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TheDevilMadeMe 11-03-2013 11:23 PM

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
RankPlayerHeightWeightBornDiedCareerNationality
1Wayne Gretzky6'0"1851961 1978-1999Canada
2Mario Lemieux6'4"2301965 1984-2006Canada
3Jean Béliveau6'3"2051931 1950-1971Canada
4Howie Morenz5'9"165190219371923-1937Canada
5Stan Mikita5'9"1691940 1958-1980Canada
6Mark Messier6'1"2101961 1978-2004Canada
7Bobby Clarke5'10"1851949 1969-1984Canada
8Frank Nighbor5'9"160189319661912-1930Canada
9Phil Esposito6'1"2051942 1963-1981Canada
10Joe Sakic5'11"1951969 1988-2009Canada
11Bryan Trottier5'11"1951956 1975-1994Canada
12Fred "Cyclone" Taylor5'8"165188419791905-1923Canada
13Steve Yzerman5'111851965 1983-2006Canada
14Édouard "Newsy" Lalonde5'9"168188719701904-1927Canada
15Syl Apps, Sr.6'0"185191519981936-1948Canada
16Frank Boucher5'8"185190119771921-1938Canada
17Henri Richard5'7"1601936 1955-1974Canada
18Milt Schmidt6'01851918 1936-1955Canada
19*Marcel Dionne5'91901951 1971-1989Canada
20*Peter Forsberg6'02051973 1994-2011Sweden
21Ted Kennedy5'10"170192520091942-1957Canada
22Sidney Crosby5'11"2001987 2005-presentCanada
23Joe Malone5'10"150189019691910-1924Canada
24Max Bentley5'10"155192019841940-1954Canada
25Norm Ullman5'10"1751935 1955-1977Canada
26Elmer Lach5'101651918 1940-1954Canada
27Bill Cowley5'10165191219931934-1947Canada
28Nels Stewart6'1"195190219571925-1940Canada
29Sergei Fedorov6'2"2071969 1990-2009Russia
30Sid Abel5'11"170191820001938-1954Canada
31Dave Keon5'9"1651940 1960-1982Canada
32Doug Gilmour5'11"1771963 1983-2003Canada
33Alexander Maltsev5'9"1691949 1967-1984Russia
34Joe Thornton6'4"2201979 1997-presentCanada
35Ron Francis6'3"2001963 1981-2004Canada
36Peter Stastny6'1"2001956 1975-1995Slovakia
37Alex Delvecchio6'0"1951932 1950-1974Canada
38Eric Lindros6'4"2401973 1992-2007Canada
39Adam Oates5'111901962 1985-2004Canada
40Evgeni Malkin6'3"1951986 2005-presentRussia
41TGilbert Perreault6'1"1801950 1970-1987Canada
41TReginald "Hooley" Smith5'10155190319631924-1941Canada
43Pavel Datsyuk5'11"1981978 2001-presentRussia
44Russell Bowie  188019561896-1908Canada
45Jean Ratelle6'1"1801940 1960-1981Canada
46Marty Barry5'11"175190519691927-1940Canada
47Mike Modano6'3"2121970 1989-2011USA
48Dale Hawerchuk5'11"1901963 1981-1997Canada
49Vladimir Petrov6'0"1871947 1965-1983Russia
50Denis Savard5'10"1751961 1980-1997Canada
51Igor Larionov5'9"1701960 1977-2004Russia
52Mickey MacKay5'9"162189419401914-1930Canada
53Frank Fredrickson5'11180189519791913-1931Canada
54Mats Sundin6'5"2311971 1990-2009Sweden
55Henrik Zetterberg5'11"1971980 2002-presentSweden
56Darryl Sittler6'0"1901950 1970-1985Canada
57Vaclav Nedomansky6'1"2101944 1962-1983Czech/Slovak
58Gordon "Duke" Keats5'11'195189519721915-1934Canada
59Jacques Lemaire5'10"1801945 1967-1979Canada
60Neil Colville5'11"175191419871935-1949Canada


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:
bigbuffalo313
BillyShoe1721
Canadiens1958
DaveG
Dennis Bonvie
Hardyvan123
Hawkey Town 18
intylerwetrust
jigglysquishy
MadArcand
Mike Farkas
MXD
reckoning
Rob Scuderi
seventieslord
Sturminator
tarheelhockey
ted1971
the edler
TheDevilMadeMe
tony D
VanIslander
vecens24

TheDevilMadeMe 11-13-2013 03:13 PM

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.

TheDevilMadeMe 11-29-2013 01:04 PM

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.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-07-2013 10:42 AM

Consistent with the Boucher listing, I'm not including Forsberg's 2 game failed comeback in 2010 in his career span.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-07-2013 10:52 AM

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.

pre-1904: none
1904: one
1905-1911: two
1912-1920: three
1921-1922: four
1923: five
1924-1927: four
1928-1930: three
1931-1935: two
1936-1937: four
1938: three
1939-1948: two
1949: one
1950-1958: two

1959-1963: three
1964-1968: four
1969-1970: five
1971: six
1972-1977: five
1978-1980: seven
1981: six
1982: five
1983: six
1984: seven
1984-1987: six
1988-1989: seven
1990-1993: six
1994: seven
1995-1999: six
2000-2004: five

2005-2006: four
2007-2008: two
2009-2010: one
2011-present: none

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

quoipourquoi 12-07-2013 12:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 75693013)
Consistent with the Boucher listing, I'm not including Forsberg's 2 game failed comeback in 2010 in his career span.

Forsberg played 16 games in 2007-08.
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.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-07-2013 12:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by quoipourquoi (Post 75696027)
Forsberg played 16 games in 2007-08.
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.

I suppose the 2010 Olympics are relevant. His time in the Swedish domestic league, probably less relevant than the AHL in the Original 6 era

quoipourquoi 12-07-2013 12:43 PM

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:

Quote:

If he makes the chart, is it going to say that he played from 1995-2006 instead of 1989-2011?
I was being sarcastic. :laugh:

TheDevilMadeMe 12-07-2013 01:17 PM

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.

quoipourquoi 12-07-2013 01:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 75698975)
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.

And how do you reconcile this with your treatment of Ed Belfour and Al MacInnis in the previous position lists? You're telling us that Leksands counts and Modo doesn't? 3 GP in 2003-04 count but 9 GP and a playoff in 2007-08 don't?

It is not consistent.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-07-2013 02:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by quoipourquoi (Post 75699763)
And how do you reconcile this with your treatment of Ed Belfour and Al MacInnis in the previous position lists? You're telling us that Leksands counts and Modo doesn't? 3 GP in 2003-04 count but 9 GP and a playoff in 2007-08 don't?

It is not consistent.

The MacInnis career span was probably copied from hockey reference and the Belfour career span was probably copied from Wikipedia. This is the first time anyone has taken issue with them.

I believe that in the defensemen project, I was listing them by the season of retirement, rather than the calendar year.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-07-2013 03:03 PM

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

quoipourquoi 12-08-2013 08:40 PM

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?


Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 75705157)
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

Don't forget Hasek in the Top-40, whose career was labeled as lasting until 2011.

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.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-08-2013 09:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by quoipourquoi (Post 75816921)
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?




Don't forget Hasek in the Top-40, whose career was labeled as lasting until 2011.

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.

Well, if you went through the "career span" listings from earlier projects with a fine tooth comb, I'm sure you noticed that Lundqvist and Lidstrom had their SEL years treated the same as I am treating Forsberg's. Any particular reason you have yet to mention that fact?

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.

quoipourquoi 12-09-2013 06:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 75822045)
Well, if you went through the "career span" listings from earlier projects with a fine tooth comb, I'm sure you noticed that Lundqvist and Lidstrom had their SEL years treated the same as I am treating Forsberg's. Any particular reason you have yet to mention that fact?

I conceded the point about Modo once you said you would fix Belfour:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Me
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.

Lundqvist and Lidstrom were already NHL-eligible 18-year-olds when they played their first senior league game in Sweden. It's not nearly as analogous as you're saying (hence why I drew the parallel to Hasek, who received credit in his career listing for games as a non-NHL-eligible teenager) - but you already stated that the error was including Belfour's year in a second-tier Swedish league because you said no Swedish league games should have been included in the first place.

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.


Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 75822045)
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.

Okay, I accept that. Let's only look at this project.

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.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-09-2013 08:38 PM

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).

seventieslord 12-09-2013 11:17 PM

I would decide what leagues count (everything but junior, perhaps?) And base their first and last year on that, ignoring breaks. Keep it simple.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-10-2013 01:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by seventieslord (Post 75885357)
I would decide what leagues count (everything but junior, perhaps?) And base their first and last year on that, ignoring breaks. Keep it simple.

"everything but junior" would still include AHL, right? It would also include Tier 1 European leagues that allowed 16 year old's to play in them, I imagine.

seventieslord 12-10-2013 01:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 75908233)
"everything but junior" would still include AHL, right? It would also include Tier 1 European leagues that allowed 16 year old's to play in them, I imagine.

Yes. I'd say if that's the system, stick to it.

steve141 12-10-2013 04:11 PM

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.

Hawkman 12-17-2013 10:43 AM

A tiebreaker would have been nice.

TheDevilMadeMe 12-17-2013 10:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hawkman (Post 76325017)
A tiebreaker would have been nice.

Feel free to participate in the rules discussion thread.

DanishPastry 12-18-2013 11:54 AM

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' :)

TAnnala 12-18-2013 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DanishPastry (Post 76394387)
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' :)

I'm not sure about the older guys, like Morenz. The average height and weight at that time was largely different from today. Guy like Beliveau would have been a ridiculous monster back in 30's.

But yeah, skill is more important than size.

Sturminator 12-18-2013 11:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DanishPastry (Post 76394387)
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' :)

Among the old-timers already on the list above, both Schmidt and Apps were quite big and strong for their era.


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