For me growing up in the new era, it was Ray Bourque. The things that that man did were incredible. The run that Colorado had that year was spectacular. Bourque and his quest captured the imagination of an entire team. His play was something to behold in of itself. I've never seen a defenseman that appeared to play so effortlessly. It was like Ray Bourque didn't have to lunge, he was always in the right place. He didn't pass the puck, he handed it to teammates. He didn't shoot, he guided. The others are all standouts though
When you have Marcel Dionne placing No. 20 (he of under a point-per-game in the playoffs) it says that something's wrong. Too many people vote only based on who they saw, or who they've heard of. It's the best way to whittle out those who aren't willing to do their research.
True that is the top 3, but should be in this order:
Ah, the beauty of debate. No. 2 should be a very interesting decision. Shore or Harvey? The debate's only been raging for 40 years. (I'll take Eddie Shore, personally, but it's not by much. Bourque is definitely below both of them).
Having not seen either, Shore's 4 Hart trophies should be the deciding factor IMO. Only 3 players in hostory have more than 3 Hart's (Gretzky, Howe and Shore).
As great as Harvey was, he never was voted league MVP.
The fact that he didn't win a Hart is more to the fact of the depth of options playing in Montreal, and the fact that no defensemen won the Hart between WWII and Bobby Orr. Montreal had 3 Art Ross winners, won 5 Vezinas, and 5 Stanley Cups in 5 years, yet had 1 Hart winner, Beliveau in 56, when he won the Art Ross.
Between Babe Pratt in 44 and Bobby Orr in 70, only Kelly in 54 and Harvey in 62 managed to rank 2nd in Hart voting.
In my lifetime, Robert Orr, by the length of a hockey rink.
Saw a feature that OLN aired on him recently. Listening to some of the old timers like Milt Schmidt talk about him brought me to tears, not ashamed to admit. And watching the old tape of him gracefully carrying it around the net, looking up ice is - even decades later - as close as sports gets to perfection.
Sorry to be come off as melodramatic, but it's sincere. There was none better...and I'm not sure if one could conceivably be any better.
My own choice for a distant second is Denis Potvin.