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11-13-2012, 12:31 PM
  #135
Melnyks Mirage
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1. Bobby Orr - Boston Bruins (Chicago Blackhawks)

While defensemen in previous eras had carried the puck (Doug Harvey comes to mind), Orr revitalized this for the modern era. Capable of doing it all, you just can't ignore and Art Ross by a defenseman and the bevy of Norris trophies all the while excelling at all aspects of his position. He's become the standard against which others are measured.

2.Wayne Gretzky - Edmonton Oilers (Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers)

CBC has been showing vintage games of late and there was one with Gretzky vs. the early 80s Leafs. You simply wouldn't have known he was playing for part of it, no end ot end rushes, no multiple-points early on...then it happened. Gretzky found a seam and a goal was scored. Maybe not by himself but it went in. Over and over. Try to two-man him? He'll just flip the puck away and get it along the boards. Try to defend him? He'll just pass it. Try to clog the crease? He'll just go to the office. Just incredible intelligence, timing and a gentleman off the ice as well.

3.Mario Lemieux - Pittsburgh Penguins

I'll admit I was a Mario guy, if only because he was from Montreal. Hands of silk on a bull's body. He could just overpower you and then blast it past an unsuspecting goalie. Endless back issues, cancer, off-ice scandal, endless comparisons to Gretzky (who helped him mature at the 87 Canada Cup) just incredible. You wonder if he'd been completely healthy if he could have cracked 200+ points.

4. Raymond Bourque - Boston Bruins (Colorado Avalanche)

I'll concede to those that prefer Eddie Shore or Nicklas Lidstrom in this spot. To me, Ray was a stocky dynamo. I'll never forget that game where he drilled 19 (!) shots on Ron Tugnutt in the legendary game. Great center of gravity on him, you were never, ever going to knock him off the puck. 5-10 shots on the powerplay, endless penalty killing, even-strength calmness and a fair amount of stickwork when he had to. Ray, I miss ya. And this is from a former Habs fan that was burned by you more than once!

5. Patrick Roy - Montreal Canadiens (Colorado Avalanche)

Again, I'll concede to Hasek the revolutionizing of the position and the extreme dominance.
To me though, Roy was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in nets. I remember one game when the New Jersey Devils just drilled him, for six goals I think (this was a while ago, memory fades but maybe Hockey Reference can confirm) and just looked totally ordinary. Then the playoffs came and it was like he was a different man. Save after save after save after save, was just unreal. More than that I'll remember his cockiness...after being pelted with plastic rats against Florida, saying: "No more rats!" and shutting the door on them. Or winking at Tomas Sandstrom. Sometimes it backfired...Statue of Liberty save anyone? I'd want no one else for an NHL playoff game on the line.

6. Sergei Makarov - CSKA - CCCP (Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars)

Are there better wingers at the NHL level? Sure. Are there better forwards? Sure. Heck, you could probably find better players but Makarov was an absolute force at the International level. Whether it's leading CSKA year after year or his near-perpetural dominance of World Championships or other events. He was there, scoring and passing, shifty as an eel and causing headaches for defenses the world over. He even managed to change the rules of Calder voting by winning it in his 30s, but he was never fully appreciated here in North America. An absolute shame that he isn't in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

7. Mark Messier - Edmonton Oilers (New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks)

Moose was his nickname and just about what he was on the ice. It's easier to remember the "gentler" Messier that played for the Rangers or the declining and ineffective Messier of the Canucks, and that's fair. The Messier that comes to mind here is the vicious, animalistic one of the Oilers. He'd just as soon elbow you, fight you, slash you, score on you, pass the puck and just win games or at least give you the right support. Probably would be suspended for whole seasons in today's NHL but dear lord the man was a pleasure to watch and must have been an absolute beast to play against.

8. Jari Kurri - Jokerit (Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Colorado Avalanche)

Teemu's surpassed his goal totals and I'll admit has probably passed him in the Finnish elite but Jari sure did do it all out there. Sure, you can say he rode shotgun on Wayne's side but they were almost symbiotic out there. Kurri was no slouch defensively either, more than capable of backchecking or at the very least being responsible in his own end (not that he was there much with 99...). You can make the case he should have retired instead of prolonging his career in Anaheim or Colorado but...you can't stop a man from playing the game he loves.

9. Syl Apps - Toronto Maple Leafs

Conn Smythe famously said no one called "Sylvanus Apps" was ever going to make a living of it in the NHL. Apps proved him wrong, the gentle pivot dominating for the Leafs and even extending his resumé to pole vaulting at the 1936 Olympics (with bamboo poles into a sand pit, no less) and was a complete gentleman as well. Legend tells us he went to Smythe with a cheque for $1,000 since he was injured and didn't feel he'd given $6,000 worth to the Leafs. Smythe was aghast and rebuffed him. Classy and his granddaughter wears his #10 for our (Canada) national team.

10. Jean Bélieveau - Montreal Canadiens

Pure class. The Canadiens legend probably doesn't have an enemy on this planet. His phone number is still listed (He's said on this topic that some players are unlisted as if they were afraid of the fans, he'd gladly take a call now and then) and an ambassador for the Canadiens and the NHL as a whole. Smooth as silk on the ice as a pivot, probably obscured by playing for a dynasty-level team but never lost his humanity. Le Gros Bill never disappointed on or off the ice. All while winning two Art Ross with a fair amount of penalties...

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