Something posted in the Lemieux vs Howe thread sparked a thought that was on my mind last week.
Who do you consider the most physically gifted athlete in hockey history? I suppose you could take into consideration strength and endurance mainly.
I was thinking mainly about Orr vs Howe vs Hull. Orr could play so many minutes per game at a level higher than his contemporaries. Howe was a dominant player who was also physical. Hull was just a prime physical specimen (I recall reading about his muscular size being greater than Muhammed Ali).
Disclaimer: I don't pretend to know anything about hockey history and am just fascinated listening to those of you who've been following their whole lives with these discussions!
2nd Disclaimer: I did a search and found nothing, hopefully this isn't a retread.
If you're going to break down 'physical ability' into size+skating ability+puck skills+shot, the three possible answers in the modern era are Bobby Hull, Eric Lindros, and Alexander Ovechkin.
Bobby Orr was obviously a ridiculous player, but his raw physical gifts were not on the level of a Bobby Hull. Orr was physically gifted, of course, but a huge part of his greatness was that he was also the most intelligent player in the league by a mile.
Hull dominated by virtue of simply being able to skate faster and shoot the puck harder than anyone else on earth.
Physically gifted is tough to say. You could say guys like Lindros and Ovechkin rank up there. Hard to say overall who would be #1. Guess it depends on the definition of physically gifted.
One guy to consider who no one would think about would be Brian Leetch. They did some test on him many years ago where they ranked the players from major sports for having some of the best body responses to cardio and most of the top players were from professional soccer leagues but Leetch came in #1 over everyone.