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12-03-2012, 04:16 PM
vadim sharifijanov
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 14,360
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kind of depends what we mean by "icon," but in terms of fame, recognizability, what they meant to the game, what they meant to a particular fanbase, and the degree to which they transcended the game (i don't necessarily just mean gretzky being a celebrity in the 80s/90s, but also richard triggering a freakin' riot and other habs being used as symbols for the quebec sovereignty movement), i'd go with:

gretzky -- especially for the average joe non-hockey fan. he had his own cereal, and that cereal had its own saturday morning cartoon. he was on SNL, and andy warhol did a portrait of him. a level of crossover fame and name/image recognizability that far exceeded any other hockey player ever.

richard -- here, i go with a more local iconicity. what he meant to quebec maybe exceeds in scale and resonance what any other hockey player has ever meant to a fanbase. i mean like ali/jackie robinson-esque. as canadian kids, we all watched that roch carrier film strip a million times in school and on cbc.

orr -- he has the local value to new england sports, where he remains a god, and also in the wider sense as an image of pure brilliance and the best the game can offer. and his legacy is frozen in one timeless image to a degree that no one else, even henderson or eruzione, can equal.

beliveau -- similar to richard. less politically charged, but maybe more beloved.

howe -- they called him mr. hockey.

a very north america-centric list obviously though. i mean, forsberg in sweden (the stamp), or maybe sundin or salming probably would approach if not equal beliveau's stature in quebec.

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