly afterwards he retired. Ray Bourque was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Jacques Plante - Goaltender
Jacques Plante began his NHL career in 1953, with the Montreal Canadiens, for whom he played for ten seasons. During his time with the Canadiens, the team won the Stanley Cup six times, including five consecutive wins.
Beginning in 1956 Plante wore a face mask, but was allowed by his coach only to do so in practice. However, after his nose was broken during a game in 1959, Plante began wearing his mask in games . He was the first goalie to regularly do so. Plante was also the first NHL goalie to regularly play the puck outside his crease in support of his team's defensemen.
Plante was traded to the New York Rangers in 1963 and first retired in 1965, but returned in 1968 and played for teams in the NHL and WHA before retiring again in 1975. Plante was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.