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07-03-2013, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post

This is true of the modern Canadian game, but it certainly wasn't always true. Until the early 80s, at the NHL level at least, it was pretty common for the best offensive players to play wing - Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleur, etc. Not to mention slightly lesser superstars like Ted Lindsay, Bernie Geoffrion, Dickie Moore, Andy Bathgate, Frank Mahovlich.

Awhile ago I noticed that for whatever reason, Mike Bossy seems to have been the last all-time-great winger that Canada produced; after him, the best Canadian-trained forwards in the NHL have been almost exclusively centers. But Europe filled the gap; there were periods of time in the 1990s when every player who received a vote for all-star RW was a European.

So basically, I think the "best players should play center, not winger," is a fairly modern phenomenon (well, "modern" as in "the last 3 decades or so") and seems to be limited to the Canadian (or at least North American) school of thought, as far as I can tell.
Bolded, all played center at least into junior and/or at the start of their NHL careers.

After Mike Bossy, Canada continued to produce elite NHL wingers. Cam Neely, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Jarome Iginla, Martin St.Louis, Brendan Shanahan, Paul Kariya, Michel Goulet(somewhat of a Bossy contemporary). None of these played center regularly or at all on their way to the NHL.Martin St.Louis played with Eric Perrin at center from bantam onwards thru university.

Basically in the 1990s Canadian development turned to trying to create power wingers. Saw a bit of success - Iginla and to a large degree Shane Doan, Ryan Smyth, but the rest lacked skating Current group is pretty solid from Corey Perry down to the latest - Jonathan Drouin.

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