HOH Top 60 Centers of All Time
This is the final list of the top centers from all of hockey history, as determined by the History of Hockey community at HFBoards:
NOTE: Please report any errors via PM to TheDevilMadeMe
Top Centers of All-Time
Links to all the discussion threads that went into making this list:
Round 2 Voting Results
Round 2, Vote 1 (1-4)
Round 2, Vote 2 (5-8)
Round 2, Vote 3 (9-12)
Round 2, Vote 4 (13-16)
Round 2, Vote 5 (17-20)
Round 2, Vote 6 (21-23)
Round 2, Vote 7 (24-27)
Round 2, Vote 8 (28-31)
Round 2, Vote 9 (32-36)
Round 2, Vote 10 (37-39)
Round 2, Vote 11 (40-44)
Round 2, Vote 12 (45-48)
Round 2, Vote 13 (49-52)
Round 2, Vote 14 (53-57)
Round 2, Vote 15 (58-59)
Round 2, Vote 16 (60th place tiebreak)
Links to the preliminary discussion threads before voters submitted their lists:
Determining Positions - Should he be considered a center?
Rules Discussion Thread
Round 1 Preliminary Discussion Thread
Links that explain the creation of the aggregate list that formed the basis of discussion. This data was released at the end of the project:
Round 1 Voting Results (Aggregate List)
Round 1 Screening Procedure & Rejected Lists
Participant Survey (filled out at the end of the project)
Listed here are the individual voting records of all participants:
Hawkey Town 18
Listing Stan Mikita as Canadian because that's where he was trained. This is consistent with listing Charlie Gardiner as Canadian in the goalies project - Gardiner was 7 years old when his family moved to Canada, and Mikita was 8 years old when his family did.
I'm listing Frank Boucher's career as 1921-1938, as I feel that is a more accurate representation of when he was a relevant player than hockey reference's 1921-1944. He retired at the age of 36 in 1938. At the age of 42, as coach of the Rangers, he suited up for 15 games in 1943-44 (scoring 14 points, not bad!) because his club was so devastated by World War 2 that they were desperate for players (indeed, the Rangers tried to suspend operations but the NHL talked them out of it). Still, those 15 war year games were the only games Boucher played after 1938.
Career spans after the top 20
This is a rough guide as to how we are representing eras. It includes the entire career span of a player, including non-prime years and years when they were temporarily retired or injured. Exceptions: I end Frank Boucher's span at his first retirement due to the exceptional circumstances of his brief comeback during World War 2 and I exclude Forsberg's failed 2 game comeback in 2010.
According to this panel, the number of quality centers in the league increased dramatically shortly after the 1967 expansion. Perhaps we are biased towards players we have seen play? Or perhaps we are taking a less critical view of the higher raw statistics of the post-expansion era than we could be? Or maybe there is a good reason for it - with more teams, were more talented players converted to center from wing?
Comments appreciated - this thread is open
Forsberg played 3 games in 2008-09.
Forsberg played 23 games of a 55 game season in 2009-10.
Forsberg played 4 games in the 2010 Olympics.
Forsberg played 2 games 2010-11.
How is that consistent with Boucher retiring for six years and coming back temporarily because of a war? Forsberg never retired and never missed hockey for an entire season between 2006-07 and 2010-11.
You have Al MacInnis listed as playing until 2004 in the defensemen project. Considering he played his last game in 2003 (beginning of 2003-04), while Forsberg played his last game in 2011 (end of 2010-11), you should probably stay consistent to that, because both were cases of injury.
And frankly, if Ed Belfour's 29 games for Leksands counted in the goalie project when you said he retired in 2008 instead of 2007, then I find this slippery slope you are on with knowingly mislabeling career lengths to be a poor choice.
And good gravy, man, you have Forsberg listed as beginning his career in 1994!
He played his first professional game in 1989-90. He was on his third World Championship in 1994. This would be like saying that Hasek's career began in 1990 instead of 1980. The fact that these non-North American games were the crux of an argument against his perceived lack of longevity makes your decision all the more baffling. Hell, I even said this in Vote 4:
Forsberg is being listed as is consistent with other NHL players who were not stuck behind the iron curtain. That said, he probably should have 2010 because of the Olympics/failed NHL comeback. Really should be listed as "1994-2007, 2010" like FissionFire used to do, but we decided we liked the aesthetics of it better this way.
It is not consistent.
I believe that in the defensemen project, I was listing them by the season of retirement, rather than the calendar year.
Changed Forsberg to 1994-2010.
I'll probably go back and fix Belfour at some point after verifying that it's inconsistent with the rest of that list
So not only is Elitserien out, World Championships no longer just mean less in our projects - now they don't count towards a player's career?
Or Terry Sawchuk, who was labeled as playing until 1970.
Or John Vanbiesbrouck, who was labeled as playing until 2002.
Or Tom Barrasso, who was labeled as playing until 2003.
Or Bobby Orr in the Top-60, who was labeled as playing until 1979.
Or Borje Salming, who was labeled as playing until 1993.
Or Alexei Kasatonov, who was labeled as playing until 1997.
Or Paul Coffey, who was labeled as playing until 2001.
Or Peter Forsberg on FissionFire's 2009 list, who was labeled as 1990-Present.
I understand that the idea behind this is so that it would be more aesthetically pleasing than what FissionFire did, but you're getting a little too subjective. First, you lopped off 15 games from a 50 game season for Boucher. A bit of a strange decision, given that it wasn't much less than what he played in 1937-38 (and how much of that was actually 1938), but he was gone for five years in-between and it was an emergency situation. Fine.
Forsberg played in the NHL in 2006-07, never retired, and you weren't even prepared to give him credit for his NHL regular season or playoff games in 2007-08 until you heard the word "Olympics". What exactly was the motivation behind that decision? Stan Mikita's 17 games in 1979-80 are the magic number, so Forsberg's 16 games in 2007-08 are left out?
For the record, Mikita's last game was November 30th, 1979. And Mario Lemieux's last game was December 16th, 2005. And Trottier played fewer games in the calendar year of 1994 than Forsberg did in 2008.
If not Elitserien, why WHA? If not Forsberg, why Mikita? If not Boucher, why Lemieux? If not Sakic and Richard, why both Mikita and Lemieux? If not Forsberg, why Trottier?
And you don't want to give non-Iron Curtain players credit for European leagues. Fine. The circumstances here were different, considering he played his first game in a senior league two years before he was NHL-eligible, and an NHL team was actively trying to get him to leave his country while he was holding out specifically for the Olympics, but fine. But to not even give him credit for the World Championships he played in the mean time? It's not best-on-best, but it's something.
You originally labeled a player with a 22-season career as a senior (without ever going an entire year without playing somewhere) as having a 13-season career. You couldn't have expected this to go over well when considering the very counterpoint that I made in Vote 4.
It's not a big deal... but it kinda is.
Anyway, if I wasn't clear before, I copied the career spans for the defenseman and goalies lists from other sources (FissionFire's top 100 list when applicable, hockey reference, or wikipedia). Most sources list a player's full final season, not the calendar year he retired. So if he retired in the first half of the year, that would explain most of the discrepancies you listed. The centers project is the first time I've actually tried to pay attention to accuracy there.
After that, I basically just rattled off every other name that fit that same scenario of post-NHL play in other leagues or minimal play in their final years that would also need to be fixed because they are no longer compatible with the new rule.
Lemieux and Mikita are easy mistakes to make, so perhaps they were just errors, but you still haven't given a consistent reason for originally not wanting to include Forsberg's 2007-08 (which you now include - only because of the 2010 Olympics). I think it's a good idea to figure out why that was, should the circumstances arise in a future player. Again, he played more in 2008 than Trottier did in 1994 and he hadn't missed a season in-between like Boucher did. What was the motivation behind the original decision?
Here's what I gather thus far: Junior games don't count. Professional games in non-NHL leagues don't count at the end of the career. Professional games in non-NHL leagues don't count at the beginning of the career unless it is an Iron Curtain situation - at which point all of them count, even pre-18. World Championships don't count. Olympics, WHA, NHA, IHPL, and PCHA count. Federal Amateur Hockey League counts. Canadian American Hockey League does not count.
NHL counts sometimes:
Frank Boucher's 18 games in 1937-38 count.
Frank Boucher's 15 games in 1943-44 don't count.
Stan Mikita's 17 games in 1979-80 count.
Bryan Trottier's 11 games in the calendar year of 1994 count.
Peter Forsberg's 16 games in the calendar year of 2008 wouldn't have counted.
Stan Mikita's 17 games in the beginning of 1979-80 count for 1980.
Mario Lemieux's 26 games in the beginning of 2005-06 count for 2006.
Joe Sakic's 15 games in the beginning of 2008-09 only count for 2008.
Henri Richard's 16 games in the beginning of 1974-75 only count for 1974.
Newsy Lalonde's single game in 1926-27 counts for 1927.
Peter Forsberg's two games in 2011 don't count.
It just seems like the overkill applied to Frank Boucher and Peter Forsberg in the last two rounds was not applied evenly. And in the case of Forsberg - with all of this being a major issue in the discussion part of the project - saying that it was "consistent" or what FissionFire would have listed is certainly not going to diffuse the situation, because neither are really true. I just want less subjectivity in assessing career lengths so I can be less of an *** about something that comes across as an unnecessary slight.
Does anyone else have any suggestions on how best to define career span?
If not, I'm going to go back to copying it from hockey reference (for NHL players) and wikipedia (for others).
I would decide what leagues count (everything but junior, perhaps?) And base their first and last year on that, ignoring breaks. Keep it simple.
I'd include all professional leagues and senior international competitions. We might not give the same weight to WHA and SEL games as to NHL games, but we don't need to pretend that they don't exist.
A tiebreaker would have been nice.
It is interesting looking at the weight and height figures that apart from Lemieux and Beliveau everybody else on the list are about average height and no heavy weights.
So much for 'You need a big physical 1st line center to win the Cup' :)
But yeah, skill is more important than size.
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