Hockey (or field hockey) is believed to have its roots in Ireland and/or Scotland. Derived from the game ‘Hurling’ from Ireland, or the Scottish version known as Shinty; these games gained huge popularity among the masses. Various other iterations of the game are also believed to exist. Be it the Chinese version named Beikou, or the one termed Cheikou, which was played by the European invaders of Chile. The game is now one of the most widely played games across the globe. Let us take a look at the top 10 greatest hockey players of all time.
Best Hockey Players Ever
Born on March 31, 1928, in Floral, Saskatchewan, Canada, Gordie Howe widely is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. Nicknamed “Mr. Hockey,” Howe played for the Detroit Red Wings for 26 seasons, winning four Stanley Cups and setting numerous NHL records. He inspired the “Gordie Howe hat trick” and played until he was 52. Howe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
Being nicknamed “The Great One” signifies being the greatest. Wayne Gretzky epitomizes excellence. He has more career assists than any other player in NHL history and has total points. That feat arguably stands above all as the most dominating stat across the “Big Four” of sports. Gretzky ended his career with 1,963 assists and 894 goals.
Bobby Orr is the ultimate “what could have been” story in NHL history. Limited to only ten full seasons in the league, Orr dominated his era by perfecting the art of the offensive defenseman. While players like Doug Harvey paved the way for defensemen to speed up the game, Orr took that philosophy to an entirely new level. Orr changed the game so much that there is talk of creating a Bobby Orr Trophy as the best offensive defenseman.
Mario Lemieux is widely regarded as one of the most influential and talented hockey players in history. His influence on the game of hockey can be seen through his extraordinary statistics, numerous accolades, awards, and significant cultural influence.
Lemieux’s accomplishments didn’t stop at individual statistics; he also led the Penguins to two consecutive Stanley Cup victories in 1991 and 1992. His leadership and exceptional skills were instrumental in establishing the Penguins as a formidable team during that era.
“The Rocket” rewrote the record books. The right winger was the first player to score 500 goals and the first to light the lamp 50 times in a season. During his 18 years with the Montreal Canadiens, Maurice Richard won eight Stanley Cups (1944, 1946, 1953, 1956–60). He was also known for his aggressive play and hot temper. An idol among French Canadians, his suspension (for fighting) in 1955 rioted the fans in Montreal.
Consider Béliveau the NHL version of Bill Russell. Béliveau won a Stanley Cup title in half of the seasons he played in his career, winning 10 in total. He also surpassed 1,200 career points and won himself two Hart Trophies. Add in a Conn Smythe Trophy and 13 All-Star appearances and Béliveau is without a doubt one of the best to ever step on the ice.
Dhyan Chand was an Indian field hockey player, widely regarded as one of the greatest field hockey players in history. He was known for his exceptional ball control and goal scoring. Apart from receiving three Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936, during an era when field hockey was dominated by India. His influence spread beyond these achievements, as India won the field hockey competition in seven of the eight Olympics from 1928 to 1964.
Known as The Wizard or The Magician of Hockey for his excellent ball control, Chand played at international level from 1926 to 1949, where he scored 570 goals in 185 matches, according to his autobiography. He has scored more than 1000 goals in his entire domestic and international career. The BBC called him “hockey’s equivalent of the Muhammad Ali”.
It is impossible to miss Terrence “Terry” Gordon Sawchuk on any list of famous hockey players. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on December 28, 1929, Savchuk was one of the most successful goaltenders in the history of the sport. He played 21 seasons on multiple NHL teams, amassing 447 career wins.
Jacques Plante changed the face of hockey. Literally. The Montreal Canadiens goaltender is credited with popularizing the face mask. In 1959, he was slapped and required 21 stitches on his face. As the team’s only goalkeeper, he had to return to the game after getting stitches. However, he refused to take ice until he could wear a face mask.
The chief of the Washington Commanders conquers goals at a rate that’d make any Commander in Chief in Washington D.C. jealous. “Ovi” ranks second all-time behind Wayne Gretzky in goals scored with 812. Being the only hockey player in the top 10 to play his entire career against 21st-century competition magnifies that achievement.
Scoring is the name of the game and Ovechkin has won the Rocket Richard Trophy a record 9 times en route to a trio of Hart Trophies. Individual greatness translated to team success, earning a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy MVP, and a rightful place among the very best hockey players ever.