when he played he was one of the best players in the league and his place is well earned
Haha, nope. I just don't see him that high on the list. He was known as a poor/mediocre defensive player, yet was rarely an elite offensive guy. Twice top-10 in points, never top-5. Only once top-5 in goals. Almost never the best player on his team. Never made a first allstar team, despite his top scoring years coming in a pretty shallow era for the position (Hodge, Gilbert, Redmond, McKenzie, Wharram, and a 40 year old Gordie Howe were the other RW allstars in that that era. Topped out at 9th in Hart voting.
Obviously a great player, but how is he better than Jarome Iginla? Iginla has twice led the league in goals, led once in points, been a Hart runner-up twice (and in the opinion of many, he should have won in 2002). Won the Pearson. Led his under-skilled team to within a goal of the Stanley Cup, and has led his team in scoring for 10 years running. Iginla has generally been the only notable offensive option (single seasons of Tanguay and Cammalleri notwithstanding), and has never once had a legit first-line centre to play with.
I'd say Howes 3 1st ASTs as a 39-41 year old and WHA MVP at 45 beats Cournoyers smythe and 4 2nds in his prime.
Right or wrong, Howe just isn't classified as a "modern" guy. Plus, he does have exactly 4 total NHL playoff points post-expansion, compared to Cournoyer's playoff heroics (the only thing that even gives Cournoyer a case to be on this list).