Considered by many to be the toughest and most physical defenseman in Russian hockey history, Valeri Vasiliev was a punishing hitter who loved the physical play. Valeri reminded people of Hall of Famer Tim Horton.
He didn't have the offensive flair like xxx or Vyacheslav Fetisov but was better defensively. Opponents hated to play against him because it could be painful. As a surprise to many opponents Valeri was only 6'0" and 190 Ibs but played like a much bigger player. He put several opponents on the injury list during his career.
Valeri was a born leader and was a longtime captain of the national team. He was a two time Olympic Gold medalist (1972 and 1976). He was a eight time World Champion, being voted the best defenseman three times (1973, 1977 and 1979) and being named to 5 WC All-Star teams. Valeri represented his country 284 times and scored 44 goals. He was a member of the "super five" together with his partner on the blue line xxx and behind the troika of Kharlamov-xxx-xxx, the predecessors of the xxx-xxx-xxx unit with xxx and Fetisov.
Because of his physical style he loved to play against NHL opposition. He thrived in that environment, and because of that the Russian Strongman was one early Russian player who likely would have excelled in the NHL.
He played in the 1972 Summit Series as well as the 1979 Challenge Cup. Valeri had a big part in neutralizing Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, xxx and the other Canadian superstars in the 1981 Canada Cup final. That was the only year the Soviets won the Canada Cup. Vasliev, as team captain, accepted the famous trophy.
Vasiliev was also a very efficient and speedy skater, despite looking quite awkward. He had an unusual way of propelling himself down the ice. He did not lift his skates off the ice while rapidly accelerating. This allowed him incredible stability. He was almost impossible to knock him off his feet.
Valeri has never been replaced on the national team by someone who could match his physical play and toughness. It's an element that has been sorely missed on the Russian national team over the years.
Valeri Vasiliev was a slick skater and passer, but also known for his physical play, which was sometimes frowned upon back in the Russian leagues. That opinion seemed to change after 1972.
Considered by many to be the toughest and most physical defenseman in Russian hockey history, Valeri Vasiliev was a punishing hitter who loved the physical play. Valeri reminded people of Hall of Famer Tim Horton.
He didn't have the offensive flair like XXXXXXXX or Vyacheslav Fetisov but was better defensively. Opponents hated to play against him because it could be painful. As a surprise to many opponents Valeri was only 6'0" and 190 Ibs but played like a much bigger player. He put several opponents on the injury list during his career.
Valeri was a born leader and was a long-time captain of the national team. He was a eight time World Champion (1970, 73,74,75,78,79,81 and 82) and a two time Olympic Gold medallist (1972 and 76). In 1973,77 and 79 he was voted as the best defenseman of the World Championships. He also made the All-Star team in 1974,75,77,79 and 81. Valeri represented his country 284 times and scored 44 goals.
Because of his physical style he loved to play against NHL opposition. He thrived in that environment. He played in the 1972 Summit Series as well as the 1979 Challenge Cup. Valeri had a big part in neutralizing Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, XXXXXXX and the other Canadian superstars in the 1981 Canada Cup final.
Many experts on Soviet hockey would name Valery Vasiliev as one of the most successful Russian players in the history of the game. Born in Gorky (Nizny Novgorod), Valery was brought to Dynamo Moscow in 1967 for his promising results in the junior teams. The young prospect impressed Moscow recruiters with his strength, skating skills and passing. Like his teammate XXXXXXXXX, Vasiliev spent his hockey career with Dynamo Moscow and, though he received plenty of gold medals and awards on the international level, he wasn’t able to capture gold in the USSR Championship. Vasiliev established himself as a flashy blueliner that loved to play physical game with effective and seemingly effortless bodychecking and impressive scoring results.
-1972 Summit Series
We knew that Vasiliev was a rough and tough player. He had been criticized by the media for some 'dirty tricks'. But comparing him with Canadian players, he looked like one of the cleanest hitters in the world.
“He has never been replaced on the national team by someone who could match his physical play and toughness. It's an element that has been sorely missed on the Russian national team over the years.”
“He didn't have the offensive flair like Alexei Kasatonov or Vyacheslav Fetisov but was better defensively. Opponents hated to play against him because it could be painful. As a surprise to many opponents he was only 6'0" and 190 Ibs but played like a much bigger player. He put several opponents on the injury list during his career.”
“He was a slick skater and passer, but also known for his physical play.” “He was a born leader and was a long-time captain of the national team.”
“Considered by many to be the toughest and most physical defenseman in Russian hockey history, he was a punishing hitter who loved the physical play. He reminded people of Hall of Famer Tim Horton.”
- A September To Remember
"He also played more than 600 games in the Soviet Union's top league and holds the record for appearances in national championships"
- Calgary Herald, June 5, 1984, Article about Vasiliev retiring
"He was one of very few players on the Soviet national team who never played for the Red Army team CSKA. The Red Army team dominated the home league because it was essentially comprised of the national team. Only a few players like Vasiliev were brought in to join those players for the national team."
"He also said the dressing-room leadership of retired captain Boris Mikhailov has been difficult to replace, although defenceman Valery Vasiliev has stepped into the role of enforcer of discipline and dedication."
- Tretiak quote from article in the Calgary Herald, Sept. 3, 1981
"We have seen others return like Valery Vasiliev. The great Soviet defenceman was dropped from the team, but came back for the '81 Canada Cup, playing with a broken nose, crushed fingers and cracked ankle bone."
- Edmonton Journal, Aug. 28, 1984
"He called goalie Vladislav Tretiak one of the best, praised the play of Boris Mikhailov, XXXXXXXXXX, and Valeri Vasiliev, among others, as top pro quality."
- Rod Gilbert quote from article in The Press-Courier, Feb. 20, 1980
With our 4th selection, the 152nd overall in this year All-Time Draft, the Detroit Falcons are very please to select defenceman Zdeno Chára
Nickname: Big Z Height: 6'8'' Weight: 260 lbs Position: Defense Shoots: Left Date of Birth: March 18, 1977 Place of Birth: Trencin , Slovakia, Czechoslovakia
Stanley Cup Finalist (2003)
AHL All-Rookie Team (1998)
NHL First All-Star Team (2004, 2009)
NHL Second All-Star Team (2006, 2008)
Played in NHL All-Star Game (2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011)
World Cup All-Star Team (2004)
James Norris Memorial Trophy (2009)
World Championship Participation (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007)
World Cup Participation (2004)
Olympics Participation (2006, 2010)
Team Captain (2006-2011)
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
2002-03: 7th position (Niklas Lidstrom) (0-0-4-10-5)
2003-04: 2nd position (Scott Niedermayer) (-35.4%)
2005-06: 4th position (Niklas Lidstrom) (-62.7%)
2006-07: 20th position (0-0-0-1-1)
2007-08: 3rd position (Niklas Lidstrom) (-63.0%)
2008-09: 1st position (+5.0%)
2009-10: 8th position (Duncan Keith) (0-3-7-6-14)
Hart Memorial Trophy:
2003-04: 25th position (Martin St-Louis) (0-0-0-1-0)
2005-06: 19th position (Joe Thornton) (0-0-0-1-1)
2007-08: 14th position (Alexander Ovechkin) (0-0-0-1-1)
2008-09: 8th position (Alexander Ovechkin) (2-3-2-8-4)
2009-10: 15th position (Henrik Sedin) (0-0-0-1-0)
Originally Posted by Hockey Hall of Fame
Considering his enormous size, Chára is not known as one of the more physical on-ice players, although he certainly is more than capable of standing his ground if challenged.
In 2003-04, Chára established himself as one of the premier defensemen in the league. He helped establish a rugged blueline in Beantown.
Originally Posted by Boston Globes
Chára, an All-Star starter last season, will be making his fourth appearance. He has recorded a 7-15-22 line and a plus-19 rating while playing some of his sharpest shutdown hockey against some of the league's most dangerous attackers.
Originally Posted by NHL.com; Bruins, Chára agree to 7-year contract extension (10/09/2010)
Certainly, an argument can be made that nobody on the Bruins is more important than the 33-year-old Chára, the team's captain.
The GM believes that Chára works so hard, takes such good care of himself and is so skilled on the ice that chronological age does not have to be a paramount concern.
Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated NHL Poll (05-03-10)
It's interesting to look at penalty minutes for the top three. The numbers reflect the order, but these guys don't lead the league in that category.
Zdeno Chara of the Bruins leads the poll and he has 49 penalty minutes. That is seventy-fourth in the league.
Chris Pronger has been assigned to the penalty box for 32 minutes and then there is Nicklas Lidstrom who has only 12 penalty minutes.
Obviously when players think of toughness, they don't think of fights.
- ''Zdeno is one of the premier defensemen in the National Hockey League and we are thrilled that he will be in a Boston uniform for the next five years. He is a big reason why Ottawa allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference last season (2004).'' - Boston interim General Manager Jeff Gorton, after signing Chara on July 1st 2006
- ''Zdeno's leadership qualities have been apparent from the time he joined players for their informal skates prior to training camp. He leads by example, both on and off of the ice, and he has earned the respect of everyone in our dressing room.'' - Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli
- ''He shuts down those guys extremely well, and that, to us, is what makes him one of the best D's in the league. Whether it's through strength, whether it's through his play, whether he's got a good stick, he plays in all situations. He's always 25 to 30 minutes per game.'' - Claude Julien, 2009 season
- ''He's been a big part of our team. He embodies a lot of what we stand for. He has an incredible desire to win and is probably the hardest worker I have seen -- on and off the ice.'' - Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli, before the 2010-11 season
Biography & Personal Life:
Zdeno Chára was born and raised in Trencín, a town of 56,000 souls near the Western border of Slovakia. Before he established himself as a solid young hockey player in his home town, many of his minor-league coaches told him that he was better off playing basketball instead, due to his great size.
At the age of 17, he played Junior B hockey with the Dukla Trencin. The following year, he was picked up by the HK VTJ Pieštany, a team in the Division II in Slovakia, while also spending some of his playing time with the national junior team and the HC Sparta Praha jr. That year, Chára played for four different clubs, even playing a lone game for the senior HC Sparta Praha.
At the age of 19, Chára decided to move to North America, where he still had one year of major junior hockey eligibility remaining. As he was selected by the New York Islanders 56th overall the previous summer, Chára wanted to familiarize himself with the North American game and to adjust to the smaller ice surface. He suited up for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL and in 49 contests, he had three goals and 22 points. Chára credits several of his junior coaches in Slovakia and Stan Butler in Prince George as being the people who were most influential in his development as a player.
In the 1997-98 season, Chára played 25 games with the New York Islanders, picking up one assist. He followed that with a 59 game effort the next year, scoring two goals and eight points. Chára played two more years on Long Island before being sent to the Ottawa Senators for the start of the 2001-02 season in a major deal that saw All-Star centerman Alexei Yashin going the other way. At this point in his career, Chára hadn't established himself yet as one of the premier defenceman in the league; the main pieces changing hands was taught to be Yashin and the 2nd overall selection in the 2001 Entry Draft.
With the Ottawa Senators, ''The Big Z'' became the defenceman scouts were hoping to bloom, and enjoyed 4 successful season with them. Playing mostly alongside offensive defenceman Wade Redden, he was named on the first and second All-Star team, while participating in his first All-Star contest in 2003. The same year, he received his first of three nomination to the James Norris trophy.
As one of the most coveted free agent available in the 2006 pool, the Boston Bruins were able to sign Chára. Indeed, on July 1st, ''The Big Z'' signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with them. During his first training camp, his leadership skills were recognize and he was named the 18th team captain of the prestigious hockey club.
On July 14th 2007, Chára married his long-time girlfriend Tatiana Biskupicová, in a Catholic church in Nemšová, Slovakia. A little less than two years later, On Monday, April 27th 2009, Chára's girlfriend gave birth, at 19:20, of the couple's first child daughter Elliz Victoria Chára, a perfectly healthy, 7 lbs, 6 oz baby: ''It’s so overwhelming,'' told Zdeno about the moment ''It’s such an exciting thing in our lives, and we’re looking forward to watching her grow. You can’t really describe, but it’s just amazing. It’s beautiful and probably the best day of my life.''
In the 2008-09 season, Chara enjoyed is most fabulous season of his career, as he was given a spot on the first All-Star team on defence, while being awarded the James Norris Trophy, a feat no less incredible by the fact that it was only the second time in eight years that Niklas Lidstrom was not able to grab the prestigious individual award.
While still an active player in the NHL, Chara is involve as an Athletic Ambassador in a charity foundation call Right to Play, a worldwide sports group that uses games and fun to help children in poor countries. At the All-Star competition of 2008, Chára initiated a charity drive among the participants, 1,000$ per player, to go to the charity of choice of the hardest shot competition's winner. Having raised 24,000$ from the six competitors and their respective teams, the NHL and the NHLPA, Chara won the competition for his foundation: ''I'm really happy with the result and happy that the money goes to charity,'' Chara told Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada. In July 2008, he spent two weeks in Africa, going to Mozambique in support of the charity, and then climbing Mt.Kilimanjaro with fellow NHL player Robyn Regehr.
Prior to the 2010-11 season, Chára made of Boston his home for another 7 years, as he signed an extension with the Bruins. He will be looking forward to continue his constant play in Beantown while adding to his already impressive legacy.
All-Star Hardest Shot Competition:
In the 2003 All-Star Skill Competition Game, Chára made his first appearance and recorded the second hardest shot behind Al MacInnis, who clock a 98.9 mph shot. It was MacInnis 7th hardest shot titles. Four years later, in 2007, Chára made his second appearance at the All-Star Competition and won the hardest shot segment, clocking a shot at 100.4 mph shot. A year later, Chára set a new competition record, with a 105.4 mph slapshot. The shot passed Al Iafrate's previous record-making 105.2 mph slapper from the 1993 skill competition in Montreal. In 2009, he won for the third time a row the hardest shot competition. At the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, North Carolina, he eclipsed his previous record with a shot clocked at 105.9 mph
Fun and Interesting Facts:
- According to Chára, his height is 6-foot8, and not 6-foot-9 like most sources say
- At the start of the 2006 season, Chára became only the third Slovak-born NHL player to become a team captain, after Peter Štastný from 1975 to 1980 with the Québec Nordiques and Stan Mikita from 1975 to 1977 with the Chicago Blackhawks
- In 2009, winning his Norris Trophy with the Boston Bruins made Chara joined exclusive company by becoming just the third Bruin, alongside Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque, to win the prestigious award
- In February 2010, Chara was the captain of the Slovakian squad at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver
- On January 17th, 2011, Chara recorded his first career hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes to make it a 7-0 final. He celebrated the feat by performing fellow Slovak star Peter Bondra's celebration, where he mocked throwing a hat into the air
- The Father of Zdeno Chára, Zdenek, competed in the 1976 Olympics in Greco-Roman Wrestling
- Chára speaks seven languages: Slovak, Czech, Polish, Swedish, Russian, German and English
Signing, Trades & Injuries:
- Chára was selected by the New York Islanders in the third round, #56 overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft
- On June 23rd, 2001, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators by the New York Islanders with Bill Muckalt and New York Islanders 2nd overall choice in the 2001 Entry Draft for Alexei Yashin
- On September 24th 2005, he signed a one year contract with the Färjestads BK (SEL)
- On July 1st, 2006, Chára signed as a free agent by the Boston Bruins, a five-year, $37.5 million contract
- On March 8th, 2008, Chára suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during a game against the Washington Capitals. However, after only missing five games, he played the remainder of the season including the playoffs. Upon a first-round elimination at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, he underwent a shoulder operation on April 29th
- On October 9th, 2010, Chára re-signed with the Boston Bruins a seven year deal, worth 45.5 millions
- For most of the 2009-10 season, an hand injury bothered Chára
Abbreviation: NHL: National Hockey League SEL: Sweden Elite League WHL: Western Hockey League
Nalyd really sold me on Coulter as a rock solid #2 defenseman in this thing when he (and sturm) were my opponents in ATD12:
-4 Times a 2nd Team All-Star (1935, 1938, 1939, 1940), playing in a very tough era for defensemen - Eddie Shore and Earl Seibert had permanent places on the AS teams at this point, and there were quite a few other very good defensemen in the 1930s (much stronger than the 1940s IMO).
- Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974
- Key member of 1934 and 1940 Stanley Cup teams (also a SC finalist in 1937)
- Top-10 in points by defensemen five times (6th, 6th, 8th, 8th, 9th)
- NY Rangers Captain for 5 Seasons (including the 1940 Cup winner)
- Right handed shot
IMO, Coulter is the perfect partner for Quackenbush:
- Coulter was a fantastic defensive defenseman and an absolute physical beast in every sense of the word.
- While he's not a guy to lead the offense up ice (Quack and Henri Richard can handle that), he's quite competent at moving the puck when it's on his stick.
- Like Quack, he's noted for his great endurance, so the pair can play big minutes.
- His undrafted teammate called him "a leader like Mark Messier" and "the best player" on the 1940 Rangers Cup team.
- The Rangers had such confidence in his defensive ability, they used him as the only defenseman along with 3 forwards on an innovative "attacking penalty kill." The Rangers won the 1940 Stanley Cup with this system:
Coulter teamed with Muzz Patrick to give the Rangers a fearless, bruising defense. He also was the linchpin of the Rangers' offensive penalty-killing team, an innovation the New Yorkers introduced in 1939. Coulter was the anchor man working with forwards Alex Shibicky, Neil and Mac Colville. Over the season, the Rangers outscored their opponents almost two to one when they were shorthanded.
Art was recognized in the hockey world as a "team player." He believed in teamwork and knew early on that teamwork was the crucial ingredient to winning games and having fun...and ultimately earning the team the right to hold the Stanley Cup.
Art's physical strength and endurance was the key to his defense. He was a punishing hitter, and was not afraid to drop the gloves.
An outstanding puck-handler and a durable player, Coulter was a four-time All-Star, once with the Chicago Blackhawks and three times with the Rangers, in an N.H.L. career that spanned 11 seasons.
He made his N.H.L. debut with the Blackhawks in the 1931-32 season, played for Chicago's 1934 Stanley Cup champions, then was traded to the Rangers in January 1936 after, he said, he ''sassed'' the team owner when he came to the locker room to berate some teammates.
''Art Coulter was our best player,'' Clint Smith, a center on the 1940 team and a fellow Hall of Famer, recalled. ''He was a leader, like what you have now in Mark Messier.''
Coulter was a quiet gem, a man who became the Rangers' captain during their second golden era at the end of the 19030s.[sic]
"He was a superb ice general," said his coach Frank Boucher. "He lend strength to our smaller players, always on the spot if opposing players tried to intimidate them, responding beautifully to new responsibilities. He was a well set up fellow, quite tall, very muscular without an ounce of fat."
A key member of the 1940 Stanley Cup championship team, Coulter led the Rangers in penalty minutes during the 12-game run to the Cup. Two years later, following his retirement from the NHL, he remained in New York for two years as a member of the Eastern Hockey League`s Coast Guard Clippers, a World War II-era team that helped raise money for the war effort.
A fun little annecdote about what type of person Art was:
One of the cab captains was Art Coulter, who was known as a nice guy and a free spender during the social hours, and when the Rangers got back to New York after one road trip, Lester assembled his captains and said, "Okay, boys. What do I owe you for cab fares?"
The chits of the other three captains ranger from $6.00 to $8.75, but Coulter's tab added up to $12.75.
"Art," said Lester, persuing the bill, "why is your bill so much larger than the others?"
"Well, Lester," said Coulter, "you've told us that we're in the big leagues now, so I tip like a big-leaguer."
Lester was just momentarily nonplussed.
"That's very commendable, Art," he said, "but I don't know if the Rangers can afford big tippers like you."
"Okay," Art said, grinning. "You don't have to worry about it. I resign my captaincy."
The big tipper did, however, ratain his team captaincy,
Prior to a game against Boston in the 1940 semis, he put a message at every player's stall in the dressing room: "Determination was the predominating factor in last year's Stanley Cup Champions. We have it too. Let's Go. Art Coluter."
Short version: Great defensive defenceman, great captain and leader of one of hockey's first dynasties. He began as a left winger, and had his greatest success as a defender.
Gerard won the Stanley Cup in four consecutive seasons. From 1920-1923, he won it three times with the Ottawa Senators, and once with the Toronto St. Pats as an injury replacement. (They had their pick of any defenceman in the East and chose Gerard.) He was also one of the original 12 inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame from 1945.
Rarely in hockey history has a defenseman exhibited as high a level of play and gentlemanly conduct as Eddie Gerard. While playing a position that constantly required physical confrontation, he performed with superior efficiency but in sportsmanlike fashion. Gerard was a fine skater with superior puckhandling capabilities who was a fair match for any adversary at either end of the ice, while his leadership skills made him the ideal captain for the Stanley Cup-winning Ottawa Senators and a fine coach with the Cup champion Montreal Maroons in 1926.
Gerard first signed with hockey's Ottawa Senators in 1913-14, a transaction that reaped many benefits for the club. He began as a forward, playing on a line with Jack Darragh and Skene Ronan, and didn't switch to defense for another three years. Following this positional shift, Gerard established himself as a tower of strength on his squad's defense while serving as the team's inspirational heart. He formed an outstanding defensive partnership with George Boucher and was the natural choice for team captain.
Gerard captained the version of the Senators that was dubbed the "Super Six" as a tribute to their winning three Stanley Cups in four years between 1920 and 1923. During the 1920 Stanley Cup series against the Seattle Metropolitans, Gerard formed an impenetrable defensive wall with Sprague Cleghorn in his own zone and scored on a dramatic end-to-end rush in the deciding game. The Senators retained the Cup the following year in an emotionally charged series versus the PCHA champion Vancouver Millionaires. In one of the most keenly watched Stanley Cup encounters of the 1920s, Ottawa triumphed in the fifth and deciding game with a 2-1 score.
Eddie Gerard on all-time teams
Cyclone Taylor (Hockey Pictorial, February 1956)
The second "dream team" dates from the start of the modern era to 1944. Tiny Thompson, goal. Eddie Shore and Eddie Gerard, defense. Howie Morenz, Syl Apps and Bill Cook, his forward line.
Cyclone picked two centers in Morenz and Apps but explained that by commenting "They would have been just as great playing wing as they were at center."
Red Dutton...selects an all-star, all-time team, all-time only in the respect that he deals with players who have come and gone under the big toll of the NHL since he began to play. Dutton's team: Sprague Cleghorn, right defense; Eddie Gerard, left defense; Eddie Shore, No 2 right defense; Herb Gardiner, No 2 left defense...
Goal: Charlie Gardiner, Chicago Black Hawks in the early thirties. "A colorful holler guy. If somebody threw a hat on the ice, Gardiner'd wear it the whole game."
Defence: Eddie Shore, Boston Bruins 25 years ago. "Colorful, high-handed and hotheaded. A bull moose when you got his goat." Defence: Eddie Gerard: "Great ice-leader and traffic director."
Centre: Howie Morenz, Montreal Canadians circa 1930. "Reeked with color. He'd electrify a crowd the minute he got the puck. A regular sputnik on skates."
Left Wing: Ted Lindsay, lately of Chicago and Detroit. "He scored, checked, and needled. Play with him and you play with dynamite."
Right Wing: Rocket Richard, Montreal immortal. "Put people in the rink and pucks in the net. He was the Babe Ruth, the home-run hitter of hockey."
Dit Clapper Eddie Gerard - One must defer to the opinion of King Clancy and hockey historian Charles L. Coleman who insist that Gerard was the best. On Wednesday of this week, Clancy said "You can put Gerard's name at the very top of your list."
I admired Eddie Gerard more than any athlete I ever handled. He always gave all he had, was a great organizer, an exceptional team captain, and a fine sport. He was courageous and possessed a fighting-spirit that was hard to beat. He was the spark-plug of the famous Super-Six, which I consider the greatest team of all time. Eddie Gerard and Sprague Cleghorn, were in my opinion, the greatest defence in hockey.
Sprague Cleghorn on Gerard:
In my estimation, there was none better. You can have all your Shores and Conachers, and the others, but Eddie Gerard was in a class by himself. He knew just what to do and no one ever needed to coach him.
The 1923 Cup final (Gerard's final season, after which he was forced to retire on doctor's orders):
Gerard suffered a severe shoulder injury in this series, and George Boucher suffered a badly cut ankle and was out for the series. Gerard played in the Edmonton series with his shoulder bound up with adhesive tape. Although suffering intense pain, he refused to stay off the ice, and frequently escaped from the bench, where Tommy Gorman, manager, and Frank "Cosy" Dolan, trainer, tried to keep him.
Gerard was captain of the team that year and he played the greatest part of the two games with Edmonton.
With our fifth selection, the 157th overall in this year All-Time Draft, the Detroit are very please to select Monsieur Ferdinand Charles Flaman
Nickname: Fernie, The Bull Height: 5'10'' Weight: 196 lbs Position: Defense Shoots: Right Date of Birth: January 25, 1927 Place of Birth: Dysart , Saskatchewan, Canada
Stanley Cup Champion (1951)
Stanley Cup Finalist (1957, 1958)
EAHL First All-Star Team (1945, 1946)
Second All-Star Team Defense (1955, 1957, 1958)
Played in NHL All-Star Game (1952, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959)
Team Captain (1955-1961)
Team Assistant Captain (1955)
Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame (1965)
Northeastern Hall of Fame (1989)
Collegiate Hall of Fame (____)
Saskatchewan Hall of Fame (____)
Hockey Hall of Fame (1990)
- Named the #88 best Toronto Maple Leafs players of All-Time by the book Maple Leafs Top 100: Toronto's Greatest Players of All Time. He played 3 1/2 seasons (228 games) with them
Top-10 Playoff Assist (10th, 10th) Top-10 Playoff Penalty minutes (2nd, 4th, 5th) Top-5 Playoff Scoring Among Defence (2nd, 3rd) Top-5 Playoff Goalscoring Among Defence (1st, 3rd*, 3rd*) Top-5 Playoff Assist Among Defence (1st, 4th, 4th*) Top-5 Playoff Penalty minutes Among Defence (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th)
*Achieving these results with one goal or one assist
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
1954-55: 3rd position (Doug Harvey) (-78.2%)
1955-56: 5th position (Doug Harvey) (-93.0%)
1956-57: 3rd position (Doug Harvey) (-78.0%)
1957-58: 3rd position (Doug Harvey) (-88.9%)
1958-59: 5th position (Tom Johnson) (-63.1%)
Fern Flaman Norris record without Doug Harvey on the ballot: 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 4th
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
Basing his game on discipline and a strong physical presence, Ferdinand Charles Flaman was one of the game's top stay-at-home defensemen in the 1950s. Although he contributed to his team's transitional game when needed, it was as an open-ice bodychecker and for his ability to clear opponents from around his goal that Flaman acquired his reputation.
Despite the load of players they acquired in exchange for Flaman, many Bruins observers panned the deal as a detriment to their club. Flaman fitted in with his new club and became renowned for his hitting. Later that spring, he played an integral role on the blue line when Toronto won the Stanley Cup.
During his second stint in Beantown, he took on a greater leadership role than previously.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends
Ferny Flaman, the Scott Stevens of his day.
Flaman was a rugged, no-nonsense defenseman with the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs for 15 National Hockey League seasons. He scored just 34 career goals, but Flaman was known more for his vicious body checking, his aggressive play and his uncanny shot blocking ability.
After establishing himself as a feared enforcer, thanks largely to memorable battles with the Leafs' Bill Eznicki and Gus Mortson, Flaman never went looking for a fight, though he found more than a few anyways. He was always the first player to arrive on the scene should one of his teammates find themselves in any sort of peril.
Far more impressive than his fistic ability was his feared status in the bodychecking department.
Flaman developed a reputation as one of the leagues most feared hitters and classic defensive blueliners while in Toronto.
Originally Posted by Mike Wyman; Golden Years: Fern Flaman
Warren Zevon wrote a hockey song about a big farm boy from Saskatchewan. He called it “Hit Somebody,” a title that pretty much sums up Fern Flaman’s career. A big, strong kid from Saskatchewan’s farm country.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder joined a team that featured the kraut Line of Schmidt, Dumart and Bauer up front and was backstopped by Frank Brimsek in nets. Flaman’s role was a simple one. As a stay-at-home defenceman he was charged with defending his territory against invaders by whatever means necessary.
With both the physique and the attitude needed, he did the job for the next three complete seasons. Flaman flattened forwards coming too close to the Bruins net and laid others out in open ice with body checks that made many opponents reluctant to return to his side of the ice. When it was bare-knuckle time, Flaman administered more than a few thrashings to pugilistic foes, carving out a reputation as one of the NHL’s top brawlers that would follow him for the rest of his career.
Flaman’s robust approach was a major contribution to the Leafs success the next spring as they rolled over his old mates from Boston in five games.
Back in black, Flaman showed that he had a few offensive skills, picking up 18 points in 1954-55, the most he had put on the score sheet as a big leaguer while continuing to be a guy opposing forwards kept an eye out for when they crossed the Boston blue line.
Named captain upon Milt Schmidt’s retirement, Flaman kept the C for the rest of his Boston tenure, a forceful presence who led by example and took his somewhat underpowered team into the playoffs in three of the next six seasons.
Originally Posted by Who's Who in Hockey
Before Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins came along in the late 1960's, the Boston hockey club was notorious as a bashing sextet. From 1954 through 1961, it's chief basher was defenseman Ferdinand Charles Flaman, a smooth-skating defenseman who broke into hockey as a teenager during World War II.
Rare was the night when Flaman lost a fight. He decisioned Rangers' badman Lou Fontinato at Madison Square Garden and once nearly killed Montreal's Henri Richard with a devastating, but legal body check during a game at Boston Garden.
Originally Posted by Joseph R. Beare; Boston's Fern Flaman: The consummate Bruin and Husky (1/31/2007)
Flaman, who is famous both for his storied NHL career and his 19-year tenure as a division one NCAA coach, retired from hockey in 1989, but left a mark on Boston sports history that will not soon fade.
Born on January 25, 1927, in Dysart, Saskatchewan, Flaman quickly developed into a hard-nosed and steady stay-at-home defenseman. Flaman was famous for his grit and character.
In the "Original Six" era, teams often played each other in back-to-back games, so resentment from previous nights would invariably spill over to the next contest. Flaman did not take lightly any slights against his club and was notorious for having his gloves off, and his stick cast aside, before the finish of the national anthems.
His willingness to battle for teammates and refusal to shy away from the rough aspects of the game made him a perfect candidate for Bruins captaincy and he served as Boston’s leader from his return in 1955 until his retirement in 1961.
Originally Posted by Fred Cusick: voice of the Bruins
From the outset, Fernie was a fan favorite. He was a hard-hitting defenseman who could deliver open ice body checks and keep the front of the net clear.
Originally Posted by The Bruins Black and White: 1924-1966
When it came to defending the territory in front of the net, Fernie Flaman gave no quarter. Flaman fought battles with some of the premier hard hitters of the era: Rocket Richard, Ted Lindsay and Lou Fontinato.
Originally Posted by Boston Bruins: Greatest Moment and Players
Fernie achieved permanent status in 1946-47 with the Bruins and became an instant favorite in Beantown, where his lusty bodychecks and potent fists endeared him to the Boston Garden faithful.
Thus, it seemed eminently appropriate that the Bruins reclaimed Flaman in a trade at the start of the 1954-55 season. Having matured while losing none of his mustard, Flaman added spice to the Boston backline that made him one of the most feared player in hockey.
Originally Posted by Hockey's Glory days: the 1950's and 6s
Fern Flaman was a tough, stay-at-home defenseman known for his powerful bodychecks and his ability to cleat the area in front of his team's goal.
Originally Posted by Weekend Magazine (02/09/1959)
Strickly of the hockey hardrock is defenseman veteran Ferdinand Charles Flaman, captain of the Boston Bruins.
While an extensive sin-bin record dosn't carry an automatic stamp of greatness, it must be borne in mind that a bashing defenseman may influence people, but he hardly wins friends among opposition. It was recently figure that Fern has probably had more bouts on ice than Floyd Patterson has had in the ring. nd it must be added that Fern dosn't pick his spots - among those with whom he has slashed have been ''Rocket'' Richard, Fontinato, Beliveau, Skov, Harvey, Jack Evans, Olmstead and Prystai.
He has been a major star ever since. Boston likes his hockey in the bashing tradition of Eddie Shore and Flaman was made for Boston.
- ''When hockey players talk shop, they frequently discuss the matter of who is their toughest opponent. A note of something bordering on awe creeps into the conversation when the name Flaman comes up. It is not a question of fear, for Flaman is not a vicious player, but a question of knowing that Flaman can deal a devastating body check, that he is among the most competent of defencemen in the business, and that, if aroused, he is one of the most capable fisticuffers in the league.'' - Sportswriter Jim Proudfoot
- ''If there were slurs about him, we had guys on our Bruins, guys like Fern Flaman and Leo Labine, that would go right after them.'' - Bronco Horvath, on Willie O'Ree
- ''Hockey players are rough, but they are clean. One who isn't wouldn't last long against the rough competition in the NHL. From what I have seen and from what I hear other players say, Fern Flaman of the Bruins is the roughest. Some of his own teammates agree with me and they ought to know.'' - Tom Johnson
- ''I think almost every team had a tough fella you had to be careful of. Not necessarily for fighting, but for bodychecking. Pierre Pilote. Fernie Flaman. Leo Boivin. Bobby Baun. Doug Harvey in Montreal. - Andy Bathgate on the toughest competitor in his time
- ''Fernie was a solid bodychecker and was a his best when things were rough.'' - Milt Schmidt
- ''I was pretty cocky then, so I hit him and he fell down. He was mad after that. That turned out to be one of the biggest mistake I have ever made, because every time we played Boston he used to nail me two or three time during the game. Flaman was the toughest player I ever came up against. He wasn't too dirty against me, but he hit me every chance he got.'' - Camille Henry
- ''I think the roughest player in the league is Fernie Flaman.'' - Vic Stasiuk
- ''That Flaman, he bothers me more than anybody else in our league. I can't think or anyone else who gives me such a bad time. He always got his stick between my legs or hooks my stick or something.'' - Henri Richard
- ''Any other player I do not worry about, but when I go near that fellow, believe me I look over my shoulder.'' - Jean Béliveau
- ''He's the toughest defenseman I ever played against.'' - Gordie Howe
Biography & Personal Life:
*Achnowledgement: part of this biography is taken words for words from the book Boston Bruins: Greatest Moment and Players. I peppered some additional information on top of the original article.
''My first hockey was played on outdoor rinks. I'd spend as much time as possible and listen to any person who could give me advice about the game. There was one fellow in town, who worked for the fire-department and was a hockey bird-dog on the side, who recommended me. I would up on the Bruins chain - they had a farm team in the Eastern League called the Boston Olympics - but they had too many players, so they loaned me to another team in the Eastern League called the Brooklyn Crescents. Next thing I know, I'm playing against the Curtis Bay, Maryland Coast Guard Cutters, a wartime club that had NHL stats such as Frankie Brimsek of the Bruins, Johnny Mariucci of the Blackhawks and Art Coulter of the Rangers. What a thrill that was; the first time I had ever been exposed to NHL players and I'm skating against them. I was in awe.''
When an opening developed on the Boston Olympics, Flaman took the train to Beantown and wore the white jersey with the winged crest and soon became a fixture at Boston Garden: ''They paid me 75$ a week,'' he recalled. ''I played for the Olympics for three years in one heck of a league. We'd go in to Madison Square Garden and play the New York Rovers and there would be crowds as big of those the Rangers got.''
Flaman improved to the point where the Bruins organization moved him to the highest minor league club, the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. He realized that it would only be a matter of time before he replaced one of the older Bruins' defenseman. ''There's a real touch of irony here,'' Flaman explained. ''When I was a kid, playing peewee hockey in Saskatchewan, we had numbers on our jerseys and we also had the names of an NHL player we hoped to play like. Well; the name on my jersey was Babe Pratt, who had been a terrific defenseman with the Rangers, then the Maple Leafs, and finally, the Bruins. When I was ran in Hershey, Babe was in Boston. The ironic aspect of the story is that when Babe was sent down to Hershey in 1946-47, I was the guy who replaced him. That sure made me feel strange.''
If Fernie wasn't the most popular Bruin, he certainly was always among the top three favorites at Boston Gardens. Considering his youth, Fernie had good reason to expect that he would be wearing the black and gold for several seasons. That's why the trade to Toronto stunned him to the core.
''The trade was the lowest point in my life,'' Flaman said. ''I had felt a part of Boston. I had played three years with the Olympics and nearly three more years with the Bruins. On top of that, it had been in the papers that I would not be traded, that I was an ''untouchables''. Next thing I know, I'm with the Maple Leafs.''
Flaman spent the next four seasons in Toronto. In his first year with the blue-and-white, Flaman played mostly beside rugged defenceman Bill Barilko. That season, Flaman won his first and only Stanley Cup in his illustrious career. After the Leafs outscored Flaman's former team 17 to 5 in the semi-final, they then triumphed over the Montreal Canadiens, also in five games. Every match needed a few minutes of extra time to bring things to a conclusion and Toronto won it on Bill Barilko’s last goal.
Upon the tragic death of playoffs hero Barilko, Flaman was then paired with the equally rough-and-tumble defenceman Leo Boivin. During his years in Toronto, Flaman was less boisterous and did not seems the own thesame edge in his game when he was wearing the royal blue and white of the maple leafs. During the summer of 1954, GM Conn Smythe invited him into his office one day for a conference: ''He asked me if I'd like to go back and play for the Bruins. That was awfully nice of him, being that my wife was from Boston and my home was there. Yes, I told him, I would like to be a Bruin again. I respected Smythe for letting me know in advance where things stood. You don't find many people in sports as decent as he was to me.''
Flaman became a Bruin again in time for the 1954-55 season and, for Fernie, it was a golden period: ''The homecoming was great. I was named assistant captain and played under Milt Schmidt, who had been my teammate in the previous run with the Bruins. Working for Milt was good and the fans treated me just great. In 1959, while I still was playing, they tossed me a Fernie Flaman Night and presented me with a car and many other gifts. Getting the respects of the Boston fans and the Night was a highlight of my career.''
Off the ice, Flaman was on the quiet side, humorous and perceivable. In the summer, he worked in sales promotion for a floor-covering firm in Boston's Walpole district.
Like so many other hockey ''cops'', Flaman experienced little pleasure in relating his battles of yesteryear: ''They never were a highlight of my career. Of the guys I played against, Gordie Howe was the toughest. We didn't fight because we had a mutual respect for one another. But we both played it hard and I'm sure I received a few nicks from him, and I gave him a few too.''
Also, although he was known as the toughest defenseman in the league, Flaman did not necessarily want that advertised: ''I've got a wife and daughter to support,'' Flaman told reporter Herb Ralby back in 1948. ''I can't have everybody in the league after me which is what happens to a player with that reputation.''
Although Flaman never played on a Stanley Cup winner after he left Toronto, several of his Boston clubs were extremely competitive and twice reached the Cup Finals, losing to the powerful Montreal Canadiens in 1957 and 1958.
In the late 1950's, alongside Doug Harvey, Ted Lindsay, Jimmy Thomson and Gus Mortson, Flaman was one of the founders of the first players' association to be recognized by the NHL, the crude precursor to the union that was formalized in 1967.
Upon the end of the 1960-61 season, his last year in the NHL, Flaman's 1,370 penalty minutes were third in league history at the time of his retirement. Though he had trained himself for a career as electrician following his athletic career, he was not yet ready to give up the game he loved. He took a job as a player/coach with the AHL’s Providence Reds, where he is credited with playing a big role in developing a young Eddie Giacomin, later a Rangers’ net minding legend. Not only was he the team's best defenseman, but as coach he guided the Providence Reds to the league's best record in 1962-63. Most significantly, this experience in the AHL made Flaman discovered a passion for coaching.
After three years in the dual role and a fourth in a coaching capacity, Flaman moved on to become coach and general manager of the Fort Worth Red Wings of the Central Hockey League. Flaman then returned to the Bruins organization as a scout. His chief responsibility was assessing college prospects in the northeastern U.S., something that tided him over until a more permanent proposition came his way.
That proposition came in 1970 and Flaman accepted a position as the head coach at Northeastern University, a post he held for almost two decades. Don McKenney, the famous Boston center of the 1960's, would be his assistant to Fern Flaman for 19 years.
Among his high points as a college coach was the ECAC and NCAA coach of the year award in 1982, one ECAC title and an appearance in the NCAA Final Four. He also won four Beanpot tournaments, symbol of hockey supremacy in the Boston area. Flaman’s influence on Northeastern’s hockey program is unparalleled as nearly every accomplishment in the history of the club was achieved with Ferny at the helm: ''If you look at the peaks of Northeastern hockey, it is all Ferny,'' laughed Jack Grinold, Athletics Director of Communications at Northeastern, who worked in the athletics department throughout Flaman’s entire tenure. ''We have only won four Beanpots; Ferny won ‘em all. He coached here longer than any coach, 19 years, and had more victories than anyone else.'' Indeed, when Flaman announced his retirement from coaching on Valentine’s Day of 1989, he registered an amassing a 255–301–23 record with the club.
But Flaman’s road to success at the collegiate level did not pass without sadness. In 1984, his family was stricken by tragedy when his son, Terry, a former captain of the Harvard hockey squad, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That year, the Huskies would advance to the Beanpot championship under Flaman’s guidance and, in what is remembered as one of the most poignant moments in Beanpot history, Flaman’s gravely ill son, by then confined to a wheelchair, was brought in to the dressing room before the contest to give his father’s team a pep talk. The Huskies then went out to the ice, dominated play and took home the coveted Beanpot trophy, but not before Ferny’s son was wheeled around the rink, clutching the cup victoriously. Unfortunately, Terry passed away a few months after the events.
Aside from being a legend behind the bench, Ferny also possessed a quick wit and a sharp business mind: ''During the 80s, at one time we wanted to measure the effectiveness of our coaches as business men, how they were handling their budgets,'' said Grinold. ''We had a coach who had a masters in business from an Ivy League college, and here Ferny who was without a high school degree. He was our most efficient manager, and our MBA graduate was our most inefficient manager.''
After his coaching career, Flaman couldn't get himself to take a break, and accepted a position as a scouts for the New Jersey Devils, a hob he would held from 1991 to 1995: ''I love scouting,'' said Flaman, ''I scout high school defensemen mostly. Kids around 17 and 18. But if I see a good forward, I'll put him in my report. It keeps me young.''
Flaman was awarded the highest honour of his career when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, in 1990. The fathers of two boys and a girl, Flaman will always be best remembered for the multi-faceted career that he led in the city of Boston. He defined leadership and heart throughout a career that spanned five decades, and his long-standing contributions to hockey in New England are immeasurable.
Fun & Interesting Facts:
- Flaman was a good amateur boxer in his teens
- A naturalized United States citizen, Flaman was only the third American player to play for the Maple Leafs. The first two were Doc Romnes and Roger Jenkins
- Gordie Howe recorded his first hat trick on October 11, 1953 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs when he fought Maple Leaf’s player Fernie Flaman, got an assist and scored a goal
- According to a poll taken of the six general managers in 1958 to determine the toughest player they had ever seen, Flaman appeared on every list.
- In late-1959, Andy Bathgate wrote a controversial article, mentioning Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Fern Flaman, Pierre Pilote, Ted Lindsay and teammate Lou Fontinato as spearing specialists: ''None of them seems to care that he'll be branded as a hockey killer.'' (Bathgate was fine by the NHL for writing the article)
- For most of his career, either in Toronto or his second stint in Boston, Flaman pairing partner was Leo Boivin, who played a similar kind of game. They were one of the most feared duo of defenceman in the league.
- In 1995, Flaman won the Stanley Cup as a scout for the Devils
- Once during a tense, rough and brawling hockey game, courageous Camille Henry, one of the tiniest players in the National Hockey League, lost his temper and tangled with big tough defenseman Fernie Flaman. As they grappled, shoulder to shoulder, pint-sized Henry suddenly shouted a warning at his huge opponent who outweighed him by more than fifty pounds: ''Watch out, Fernie, or I'll bleed all over you!''
Signing, Trades & Injury:
- On November 16, 1950, Flaman was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs by the Boston Bruins with Ken Smith, Phil Maloney and Leo Boivin for Bill Ezinicki and Vic Lynn
- Flaman missed part of the 1953-54 season do to a groin injury
- On July 20, 1954, he was traded to the Boston Bruins by the Toronto Maple Leafs for Dave Creighton
- One night, Doug Harvey was stationed near Flaman and swung hard at the puck. He missed it but his follow-through caught fernie flush on the jaw, shattering it at several places.
3rd East Div. 5th overall
Lost quarter-final vs Hershey Bears.
1st Est Div. 2nd overall
Lost semi-final vs Buffalo Bisons
3rd East Div. 6th overall
Lost quarter-final vs Hershey Bears
5th East Div. 9th overall
2nd South Div. 3rd overall
Fort Worth Wings
Lost final vs Tulsa Oilers
5th South Div. 8th overall.
Fort Worth Wings
- From 1970 to 1989, coached the NorthEastern University to a 255 wins, 301 losses and 23 ties records
Abbreviation: AHL: American Hockey League CHL: Central Hockey League CPHL: Central Professional Hockey League EAHL: Eastern Amateur Hockey League ECAC: Eastern College Athletic Conference NCAA: National Collegiate Athletic Association NHL: National Hockey League NU: Northeastern University
"We called him "King" because he was the King for all Europeans. All the players coming over to NHL later have him to thank for everything"
"Dave "Tiger" Williams
"He was tough. And he could use his stick too." Bobby Clarke
"We hated to lose, in a battle, of any kind, I would always wanna have Börje by my side" Lanny McDonald
"Börje was my hero, my idol." Nicklas Lidström
"Every Swede respects Borje and pays him tribute for what he has done. For us - Swedish hockey players - he is the man who showed us the right way; he is a trailblazer." Mats Sundin
"He was their best defenseman. He's a 38-year-old with a 28-year-old's legs." Jacques Demers
Originally Posted by LOH
It could be argued that every European player collecting a salary in the NHL today owes a share to Borje Salming. Way back in 1973, he opened the doors to North American professional hockey for his fellow countrymen. At that time, after the first Summit Series, Canadians and Americans had come to respect the disciples of the Soviet hockey school, but the Scandinavian players were nicknamed "Swedish chickens." The joke was based on Sweden's national colors, but no doubt it had a double meaning. Borje Salming helped eradicate that stereotype. Six years after he retired in North America, the name of the "King" - his nickname in Toronto - was immortalized in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Salming was the first Swede to be so honoured.
Salming is remembered for his slalom rushes across the rink and his powerful wrist shots in the style of Bobby Orr, as well as for his tricky but accurate passes so typical of the European game. Al Arbour, the great coach who in the early 1980s led the New York Islanders four times to the Stanley Cup, once commented on Salming when he was at the peak of his career. He called him a great athlete with an ability to perform excellently on both defense and offense. Yet, for a hockey player capable of gaining points on the offensive, his eagerness to be a human shield and stop a slapshot was quite incredible. And he did it without much hesitation. Arbour saw him for the first time in Moscow in 1973 and was highly impressed with his performance back then. But when his own team went up against Toronto, he lamented all those same qualities that made Salming a great player.
Another of Salming's strengths was his phenomenal stamina. Even at 38, while Salming was playing out his last season in Toronto, he would spend 30 to 40 minutes on the ice per game. In 1986, in a game against the Detroit Red Wings, he was badly injured when his face was cut with a skate. In photos taken at the time, Salming looked like a character out of a horror movie. But three days later he was back on the ice.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Salming enjoyed seventeen years in the NHL as one of the top two-way defenseman, and was the first European trained player to make a significant impact in North America, thus paving the way for today's stars.
Time and time again Salming was tested by the NHL's toughest players, especially the Philadelphia Flyers gang of Broad Street Bullies. Dave "Hammer" Schultz and Mel Bridgman laid beatings on him after jumping him in a fight, but Salming held his own. Not only did he stand up for himself, but he was able to dish out a few vicious shots himself. He earned the respect of the Flyers, especially their leader, Bobby Clarke.
Salming was undoubtedly great. He could do it all, and was perhaps the best shot blocker of his era.
Originally Posted by HockeyOutsider's intangibles compendium
Best defensive defenseman
Best defensive defenseman
Most natural ability
1974-75 NHL NHL All-Star Team (2nd)
1975-76 NHL NHL All-Star Team (2nd)
1976-77 NHL NHL All-Star Team (1st)
1977-78 NHL NHL All-Star Team (2nd)
1978-79 NHL NHL All-Star Team (2nd)
1979-80 NHL NHL All-Star Team (2nd)
Position: Left Wing HT/WT: 6'1", 205 lbs Shoots: Left Nickname(s): "Lucky Luc", "Cool Hand Luc"
- 1-time Stanley Cup Winner
- Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (2009)
- Recipient of 1987 Calder Memorial Trophy
- Named to NHL All-Rookie Team (1987)
- 668 goals, 1394 regular season points in 1431 games played.
- 58 goals, 127 playoff points in 159 games played.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
When the Los Angeles Kings made Robitaille their ninth round pick (171st pick overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry draft, they didn't expect much from the left winger. The Kings got a bit "lucky" themselves when "Lucky Luc" Robitaille's career blossomed following his draft year.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
Doubts of his skating ability still plagued him but he managed to shake that reputation in 1987 as he won the Calder trophy as the National Hockey League's best rookie, outdistancing Flyers rookie goalie XXX XXXXXXX in voting. He also was named to the NHL Second All Star Team in just his first year, scoring 45 times and totaling 84 points.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
Robitaille made up for any skating deficiencies with one of the most accurate shots in NHL history. He was a regular leader in shooting percentage, thanks to a number of reasons. He worked himself into high percentage scoring areas, often down low and in tight. There was no sophomore jinx for Lucky Luc, either, as he improved his performance in year 2 to 53 goals and 111 points and was named to the NHL's First All Star Team for the first of 5 times.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
Robitaille continued to be almost unquestioningly the league's best left winger for 8 seasons, consistently scoring goals. He scored at least 44 goals in 8 consecutive seasons (only Gretzky and Mike Bossy had better streaks).
One of Luc's 39 goals in the 1998-1999 season stood out more than the others. He reached the 500-goal milestone in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on January 9, 1999. Only the sixth left winger in league history to reach the plateau, Robitaille scored the goal in his 928th NHL game, making him the 12th fastest ever to accomplish the feat. With 557 of his 668 career NHL goals coming in a Los Angeles uniform he retired as the Kings all time leading goal scorer.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
Robitaille began to prove the experts wrong with his play in Hull. He worked on his skating and made the QJHML Second All-Star Team after posting 149 points in 64 games. The next season he was the best junior in Canadian hockey. He had 191 points, was bumped up to the Quebec league's First All-Star Team and was a standout for the Canadian team at the World Junior Championship. He was named the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year.
Even after his incredible year, few people believed Robitaille could continue his prolific output in the bigger, stronger and faster NHL. But, he went on to score 45 goals and record 84 points that first season.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
Gretzky missed the first half of the 1992-93 season with an injury and Robitaille ably filled in the offensive gap, as well as serving as the team's captain. His 62 goals and 125 points established league records for a left winger.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
When Los Angeles missed the playoffs in 1994, Robitaille joined Canada's national team at the 1994 World Championship in Italy. He scored the championship-winning goal in a shootout to give Canada its first gold medal in 33 years.
For a few years, Modano was a great all around player, one of the best in the world. Very good at offence and defence, and he excelled in transition. He was the star on a Cup winner and perennial contender, and matched up against the other teams stars every night, usually coming out ahead.
Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock—who took over the team in January 1996 after general manager Bob Gainey gave up the coaching reins—invited Modano to a local coffee shop last May and gave it to him black, no sugar: Hitchcock wanted Modano, the team's leading scorer four out of the past five seasons, to center a high-powered checking line. "I'd watched him play enough," Hitchcock says, "and it was obvious he was our best offensive player. But he could be a great defensive forward too. Not only could he check, he could also check with speed. I was thinking, Who can I compare Mo with? Finally I came up with [the Pittsburgh Penguins'] Ron Francis, a No. 2 center who is a strong defensive player. I told Mo that I wanted to play him with wings Jere Lehtinen and Greg Adams and that he was going to be our go-to guy on defense."
"I knew going into the game that when [the Detroit Red Wings"] Sergei Fedorov or [the St. Louis Blues'] Brett Hull or [the Vancouver Canucks'] Pavel Bure or other players like that were going out on the ice, my line was going out there too," Modano says of this season's change in responsibilities. "It was a little frightening at first because the weight of the game was on my shoulders. If we shut those guys down, we have a great opportunity to win because of our depth."
"What he's able to do with the puck at a high speed might be the most amazing part of Mike's game," says Stars captain Derian Hatcher. "I've played with him for nine years, and this is the best he's been."
After a shaky start, Dallas finished with the second-best record in the West. Leading the charge was Modano, who retained his offensive potency while embracing Hitchcock's defense-first system. "He's one of the best two-way players in the world," says Hitchcock. "He's a threat from anywhere on the ice."
Whom would you rather have for a seven game series?
A shoo-in for league MVP this season, the 31-year-old continued his dazzling play with a team-high seven points as Colorado swept the Canucks in the first round.
Dallas's most dynamic player, the 30-year-old had a team-high three goals and displayed a rugged style in the Stars' six-game win over the Oilers in the first round.
The Verdict: "The Stars' defensive system is only possible because they know Modano can create offense when they need it, says Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish. That's why Modano's our man.
"I think he's one of the best all-around players in the world," Dallas general manager Doug Armstrong says. "And you hear that more and more from people inside the game."
NHL fans understand Modano is a superstar. The confusion centers on what kind of superstar he has become. The New York Rangers' Pavel Bure and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Teemu Selanne are viewed as dynamic, fast-skating stars, but they aren't revered like Colorado's Peter Forsberg, who arguably is the NHL's best all-around player. For a variety of reasons, the hockey world now is just grasping the notion of Modano's status being closer to Forsberg's than Selanne's.
"I think people focus on the flash of Mike Modano, but he's a real gritty performer," Dallas coach Dave Tippett says.
Modano says it probably took him six years to start understanding his role as a two-way center. Over the last three or four years, he probably has mastered it to the point that he has become one of the league's top defensive forwards — although he also finished 10th in the league in scoring during the regular season with 85 points. "He plays against the top players on every team," teammate Kirk Muller says. "And he always gives up a bit of his offense to be a strong defensive player."
Modano presents his evolution this way: "Early in your career, you are looking for space instead of making your own. That's where that 'perimeter player' perception comes in, and it was a hard label to shake until I got down here in Dallas." The team moved from Minnesota in 1993.
He says Gainey and, Gainey's successor, Ken Hitchcock, changed his thinking.
The Best We've Ever Had - No U.S.-born forward can match the career of Dallas center Mike Modano, who is doggedly leading the Stars even after being stripped of his captaincy.
"Mo's got the most skill of [any U.S. forward]," says former linemate Brett Hull, a 741-goal scorer who played for Team USA but was born and mostly raised in Canada. "It's to his credit that he's been able to do what he's done, given that 90 percent of his career has been in a s--- system--all defensive-minded coaches. Can you imagine if he had been drafted by Detroit or Pittsburgh? You can't guess at the ridiculous numbers he would've put up."
Modano, of course, only burnished his career by metamorphosing into a two-way center, molded by the mentoring of former Stars coach and general manager Bob Gainey and by the hectoring of Gainey's bench successor, Ken Hitchcock. The roundly praised career of retired Red Wings great Steve Yzerman bifurcates neatly into Scoring Steve and Two-Way Steve, but Modano's transformation from pretty-boy scorer to offensive and defensive standout was neither as dramatic nor as widely celebrated. Even after scoring 23 points in 23 games in the 1999 postseason while playing the last four matches with a broken left wrist--"He could barely shoot or stickhandle but played through it," former teammate Mike Keane says--and another 23 in 23 in 2000 when Dallas returned to the finals, he still was seen as not having the requisite playoff grit. "He was on an IV in a couple of those games [in 1999]," says Dave Reid, another former teammate. "Maybe people around the league thought Mike was soft, but he wasn't. He was the first guy behind our net to get the puck out, and he was so fast he'd [get in position to] take the first pass up ice. He didn't initiate contact so some people said he didn't pay the price, but he was going through the neutral zone at Mach 1."
There must be a rapidly aging portrait in the attic of his downtown Dallas home because Modano looks the same as he did a decade ago. He still swoops over the ice at warp speed and backs off defensemen with his skating as effectively as anyone since Buffalo's Gilbert Perreault in the 1970s. He still has the quick hands that allowed him to set up the king of the one-timer, Hull, the only elite scorer to ride shotgun for Modano.
"When I had Mike," says Hitchcock, now the Columbus coach, "he didn't even have to have a point to be the best player on the ice most nights."
How did Modano perform playing these tough minutes?
From 1997 to 2003, Modano led all NHL forwards with a +171.
He was also a major part of Dallas's excellent penalty kill and power play.
Adjusted Stats (regular season)
$ESGF/S: On-ice even strength goals for per season, adjusted for scoring level. $ESGA/S: On-ice even strength goals for per season, adjusted for scoring level. R-ON: Even strength goal ratio with the player on the ice. R-OFF: Even strength goal ratio with the player off the ice. AEV+/-/S: Adjusted even strength plus-minus per season. Note that this and R-ON/OFF are affected by the role the player is used in, it's harder to do well in this when used in a defensive role.
PP%: Percentage of team's power play goals that the player was on the ice for. TmPP+: Success of team's power play. 1.00 is average, higher is better. Includes shorthanded goals against. $PPG/S: Power play goals per season, adjusted for scoring level and team PP opportunities. $PPA/S: Power play assists per season, adjusted for scoring level and team PP opportunities. $PPP/S: Power play points per season, adjusted for scoring level and team PP opportunities.
PK%: Percentage of team's power play goals against that the player was on the ice for. TmPK+: Success of team's penalty kill. 1.00 is average, lower is better. Includes shorthanded goals for.
In the stats above, I've broken down Modano's career into three parts.
From 1990 to 1996, Modano was a highly skilled scoring centre, but was a bit of an underachiever, and wasn't among the top forwards in the league. In his defence, he didn't have great linemates during this time.
From 1997 to 2003, he was as good as any forward in the league. Modano's coach gave him the responsibility of playing a more defensive role. He was able to apply his size and skating ability to his new role, and he excelled defensively while still scoring at a high rate. His even strength numbers from this period are incredible, considering that he was usually playing power vs power. He did have better linemates during this time as well. Modano was also a major part of Dallas's excellent penalty kill and power play.
Modano's game really dropped off in 2004, and he never returned to his former level of play. Since then, he's been a good centre who can still play well in a checking role and score points, but doesn't outscore like he used to.
I think that if you read the excerpts from Sports Illustrated that I've posted above, you'll find that the adjusted stats agree with what hockey people thought of Modano in his prime.
Why didn't Modano always play like he did from 1996-97 to 2002-03? My amateur psychoanalysis says that he's a guy who needed the right coaching and leadership environment to push him to excel. And that's why he didn't have the career of a Joe Sakic or a Steve Yzerman, despite having the talent. But for a few years, he was as good a hockey player as anyone, and he had a long and successful career in the league.
The Montreal Canadiens of the 1950s and 1960s are considered to be one of the greatest teams of all time. With names like Beliveau, Richard, Geoffrion, Harvey and Moore, the Habs had offence to spare. Someone had to accept the unglamorous role of checker and role player. Claude Provost sacrificed his own offensive output for the team. His unselfish style of hustling and aggressive checking earned him a place as a Legend of Hockey.
While sacrificing personal recognition, Provost was as big a part of the success of the Habs as anyone. He was part of two dynasty eras, the late 1950s and the late 1960s. All in all, Provost earned nine Stanley Cup championship rings.
Known for his incredible shadowing of the other team's superstars, most notably Bobby Hull, the wide-jawed Provost played over 1000 NHL games, recording very respectable totals of 254 goals and 589 points. Despite his aggressive checking style, he earned only 469 penalty minutes
Admittedly an average shooter and awkward skater (though he was deceptively speedy), he relied on his ability to read oncoming plays and closing off options of the other team's top stars. While he would average 16 goals a season, his scoring increased after he noticed Gordie Howe used a short stick. Provost followed suit in the 1960s, and his scoring contributions grew.
Provost broke out with a career high 33 goals in 1962-63. In 1964-65 he had an even better year. While he scored 27 goals, he added 37 assists and earned a spot on the NHL first all star team. In the playoffs he masterfully shut down Bobby Hull as the Habs embarked on a 4 championships in 5 years span known as Montreal's "quiet dynasty."
Hull scored only two goals in the seven-game playoff finals last season, both times on power plays while Provost was off the ice. The Canadiens won the series four games to three, capturing the Stanley Cup.
“Claude’s was the finest defensive job I’ve ever seen.” said Gump Worsley, the Canadiens’ veteran goalie.
Provost was never a whipping boy. His value to the team was recognized from the first. The very fact that he was kept on the Montreal Canadiens for his entire career during eras when the team won five Stanley Cups in five years and then four Cups in five years--underlines how much he was valued by his club--managed by Frank Selke and then Sam Pollock, two of the shrewdest minds ice hockey ever had--and anyone who knew anything about hockey knew how valuable he was.
He was the premier defensive forward of his era--and many say of any era. But he was more than a defensive forward; he was always a scoring threat even when assigned a defensive role, and when he was given a freer role on one of the scoring lines, he had the ability to take full advantage of it. He was versatile, he could score as well as defend.
What you call his inelegance was an unorthodox wide-stanced skating stride, which made it very difficult to knock him off balance despite his comparatively small size, and that made him all the more effective as a checking winger up against larger players. It also made him much harder to knock off the puck when he had possession, and that made him an offensive threat who could not be ignored, even when he was playing on a checking line.
Although the rude and superficial comments about his facial looks were, indeed, ugly, there was nothing ugly about the man, including his style of play. He was not chippy, he was not dirty, he did not take cheap penalties, he was just extremely effective as a defensive forward. His penalty minutes totals were low for any forward and remarkably low for one assigned to a defensive checking role against the opposition's star left-wingers, like Bobby Hull and Frank Mahovlich. In a few seasons, he received votes for the Lady Byng Trophy as most gentlemanly player, indeed, so many in a couple of seasons that he was a serious contender to win the trophy.
While he was assigned to play primarily a defensive role on a checking line through most of his career, when his team needed his help in an offensive role, he provided it in admirable fashion. In the early Sixties, after Maurice Richard and Bernard Geoffrion had left the team and before Bobby Rousseau and Yvan Cournoyer reached maturity, the Canadiens were short of scoring right wingers. It was Provost who filled the gap. Twice he led the team in goals and once in points, and he won first all-star team selection over Gordie Howe at right wing in 1964-65. That's hardly the profile of a player who may be dismissed as merely benefiting from higher scoring linemates.
Provost was much, much more than a player who, you say, "was Necessary in the context of grinding Original Six Hockey" and "[w]ho was sometimes blessed with being part of a High scoring line on very strong teams." Provost was one of the key elements that made his teams strong.
I watched Dean Prentice play throughout his career as well. Let me leave it by just saying he was no Claude Provost.
Position: Goaltender HT/WT: 5’10”, 160 lbs Catches: Left Nickname: “Tiny”
- 1-time Stanley Cup Champion
- Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (1959)
- 4-time Vezina Trophy Winner
- 2 acknowledgements for NHL First All-Star Team, 2 acknowledgements for NHL Second All-Star Team
- 284 wins, 194 losses, 75 ties and 81 shutouts in 553 regular season games played.
- 20 wins, 24 losses and 7 shutouts in 44 playoff games played.
- It is also noteworthy that two of Thompson's Vezina-winning seasons don't overlap with his All-Star seasons, he was 4th in Hart voting in 1937, a year in whch he neither won the Vezina nor made an All-Star team - indicating that he really had seven elite seasons.
Has to be one of the most underrated players of all-time on HF, his draft position stayed in Round 7 this year, 12 picks lower than Bugg had him at last year. Jumping from 9 to 7 in ATD 2010, and 11 to 9 in ATD 12.
Thompson helped popularize the technique of catching the puck as a method of making a save. A competent puckhandler, he was the first goaltender in the NHL to record an assist by passing the puck with his stick to a fellow player.
Originally Posted by Art Ross
His spectacular play was exceeded only by his endurance.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
During his 12-year NHL career, Thompson led all goalies in games played nine times, while his four Vezina Trophy wins stood as the NHL standard until 1949, when Montreal's Bill Durnan won his fifth.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
Few players have made a bigger impact in their rookie season. After Boston coach XX XXXXXXX opted to start him in the season opener ahead of incumbent XXX XXXXXXX, Thompson's glorious career was launched. He posted a stingy 1.15 goals against mark and led Boston to 26 wins while appearing in all 44 games. In the playoffs, he helped the Bruins win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
The 1929-30 version of the Beantowners dominated the regular-season standings, and Thompson's 38-5-1 record was one of the most impressive in league history, but Boston was stunned by the Montreal Canadiens in the finals. With Thompson guarding the cage, Boston finished atop the NHL's American Division six times. 1932-33 he led the NHL with a career-high 11 shutouts.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
During the 1935-36 season, Thompson entered the record book when he fed a pass to defenseman Babe Siebert, who went on to score. Thompson became the first goalie ever to earn an assist in the NHL. In 1938 he and brother Paul, then in Chicago, were both named to the First All-Star Team
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
Cecil Thompson was better known as "Tiny," even though at 5'10" and 170 pounds he had good size for a goalie, especially in the 1920's and 1930's when Thompson played.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
Thompson quickly proved himself to the Bruins faithful, registering a 1-0 shutout victory in his National Hockey League debut on November 15, 1928.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
He would finish out his career with a couple of seasons in Detroit, arriving with great fanfare in exchange for XXXXXX XXXXX and a reported $15,000. In his short term he was Detroit's most popular player, and turned the NHL worst team around into a Stanley Cup semi-finalist.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
Tiny will forever be remember as the goalie in the 1933 marathon playoff game between Boston and Toronto. The game featured over 104 minutes of overtime in addition to the regulation 60 minutes before Toronto's Ken Doraty finally found the net in a 1-0 Stanley Cup playoff classic.
Emphasizes Tiny’s longevity not only in any game situation, but in the post-season.
Last edited by Velociraptor: 02-18-2011 at 08:17 AM.
He was as complete a player as there was back in the days of the "onside" game. He could skate, shoot, and make the big play from his point position… Stuart was a clean player who played for keeps. His punishing checks and long reach frustrated his opponents as much as his offensive rushes dazzled the fans.
Originally Posted by The Patricks: Hockey’s Royal Family
Hod joined the Wanderers for their first game two weeks later, and this diamond-in-the-rough – a doggedly tough and tenacious defenseman…
If there was ever a “team policeman” in those days to equate with today’s designated “hit man”, it was Hod Stuart… He (Lester Patrick) was trapped by two Ottawa players who homed their sticks, plainly intent on administering a lesson in submission. They were slashing at him with their sticks when Stuart, just back on the ice and barely recovered from his own ordeal, came roaring to the rescue. With blood still oozing from the hastily stitched gash on his forehead, he waded in and took on all four assailants.
Originally Posted by Putting a Roof on Winter: Hockey Rise from Sport to Spectacle
William Hodgson Stuart, the star of the Pittsburg Bankers, accepted an offer from Portage Lake, and in Stuart, the team had the kind of player who is today called “the franchise”.
Originally Posted by Utimate Hockey – Biography
With the Montreal Wanderers, the team that went on to win the 1907 ECHA title, Stuart came through big-time. Instead of anchoring himself to the blue-line, he rushed the puck with remarkable ease and fluidity. With his help, the Redbands were able to regain the Cup from the Kenora Thistles. At the time, Stuart was being called the “greatest hockey player in the world,” although he would not have long to savor the praise…
Stuart stands among a select group of hockey legends. He was capable of controlling a game’s flow, much like Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens some 50 years later.
Originally Posted by Chauncer Elliot
He could skate, shoot, play-make, and play-break…. and he was a good fellow as well.
Originally Posted by Daniel Mason, hockey historian
One of hockey’s first great defensemen.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
Just how good was Hod Stuart? When the Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 1945, the powerful skating defenseman, the Bobby Orr of his era, was included as one of the 12 initial inductees. That tells you just how highly acclaimed he was.
Originally Posted by Lester Patrick, describing his criteria for picking Stuart to his all-time line-up
My opinion is based on consistency of players over a period of years, and the fact that men selected possessed nearly all the fundamentals of an ideal player - physique, stamina, courage, speed, stick-handling, goal-getting ability, skill in passing, proper temperament and, above all, hockey brains.
Originally Posted by Bruce Stuart, asked who he thought was th best all-around player
Hod, my brother. He has more speed ad genuine science than any two players on the other teams.
Hod Stuart !!!
Award and Achievements:
Hockey Hall of Fame (1945)
Stanley Cup Champion (1907)
WPHL League Champion (1903)
IPHL League Champion (1905)
Named WPHL’s Best Cover-Point (1903)
2 x Named IPHL’s Best Cover-Point (1905, 1906)
WPHL First Team All-Star (1903)
2 x IPHL First Team All-Star (1905, 1906)
Ultimate Hockey’s “Best Offensive Defenseman” of the 1900s
Ultimate Hockey’s “Best Defensive Defenseman” of the 1900s
Ultimate Hockey’s “Best Skater” of the 1900s
*** subject to change as new information gets presented
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette – March 14, 1907
While he was on the ice, Stuart exhibited many of those qualities which have gained him renown in the hockey world. He handled his stick with marvelous dexterity, skated rings around most of the men on the ice, broke up rush after rush with ease, and several times carried the puck down through the whole Toronto team, his great speed carrying his huge bulk along with almost irresistible force.
When he was at cover-point Stuart was generally the turning point of every attack, and during the entire period the defense appeared well nigh impregnable. After his retirement the locals had comparatively little difficulty in sifting through or circling right up to the posts. With Stuart in the dressing room, the Wanderers appeared to be little better than the average team. The big fellow appears to be the backbone as well as the brains of the outfit. He instills confidence and spirit into the men in front of him, wakens them when they lag, steadies them when they are inclined to give way to the rattles, is cool and collected in an emergency, and is in every way the life of the team.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – January 27, 1906
Hod Stuart, of course, put in another great game. He can’t play any other way.
Originally Posted by The St. John Sun - October 19, 1906
Pittsburg is so far away from here that little is heard of its team for next year. Hod Stuart, the greatest of all cover-points, is at its head, and will doubtless get a fast seven to represent the Smoke City.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – December 18, 1904
Hod Stuart is a whole team by himself.
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette – June 24, 1907
Stuart's work throughout the winter is well known here and requires little comment. He was the backbone of the team, and without him the Wanderers would have been lost. He was a real general of the game, he knew it thoroughly himself, and could play any position from forward to point, and he had the ability to impart what he knew to others. One feature won Stuart hosts of friends here in Montreal, and that was that in all the many hard games he took part in during the winter he played clean, gentlemanly hockey all the way through.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – December 17, 1906
Is the Pittsburgh International Hockey League team to lose its wonderful leader, Hod Stuart, the greatest hockey player in the world?
Originally Posted by The Montreal Star – December 4, 1906
Two weeks ago, the Star announced that Hod Stuart, considered the greatest hockey player in the world, was going to play with the Wanderers.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – January 17, 1906
Spittal referred to Hod Stuart, the local’s famous cover-point, as undoubtedly the greatest hockey player who ever donned skates. And “Baldy” was correct there, too…
Hod has been accused of being a rough and dirty player, but there was nothing in the least offensive in his work last night. He was here, there, and everywhere, always following the puck when it went down the rink, and yet never losing sight of his opponent. When the Canadians line would start towards the Pittsburgh goal, with the puck in its possession, Hod always got busy. He would skate in and out between the opposing men, and nearly every time take the puck away from the man who was dribbling it.
He did his work without any rough tactics, but Stuart was so big that when a Canuck bumped him it was usually a case of the fooler being fooled, for Suart skated on, while the aggressive Soo man was sent sprawling to the ice.
Stuart is undoubtedly in a class by himself, when it comes to coolness, quick thinking, and speed…
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – February 14, 1906
There is no wonder that Hod Stuart’s name is mentioned wherever hockey is played. His work toward the last half of the second half was sensational. Stuart plays both offense and defense, and what he doesn’t do in a game is not worth doing.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – November 25, 1906
Hod Stuart – than whom there is no better – is here…
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – December 11, 1905
Hod Stuart has been barred from the International Hockey League, the western contingent claiming he won too many championships and that he is too rough. He is one of the best hockey players on this continent.
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette
Hod Stuart, cover-point for the Wanderers, Canadian hockey champions and holders of the Stanley Cup, considered one of the finest all-round athletes in Canada and perhaps the greatest exponent of defense play in Canada’s winter sport.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press - March 4, 1906
... while Stuart was in the game at point, his foot was in such conditio that he could hardly stand up.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – March 8, 1907
Bruce Stuart is not any more lamb-like than his brother Hod. The Stuart boys never run away from trouble.
The Swamp Devils are thrilled to add a guy who should be a lock in the Top 150, and might even be a Top 100 talent.
-The only player to win 4 Golden Hockey Sticks (given to the best Czechoslovakian/Czech player), until some guy s named Jaromir Jagr (9) and Dominik Hasek (5) came around
-4 straight All Star nods at RW in the World Hockey Championship, all of them over a prime Boris Mikhailov, who only won 2 himself.
-The Soviets feared him so much, they treated him much like the Canadians treated Kharlamov
Vladimir Martinec, RW aka "The Fox"
He’ll be magic with Denis Savard:
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Vladimir Martinec was one of the smartest and most technically skilled European player ever. It is doubtful if there has ever been any player in Europe as eager to improvise as Martinec. He was extremely creative with the puck and drove his opponents crazy.
I love his attitude:
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Few players were treated more brutally than Martinec. This small (5'9" and 178 Ibs) right wing somehow always seemed to bounce back totally undisturbed and more often than not with a smile on his face. His constant smile was a sort of a trademark and frustrated his opponents even more. A lot of reporters used to ask him why he always was smiling, even after a vicious crosscheck in the back. He said that he did it because he enjoyed the game so much and always had fun.
It was evident that he loved the game as he always did something extra with the puck that left the fans absolutely stunned. Martinec was known as "The Fox" for his cleverness around the net as he simply outsmarted his opponents. He was extremely popular among his teammates who knew him as "Marcello".
Triffy on the HOH board made a great argument that Martinec had to have been at least very close to Kharlamov, Petrov, Mikhailov, and Maltsev, since the Czechs went 5-7-3 against the Red Machine, and Martinec was their best skater.
Originally Posted by Triffy View Post
The Czechs weren't that far behind the Soviets in the 70's, when Martinec earned his reputation. That was somekind of golden era for Czechoslovakian hockey. They won gold in WCHs in 1972, 1976 and in 1977. That was when the Soviet Union hockey was shining. Kharlamov, Petrov, Mikhailov, Maltsev and Vasiliev, to name a few, weren't enough.
Martinec started his international career in 1971. He played his last WCH tournament in 1977. I'll list the games played during Martinec's time between Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia below.
During the time span, Czechoslovakia won 5 times. The Soviets won 7 times. The games were tied 3 times. Remember that in 1968 the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. So the games had very strong political tone in them. Martinec won the Best Czech player award three times during the same time span. So I think it's reasonable to say he was their best player.
Because the Czechs were close to Soviets as a team, their best players must have been close to the best Soviets such as Kharlamov, Petrov, Mikhailov and Maltsev. I have Martinec ranked slightly below Stastny and Stastny is somewhere around 50-60 on my list.
-3-time world champion (1972,1976,1977), playing against the best the USSR had to offer
-4-time WCH all-star right wing (1974–1977), all over Boris Mikhailov
- 7th all-time leading scorer in World Championships, with 110 points (52 goals and 58 assists) in 102 games. (1st among Czech players).
- Top scorer in at the 1976 World Championships, with 20 points in 10 games.
-Voted Top scorer and best forward at the 1976 World Championships
-inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame (2001)
-Won the Golden Hockey Stick (best player in Czechoslovakia) 4 times – 1973, 75, 76, 79
- 6'1", 180 lbs
- Member of the HHOF
- Stanley Cup (1906, 1907)
- Stanley Cup Finalist (1904, 1908, 1914, 1918, 1926)
- Inducted to HHOF (1947)
- ECHA 1st All-Star Team (1907)
- PCHA 1st All-Star Team (1913, 1915, 1916, 1917)
- PCHA 2nd All-Star Team (1918, 1920)
- Top-10 in points twice as a forward (8th-1906-ECAHA, 3rd-1910-NHA)
- Top-10 in PCHA points four times as a defensemen (5th, 5th, 9th, 10th)
- Top-3 in PCHA Points by a defenseman 8 times (1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd)
- 4th in points by defensemen in the consolidated WHL at age 42 and actually had the highest points per game average (1926)
- 2nd in Stanley Cup Series Scoring (1907)
The Trail of the Stanley Cup
With the exception of Newsy Lalonde, there is no other player whose career extended over such a period of time (circa 1926) as that of Lester Patrick, the Silver Fox of Hockey... He was captain and rover of the Redbands when they lifted the cup from the Silver Seven in 1906 and repeated the following year... Although he was probably at his best as a player with the Wanderers, he was on a championship team with Victoria in 1914 and was chosen an all-star defenseman of the PCHA (multiple times)
Kings of the Ice
He was one of the top rushing defensemen of his day and a team leader... His exceptional passes benefitted the likes of ****** and ******
Lester Patrick was one of the classier figures in hockey history, and was one of the sport's most prolific builders. He was a perennial All-Star rover and defender for 21 seasons.
It was with the mighty Redbands that he reached the peak of his considerable talent. Players like Ernie Russell, Frank Glass and Cecil Blachford benefited enormously from Patrick's smooth passing.
Before this bio really begins, I feel it is appropriate to start with this:
The six-man game will be in vogue this season in Saskatchewan. It is as different from seven-man hockey as night is from day. Under the old style, the rover had to do the bulk of the checking back. In baseball parlance, it was the duty of the rover to back up every play. He had to check any man who got away from his cover; in short, he had to assume the responsibility for any weak spots on his team. One thing that characterizes a good rover was his ability to get goals off rebounds. Another way of putting it is that he almost had to play "inside home". He likewise had to go into the corner after stray pucks. He had to be an almost superhuman player. Every man in the history of hockey who made a name for himself as a rover had inhuman characteristics to a marked degree. Take for instance Rat Westwick, of the old Ottawa silver seven; Russell Bowie of the old Montreal Victorias; Lester Patrick, formerly of the Wanderers, Renfrew, and now of the Coast League, Pud Glass, of the Wanderers, the undying Newsy Lalonde; Si Griffis, of Rat Portage; Bruce Stuart, of Ottawa and Wanderers; every one of these men were hockey machines, with the mechanical element eliminated and brains substituted. - Saskatoon Phoenix, Dec. 10, 1919
The above sort of characterizes the responsibilities of the rover, a position that Lester Patrick was frequently prominent in. Now, I can accept that they weren't always on the ball at each of these things, it is pretty clear that the rover was an extremely important position to any team playing 7 man hockey. If we are to believe that the rover was meant to be the most proficient man at the majority of these responsibilities on his team, then clearly Lester Patrick must have been one of the best all around players in the game at the time, and not just offensively.
Here are a few passages demonstrating that he was not only an excellent offensive player, but was also quite capable defensively as well:
Lester Patrick is the same old star who set the ECHA on fire three years ago. He has the same deceptive sweeping stride, the same beautiful shot and the same stalwart checking. Lester is somewhat heavier than when he played with the Wanderers, but if possible he is faster and stronger. Lester is truly a "six-foot wonder", his work being loudly applauded by the Renfrew fans with whom he has already become a great favorite. - Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 22, 1909
Lester has been at it for fifteen seasons, and is still a great player. The east had not seen him for so long that the stories of his prowess which came out of British Columbia before the Stanley Cup series last winter were seldom taken at par. Toronto found him a great stick handler, a good shot, and an effective check. His rushing was the peculiar good point in his work. He usually went from end to end. He might seem to lose the puck in a mix-up as he went along, but his quickness, strength and length of arm usually coaxed the disc back to his stick. He would follow, follow, follow the puck even when an opponent had stolen it and was circling around for a start back. Before the crowd would realize it he was under way for the Toronto goal again. Cameron and Marshall could not bodycheck him away from the puck, for he carried about 180 pounds of bone and muscle. Jack Walker, with his famous poke and squat checks, had a real hard proposition in the smooth, sinewy veteran. Victoria lost out, but it was not the fault of Lester Patrick as a player or manager. ... Anyway, the east will now admit after seeing Lester Patrick in action that it is the idea of one of the headiest and most thoughtful exponents of the sport, a player whose lanky six feet, sweeping reach, finished stick-handling and effective attacking will surely be part of the game's history. - Morning Leader, Feb. 6, 1915
Taken all round, the Wanderer team showed poor form. The defence, while undoubtedly strong, cannot touch last year's. There was no Hod Stuart to break up the Ottawa attacks, or no Lester Patrick to electrify the crowd with leaping, hurdling rushes. - Montreal Gazette, Jan. 14, 1908
Here he is, folks, Lester Patrick, one of the greatest players in hockey today, a veteran of many historic battles in the east and now pilot of the Seattle Mets, Pacific Coast champions and holders of the Stanley Cup. Twice this season Patrick has broken up overtime matches with a timely pass to one of his clever forwards. Once against Portland he turned the trick, giving the puck to Bernie Morris, who scored, and later against Vancouver the same pair pulled the play which netted Seattle a victory. Patrick is rapidly approaching the age when hockey players retire, but he certainly possesses young ideas. His work with the Mets has been one of the features of the coast race. He is a wonderful stickhandler and is fast besides being one of the most capable leaders in the game. - Calgary Daily Herald, Feb. 21, 1918
Lester Patrick, a slick speedster who moved across the ice more like a sprinter than a skater ... - Stanley Cup Centennial Book
Lester could play any position, from goalie to defenseman to rover. A rover could play forward or defense, and Lester did both with equal agility. - Fischler's Hockey Encyclopedia
Patrick was a swift, graceful skater and a magician with the puck, pioneering defensive innovations. - Hockey Hall Of Fame Legends
As a player, Patrick was a defenseman who liked to rush the puck instead of lifting it into enemy territory. - Honoured Members
The record will also show that the new Brandon cover-point rushed the length of the rink to score a spectacular goal in a game against Winnipeg. This tactic broke the unwritten law that said a defenseman should play defense only, and should never leave his beat to stray into the offensive zone. With that one audacious move against Winnipeg, Lester Patrick had become possibly the game's first rushing defenseman, the first of a long line... While lavishing praise on Lester's overall play, the Ottawa reporters criticized him for "his tendency to wander off down the ice away from his position". But then they had no way of knowing that this was the way the game would be played in the future. - The Patricks: Hockey's Royal Family
In the above, it is unlikely that the complaint about him wandering from his position had anything to do with unwillingness to defend, as he was noted as a stellar defender on numerous occasions. It probably had more to do with his wilingness to rush with his teammates.
Lester Patrick is stated to be in as good condition as he was when he played for Wanderers two years ago, but this is doubtful. Is it considered by the challengers that he has finer points in stick handling than (Art) Ross, his rival in the point position, but Ross is a stronger man at withstanding attacks and he has almost as spectacular, and certainly a more aggressive manner of going up the ice. - Montreal Gazette, Dec. 26, 1908
The above, a comparison to Art Ross, is likely a biased view in favor of Ross, given it came from a Montreal paper. Still, Lester is said to have better stick handling than Ross, and given the strong defensive player that Ross was, to be worse than him in that aspect is nothing to be ashamed of.
Cyclone Taylor thought very highly of Patrick as well:
"Lester Patrick played the greatest hockey he ever put up. He was a whole club in himself." - Ottawa Citizen, Apr. 5, 1913 (interview with Cyclone Taylor, speaking of the 1912-1913 season)
This passage isn't clear as to whether it refers to defensive play or not, but it is a great compliment nonetheless:
Baker, Billy Strachan and Lester Patrick will probably be the defense combination - rather a hard one to beat! - Pittsburgh Press, Dec. 23, 1905
Lester knew when to keep his cool when the game was on the line. This is from a Stanley Cup series:
While the fans rooted vigorously for the home team they appreciated none the less the vigor and sportsmanship displayed by the Victoria hockey club players, especially in the last game. In the three games Lester Patrick, the captain and manager, displayed how it is possible for an athlete to retain his mental equilibrium regardless of the provocation. He never slugged back, even in the final turmoil, and apart from tiring in the third period was possibly the most useful man on the ice for his side. - Toronto Sunday World, Mar. 20, 1914
A bit on his coaching and leadership:
A year ago when Fowler joined the Spokane club he was carefully coached by Lester Patrick, told what to do and when to do it. Lester tore loose with one of his great before-the-battle speeches and Fowler, sitting idly by took it all in without even cracking a smile. Altogether Lester used up five minutes of his most valuable time in coaching his goalie and when it was all over the youngster, stretching himself and yanking on his pads, observed - "I take it that you want me to go out and play my usual game." That after-dinner remark made him famous. He stepped out and played a sensational game in goal - his usual game, he called it - and he's been doing the same ever since. - Morning Leader, Feb. 8, 1910
It said something of Lester's leadership qualities that after being made captain of the Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Wanderers in his second year, he was named skipper of the Renfrew Millionaires in their first season, before the players had even had their first casual skate together. - The Patricks: Hockey's Royal Family
"With five minutes to go, Lester Patrick spoke to the timekeeper and to each Wanderer individually", wrote Bill Westwick of The Ottawa Journal in a cup flashback article in 1957. "It was probably one of the greatest pep talks ever spoken." "It was a masterly stroke; the genius of a general," said the 1906 Ottawa Journal writer about Patrick. - Hockey's Captains, Colonels & Kings
Pretty much at the end of his career, he was still an effective player, seemingly both on offense and defense:
Lester Patrick is staging a real come-back. He ranks next to Fredrickson and Walker in the scoring and has played few games comparatively. Lester is extracting a lot of real enjoyment from his enforced return to the puck-chasing game. He stands starry-eyed and crafty as an experienced fox on the defense and he grins boyishly when he breaks for the opposing goals. He is still a mighty hard man to stop going in. - Evening Sun, Feb. 10, 1926
He continued playing when the team needed him even at the age of 42!
Due to injuries to his defensemen, he returned to action in 1926, and played through the schedule at age 42. - The Trail Of the Stanley Cup, Vol. 1
Now 42, Lester hadn't skated in anger for three seasons. But here in 1925 with the Cougars down to just one defenseman because of injuries, Lester shrugged, laced up his boots, grabbed a stick and went out to help.
After a shaky start in his first game in Calgary, the old boy got his legs back and set up Frank Fredrickson for the winning goal. A week later against the powerful Edmonton lineup he had two assists in a 4-2 victory, plus a direct hit on Eddie Shore, the young hard-rock who was already being hailed as the toughest, meanest defenseman in hockey. Eddie figured to no more than toy with the 42-year old before, if necessary, dispatching him to the infirmary. But it didn't work out that way. Instead, the old crook caught Shore with a crackling bodycheck that sent the cocky youth, 18 years Lester's junior, off the ice on a stretcher.
Portland was next. There, Lester tied the game with an unassisted goal and then set up Fredrickson for the winner. Then before a hostile but admiring Saskatoon crowd in Saskatoon, he stickhandled through the entire Saskatoon team and beat George hainsworth in overtime.
Several games later, it was the Cougars' ageless defenseman who assured his team of a playoff berth when he again netted the winning goal against Vancouver. That victory gave the Cougars a streak of six straight, and during that spell Lester had scored five of the club's 26 goals. Paired with **** ********, he was the bulwark of a defense that had allowed just seven goals in return.
The boss was still out there for the first game of the playoffs against Saskatoon, and he received a thunderous ovation as he skated out to his post. The cougars came from behind to salvage a tie in that game, but they lost their ace defenseman in the process. Lester had to leave the ice in the 2nd period when a stick swung by Cy Denneny broke his thumb.
Now, having personally shown the way into the playoffs, Lester settled back to watch his team win the league title and the right to travel to Montreal for the Stanley Cup.
Those 21 games played in relief by a 42-year old following a three-year layoff must surely represent one of the more amazing comebacks in the history of sport. - The Patricks: Hockey's Royal Family
Specific Game Examples
There was just one man on the front line who did his work, and that man is Lester Patrick, and he is entitled to a great share of whatever praise can be attached to such a backward victory. Patrick worked untiringly and unceasingly. In addition to the two scores credited to him he missed two of the easiest chances ever offered to any forward. He was the real life of the Wanderer line, and it was his unflagging energy which finally brought the other fellows around into some semblance of form. - Montreal Gazette, Mar. 19, 1906 (Stanley Cup match, coming back from a deficit)
An amusing own goal situation, but it shows that Lester was careful to stay with his check in his own zone:
Gardner passed out from the corner to Smith, who was standing in front of the Edmonton cage. Patrick was watching Smith, and when the disc was centered made a lunge for it. At the same moment Whitcroft shot out, and, to help Patrick, tried to poke the disc to the side; to the amazement of the two Edmonton players, the rubber slipped off Whitty's stick past Lindsay. - Montreal Gazette, Dec. 30, 1908
More on defense:
Lester Patrick was the big man on the ice for the Canaries, his all around effectiveness keeping the score low. He stopped many Seattle rallies. - Spokeman-Review, Jan. 9, 1917
Ran McDonald scored twice for the visitors, but the defense work of Fowler, Lester Patrick and Genge featured for the Birds. - Spokesman-Review, Jan. 27, 1917
Midway through the first half, Ottawa partisans fell silent as rover Lester Patrick scored - the same Patrick, who in 1904 as the point for Brandon, thwarted numerous Ottawa rushes... Patrick was all over the ice... - Win, Tie, or Wrangle (1906 Finals)
This one is particularly nice, demonstrating that Patrick would go through opponents if he couldn't go around them:
Lester has a nice kind face, but when he snares the rubber and starts up the rink he doesn't care how many players he bowls over or how many shins he cracks with his wicked stick. Patrick was a star on both offense and defense, and it was the individual work of him and Fowler that kept the score down. - Spokesman-Review, Jan. 29, 1917
The Ottawa Citizen thought he was head and shoulders above everyone else:
"Wanderers did not look like the crack septet that outplayed Edmonton so decisively. They were seldom all on the ice at one time, and their combination was broken up in a rather easy manner by Pitre and Patrick." ... Without doubt, Lester Patrick had something on every one of the thirteen remaining players. The big fellow is in a class without opposition as a defence man. His wonderful rushes up the ice were no idle saunters calculated to tickle the spectators, but well defined rushes characterized by magnificent dodging, side-stepping, skating, and a perfect handling of the puck. For a big man he is nimble as a dancing master. Patrick at point would make any second rate team look formidable. - Montreal Gazette, Jan. 1, 1909 (comments by Tom Gorman and Malcolm Brice on Stanley Cup series)
He seemed to be able to spark his team at will:
The return to form of Lester Patrick, manager of the Canaries, was the bright feature. The team was not going at the pace that satisfied Lester, so he called Lloyd Cook back to the defense line and assumed the role of rover. Immediately the fireworks started. It was just five minutes after the second period started that Lester made the shakeup, and about a minute later he took the puck from McDonald and shot it past Holmes. The goal seemed to give the veteran more speed, for from then on he skated like a speed champion, time after time advancing almost to the mouth of the Seattle goal. He made a goal unassisted just before the period ended, and a minute or two before passed the puck to Kerr, who netted it nearly. - Spokesman-Review, Jan. 6, 1917
So they arranged for an exhibition match between the pacific Coast league champion Victoria Aristocrats and the Cup-Winning Quebec Bulldogs, who consented to leave the frozen east to play a little indoor hockey... Yet the talents of "Phantom Joe" and his teammate "Bad" Joe Hall were not enough to conquer the Aristocrats of Victoria. The Patricks had a point to prove, and their manager and founder, 29-year old Lester Patrick, inspired his team with four goals in three games, to lead Victoria to a two-games-to-one victory. the fact the Patricks' teams way out there on B.C. Island had outscored the reigning Cup champs 16-12 sent a message to the rest of the hockey world: The PCHA was not some pampered experiment. - Putting a Roof On Winter
More Stanley Cup game accounts:
Ottawa's hopes for a championship rested on defeating the Wanderers in their return match at the capital on March 2nd... there seemed little doubt as to the outcome after play got started. The smooth skating Patrick and Johnson were all over the Senators. Russell played a magnificent game, scoring five goals but Patrick, who had moved back to the defense was judged the best man on the ice. - The Trail Of the Stanley Cup, Vol. 1
Only two members of the (unsuccessful 1904 Challengers) Wheat kings played well enough to catch the attention of the Ottawa crowds. One was ******. The other was Lester Patrick, a 20-year-old point man playing in his first Stanley Cup series. Even then he demonstrated a flair for playing the game his way. "Patrick at point was another good one", The Citizen noted, "when he wasn't doing the forward act in an attempt to score." - The Stanley Cup
The Wanderers were now forced to open up their play and for a while it seemed that they had waited too long as Ottawa continued to press. Lester Patrick featured with several of his spectacular dashes and was finally rewarded with a goal that put the Redbands back in the lead. A few minutes later Patrick clinched it with another goal and the game ended 9-3 for Ottawa, but 12-10 Wanderers on the round. - The Trail Of the Stanley Cup, Vol. 1, 1906 Finals
The Wanderers, with ******* leading the way (but everyone knew Lester was the glue that held the team together) ended up on the long end of a 9-1 score in game 1! - The Renfrew Millionaires
Lester Patrick was the best of the Wanderers, and was very much in the game from start to finish. Some of his dashes were exceedingly good to look on. It was in the final stages when the game had to be won in short order that Patrick scintillated. He went down the ice, nursing the puck, sidestepping and dodging and had the Ottawa defense dazed. - Legendary Stanley Cup Stories, relaying a newspaper article
With both teams suffering from extreme fatigue, it was Lester who sensed the kill as the Ottawa forwards labored deep in the Montreal zone, drawing their defensemen with them. He got the puck, flipped it to Moose Johnson on a break, and a moment later beat ******* with the goal that burst the Ottawa bubble. There were just 90 seconds to play, and then just before the end, Patrick, now plainly the coolest man in the arena, scored again to end the Sporting News' pick as the Greatest Hockey Game In History. - The Patricks: Hockey's Royal Family
When he played at forward, he seemed to be the key cog for the offense:
The Wanderer (forward) line seemed lost without Patrick and there was little brilliancy of attack. - Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 10, 1907 (game where Patrick didn't play)
The new partnership got off to an auspicious start. In Patrick's first game with the Wanderers, an 11-5 rout of the Victorias, Lester, on one wing, scored three goals and Moose Johnson, on the other, scored one... Johnson was hailed in the newspaper as one of the game's outstanding performers, second only to Lester. - The Patricks: Hockey's Royal Family
More general game accounts:
The whole evening was a great success. Renfrew had won the game 6-3; Taylor had put on a show and scored two goals; and Lester Patrick, "the tall Renfrew captain, was a good second to Taylor and his stickwork netted three goals. - The Renfrew Millionaires
Patrick didn't seem to mind playing through pain and injury:
"My head doesn't pain me in the least and I'll be right in the thick of it Saturday night." said the indomitable Spokane captain (Lester Patrick) last night. - Spokesman-Review, Dec. 8, 1916 (Lester Patrick speaking about his status for a game following receiving a whack to the head by a stick)
He and Lalonde seemed to have a feud going:
Lester, as captain and supporter of Frank, found himself constantly involved with the fiery Lalonde. Three times they were sent off together:
The rival captains were slashing at each other with their sticks and fists on several occasions. In the second half, Patrick cut Lalonde's head open with a swing of his stick, and as soon as the Renfrew leader got back on the ice, Lalonde caught him with a wicked cross check that sent the famous rover into the air as if shot from a cannon. - The Renfrew Millionaires
He was also willing to stick up for teammates:
Montreal player Barney Holden swung his stick in the direction of the Cyclone's head. Taylor retaliated in kind and connected. Holden's nose was bloodied. He rushed Taylor. Lester Patrick led the Renfrew players to their teammate's defense. - Renfrew Millionaires
Credit to TheDevilMadeMe for providing many of the non-newspaper quotes, and to Boy Wonder for providing a few great newspaper quotes:
In addition to an exemplary career as a defenseman, He contributed to the development of hockey through his off-ice endeavors. He recorded 85 goals in 167 regular-season games and provided stability and savvy in the defensive zone.
In 1905 he made his first appearance for a major hockey organization by scoring 10 goals in eight games for the Westmount franchise in the Canadian Amateur Hockey League. He rapidly earned the distinction of being one of the top rushing defensemen in the game.
The following year he skated for Brandon of the Manitoba Hockey League. His play attracted the attention of the Kenora Thistles, who worked out a loan agreement with Brandon in time for their Stanley Cup challenge against the Montreal Wanderers in January 1907. During the two-game set, he received numerous ovations from the Montreal crowd. Although he didn't score, he made a number of quality offensive rushes that contributed to Kenora's Stanley Cup win. A year later, hiss services were purchased by the Wanderers in a move that strengthened an already formidable outfit. He was a key reason the Red Bands finished at the top of the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association standings and then beat back the Stanley Cup challenges from Winnipeg, Toronto and Edmonton. -legendsofhockey
In late 1910, he rejoined the Wanderers, putting up four seasons there before joining the Ottawa Senators. "Ross played like an eel," XXXXX once said. "He was one of the greatest stickhandlers I ever saw. He could spin on a dime, and he was so tricky there was no blocking him."-http://www.hockey-notes.com/1910_hockey_artross.html
He was viewed as a fearless player who never backed down from a fight in his life. Ross' highest PIM total was in 1913-14 with the Wanderers in the NHA. In 18 games, he spent 74 minutes in the penalty box! From 1912-17, Ross would never spend less than 55 minutes in the penalty box in one season despite only averaging 18 games per season in the NHA.
February 17, 1915 saw Ross square off in a fight with Toronto Blueshirts' player XXXX which ended up with both players being arrested for assault. The fine of $1 each was paid in total by XXXX who lost a coin toss to Ross while in jail. Referee Cooper Smeaton was almost arrested as well for his inability to control the fracas, but he escaped without penalty.-http://hockey-blog-in-canada.blogspo...visionary.html
... two years in Ottawa, where he introduced the "kitty bar the door" defensive alignment that baffled teams preferring a freewheeling offensive game. He then returned to Montreal to close out his playing career with the Wanderers.-legends of hockey
It was while Ottawa was travelling to Montreal for the 1915 NHA championship that Ross invented "kitty-bar-the-door" hockey, thinking that the fast, powerful Wanderers could be stopped by stringing three defensemen across the width of the ice, 30 feet in front of the goalie, defying any Montreal forward to skate through. The confident Wanderers, playing on home ice, even had a fleet of taxis waiting outside the rink to take them to the railway station so they could head west to meet Vancouver for the Stanley Cup. Their pride and Art Ross's defensive shell ensured that the taxis came in handy for the Ottawa Senators instead, who won the round on goals and caught the train to the coast.-Michael McKinley
When Art Ross quits hockey the winter game will lose “the greatest player it ever produced”. That batter title has been tossed about a bit, confered on first one and then another, but when they've all been rattled through the sifter Ross stands out as the brainiest, most consistent player over a long period of years that the game has ever known
Six feet in heigh, perfectly proportioned, always in the pink of condition, Ross in his hey-day added these assets terrigic speed and a stick-wizardy that was little short of marvelous. In later days he lost his high flight of speed, but the ability to puzzle opponents with sheer trick skill has not deserted the big Scotsman. Although he doesn't flash and circle about the ice with the meteoric dash of yore, opposing defense still find it a difficult task to get the puck off Ross's elusive stick. Add to this a hockey brain of far more than average keeness which stored up the experience of many years, and Ross is still today a formidable addition to any game.
The ice game has never had a smarter player than Ross. How, when playing with Ottawa, he euchered the Wanders out of the championship of 1914-15 is still fresh in the minds of conetemporary fans....
The dope was that Ottawa would try to make their defensive stand through a strong offense, and that was the style the Wanderers primed themselves for. Instead, when the game started Ross spread out three players in front of the Ottawa net. …
It was a neat a bit of ice generalship as was ever seen, and was a perculiarly
graitifying victory to Ross. -The spokesman Review, Nov 25, 1917
Perhaps Ross deserves to be tossed around more amongst the best names of the early era up to this point?
On that note, a comparison to Hod Stuart that looks good for Ross(thanks to Boy wonder for this one):
A discussion was started yesterday to the relative merits of Ross and the late Hod Stuart as hockey players. Nearly all who attended the Gardens in recent years have seen the great cover point, who met such an untimely death, play and regard his as the greatest ever. But there are many who declared Ross is superior, and not a few will watch his work tonight to make their own deductions.- Pittsburgh Press, March 21, 1908
And another very nice comparison of Art Ross vs Lester Patrick(thanks to Boy Wonder again):
Lester Patrick is stated to be as in good condition as he was when he played for the Wanderers two years ago, but this is doubtful. It is considered by the challengers that he has finer points in his stickhandling than Ross, but Ross is a stronger man at withstanding attacks and he has almost as spectacular and certainly a more aggresive manner of going up the ice. In Montreal Ross is regarded as the greatest defense player in hockey.-Montreal Gazette, Dec 26, 1908
Headline: Art Ross, Known as Best hockey Player, to quit- Detroit Free Press, Dec 23, 1917
ART ROSS Who's work at cover point for the Wanderers is subject to much comment in hockey circles. He has been in the professional ranks for many years and is still considered to be the most formidable defence man in the game.- Feb 5, 1917, The Calgary Herald
It is a question if a better defense man than Art Ross was ever seen in the business. He was a terror to all other teams and it was a cry all over the circuit to “Watch Ross and beat the Wanderers.” He was the particular player that the Ottawa watched but with all the precaution that the team took. Ross got away and it was his pair of goals that won the game that gave his team the silverware.- The Pittsburgh Press, March 10, 1908
Art Ross did the bulk of the work for Halleybury. He alone was successful in warding off the attacks of the Ottawa players...Ross was in game at all time, and had it not been for his sterling work Ottawa would run up a much bigger score. - Ottawa Citizen, Feb 10, 1910
Thanks to Boy Wonder:
Hooper (coverpoint), who had been handicapped by a late start this season, showed more speed last night and made one or two last night. He is still weak in blocking, however. For a time Ross and Hooper changed positions last night, but Ross is too strong a man in keeping a forward line out to justify a shift...”- Montreal Gazette, Jan 14, 1908
Art Ross made his first appearance in an Ottawa uniform and was a great factor in their victory He played a brilliant game on the defence- breaking up Torotono rushes on many ocassions when scores seemed certain. He bowled the champions over with his body and there was an excuse for his rough work as he became the target for the Toronto tripping and slashing...Ross was very unselfish and figured in several clever two man rushes with Gerard.- Montreal Gazette, Jan 9, 1915
Art Ross, on defense, is the finest player in his position in the east...-The Montreal Gazette, Jan 11, 1908
Taylor, according to the Ottawa men who saw Thursday night's game, is faster than At Ross, but not the same finished stick handler.- Jan 11, 1908, Montreal Gazette
Ross was one of the best men on the ice, his checking and rushing being sensational.- The Morning Leader, March 21, 1913, in an West vs East all-star game featuring F.Patrick, Griffis, Sprague Cleghorn, Nighbor, Broadbent, Taylor,
One exciting encounter took place between Art Ross, of the Wanderers, and Mummery of the Quebecers. Both are 200 pounders, and they came together with a resounding crash. Both tried eachother's skill at tripping, and they were sent from the game for five minutes. Later on they repeated the rough work and were banished again.- Saskatoon Phoenix, March 16, 1914
Sensational plays on the part of the champions were numerous indeed and frequently the crowd arose and cheered enthuiastically the long rushes of Art Ross...Ross was easily the individual star of the match and stood head and shoulder over all others, his brilliant work evoking round after round of applause. His speed was phenomenal, his stick handling superb, and his checking very effective.-Ottawa Citizen, Jan 10, 1908- Stanley Cup game
Ross was the most effective player of the Easterners, although he played on a strange pair of skates. He scored three goals as the result of end to end rushes right through the opposing team.- The Calgary Daily Herald, March 22, 1913
Art Ross played against his old team mates and was one of Ottawa's best men. Prodgers prove the individual stud in the early stages but Ross met him with a crash and took all the steam out of the London Man.- The Saskatoon Phoenix, Jan 18, 1915
The climax arrived when Art Ross and Mummery got into a fight and rolled around the ice, locked in eachother's arms. They were quickly seperated and both sent to the timers to cool off.- The Toronto Sunday World, Marc 24, 1914
Ross and Cleghorn were never better and their clever defence play had much to do with the result.- Montreal Daily Mail, March 4, 1914
Ross was laid out by being struck with a puck over the heart, but the veteran continued pluckily- Montreal Daily Mail, March 4, 1914
As it was, Vics lacked a scorers, and against the good defense that Ross and Howard presented their attacks as a rule were broken up with ease.- Jan 10, 1908, Montreal Gazette
There was one bright feature to the game, and that was the play of Art Ross, the Wanderer point. Ross has improved every time out this year, and last evening he gave one of the finest exhibitions of defence playing yet seen at the Arena. In breaking up attacks he was cool and fearless. He waited until the man was in, and seldom missed stealing the disc of intercepting the pass. From the start he kept rushing back into Victoria quarters, and his great speed and splendid stick handling made him too difficult a proposition for the challengers to solve.”- Monreal Gazette, Jan 19, 1908
Ross a pest:
Play was rough towards the close. Art Ross and Percy Leseur having several tiffs. Ross persisted in bothering Leseuer and Lake...- Feb 10, 1910, Ottawa Citizen
Art Ross did the bulk of the work for Halleybury. He alone was successful in warding off the attacks of the Ottawa players...Ross was in game at all time, and had it not been for his sterling work Ottawa would run up a much bigger score. - Ottawa Citizen, Feb 10, 1910
The Montral men tried hard to even up, but Lesuer was proof against shots from all angles until Art Ross came down almost the full length of the rink and drove one from the side, which got by....Ross, less than five minutes later, against daited the full length of the rink and placed his team in the lead.- The Toronto World, March 10 1913
With Ernie Johnson and Art Ross forming a great defense in front of the Wanderers' goal, the Ottawa attacks were rudely smashed...
Art Ross and Ernie Johnson, the two highly paid Montreal stars were very much alive. They tore through the Ottawa team repeatedly with irresistable aggressiveness.- March 22, 1911
Art Ross was back in his old form and time and time again carried the puck from end to end passing it out to his forwards when nearing the opposite goal.- The Westmount News, Jan 5, 1912
Ross and (Frank) Patrick, playing much the same style of game , shone in dashes down the ice, but Ross had the shade better of it, as a defence player. Both Ross and Patrick figured for a goal on the score sheet, the result of end-to-end runs. - Montreal Gazette, Jan 14, 1908
The defense was its strongest point, and had it not been for the work of Riley Hern and Art Ross, Ottawa would have scored twenty more goals...Ross tried innumerable rushes, his speed and stickhandling proving him to be a star of the first water. Ross, however, found Taylor and Pulford to be an impregenable combination...- Montreal Gazette, Jan 14, 1908
Credit to nik jr for these next two:
Originally Posted by Morning Leader: 1-18-1908
(quoting an Ottawa Free Press writer) Reports of Arthur Ross being the sensation of the year have not been exaggerated. He is another Hodd (sic) Stuart and then some. Speed, magnificent stick handling, ability to dodge everything and anybody, backed up by a fine shooting arm, places (sic) the celebrated athlete on a pinnacle few may hope ever to attain. Ross has everything. The cool head is ever prevalent. He can work by himself or with the rest of the team, has no disposition to be selfish and is gifted with a powerful physique to round off his other accomplishments.
Originally Posted by Daily Phoenix: 1-30-1909
Far Short of Hod Stewart
Ross fills the place on the team left by the late "Hod" Stewart, but he hasn't the finish that that great player had. His play is too much on the selfish order; he wants to score, and that is where Stewart had it on him. Stewart was satisfied to carry the puck into the opposing side's territory and pass to someone else to do the shooting. Thus he not only made a name for himself but one for the man who did the scoring. As a defence player Ross is not to be criticized, but when he sallies forth to do the scoring, he makes a mistake.
The Toronto St.Pats are proud to select, a tremendous early all-around defenceman who was one of the greatest innovators of the game....
Awards and Achievements
2 x Stanley Cup Winner (1907, 1908)
Thanks to Boy Wonder for help with scoring placements:
Hockey Hall of Fame Member
4x Stanley Cup Champion(consecutive, 4x participant)
135 goals in 45 career regular season and cup games
63 goals in 22 career playoff games
4x 1st in Goal Scoring in Cup Challenge Playoffs(only played in 4)
One-eyed Frank McGee was the cornerstone of one of the greatest teams in hockey history. During his tenure with the Ottawa Hockey Club and Ottawa Silver Seven, the franchise won or defended the Stanley Cup over three consecutive years from 1903 to 1905. McGee's superior puckhandling skills and gifted scoring touch made him one of the most feared offensive threats of his day.
McGee enjoyed a successful Canadian Amateur Hockey League debut with Ottawa on January 17, 1903, by scoring two goals in a 7-1 victory over the famous Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. This proved to be a prelude to an even greater achievement as he netted five goals against the Montreal Victorias three weeks later. A month after this, Ottawa captured the Stanley Cup at the expense of the Victorias and successfully defended a challenge from Rat Portage (later Kenora, Ontario). During the four games against these two clubs, McGee scored seven times and established a reputation for being at his best in Stanley Cup matches. A short time later, the Ottawa club became known as the "Silver Seven." The name was a tribute to the success attained by an outstanding unit of seven players that often changed - except for Frank McGee.
The 1904 and 1905 seasons witnessed an even greater period of success for McGee. On February 25, 1904, he scored a then record five goals in the second game of Ottawa's successful Stanley Cup defense against the Toronto Marlboros. He duplicated this achievement a month later while helping to defeat the Stanley Cup aspirations of Brandon, Manitoba.
The Silver Seven won the championship of the Federal Amateur Hockey League in 1905 with Frank McGee leading the way with 17 goals in only six games. In January, Ottawa successfully beat back the challenge of Dawson City. It was in this series that McGee put forth his, most legendary performance by scoring a Stanley Cup record of 14 goals in the second match. During the 23-2 rout, the Ottawa star at one point recorded eight consecutive goals in less than nine minutes. A month later, he scored the winning goal in the third and deciding game versus the challengers from Rat Portage - while playing with a broken wrist.
The following year, McGee enjoyed a strong regular season with 28 goals in seven games. His last memorable showing in Stanley Cup competition took place in February and March 1906 when he scored six goals in a two-game sweep of Queen's University and then recorded nine goals during a two-game annihilation of Smiths Falls. At the end of March, the Silver Seven's three-year stranglehold on the Stanley Cup came to an end following a two-game series against the Montreal Wanderers. Ottawa fell short by a 12-10 aggregate score, but McGee played particularly well in the second match.
McGee retired prior to the commencement of the 1907 season. He was the focal point of one of hockey's early dynasties and his superior abilities enabled him to form potent forward combinations with the likes of xxx, xxx and xxx, xxx and xxx. Frank Patrick said: "He was even better than they say he was. He had everything - speed, stickhandling, scoring ability and was a punishing checker. He was strongly built but beautifully proportioned and he had an almost animal rhythm."
Frank McGee's accomplishments are astounding, considering his best years with Ottawa's Silver Seven came after he lost sight in one eye and before the tender age of twenty-three. “One-Eyed” McGee's record of fourteen goals in one Stanley Cup match still stands 105 years later.
Being a referee only made him miss playing more, so despite the risks, he joined the Ottawa Senators in 1903. Despite the rough-sounding nickname, “One-Eyed” McGee became known for his immaculately clean and pressed uniform and play-making.
At only 5'6,” he was one of the smallest players in a brutal game. Size never mattered though, as Frank scored two goals in his first game to help Ottawa win. Soon thereafter, he was averaging three goals (or more) a game, and his 63 goals in 22 Cup games stands as a pre-NHL era record. His most notable accomplishment, a record fourteen goals in a single Cup game came on January 16, 1905 against the Dawson City Nuggets. Eight of those goals were scored at nearly a goal-a-minute pace.
McGee's remarkable skill and accuracy helped lead Ottawa to three consecutive Stanley Cup championship years from 1903 to 1906, defeating the Rat Portage Thistles, Winnipeg Rowing Club, Toronto Marlboros, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Montreal Wanderers along the way. He wasn't the only star of the club, merely its brightest, playing alongside fellow future Hall of Famers xxx, xxx, xxx and Tommy Smith.
When the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted its first members in 1946, Frank “One-Eyed” McGee was one of them. In 1966, he was also inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. A fitting tribute to not only a hockey hero, but also a national hero.
Tom Phillips played in six Stanley Cup series and stands up well in the scorers for playoff games. He was undoubtedly a great player who was compared favouably with Frank McGee…
-Trail of the Stanley Cup
Out west, Phillips was often called the greatest player in the game, much like Frank McGee in the East.
Who is the best hockey player in Canada? Nine out of ten people will tell you it is either Frank McGee or Tommy Phillips. Phillips is the speedier, but he has nothing on McGee in the matter of stickhandling and has not the same generalship. Where each shines is in pulling doubtful games out of the fires of uncertainty.
-Montreal Herald, 1906
Here are the best of the pre-and non-NHLers.
THN’s First Team
G: **** ******
D: Hod Stuart
D: Lester Patrick
R: Cyclone Taylor
LW: Tommy Phillips C: Frank McGee
RW: Didier Pitre
-THN's Century of Hockey
the high-scoring McGee.
McGee several times hat Thistles players over the head with his stick.
Phillips and McGee were the stars, both scoring three goals
-Trail of the Stanley Cup
Scoring leaders of all Cup Games in Pre-Consolodation Era(1893-1926):
Frank McGee, the Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby of his era.
The only player to score 14 goals in a Stanley Cup game was Ottawa’s blond McGee, one of the greatest scorers to ever grip a hockey stick or lace on a pair of skates. He weighed all of 140 pounds—if that—but he was a whippet on the ice, a wonder.
More than a century has passed since he played for the Ottawa Silver Seven. They said he was the stuff of legends, and they were right. We still write of McGee’s exploits today. Aware that sportswriters of the day wrote reams of copy about McGee, I culled old newspaper accounts of his Gretzky-like performances and the following, written by some long forgotten sportswriter, is a testament to his greatness:
I followed McGee’s playing career and every match was the same. Away from home, for example, in a furious Stanley Cup series with the Montreal Wanderers, with about 6,000 people all howling “Get McGee!” I saw Frank knocked cold half a dozen times in the one match and honest, he survived to score the last two goals that won the game. No one could slow him up. My, but he was game! Taking the puck and beginning a series of slashing attacks, he finally sailed right into the mouth of the net with two defenders doing their best to eat him alive. He took a dozen nasty cracks and still scored one minute before time. Seconds later, he repeated the feat and was able to skate off smiling.
He seized the puck at center ice, skated in with the speed of a prairie cyclone and shot. I saw him backcheck furiously, dodge here and there, flash from side to side, stickhandle his way through a knot of struggling players, slap the puck into the open net and go down in a heap as he did so. Then I ceased to wonder why this boyish, doll-like hockey star was the idol of the crowd. I too joined in the hysterical shouting for Frank McGee, the world’s greatest hockey player.
...one of the most brilliant and effective players who ever filled that position.
McGee is certainly a wonder and the way be rushes in to block the point or cover point's lift is beautiful. Three times out of four he succeeded in keeping the puck from passing centre, and often caught it before the lift was made.
There are those who still insist that Frank McGee, star of the legendary Silver Seven, was the greatest player of the pre-NHL era. It's a pretty good argument. A center and rover, McGee was a fast skater who could stickhandle and shoot with the very best of them.
He was cut on the head and knocked unconscious by the Wanderers' xxx but still scored three goals...
In 1904-05 in the Challenge Series, McGee missed the first game with a a broken wrist and after being knocked unconscious, as the quote says. Ottawa lost Game 1 9-3. He came back for Game 2, playing with a broken wrist, and Ottawa won 4-2. In the decisive Game 3, again playing significantly injured, he scored 3 goals, including the game winner.
McGee secured the puck from the face and rushed. He lost the puck, recovered it again, dodged one or two, and simply shinnied it into Vics' nets.
He passed to McGee, and Frank fooled a couple of Vics and shot. This was another.
Blind in one eye due to a hockey injury in 1900 and forced to retire, McGee would come back to the game he loved in 1903. At only 5'6, he dominated the sport for four seasons where he won four Stanley Cups with the dynasty Ottawa Hockey Club. In only 45 pro games, McGee amassed 134 goals including his legendary 14-goal performance in the Stanley Cup challenge vs. Dawson City. His playoff performances defined his hockey career. Along with his unbeatable single game goal record, he owns the record for most goals in a series and most Stanley Cup goals with 63 in 22 contests. One of the original Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, his 3-goals a game average is the best ever. 10 years after his final season, Frank McGee would die in battle during WWI. I tried to keep this list about on-ice performances but McGee's story is just too great to leave out. The greatest player in the first decade of hockey, Frank McGee is an icon to Ottawa hockey.
He could carry the puck on a straight line to the goal like a quarterback bucks the line... He played hockey in the days when a crack over the head was about as serious as a minor warning in the laudy daudy rules in the NHA, and when a player with ability was a marked man. Bowie never had a thing on him when a goal was needed. He eclipsed every center man playing, had a snap shot that was positively wicked, and always aimed for the corners. Incidentally, he gave as much punishment as he received.
1x Stanley Cup Champion
4x NHL All Star Game Participant
2x 2nd-Team NHL All Star
7x Top 10 Goals Among Defensemen (1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 7, 8)
9x Top 11 Assists Among Defensemen (1, 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11, 11)
9x Top 10 Points Among Defensemen (1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8)
7x Top 10 Norris Trophy Voting (4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9)
5x Top 10 All Star Voting Among Defensemen along with 2 2nd team All Stars (5, 5, 6, 7, 9)
5x Top 10 TOI in entire NHL (3, 4, 7, 8, 9)
9x #1 defenseman on his own team (01-11)
1st in NHL in points/game among defensemen during peak(2000-01 to 2009-10, 2nd in overall points)
3x Top 7 TOI in playoffs (6, 7, 7)
4th in points/game in playoffs among defensemen with at least 50 games experience(behind Lidstrom, Pronger, MacInnis)
Watching Gonchar play, the first thing you notice is his powerful wrist shot. Often you don't even see the puck flying through the air; you only spot it when it's already in the net. He didn't have such a powerful shot playing back in Russia. Gonchar transferred smoothly to the North American style of hockey. In a way, he was lucky that his first season was during the 1994 NHL lockout. Gonchar had a two-way contract with the Capitals, so he was able to spend the lockout months with Portland of the AHL, the Capitals' farm team. He perfected his English and started learning the North American playing style.
New Capitals coach Ron Wilson has had an influence on Gonchar's career. Within six months they had gotten to know each other better, and Wilson soon considered Gonchar indispensable to the team. Gonchar's trip to Nagano, Japan, with the Russian Olympic team helped raise his profile. In Nagano he performed well, and back in Washington his star began to shine.
In the 1998-99 season, Gonchar became the first Russian defenseman to score over 20 goals in regular-season play. Gonchar his regarded as one of the most offensive defenceman in the NHL and proved it yet again in 2001-02 when he scored 26 goals and finished with a career high 59 points.
The smooth skating defenceman saw the defensive aspect of his game improve in 2002-03, while establishing career highs in assists and points. In 2003-04, Gonchar and the Caps struggled and piece by piece high profile members of the team were traded away. Jaromir Jagr went to the New York Rangers, Peter Bondra to the Ottawa Senators, Robert Lang to the Detroit Red Wings and Sergei Gonchar found a new home with the Boston Bruins.
Upon his arrival in Boston, Gonchar continued to produce offensively and once the regular season ended he was the league leader amongst defenseman with 58 points (11-47-58) before being acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins during the summer of 2005.
On the international stage, Gonchar has gone on to represent his homeland at the World Junior Championship (1993), the World Championship (2000), the World Cup of Hockey (1996-2004) and the Winter Olympics (2002, 2006).
Despite injuring his knee in the Eastern Conference semi-final, Gonchar would return to the Penguins lineup to help them win the franchise's third Stanley Cup title in June of 2009.
The team’s top blue-liner, Sergei Gonchar, is the poster boy for that problem. Gonchar (1/10) has been so successful as an offensive catalyst and quarterbacking the power play that it is often forgotten that he’s also solid in his own end.
After 13 seasons as one of the best offensive threats from the blue line, Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar still can't get any respect around the National Hockey League.
"I think every year he goes under the radar and he is overlooked," said Brooks Orpik, Gonchar's defense partner. "I think the stereotype around the league is that he's an offensive guy because he puts up so many points on the power play. I think people who don't follow him that closely get that perception of him, but to us it's surprising.
"He's been, in my opinion, the best defenseman in the league this year.
He's done a fantastic job all year long, and there's no doubt in our mind that Sergei Gonchar should be there,
Undergone a dramatic metamorphosis in the past 12 months or so and has made believers of his teammates and hockey writers who are expected to give Gonchar some consideration for the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman.
"He was one of our best penalty killers on defense. He did a good job. "Also, he really, really likes to play against top players. He really enjoys that. He's got a lot of pride. He's got a lot of pride playing defense. Playing against the best players, that means you've got to be pretty good defensively. And he competes, you know. He's not the physical player, but in a sense if the puck's in the corner, he'll go and get the puck. He won't shy away from getting the puck. He plays in traffic. He's had a great year offensively and defensively."
"Sergei had an incredible season, and it always helps when the defense scores a goal," [xxx] said. "But he is our best defensive player. Discipline and playing within the system is the first thing. That's what Sergei is doing so far. When the time comes, he will come through and give us big help."
The positives were easy to spot. He was a 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman with a slap shot that frightened goaltenders. He had 26 goals and 59 points to lead all NHL blueliners last season.
...among the most talented offensive defensemen in history...
Gonchar is doing a fantastic job. Like Gonchar (Sunday night), picking up three assists, playing so solid defensively. He's been doing that for a long time for us. Last night I thought he was phenomenal and deserved more credit than he receives right now.”
Walter "Babe" Pratt was a funny and outgoing man off the ice, keen on jokes and always good for a laugh, but he was considerably tougher with his hockey equipment on. Over a long career in leagues across North America, he proved consistently that the best defense is often a good offense. He was a defenseman who kept the puck deep in the other team's zone, sometimes deep in their net, and goalies on his squads could be sure their goals-against averages would drop when he was at his best. His leadership and ability are backed up by his remarkable winning record, from the National Hockey League to junior, as his teams won 15 championships over his 26 years in the game.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Walter Pratt was one of the best defensemen of his time and, for that matter, any era. He was an offensive blueliner before anyone had ever heard of Bobby Orr or Paul Coffey. He could rush the puck and score like defensemen of a more modern era.
At 6'3" and 215lbs, Pratt was a giant back in the 1940s. Likewise, he had a certain flair about him that made him larger than life - much like that of an athlete of a different sport in Babe Ruth. Thus, Pratt was eternally also known as the Babe.
NHL Trophies and Awards:
* Stanley Cup championship (1940 and 1945)
* NHL First All-Star Team Defence (1944) * Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1944)
* NHL Second All-Star Team Defence (1945)
* 7th in NHL assists in 1943-44 (war year)
* 7th in NHL assists per game in 45-56 (war recovery year), after missing 9 games due to gambling scandal
* 5 times Top 10 in PIMs
* Points among defensemen: 7th (1937), 5th (1938), 4th (1939), 7th (1940), 6th (1941), 3rd (1942), 2nd (1943), 1st (1944), 1st (1945), 2nd (1946)
(These might be off by a spot or two in the pre-WW2 years as several players were multi-position)
Halls of Fame:
* Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966
* Inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1990
* Selected to Manitoba's All-Century First All-Star Team
* “Honoured Member” of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame
* MJHL Scoring Champion (1934 and 1935)
* Turnbull Cup MJHL Championship (1934)
* Twice MVP of the PCHL towards the end of his career
* In 1998, he was ranked number 96 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players
* Ranked No. 47 on the all-time list of New York Rangers in the book 100 Ranger Greats, despite having his big offensive seasons in Toronto.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Pratt almost single-handedly brought the Stanley Cup to Toronto in 1945. In game 7 of the thrilling finals, Pratt fired the puck past Red Wings goalie Harry Lumley late in the game, giving the Leafs a 2-1 win!
Strong defensively and tough, even before his big offensive seasons in Toronto:
Originally Posted by legendsofhockey
Ranger scout Al Ritchie called Pratt the best prospect he had ever seen.... In his rookie year, he had some veteran defenders to watch and play with, including Ching Johnson, Art Coulter and Ott Heller. In 1939-40, Pratt teamed with Heller to form the league's best defense pairing. In 48 games, they allowed only 17 goals and their play was instrumental in the Rangers' Stanley Cup win that season. Pratt had 28 points in 1941-42 as the Rangers won the regular-season championship.
Originally Posted by wikipedia
Despite the brevity of his career, the time passed since it ended, and a reputation for rough play, in 1998, he was ranked number 96 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
Originally Posted by Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame
In 1936, Pratt turned professional with the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League. His experience on the blueline was instrumental in the Rangers’ Stanley Cup victory in 1939-40 and Pratt was known as one of the hardest-hitting and stingiest defencemen in the league.
After Pratt exploded offensively, he continued to be known for his hard hitting game, for blocking shots, and for providing a steadying influence on the blue line:
Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald, 1944
“Walter (Babe) Pratt, the big ice-general who helped (undrafted coach) mold a bunch of youngsters into the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs today was announced the Hart Trophy winner…spent quite a bit of his time during the season roving among the forwards…He scored 17 goals and set up the play for 40 others for an unusually high point mark for defensemen. Those points were highly important to the Leafs, but probably the Babe did more good back of the blue line with his blocking and his ability to steady jittery rookies:”
Pratt's lifestyle was unappreciated by hockey people:
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Pratt's fun loving lifestyle helped get him traded from New York to Toronto in 1942.
Conn Smythe was a long time admirer of Pratt's hockey skills, but must have been frustrated that he couldn't tame this wild horse.
"If he'd looked after himself he could have played until he was fifty. He was that good. But he was as big a drinker and all-around playboy as he was a hockey player." said Smythe.
Things went downhill drastically in 1946. On January 30, 1946 Pratt was suspended by the NHL. Pratt was the centerpiece of an infamous gambling scandal. Pratt was suspended for betting on NHL games involving games that didn't involve his Leafs. Initially the banishment was forever, but Pratt later admitted his ways and promised not to do them again. After missing 9 games, Pratt was reinstated.
Pratt's competition for the 1943-44 Hart (won during the war)
1. Walter Pratt, Tor D 87 (28 years old)
2. Bill Cowley, Bos C 84 (31 years old)
3. Doug Bentley, Chi LW 55 (27 years old, this would become Doug's one big playoff season)
4. Earl Seibert, Chi D 52 (32 years old)
5. Undrafted teammate of Pratt 45 (33 years old)
Position: Defenseman HT/WT: 5'10", 180 lbs Shoots: Left Nickname: "The Russian Bobby Orr."
- Named best defenseman at the World Championships in 1956, 1957 and 1960
- Member of the IIHF and Russian Hockey Hall of Fame
- Won Olympic Gold in 1956, Bronze in 1960
- Won Gold at World Championships in 1963
- Scored 132 goals in 350 Soviet league games
- Scored 18 goals in 71 World Championship/Olympic games
Sologubov's totals could have been even greater, but the development of hockey in Russia came late in his athletic life. He was already 25 when the national team was formed, and he played until he was 40. One would have to think he missed some very productive years in his early 20's.
Originally Posted by International Hockey Legends
Sologubov was the first thunderous Soviet body checker. More uniquely, he was one of the first in the world to leave his position to lead attacks into the enemy zone. Both in Europe and North America, the custom of the time, a custom which was to change with the flourishes of, first, Doug Harvey, and later, Bobby Orr, was for the defencemen to stop just inside the opposing team's blueline."
That's some pretty lofty company for a player most have never heard of.
"Sologubov didn't believe that the defencemen's role should be limited to that of fireman. His aggressive attitude, his penetrations, allowed him to become as high a scorer as any defencemen in Soviet history.
Originally Posted by International Hockey Legends
Born in 1924, an old timer in the truest sense, Sologubov played in the very first ice hockey game in Russia, and along with XXXXXXXX XXXXXX quickly established himself as an early great. Retiring in the early 1960s, he never got the international acclaim others would. And lack of video footage and even Communist-era newspaper archives have left a non-existent legacy for the man some called "The Russian Bobby Orr."
Originally Posted by International Hockey Legends
He won Olympic gold in 1956, World Championship gold in 1956 and 1963, and Soviet league championships nine times. He was named the IIHF's best defenseman in 1956, 1957 and 1960. Former Boston Bruin standout XXXXX XXXXX, who was coaching the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen, suggested after the 1956 Olympics that Sologubov was talented enough to play on any NHL team.
With the 27th pick in ATD2011, The Regina Pats are pleased to select:
Mark Messier, C/LW
- 6'2", 211 lbs
- Member Of the HHOF
- Stanley Cup Champion (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994)
- Stanley Cup Finalist (1983)
- Conn Smythe Trophy (1984)
- Hart Trophy (1990, 1992)
- Lester B. Pearson Trophy (1990, 1992)
- Top-10 in Hart Voting 5 Times (1st, 1st, 2nd, 9th, 10th)
- NHL 1st All-Star Team LW (1982, 1983)
- NHL 1st All-Star Team C (1990, 1992)
- NHL 2nd All-Star Team LW (1984)
- Also placed top-4 in All-Star voting more times (3rd, 4th, 4th)
- Top-15 in Selke Voting 3 Times (8th, 9th, 14th)
- Top-20 in Goals 5 Times (8th, 9th, 9th, 9th, 14th)
- Top-20 in Assists 11 Times (2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 6th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 18th)
- Top-20 in Points 10 Times (2nd, 3rd, 5th, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 12th, 13th, 15th)
- Top-10 in Playoff Goals 7 Times (2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th)
- Top-10 in Playoff Assists 7 Times (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th)
- Top-10 in Playoff Points 7 Times (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 6th, 8th)
- Captain of three different franchises for 16 straight seasons
- 54.6% on faceoffs from 1999-2004, at age 37-43
- Played 22+ minutes per game for 12 straight seasons from 1988-1999
- Excluding Gretzky & Lemieux, Top-11 in Forward Ice-Time 12 Times (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 7th, 7th, 7th, 9th, 9th, 11th)
- Some seriously good compiling too: 2nd in all-time points, 7th in goals, 3rd in assists, 2nd in playoff goals, assists, and points, 2nd in SHG, 1st in playoff SHG, 3rd in playoff PPG among the top-100 scorers
- Despite being 2nd in points, he is just 11th in power play points since expansion, because he scored a good percentage of his points at even strength. Being so useful on the penalty kill and stuck behind the best offensive player of all-time, he didn't get on the PP as much as most other star players. Among the top-50 scorers since expansion, only 7 scored a smaller percentage of their points on the PP.
- Canada Cup Champion (1984, 1987, 1991)
- World Cup Finalist (1996)
Originally Posted by loh.net
Mark Messier's nickname, "the Moose," is a tribute to his size, strength and determination. A player renowned for his leadership abilities and one of the all-time leading NHL scorers, Messier emerged from the great Edmonton Oilers teams of the 1980s to become a hockey superstar. He was a powerful skater who combined playmaking skill and a goal-scoring touch with the toughness necessary to survive and thrive in the corners. Six times his teams sipped from the Stanley Cup and on two occasions Messier took home the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.
...When the Oilers won their first of four Stanley Cup championships in five years in 1984, Messier, on a team with such stars as Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr, was the most valuable player in the playoffs, capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy for his 26 post-season points and his undeniable leadership. Gretzky was a dominant offensive player and Edmonton recorded new highs for team scoring. But the Oilers in their glory years were also a tight defensive group. Messier, fast, powerful and physical, was a perfect two-way player, able to excel at both ends of the ice.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
...No, modern fans did not get to see (Gordie Howe). But we were blessed to see the closest incarnation since: Mark Messier.
Messier played the game in Howe's image. Both embodied hockey in its most passionate form -- competing hard, winning at all costs and exhibiting a mean -streak that only added to effectiveness. But that passion and the physical prowess never overshadowed the raw skill sets of either - the explosive speed, the uncanny creativity, the constant threat to score. Messier was very much Gordie Howe 2.0 - with Rocket Richard's piercing eyes thrown in.
While the NHL game has changed significantly on a few occasions in the league's storied history, the definition of the "ideal" hockey player never has. Gordie Howe embodied that description for the longest time. Mark Messier is the closest player to join "Mr. Hockey" as an equal in hockey's grand history.
What makes it all the more amazing is the fact that Messier was very much a long shot to accomplish anything in the NHL. Messier was the definition of a "coach's project" when he started out. He had a few things going for him though. He was as strong as an ox and wasn't afraid to show it;...
He scored a respectable 33 points as an 18 year old in his first year in the NHL, and followed that up by a 63 point campaign. But it was in 1981-82, Messier blossomed into a 50 goal scorer and the Oilers exploded into an NHL powerhouse.
Messier played under the shadow of Wayne Gretzky for many years, but one can argue that the Oilers didn't reach the top until Messier put them there. With Gretzky's wizardry and offensive firepower and Messier's physical dominance and leadership, the Oilers reached the Stanley Cup final in 1983. However Messier's shoulder was quickly injured limiting his effectiveness. The Oilers were soon blown away by the dynasty New York Islanders.
The next year the Oilers returned to the finals, and again faced the Isles. This time Messier was healthy, and the Oilers gained their first Stanley Cup and at the same time ended the Isle's four year reign as champions. In the pivotal game 3 of the series, it was Messier's spectacular goal that sparked to Oilers and they never looked back. Messier was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the playoffs most valuable player.
Gretzky and Messier and the Oilers would enjoy their own dynasty, winning 3 more Cups. After Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles in 1988, Messier was named Oilers captain. He enjoyed his most productive season in 1989-90, scoring 129 points, and winning the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP. He would then lead the Oilers to a somewhat surprising 5th Stanley Cup in 7 years. Surprising only because Gretzky had left only 2 years earlier.
However, Messier's days in Edmonton were numbered, just like Gretzky ahead of him. Changing economics forced the Oilers to dismantle perhaps the greatest team of all time. At the start of the 1991-92 season Messier became known as "the Messiah" as he was traded to the New York Rangers. His leadership qualities and all around play inspired the Rangers to acquire him to fulfill a mission: to bring the Stanley Cup back to Manhattan for the first time since 1940. In doing so he became Manhattan's favorite son. Remembered as much as a Ranger as he was an Oiler, he is immortalized in sporting history like very few hockey players before him.
Even though Messier's career, and the fortunes of the Canucks, who he joined in 1997 and the Rangers, who he rejoined in 2000, would slide into decline, his legendary status would only grow with Howe-like longevity.
His stellar career that featured 694 goals, 1,193 assists and 1,887 points in 1,756 games. He surpassed Gordie Howe's once untouchable career scoring feats, ending his career as the NHL's second highest scorer all time behind his buddy Wayne Gretzky. Thanks in large part to the NHL lockout of 2004-05, Messier fell one season shy of equaling Howe's record of 26 seasons played, and finished just 11 games behind on the games played list.
Originally Posted by Players: The Ultimate A-Z Guide Of Everyone Who Has Ever Played in the NHL
The closest thing to Gordie Howe the modern generation of hockey fans has ever seen... Messier has accomplished more than just about any player not named Mario or Wayne... the first man to captain two teams to the cup...
Originally Posted by Top 100 Rangers
#4 - Mark Messier. He was not the first captain in Rangers history, nor would he be the last. But because he fulfilled his pledge to win the Stanley Cup in New York, Mark Messier is the captain against whom all others will be measured. The greatest leader in professional sports earned that reputation by giving his all every night and demanding the same from his teammates. He did it with a glare that could burn a hole through lead and a smile that could warm up a room. He did it with his stick, with his elbows, and the willingness to use either as a weapon. And he did it with the boundless joy of a child playing a child's game who looked as euphoric scoring NHL goal #694 as he had scoring his first, 25 years earlier... Messier was as complete a player as the league had ever seen - one who could pass, shoot, skate, hit or fight his way to victory... "He will make everybody believe that the New York Rangers can actually win," GM Neil Smith said. "And I'm not sure that there's ever been anybody yet in the last God knows how many years that's been able to make the Rangers believe they can win...
With the rangers a game away from elimination in 1994, Messier earned his place among New York's sporting icons when he delivered his famous guarantee - the promise that his team would triumph in game 6 and extend the series to seven games... When it came to motivational tactics, the big, balding centerman had a knack for knowing which buttons to push... "I'll tell you one thing - it didn't make Mark play any harder. You knew he was going to play his rear end off in that game whether he made a guarantee or not". Aware that failure would result in the worst kind of embarrassment, Messier backed up his bold prediction by scoring a natural hat trick in the third period, helping the Rangers erase a two-goal deficit. Play by Play man Doc Emrick called it "the stuff of legend", and it certainly has taken on the air of myth in the years since. True to form, Messier also scored the Cup-winning goal in game 7 of the finals, a series only slightly less epic.
After returning in 2000, even he could not singlehandedly drag an overpaid, underachieving collection of thirtysomethings back into the playoffs... he remained an effective presence skating against players half his age... Messier's Ranger legacy will never be about statistics. It's about defying bogus curses and, for a time, making an entire organization believe that nothing short of winning was acceptable.
Originally Posted by Ultimate Hockey
one of the NHL's most dominant all-around talents, combining a natural touch around the net with a rough and tumble style... He became the unquestioned leader of the Oilers... "Wayne had a huge influence on the team. But he wasn't the one to stand up in the dressing room and get everyone going. Mark was the one who did that."...
Originally Posted by Hockey's Greatest Stars
"I can never shrug off a defeat," Mark Messier has said. "I can remember a friend of mine on a team that hadn't done well for years. He'd be upset after a loss, and the veterans would say, 'Listen, don't worry about it. There's nothing you can do.' That's why some teams never get turned around. they accept losing."
Mean, with a fierce glare... postseason success was his destiny... "When I hear that legend talk, I actually feel a little guilty, a little embarrassed. One player, no matter how good a leader on and off the ice, does not win the Stanley Cup. Your teammates have to have the same burning desire as you."
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
If you were to search for a statement of sincere, positive appreciation for the various qualities of Mark Messier, you would have, I'd say, about 100,000 to choose from... "Big. Strong. Fast. Great Shot. Physical. Mean. Durable. Great Leader. What else could you ask for in any individual?" That's what Ric Nattress said when asked to sum up Mark Messier's career... but there is one that Nattress left out: his intelligence. Messier is smart, and not just in a street-smart way... to listen to Messier talk to reporters after a game was to listen to someone with an expert facility in words and ideas. He never misspoke and rarely made a gaffe, instead displaying night after night the kind of sustained ease with words...
"Gretzky was the brigadier boy, but he had a bunch of generals and colonels... Mark was the big, strong, tough guy. They had Semenko to be a policeman, but Mess didn't ever do that kind of job. Mess did it emotionally. If he got fired up, he knew he could go do anything he needeed to do. Lee Fogolin said that in motion, when skating, the strongest man in the world is Mark Messier.
...as Semenko put it, "Messier has a mean streak that's unequaled... You could see it in his eyes; he was pushing guys a little bit more the next year," Sather said. Kevin Lowe remembered that "Mark did whatever it took. If it happened to be a game where Wayne was being checked, he went out and took charge offensively. If Wayne was doing his thing like he did normally, Mark would be a physical force. The point i'm trying to make is that he made a commitment to just wanting to win."
"Messier doesn't play the game square," said Don Cherry. "He's like Gordie Howe. You bother him, and there's nothing he won't do to you. He could end your career."
"He didn't have to fight," John Short said. "He could hit with an elbow or stick or absolutely lose it. He left guys almost comatose on the ice. That was the game for him; he was by today's standard a dirty player, because he did whatever he had to. You were allowed to do that to him too, if you were tough enough, but few were. Opposing players always knew where Messier was on the ice during any given shift. You were quite at liberty to hit Mark Messier with a butt end - if you wanted to take your life in your hands."
Originally Posted by THN Top-100 Players Of All-Time
#12: Mark Messier
Blessed with skating, anticipation and hand skills for which his father would have killed... "They talk about Maurice Richard's look... well, Mark has the same look."...
In 1983, after the NY Islanders had beaten Edmonton in the finals, Messier emerged wearing a towel just in time to catch a TV interview in which Al Arbour said his team won because they had greater character. Messier reacted like a wild gunman. In one motion, he ripped the towel from his waist and violently snapped it at the screen. The loud crack, coupled with the suddenly naked and scowling Messier served notice that second best would not do. The next year Messier went the length of the ice to blow a goal past Billy Smith and help give the Oilers a 2-1 lead in games against the Isles. The rest of the series was not close and Messier earned playoff MVP honours.
Originally Posted by New York Rangers Greatest Moments and Players
In a city filled with legendary characters, only a precious few hockey players can be counted as genuine Big Apple icons. Without question, Mark Messier emerged as just such a hero of heroes... "Winner" would be the most appropriate word to describe him... He was the ultimate power forward of his generation... many go so far as to say that he was a better all-around player than Wayne Gretzky... In his prime, Messier tore down the rink like a locomotive. Shadowing him was virtually a waste of time and manpower. "It was impossible to stop that man," said Jacques Demers... "Mark had that look in his eye," explained Glen Sather. "It's a look that I had only ever seen once before in a great hockey player, and that was Maurice Richard. But Mark had it even more. At critical times in the playoffs, he'd give everyone that look in the dressing room, and away we'd go!"
Al MacInnis summed up his feelings this way: "Mark's reputation is the right one as far as maybe being one of the best, if not the best, leaders in the game, for many, many years... A complete player, he could change the momentum of a game with his skill level and his physical attributes. He was one of the top players ever to play the game."
Originally Posted by The Battle Of Alberta
A lightning quick skater... a fiery leader and the pre-eminent power forward the game had ever seen...
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
To a certain extent, Messier was still something of a bit player at this point, having scored just 33 points in 75 games... But Messier had definitely made an impact... he played a banging, crashing style, always skating at full throttle and looking to stir things up... THN noted close to the end of the season Messier had been in ten fights, winnng seven of them, with two draws and one loss... As had happened before, a run-in wth the big Dave Langevin of the Islanders, was cited as a stark testimony to Messier's brute strength... The 195-pound Messier hit the 215-pound Langevin so hard with a left hook, Langevin's helmet exploded in the air... Messier was so intimidating that his teammates called him "mad dog".
But Messier did more than just charge around the ice trying to keep his opponents off-balance with his unpredictability on the ice. In February, he was moved off left wing and put at center, giving him a significant increase in ice time. By the stretch run, he was taking most of the key faceoffs and shouldering a lot of the penalty killing chores. "Name me one other team that's got a third rounder playing regularly. He's better than some number one picks," said Sather, who pointed to Messier's skating ability in particular. "I don't think there is a faster guy on the team. When he's in full flight he just pulls away from guys. He catches defensemen flat-footed with his speed.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1981
******** likes to brawl and that's what he's best at. Messier is much the same way.
Originally Posted by The Game Of Our Lives
Messier was still a teenager that fall, but he had a body sculptors would kill for. On the ice, he played with what he liked to call "reckless abandon"
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1982
fast and aggressive... can play center and LW... thrives on heavy going and can play tough if the situation calls for it... despite age, is strong defensively, a good penalty killer and checker of opposition's best pivot...
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
"His Motto," Kevin Lowe wrote in 1982, "is to live every day as if it's his last, and he plays that way as well. If I were to choose one word to describe Mark it would be 'fierce'. Mark runs over life like it's an enemy defenseman, and in no time at all he became the soul of our team. 'Fellas,' he would say, 'there's nothing left to save it for. There's nowhere for us to hide out there, so let's play with reckless abandon.'"
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1983
perhaps the NHL's best LW... swift, strong and belligerent... future is unlimited because he can do it all... excellent penalty killer, good checker...
Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated, February 24th, 1983
... "A classic Messier play," said Campbell Conference Coach Roger Neilson. "He's such a big guy you can't knock him off the puck. He's so fast you don't want to go out and challenge him. The goalie has to respect his wrist shot because you don't know when he'll let go. And he's still got the finesse to put the puck on Gretzky's stick in the right spot."
That's high praise for one so young, but in the 22-year-old Messier's case, it's deserved, because he is, quite simply, the best left wing in the NHL. At week's end he was the league's No. 4 scorer with 86 points... "Mark always had the talent," says Gretzky. "But when we first came into the league together four years ago, he had a tendency to be awed just by being here. He would sit around my apartment sometimes and say, 'Can you believe we're playing against Guy Lafleur tomorrow? Or Marcel Dionne?' Mark wasn't sure he belonged. Now he knows he not only belongs but should be as good or better than those guys."
And he is. Trouble is, not that many people outside Edmonton, which happens to be where Messier grew up, are aware of it. The reason is simple: Gretzky. Playing hockey on the same team with the Great One is an excellent way to get yourself on an American Express commercial. Messier has been in Gretzky's wake since 1978...
Glen Sather, the Oilers' president/G.M./coach/waterboy, shrugs when asked if Messier is getting the credit he deserves. "Is he the best left wing in hockey?" asks Sather rhetorically. "I'm not going to say that and put pressure on Mark. He certainly has the tools to be as good as anyone." Messier was a first-team All-Star at the end of last season, and he's on his way to an even better season in '82-83. Quebec's Michel Goulet, Chicago's Al Secord, Philadelphia's Brian Propp and the Islanders' John Tonelli are fine left wings, but would Sather trade Messier even-up for any of them? No way. He's in a class by himself.
...In addition, left wings traditionally have been big, rugged muckers who are more adept at digging the puck out of corners and administering bone-rattling checks than they are at shooting. At 6 feet and 207 pounds, Messier is big—his nickname is Moose, which was hung on him by his brother "because I have such a big butt"—and he can deliver a mean check. But Messier's similarity to the stereotype ends with his size. "He's so fast that he can just swoop right by," says Black Hawk Defenseman Doug Wilson. "And once he's past you, the only way to stop him is to take a penalty. He's always flying." Adds Washington defender Rod Langway, who remembers Messier from his WHA days as a hard-nosed, drop-the-gloves-and-fight type of player, "You could tell that if he ever used his skills just for playing, he'd be outstanding. Now that he's doing it, he's scary."
...What Messier had to learn was self-control off the ice. "I suppose I was pretty wild," he says. "I don't exactly go home after every game and bake cookies now, but I know there's a limit to how much you can do before it affects your hockey."
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1984
Big, strong, fast, and skilled... solid all-around player who's also an excellent penalty killer.
Originally Posted by Hockey: The World Of the Pros
If Sutter is the ultimate for all-around play, then Edmonton's Mark Messier must be a gift from heaven. Simply put, there is nothing Messier cannot do. Messier is an explosive skater, a superb goalscorer and a relentless checker and hitter. "When I hit people", says Wayne Gretzky, "I just try to get in the way. But Mark, he HURTS people." That's not surprising, considering Messier's build. Every inch of him is muscle; there's not a spare ounce anywhere, and Messier uses his strength to outstanding results... It was during the 1984 Stanley Cup finals that Messier showed the world just how talented he is by almost singlehandedly dismantling the New York Islanders. Every clutch goal or tide-turning hit was delivered by Messier and his Smythe trophy was well-deserved.
Originally Posted by Gretzky: An Autobiography
the first time I saw Mess skate I thought, "My God, how did they get this guy with the 48th pick? Moose, as everybody called him then, is just a totally free spirit. He is also the ultimate competitor. One time, ***** ****** of Calgary cheapshotted him. Mess didn't forget. He waited until the next period, at his first chance, and steamrolled him, just flattened him like a pancake. And before ****** was even down on the ice, Mess was on him. Mess broke his jaw and that put ****** out for a month. That's the kind of competitor Mess was... On the ice, all he wants to do is win... Hockey players want to win championships. baseball players dream about the hall of fame. Forget the hall of fame. Give Mess the Stanley Cup.
I wasn't your typical captain. I was real quiet, never would say anything too bad to anybody. Mess shoots from the hip. He comes into the locker room and says, "Man, you're brutal tonight. Get going." And whoever it is, gets going. He wasn't afraid to kick a guy in the butt to get him going.
Originally Posted by ***** ******, years later
I guess he didn't like it when I rammed him into the boards. He jumped me and punched me from behind. Cracked my jaw.
Originally Posted by Mark Messier, after the hit
I snapped. But if I don't get even for a thing like that, I have a short career. ******'s hit was a deliberate attempt to injure. I don't regret anything at all.
Originally Posted by The Battle Of Alberta, regarding 1984 series with Calgary
McDonald says that after Linseman scored, Messier was the star of the third period, which the Oilers dominated. In many ways, this was the game that transformed The Moose from a great scorer on a great team to an icy leader who would glare at any teammate he felt wasn't leaving it all on the ice. this was the game (and series) that transformed Messier from a great player into a surefire Hall of Fame legend.
"I remember that Game 7, and how Mark Messier took control of that game," says McDonald. "He was the best player on the ice in that third period and they eked out a victory." Messier's play wasn't without controversy. During those 1984 playoffs, he delivered one of the most memorable bodychecks in the history of the rivalry. He caight Flames forward Mike Eaves against the glass; the resulting crash not only concussed Eaves, but left him with a dislocated shoulder and broken wrist.
Don Edwards, the veteran goalie for Calgary, will never forget the Messier/Eaves incident. "I remember how tough the games in Edmonton were, especially the Mike Eaves hit. Why was it so dirty? It was a charge. Messier skated about 35 feet to get to him and he left his feet when he hit him. Mike never had a chance. Messier went right at him and he sent Mike right into the dasher boards. Mike was defenseless; it was the most vicious thing I have ever seen in hockey.
Originally Posted by Grant Fuhr, 1984
That's part of the game. Mess runs over people. Sometimes, people don't get up. That's life. That's what happens when you stand on the train tracks.
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
The Oilers were further buoyed by the sight of Messier leveling the normally unmoveable Islander captain. "Mark hit Denis Potvin on the goal line just to the right of their net," Coffey remembered. "and at that time when you hit Denis Potvin you just went down. We were all, 'Wow, yeah, yeah.' It really brought our emotion up. We said, 'Hey, we can play with these guys.' Because up to that point the Islanders were so superior."
Originally Posted by The Glory Barons
It was Mark Messier, not Gretzky, who was awarded the Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. Gretzky produced the most assists and points, but in the trench warfare of the series against Calgary and especially the Islanders, it was Messier's physical play that carried the Oilers forward... the weakness of Gretzky's style was revealed in the heay traffic of an aggressive physical game. Unlike Messier, he could not fight his way through and still contribute to scoring... and when abused, he rather than retaliating the way Messier could, he had to turn his on-ice bodyguard or take dives... Messier's Conn Smythe was not a repudiation of Gretzky's skills, but an indication that the Oilers might be able to win without Gretzky, and that they could lose if Messier was not completely effective.
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
...Halfway through a scoreless first period, Messier crashed into Vladimir Kovin with his hands high and his stick in both of them. Kovin went down, and the ice turned red with his blood... Messier was given a mild two-minute penalty... many maintain that it was not Messier's elbow that opened up Kovin's face, but rather the butt end of his stick. Author Patrick Houda called it "one of the more infamous moments in Canada Cup history." Kovin was perhaps the toughest man in all of Soviet hockey, at least the toughest since Boris Mikhailov. Despite being the all-time leader in PIM in Russia, Kovin was no match for Messier.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1985
outstanding skater with great speed and acceleration... with size, agility, abrasive attitude and big shot, he can be terrifying when on the prowl...
Originally Posted by May 27th, 1984
But when it comes to pure speed, Coffey's no hotter than Edmonton's two top burners, Anderson and Messier.
...Let Gretzky float like a butterfly, it's the more physical Messier who stings like a bee. Messier is a player of intimidating bulk (207 pounds on a 6-foot frame) and explosive speed. Edmonton scout Lorne Davis says timed drills showed Messier to be the fastest of the Oilers from a standing start. And as the Oilers' No. 2 center, Messier gives his team another dimension by being as tough as Gretzky is slick. Asked if Messier is an intimidator, Gretzky laughs and says, "Mark doesn't intimidate people. He hurts people."
In Game 1 Messier hurt Chicago defenseman Keith Brown, hitting him with a clean crunching check that put Brown into the boards and out of the playoffs with a hip pointer. "He won't score in the blowouts," said Lowe after Messier failed to get a goal in the 11-2 Game 1 Oiler shootout, "but he and Gretz are the guys we look to when the game is close."
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1986
pound for pound, one of hockey's best all-around players... big, strong, fast... a power forward who plays effectively... excels on offense as well as defensively... one of the best at winning faceoffs... plays with enthusiasm...
Originally Posted by The Battle Of Alberta, 1986
The Flames also lost Gary Suter - their best defenseman in the series - to a knee injury after he was belted by Messier...
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1986-87
Messier is an excellent skater with blazing speed and he controls that speed beautifully. He is very agile on his skates and has great lateral movement and the ability to change direction within a stride.... He is an excellent stickhandler and controls the puck well at all speeds and can pass it accurately at any speed too... though he has applied more and more of his considerable skill to checking and his defensive chores (he is an excellent defensive forward, coing back very deeply into the Oilers' one with his check) Messier is also dangerous inside the offensive zone... He can get the puck to a teammate anywhere, or he can shoot himself and Messier has a very strong wrist shot and powerful slap shot, both equally effective... Particularly effective in special teams situations... He is a definite thread to score shorthanded and his presence on the powerplay - either working the corners or the front of the net, or keeping the passing lanes open with his one-step quickness - has made the Oilers powerplay hazardous to the opposition's health.
Power is the name of Messier's game and he is a power forward. he is tough and incredibly strong and mean and he plays an excellen physical game. He can outmuscle anyone, anywhere and his hand and wrist strength makes him outstanding on faceoffs... Messier hits often and punishingly and the people he hits get hurt. Mark will fight and has a nasty temper and has served two suspensions for clubbing the opposition with his stick... Messier is a tremendously hard worker on the ice and a leader by example... the best all-around player in the NHL today (and has been for several seasons) and is one of the best players in the world.
Originally Posted by Joel Otto
From our standpoint, my role was to neutralize him, to get him off his game. It was something that probably meant more to me. I'm sure he didn't think twice about playing against me. He was one of the toughest players you could ever play against. He was a mix of unbelievable skill and brute force... Those games are fun to relive now, but they weren't so much fun to play in.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1987
an ideal pro... fast, strong, skilled, and mean... Calgary focused its attention on him in the 1986 playoffs and it paid off...
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
The Oilers got past Detroit in five, with Messier scoring two goals in the come-from-behind clincher. After that last game, Sather said, "Messier sums it up. He's got that unbeatable spirit... he decided enough was enough, and away he went." Jacques Demers, the Wings' coach, said "There's just too much Messier as far as I'm concerned. Mark Messier is phenomenal. We shut down Gretzky as much as we could, but Messier was there."
The Oilers were behind 2-1 after two periods of game two (against the Flyers in the finals) and were being outshor 27-16. They came back to win in OT, but afterwards Sather credited what happened during that second intermission. "I just wish you guys could have been in the dressing room to hear Mark Messier talk," Sather said. If Nilsson felt any possible resentment towards Messier for what Messier had allegedly done, it didn't show. "Mark is the best all-around player in the world", Nilsson said. "He gets everyone going."
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
They won the game3-1, buoyed by Messier's faceoff record, an impressive 36-14 in the series so far.
Originally Posted by Gretzky To Lemieux: The Story Of The 1987 Canada Cup
Messier took a penalty when he elbowed Gusarov in the head, crosschecked him in the back, then high-sticked him across the shoulder, narrowly missing his nose. Messier should have been tossed. Instead, Koharski called a minor for high-sticking...
Messier was in the thick of it again. This time, he was skating through the neutral zone when Gretzky threw an awkward pass in his general direction. Stelnov, the Russian defenseman, thought he had the moose lined up. Or maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either way, the two men's courses collided. Messier's elbow flashed, and Stelnov went down like he'd been shot. The play happened so quickly, TV cameras missed the full extent of the blow but subsequent replays revealed Messier's elbow landed squarely on Stelnov's chin. The result was also self-evident.
...It helped that he had Messier to counteract Larionov. Like ******'s role behind the bench, Messier's checking job on Larionov has been under-reported by hockey historians, but it's impossible to underestimate its importance to Team Canada's win. Messier, one of the greatest centers in the game's history, sacrificed his offence to concentrate on Larionov and the Russian was held pointless in the final. True, the Canadians couldn't shut down Makarov or Krutov as efficiently but Messier's line at least produced a push against the Green Unit... "Maybe I should have been a checking centre," Messier cracks, before adding, "When you're playing on a good team you have to identify your role. Wayne and Mario were going to lead us offensively and we needed to make our contribution in another way. It didn't matter what the role was."
Messier, meanwhile, stayed out for the entire 86 seconds, blocked a couple of Fetisov's shots from the blueline, then almost took off Krutov's head at the Russian blueline with ten seconds left. The Russians didn't produce a shot on goal after Lemieux's winning goal.
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
Messier had registered no points in the game against Sweden, yet afterward it was he whom everyone praised. "The guy who created the openings and took the punishment in front of the net was Messier," Gretzky said. Sweden coach Tommy Sandlin said "Gretzky and Lemieux could be regarded as the best scorers in North America, but I like Messier. He is a complete hockey player." ... his ability to motivate was publicly endorsed bt the highest authority, Gretzky himself, who told reporters that he and Messier had met privately for twenty minutes before the game to talk about what they had to do. "I wanted to play my best tonight," Gretzky said. "Talking to Mark helped. He wants to win every shift of every game."
Against Czechoslovakia, Messier delivered his first thunderous bodycheck of the tournament, drilling defenseman Miroslav Horava so hard during a penalty kill that Horava went pinballing into the end boards and landed in a heap.
Originally Posted by The World Of Pro Hockey
Messier and Anderson don't play the game quite as flamboyantly as Gretzky and Kurri, but their own particular methods are just as effective. Both players are basically power forwards - each possessing excellent speed... Messier and Anderson will simply take the shortest route to the net. If that path is clogged by an opponent, so be it. With superior leg strength and speed, both players have been known to ruthlessly bowl over opposition defenders en route to the net. It ain't pretty but it works. Messier's hell-bent-for-leather style prompted Winnipeg Jets' coach Barry Long to insist that "he would run over his own grandmother to get a scoring opportunity". One might doubt the validity of that comment, but until Grandma Messier suits up against Mark, it will never be totally disproven.
Originally Posted by Breakaway 1987-88
The Ciabattari sisters are two young women who live in New Jersey, have been lifelong hockey fans, and have been analyzing the game for several years. They attended every Philadelphia home game and many Devils games, and for many years also attended most Rangers home games. In addition, they were sent videotapes of games from every team in all divisions, spending hours each week analyzing the abilities and styles of every player in the league... when we decided that the book out to have a rating system for the players, they were the first people we contacted... with our assistance, they devised a competency rating system...
(11 categories were used to judge the forwards - speed, quickness, agility, balance, passing, receiving, shot release, puck control, physical play, forechecking, backchecking)
(Messier did not score lower than an 8 in any category and led all forwards with a total score of 97/110. The next player was four points back with 93, and there were seven other players within four points of the 2nd-highest guy)
(Messier was one of eight players to score a 10 in balance, one of nine to score 9+ in forechecking, and one of four with a 9+ in speed)
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1987-88
The league's ultimate power forward, Messier is blessed with both tremendous physical and tremendous finesse skills... for a man with his size and strength he is incredibly agile... defensively he is unparalleled, simply skating over the opposing center almost without exception. He backchecks excellently and is aided by his play reading ability and hockey sense... a powerful and mature leader... loves challenges and loves to respond to them... The best two-way player in the game, better than Bryan Trottier in his prime because of superior strength and speed.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1988
Considered by many to be hockey's most complete player... powerful individual who beats his opponents physically and artistically... torments goaltenders with his forays off right wing... gives spellbinding speeches within the walls of the dressing room when the need arises.
Originally Posted by Looking Out For Number One
It took quite a while for everybody to realize that Mess was a very special player. He was never afraid to try anything. He wasn't afraid of screwing up... Mark had confidence. He knew that even if he did make a mistake, Slats was going to put him back out there on the ice. It wasn't just that he was talented. You simply couldn't keep a person with his competitive drive on the bench unless you had a chain. A thick chain.
You don't really see what Mark does to a lot of other players. The last thing you want to do is beat him clean on the draw. I've talked to other centremen on other teams and they've told me how they never wanted to embarrass Mark, because if they beat him, he was going to leave a mark on them somewhere with his stick or his elbow. Mark has such a competitive fire in him and gets so caught up in things that I've often wondered if he realizes what he does sometimes. In a game I played against Toronto, Mark was going down the boards and Dale DeGray tried to take him out. Mark laid DeGray out cold with a cross-check to the face. I couldn't go out there and make the score even by attacking Mark. DeGray had been a teammate for a couple of months, but Mark had been a great friend for ten years. I was't going to fight him... I told him, "what's all the fuss about, Mark? You're complaining about five minutes and we've got a vegetable in our room!"
Mess doesn't fight often, but when he does, he's devastating. He's got a mean streak that's unequaled. You can't implant it in a player, I don't care if he's eight feet tall. It's a given.
Originally Posted by The Battle Of Alberta, 1988
Berezan was KO'd by a crushing check from Mark Messier.
Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated, May 9th, 1988
Listen to Gretzky skate: flick, flick, flick. He plays above the ice. Now listen to Messier: scrape, scrape, scrape. He assaults the ice. In a 1987 documentary about the Oilers, The Boys On The Bus, Messier and Gretzky discussed why they play hockey. Gretzky plays for the fun of it; Messier plays to challenge himself.
"What you see with Mark is what you get," says Gretzky. "He shoots straight from the hip. And he loves life." When Messier goes water-skiing with friends, he wants to get his shoulder closer to the water than anyone else. He wants to be the best-dressed, have the darkest tan, have the best time—or die trying.
This season Messier has established himself as one of the top playmakers in the league... In his first few years in Edmonton, Messier exceeded every expectation on the ice and off. He could skate, he could fight and he broke probably every training rule in Sather's book. In no time he was making plays and scoring picture-book goals. Osmosis, says his father. Had Mark been drafted by, say, the Red Wings, he might never have scored more than 20 or 25 goals in a season. But playing with Gretzky, Anderson, Lowe and Jari Kurri, four of the best players in the world. Messier turned into a silky scorer. In the 1981-82 season he scored 50 goals, and he has had 100-plus-point seasons four times since then.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1988-89
An excellent skater in all categories of that skill... which is remarkable because of his size and strength, and the stereotype that says he shouldn't be able to play that way... his skills seem to have been created specifically for special team situations... has learned to not over-react and thus land in the penalty box.
Originally Posted by Gretzky: An Autobiography
I got two assists that night, but we lost 8-6. I also got a pretty good bruise from Mess. I told reporters before the game I thought Mess would check me, but I was wrong. He steamrolled me, backed up and steamrolled me again. The guy is a competitor and this was a game he wanted to win. I didn't hold it against him. Now I know why people cringe at the sight of him.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1989-90
the league's best combination of finesse and physical skills - the prototypical power forward... superior anticipation and hockey sense, making him dangerous at both ends... his best scoring weapon is his wrist shot, which he can deliver in stride... though he is tremendously strong, it is his balance that keys his physical game. It allows him to crash into the opposition and yet remain vertical, and thus able to continue the play... his hunger and desire to win is foremost in his mind. there is nothing Mark Messier cannot do when he puts his mind to it. It is his physical skill combined with his mental toughess that make Mark the best all-around player in the world.
Originally Posted by THN Yearbook, 1990
Edmonton Oilers' fastest skater, according to a poll of THN correspondents: Mark Messier.
Fantastic on faceoffs - here are 15 guys you'd want to have on the ice in the last minute of play in a crucial game: #2) Mark Messier.
Originally Posted by My 26 Stanley Cups
The Oilers were behind the Blackhawks 3-1 in the Western Conference finals. The fourth game turned into the Mark Messier show. Oilers coach **** ******* and chicago goaltender Greg Millen talked to me about that game:
******* said, "That's probably the best game I've ever seen Mark Messier play. He took two penalties on the first two shifts as if to let everybody know this was going to be his night so they had better get out of his way. After that, he was the most feared player on the ice and had all kinds of space. He did everything a player could do. he scored, he backchecked, he was physical, he just dominated the game. That turned the series around for us."
Millen said, "I thought we had a good chance at the Stanley Cup but Mark Messier took it away from us that night."
Originally Posted by Simply the Best
It was a team recast around another commanding force: Mark Messier. The club was a reflection of its captain - fast, tough, powerful, uncompromising, thoroughly professional. And it had the exuberance of youth...
There was one player who seemed to raise the Oilers above the muddle, grab them by the collars and pull them up to his level. Mark Messier, at age 29, had the year of his life last season. "He's the Heart and Soul of the Oilers", says Glen Sather. "He knew that if this team was going to get back to where it wanted to be, winning championships", says Craig MacTavish, "it was going to be on his shoulders. And he played that way. Says Messier: "I just don't think under any circumstances you can let yourself down or not accept any challenge that comes your way."... The rest of the league may fear him, even despise him in certain situations, but their respect is undeniable. "You've heard the expression 'a man's man'? asks Minnesota president Lou Nanne. "Well Messier is a hockey player's hockey player. He fits the classic mode. When you think of a classic hockey player, you think strength, speed, flair. Messier has all those.
Messier has always been a frightening package of talent... At 6'2", 210 pounds, he is an impsong figure. He remains one of the fastest players in the NHL. "He has strength with his speed," says Lou Nanne. "That's the difference. He can take the outside and go by you, or he can bull over you. Or he can put his arm out and push you aside. A lot of guys try that but you can get under them and force them into the boards. You can't force Messier anywhere." Says Muckler: "He's an intimidating hockey player. he's got great skills and he's so big and strong, and he's so intimidating." His toughness is legendary... Messier doesn't fight much anymore. He doesn't need to. His burning glare, and the prospect of his fists unencumbered by gloves, is intimidation enough. "I love the way he plays," says Adam Graves. "He's hard-nosed, he can skate, hit, he's tough. He's an all-around player and he's got that mean streak in him. I love it."
For years, Messier has been thought of as a player who challenges opponents straight up. He does not deceive of confound the way Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux do. He does not change the rythym of a game. He speeds it up, true, but that's another story. "He is a lot better finesse player than people give him credit for," says Calgary defenseman Brad McCrimmon. "People get hung up on his speed and power but he has a finesse element to his game that people don't realize. He's not a dipsy doodler but his finesse gets underplayed. He is a complete hockey player. Says Garth Butcher: "Each time he steps on the ice you just have to take extra certain care defensively. The checkers have to concentrate and get back in the play. You just have to play with more discipline and concentration." He is more than the sum of his talents. He is a force off the ice, as well as on. In an era of multi-million contracts, he is one of the few players who can give pep talks, or scoldings, and be listened to.
Former Oiler Dave Lumley remembers being told of an impromptu pep talk four years ago. the Oilers had blown an early lead and one player in particular, Kent Nilsson, was playing indifferently. Messier stood up in the dressing room and said that, while he was not going to name names, he had noticed some players not pulling their weight. "And if they don't get moving, I'm going to personally kick their *****." Nilsson scored three times in the third period.
Perhaps the greatest testament to Messier's MVP year was a remark made by Cliff Fletcher, the Flames' GM. "Looking at it from a GM's perspective, if I had a choice to add any player from another team to win one game for the Stanley Cup, I'd want Mark Messier." The Oilers of 1989-90 were re-created in his image - tough, fast, enthusiastic, obsessed with winning. "People used to identify the Oilers with Wayne Gretzky", said Muckler. "Now they identify the Oilers with Mark Messier."
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
The events of 1989-90 proved that Gretzky was not the whole Edmonton team; the evidence appeared to support a new, unexpected conclusion: that Messier was the Oilers. Maybe they were a one-man team, after all, except it was a different man than everyone originally thought. His teammates started to speak of him in downright mystical terms: "You look at Mark and there's almost an aura about him," Adam graves said. "I don't know how to explain it, but he knows how to win, and he's able to transmit that to the rest of the players."
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1990-91
Mark consistently does more things faster than anyone else in the league... has a nasty temper which makes him mean with his stick...
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1991-92
So big, so strong, so fast, so much of a threat. Come up with three ways to stop him and he'll find a fourth way to beat you with a big hit, a big goal, a big play, a new level of speed with or without the puck... massive physical strength energizes his game from head to toe. Messier has tremendous leg strength, which fuels his speed, balance and power, qualities that allow him to hold off a defender with one hand and pass the puck with the other. He has granite for an upper body, which makes him a bruising, intimidating hitter and also puts the snap in a superior snap shot, which he uses with exceptional accuracy and which can overpower goalies because he gets it away so quickly... experience helps him make the right choice a high percentage of the time... he'll lure a defender to him, then hook a pass to an unchecked teammate; the mere threat of that happening also buys Messier extra time and space...
Messier is a power player. He hits shoulder-to-shoulder, shoulder-to-chest, and people lose their balance or footing or both and the puck comes loose. Then Messier, who virtually never goes down, claims the disc and looks up immediately. He is the definition of a heads-up player. From deep in the zone, in the corners or behind the net, he will look first to bring the puck in front, and is clearly strong enough to do it... In fact, he is more than strong enough to bury you in any physical aspect. He will make the whopping hit, he'll fight, slash or simply run you over - while he has the puck or when he is going after it... he remains Edmonton's emblem forward - the one who puts fear in people, the one who comes through in the important games. His desire to win is no less strong.
Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated, March 16, 1992
Poof. Here he is, a balding, 31-year-old superstar, ready to show the Rangers how they can become, well...big. He smiles. He scowls. He charms. He skates deep into the corners. He plants himself in front of the net. Whatever the Rangers seem to need is what he has to offer. He is Kevin Costner's Robin Hood, suddenly walking through the locker room, gathering a group of merry men to rescue the troubled Maid Marian. Come on, boys. He knows the way.
Try to put a finger on the things he has done and sometimes you touch substance, but mostly you touch air. Changed air. A team that has been trailed by a history of postseason failure—that hasn't won the Stanley Cup since 1940—is riding toward its future at the top of the standings, best record in hockey. There is a change in confidence, a change in outlook. There is leadership. Poof. One man. There is a difference.
"You make a trade, you hope for the best," Ranger general manager Neil Smith says. "In this case, we were looking for Mark to give us as much help off the ice as on the ice. He has done even more than we expected."
...He has centered the Rangers' best line, with wings Adam Graves and Tony Amonte, and is leading the team in scoring with 30 goals and 60 assists for 90 points. He has worked the power play and killed penalties, taken every bodycheck and delivered his own in return. Named captain two days after he arrived, he has called meetings, planned parties, rearranged the locker room. He has changed minds, strengthened weak hearts.
"Just his presence in the locker room, the intangibles he brings, make us a better team," Graves says. "He's more valuable to this team than he ever was to Edmonton, and in 1990 he won the Hart Trophy. I'd say he has to be the premier leader in professional sports right now. Any team. Any game. Who'd be better?"
..."I was looking for that mind-set of a winner to bring into the locker room," Smith says. "It's that repetitive mind-set that thinks only of winning, that knows how to win. I think that's very big in hockey, why you see so much repetition in the teams that do win. They expect to win. They know how to win. I thought that Mark, no matter how long he played for us, would leave us with something we didn't have before. Maybe that would be how to win."
...There had been rumors about him before he came, that he could be a physical threat, that he intimidated some teammates with force. If you 're not playing well, he will push you against a wall and get right in your face. He was not like that. Everything was discussed in a positive way. What do we need? This is what we need from you. And you. And you.
"We lost a game in Los Angeles," Richter says. "Mess called a meeting. It wasn't a real bad game—we outshot them, their goalie made the saves—but still we weren't as good as we should be. Mess was very emotional. I don't want to say things I shouldn't be saying, but there were tears in his eyes. He was saying, I will not take losing as a habit. I will not stand for it.' He wasn't blaming anyone else. He said none of us should blame anyone else, that you never have to look further than yourself when you lose."
Originally Posted by Sharks and Prey 1992-93
Messier singlehandedly led the club to a first-place NHL finish last season... for the second straight year he came up lame with an injury and was forced to return to the playoffs early... you can admire his grit, but Messier's play hurt the club at times...
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1992-93
One of the remarkable skaters in the game, Messier makes acceleration, speed, agility, balance, strength and stamina all work to his benefit. He controls the pace of the rush and the game. Defensemen know he's going to be going faster than them, so they have to concede territory and Messier makes use of that time and space. He'll stop short with the puck, let everyone else react, then check his options and find the proper target with the perfect pass... He's got nice hands, a nice passing touch and nice smarts. He'll carry behind the net from the goalie's left, then throw it in front against the grain - a goalie's nightmare... Messier isn't much for one-on-one moves. He is more of a power guy when he gets near the net... when his team needs a goal to get on the scoreboard first, to take the lead, to pull even, to grab a game that is sitting on the table, Messier scores it or sets it up. He always finds new ways to beat you, which is what makes him a premier player.
A stunning specimen of physical strength... defensemen still worry about his speed, but they didn't seem worried that he'd knock ther teeth out. On the other hand, a lot of that could be the tremendous respect Messier commands and the amount of room defenders give him... Messier was everything to his team last season because he set higher and higher expectations for himself, for the rangers, even the coaching staff... Messier wants to win, and you better want to win, too.
Originally Posted by Broadway Blues
Strong. Powerful. Commanding. Dominant. Determined. Demanding. And, oh yes... a champion. So when Messier spoke, he wasn't just a player, he was The Captain. He was also The Guy Who Knows What It Takes To Win. He was also The Big Guy Who Has Won.
I think it is utterly misguided to paint Mark Messier as the villain in the mess with *******... When you obtain a Messier, you are playing the game for very, very high stakes. You are moving up from a jalopy to a Lamborghini. If you aren't willing to risk hairpin turns on two wheels at 120 miles per hour, if you aren't willing to risk crashing, don't enter the race. ******* had a good driviing record because he almost never exceeds the speed limit. Of course Messier has an enormous ego... But I think teams which accomplish things do so because they have Messiers in their clubhouse. Players such as Messier have tremendous energy; the issue is whether the energy will be challenged negatively or positively by his superiors.
Originally Posted by 1993 and 1994 Coaches Polls
1993: One vote as "best faceoff man"
1994: One vote as "best penalty killer", one vote as "best defensive forward"
Originally Posted by Hockey Almanac 1993-94
Despite Wayne Gretzky's scoring, Mark Messier has long been the center of a debate over who's the best center in hockey... At his best, there is no better all-around package than Messier. He has speed, toughness, and a determination to win that is unparalleled. He also possesses an understanding of the game's nuances that allows him to be both a power forward and an exceptional finesse player. Dangerous from anywhere on the ice, Messier can pass and shoot with crisp efficiency and outskate any defender or backchecker. His wrist shot is among the best in the league... His leadership is unquestionable... If there is a better two-way player, leader, grinder, and generally bad dude anywhere in hockey, he has yet to make himself known.
WILL - reign
WON'T - be sidetracked
EXPECT - 100 Points, 100 PIM DON'T EXPECT - spotty efforts
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1993-94
A power forward with many facets. Tops among his skills are his skating and creative playmaking. He accelerates quickly, is strong on his skates, changes directions, pivots, bursts into open ice, and does it all with or without the puck. He is one of the few players in the NHL who can bend a game to his will... Messier is unlikely to try many one on one moves, but he makes the utmost use of his teammates... There is almost nothing predictable about him...
Originally Posted by THN Yearbook 1993-94
20th-best player in the NHL: Mark Messier. Before you start writing him off, consider he had 91 points in 75 games during a turmoil-filled 1992-93 season and still possesses the most menacing stare in the NHL... played hurt most of last year.
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
Messier started the game (game 2 vs. New Jersey) with an unbelievable sequence. Off the opening draw, the puck was dumped into the jersey end. Devils defenseman Scott Stevens went behind the net to retrieve it, and looked up to find Messier bearing down on him like a runaway train. Stevens, big, strong, and fearless, went flying like a rag doll, his stick cartwheeling through the air. The puck went into the air, where another big bruiser, Ken Daneyko, took possession, only to be stapled to the boards by Messier. The puck went back behind the net, and Messier got to it and stuffed it between Martin Brodeur's pads for the goal. Later, Messier stayed on the ice to kill an entire two-man advantage, then went out on the next shift for a power play. The Rangers won 4-0. "You're a little like a fan watching a player like that take over a game," Brian Leetch said.
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
(Messier's game 6 vs. New Jersey) was an unbelieveable performance, which Keenan called "the most impressive performance by any hockey player in the history of this league." ... Even Messier's foes threw superlatives at the problem of expressing what he had just done: Nicholls called him "the greatest clutch player in the game" and said, "when the chips are down, I want Messier."
Originally Posted by Hockey Almanac 1994-95
Messier played in the shadow of Wayne Gretzky for nine years, and was often regarded as the best all-around center in hockey, although he never scored like The Great One did... A powerful personality, Messier exudes intensity and an unforgiving attitude towards those who don't give every ounce of their effort every night out. Last year he played with a painful wrist injury, and still was the leading scorer on the rangers, playing a regular shift, leading the powerplay, and killing penalties... still skates with authority and tremendous vigour, but he's no longer the freight train he once was...
WILL - lead on and off ice
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1994-95
He loves the wrist shot off the back foot from the right wing circle, which is where he always seems to gravitate. He makes more use of the backhand, for passing and shooting, than any other North American player in the league... still has tremendous acceleration and a powerful burst of straightaway speed, tailor made for killing penalties and scoring shorthanded goals... Messier plays so much that he can't throw the big hit often, but he waits for the chance when one big hit, especially early in a game, will set the tone, wake up his team, and scare the living daylights out of a rival. Messier knows when to keep his cool, or when to jaw away or hit an opponent after a whistle. He has a mean streak a mile wide and will hit late and blindside people. Teammates play bigger and braver alongside Messier... Always seeming to know what his team needs and just when the team needs it... Has nothing left to prove.
Originally Posted by THN Yearbook 1994-95
20th best player in the NHL: Mark Messier. "the greatest leader in sports today". Messier knows more about winning than any player in hockey.
All-time, superskilled, two-way players:
1. Gordie Howe
2. Bryan Trottier
3. Bobby Clarke
4. Dickie Moore 5. Mark Messier
6. Jari Kurri
7. Doug Gilmour
8. Milt Schmidt
9. Sergei Fedorov
10. Mike Bossy
Originally Posted by Hockey Almanac 1995-96
He has played through painful injuries, working every shift, leading the power play, and killing penalties... A confident and productive squad sergeant. His presence in the locker room and on the ice gives the Rangers character and determination.
WILL - play a tough game
CAN'T - outskate father time EXPECT - the ultimate leader
DON'T EXPECT - an easygoing captain
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1995-96
The surprising thing about Messier last year was how much the Rangers relied on him for his defensive attributes, particularly faceoffs. He is experienced enough to know you can win a draw by not lising it; he ties up his man long enough to see how much his opponent wants to fight to get untangled. The puck sits there, meanwhile, and a teammate can come in and sweep it away. On defensive zone draws, he will send the puck behind the net, hold up his man, then release the player just as his defenseman is making the breakout pass - leaving the forechecker caught in between... is becoming even more unpredictable in his shot selection...
Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated, February 12th, 1996
Mark Messier blocked a shot with his foot last month against the Washington Capitals and crumpled to the ice, pain creasing his face. He made it to his skates, then to the bench and, a few shifts later, back into the game. Messier, the New York Rangers' captain, looked like the guy in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who kept getting bits of his anatomy hacked off but insisted that his injuries were only flesh wounds. See, it was nothing. They can't hurt me. So they can't hurt you. Good thing, too. When Messier got hurt, a chill crept down the spines of the Rangers players. On the bench Ray Ferraro turned to Nick Kypreos and asked, only half-jokingly, "What do we do now?"
"I guess," Kypreos replied, "we have to keep playing."
"You think of Patton. you think of MacArthur...that's how we feel about Mark," goalie Glenn Healy says of Messier. "The true test of a leader is if he makes you a better player. He won't make you shoot harder or pass better or make more saves, but being a better player isn't just about skills. We sometimes say a guy has all the tools but no toolbox. The game is about having a toolbox, and no one understands that better or helps put things in perspective like Mark. We believe in him, in what he represents."
..."To lead, you have to have the trust of the players, and to do that you have to find a way to connect with them, to find common ground with even.' individual." Messier says. "It's a people issue, not a sports issue. The way to find that common thread is compassion. The odd threat doesn't hurt"—Messier throws back his head and laughs a basso laugh—"but with compassion the appeal to the player is much deeper than the old hard-ass line that you're going to get reprimanded if you don't play well. We try to build a team, to bond, through the course of a year. And you can do that if you appeal in a compassionate way."
He speaks New Age. He plays caveman. Messier has lugged around the rejuvenated Rangers all season, winning face-offs, checking, killing penalties and scoring like never before. At week's end he had 36 goals in 52 games, which put him on pace to score 50 goals for the first time in 14 seasons. No one has ever had more than a five-year gap between 50-goal seasons. And at 35, the 6'1", 205-pound Messier remains the fiercest player in hockey, a steely competitor who can smelt iron ore with his eyes. Sometimes before a big game those light-brown eyes narrow into a glare that both opponents and teammates call the Look.
... That night Messier gathered the pieces of a crumbling Oilers dynasty and made it whole, slashing and elbowing and willing his way to victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup semifinals at Chicago Stadium. Keenan. then the Blackhawks' coach, said Messier could have been called for 15 stick fouls. "We were down 2-1 in games to Chicago, and we'd already come back from 3-1 down to Winnipeg [in a previous round], and Mark thought if we got down 3-1 in a series again, we might not have enough resources to win," says Philadelphia Flyers center Craig MacTavish, who was Messier's teammate in Edmonton and New York. "Mark took it upon himself to win that game. He was there hours early, quietly sitting in his stall, and he just had the Look. Of course I remember the game. He knocked out Denis Savard with an elbow and horrified [defenseman] Doug Wilson on two rushes and had two goals." The Oilers went on to take the Cup, the first of Messier's two championships without Gretzky. Without Messier, Gretzky has none.
...Messier stormed into Keenan's office for an emotional 45-minute meeting during which the captain reminded the coach that the players needed his support and compassion. When Messier emerged he simply told teammates, "It won't happen again." It didn't. Only Messier had the stature and strength to bridge the chasm between Keenan and his team. "I've always been curious about what exactly was said in there," one Ranger says, "but it's not something you ask. All I know is we never would have won the series, or the Cup, without that meeting."
..."Mark's pretty complex." says New York coach Colin Campbell. "He contributes belligerence, but he also contributes a certain serenity. The players feel like, We're O.K. Mark's laughing."
Originally Posted by THN Yearbook 1996
one individual who did perform at a high level consistently was captain Mark Messier.
Originally Posted by Hockey Almanac 1996-97
At 35, he was only gotten wiser, but he ain't mellower... carried the Rangers last year when many thought he might be slowing down... forget any business about age catching up to him. Messier is the type of player who will go full guns right up to the day he walks away from the game. It is hard to tell on which nights he doesn't have the complete arsenal of weapons at his disposal.
WILL - win on sheer will
WON'T - be counted out EXPECT - speed, toughness
DON'T EXPECT - a lady byng bid
Originally Posted by McKeen's Hockey Pool Yearbook 1996-97
continued to defy nature with his best totals since 1991-92... still a thoroughbred and dominant NHL force at 35... he becomes increasingly suceptible to injury with each hit on his much-battered frame... sustained a rib injury which hampered him throughout the playoffs, yet Campbell still chose to over-rely on his big-game star.
Originally Posted by Sports Forecaster 1996-97
Very intimidating. Like road kill, opponents have a tendency to freeze on eye contact. Has made his name as a goalscorer, playmaker, checker, anc leader - but mostly as a winner. Confidence is his game. No one would have predicted 47 goals last season, except maybe Messier himself. Can Messier do it again? Coming off a cery painful rib cage injury...
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1996-97
Anyone who doesn't believe there is a double standard for stars in the NHL only has to view the swath of destruction Messier carves throughout the league without fear of retribution. Hits that would earn a lesser player a game misconduct or a suspension are ignored, even when the victim has to be carried off the ice. Messier is downright mean. His stick and elbows are carried high, and anyone who goes into the corner with him pays the price... There are few better big-game players in NHL history than Messier... Messier wants to be on the ice, which makes it tough for a coach to tell him no.
Originally Posted by THN Yearbook 1997
8th best player in the NHL: Mark Messier. His captaincy is the yardstick by which all others are judged. Few professional athletes command more respect from their teammates and opponents. He's more of a finesse player now, but his elbow still finds a nose regularly...Will his play ever acknowledge the calendar? It had better not this season, because Messier remains the Rangers' Mr. Everything - from #1 center to top penalty killing forward to best faceoff man.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1997-98
The Messier mean streak is legendary, even if less frequently evident. He is a master of the preemptive strike, the elbows or stick held teeth-high when a checker is coming towards him.
Originally Posted by Sports Forecaster 1997-98
He's still looked upon as a franchise player... no more 100-point seasons but will continue striving for a point-per-game level... big, fast, strong, tough, talented and fiercely competitive with awesome leadership skills... when The Moose speaks, people listen. He's great at both ends of the ice... Effective on faceoffs. Despite the presence of Gretzky, Messier is still the team leader.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1998-99
Injuries and hockey mileage are claiming him as their new victim. But somehow, when the spotlight ison, Messier rises once again to the occasion. It's the everyday Messier who has become less effective... It helps immensely that Messier was the pivotman for Pavel Bure last season. Messier has always been better at making the utmost use of his teammates... His hallmark is that his fathomless determination to win has not allowed more skilled but less brave cohorts to falter. Messier always drags them right to the front lines with him... overtaxed by the amount of playing time he sees night after night.
Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated, April 26, 1999
Is Vancouver a dead end for the aging but still driven Mark Messier?
On April 14 in Vancouver, as anticipation of Wayne Gretzky's imminent retirement gripped the league, the Canucks lost 5-4 to the Flames, bringing a quiet end to Mark Messier's 20th NHL season. When the debate over whether Gretzky should have played one more year finally ends, another discussion will arise: Does the 38-year-old Messier still have what it takes to be a vital force on a Stanley Cup-winning team?
"His leadership skills are intact and he's strong and fit," says Mike Keenan, who coached the Canucks this season before being fired in January. "I don't know if Mark will finish his career in Vancouver or whether he'll win there, but he can still play exceptionally well."
Keenan's firing came in the middle of what proved to be a trying season for Messier, the most revered team leader of his time. Messier began the year in fine form, getting 33 points in 31 games, but on Dec. 22 against the Flames he crashed into a goalpost and sustained a concussion that sidelined him for one game. Then on Feb. 11 against the Penguins, he badly sprained his right knee and missed 18 more matches. Messier finished with 48 points in 59 games, a meager total by his standards, and the Canucks wound up 23-47-12.
Messier's fierce desire to add another Stanley Cup ring to the six he already has could drive him to play several more seasons. He remains an imposing figure, one who will still use his 6'1", 210-pound body in anger, but his production has declined in recent years, and his consistency has faltered under the strain of being the player Vancouver's opponents gear up to stop.
Though he says he's pleased with the moves the Canucks have been making to build the team—such as their January trade of Pavel Bure to the Panthers for Ed Jovanovski and several prospects—and insists that winning the Cup in Vancouver is "the goal," Messier would clearly benefit from playing behind a young, powerful center who would not only lessen Messier's workload but also be the guy opponents key on. "That would be ideal for Mark," says Keenan, who believes Messier could adapt his considerable ego to a slightly diminished role.
The Canucks have publicly stated that they have no plans to trade Messier, who will earn $6 million in 1999-2000, the final year of his contract. Yet if he's willing to accept a salary reduction when he becomes a free agent next summer, Messier will have plenty of suitors. Given the dearth of good centers in the league, and considering Messier's physical condition and determination to win, no one should be surprised to see him drinking from the Cup once again.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 2000
frequently the team's best forward.
Originally Posted by Jeff Z. Klein: Messier: The Unauthorized Biography
"...I was proud of the way the team came together and played well that third year after a tough couple of years there... We played well last year," he said, speaking at a time when the Canucks had a strong record and at least one current Vancouver player, Ed Jovanovski, had publicly credited Messier with helping instaill a winning attitude, "and I think we got a little taste of success and how hard you had to work to get success. I think last year filtered over into this year. You could see it start to turn the corner last year..."
Originally Posted by Canucks Legends
Survivors of the brief Messier era insist that he had a positive effect on the growth of the Canucks. "I didn't really know what to expect when we first signed him," Naslund admitted. "You'd heard all these rumours... But once you've played with him, I'd say it grows on you. He really is a tremendous leader. He talks at the right times, but not for the sake of talking." Those lessons served Naslund well as he took over the captaincy following Messier's departure and developed into one of the NHL's premier players. Other Canuck players, coaches and managers also insisted that despite the team's lack of success the Messier era paid dividends. One season after Messier departed, the Canucks made the playoffs, and they didn't miss the postseason again until 2005-06. Lessons learned from Messier, both in the dressing room and on the ice, had something to do with that resurgence. "Mark's best quality is how he carries himself," former Canucks coach Marc Crawford told The Vancouver Sun on the day Messier left. "Even through the tough times in Vancouver, he carried himself as a champion. We're a better club and the coaches are better coaches and the players are better players because of Mark Messier."
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 2001
The Rangers wanted him back more for his ability to wring the best out of his teammates.
Originally Posted by McKeen's Hockey Pool Yearbook 2000-01
slowed by a first-half knee injury but showed signs of his old dominating self after midseason... arguably the greatest power forward to ever play the game, he no longer taunts defenders with his overwhelming speed and shooting abilities, however he still has the smarts and playmaking skills to be a formidable offensive factor when healthy, not to mention a decent faceoff man at 56.8%... remains an inspirational leader and invaluable role model.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 2002
He still packs a wallop on his team - Messier gets huge points for making guys like Radek Dvorak aware they are just beginning to tap the depth of their ability - but he doesn't have that same impact on a game. Does anyone have the guts to tell Messier to take some shifts or nights off?
Originally Posted by McKeen's Hockey Pool Guide 2001-02
Messier's heroic return to New York was less triumphant than anticipated... despite his best offensive output since 1996-97, the future hall of famer posted one of the worst +/- ratings in the league... offensively, Messier proved again capable of being a force... however, his once-dominant, two-way game has left him, making him more of a PP specialist these days.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 2003
Messier is a third line forward now. It's just a question of whether this great player can mentally accept a part-time role.
Originally Posted by McKeen's Hockey Pool Guide 2002-03
Messier was slowed by a bad shoulder last season, which led to the lowest point total of his career. A team can still look to him for leadership and guidance in the dressing room but can no longer count on him for offense. Messier can still win faceoffs and deliver a solid two-way game in spurts.
Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated, December 9, 2002
...The New York Rangers fell apart when he left, in '97, and even with him back, they remain in a drought. Messier, in his 25th professional season, occupies a position somewhere between star and role player-with-portfolio.
...Messier as a young man had a panoply of skills. If you could design a hockey player, you would make him big, strong, fast, tough, fearless, smart, skilled, determined and remorseless. Great players have sometimes had only some of these attributes. Messier had all of them. Furthermore, he had no significant limitations. He skated powerfully and, because of how strong he was, with exceptional balance and agility. That meant that he could pretty much catch any player he wanted to hit or strip the puck from. His capacity for reaching top speed in only a few strides gave him wagonloads of breakaways and shorthanded chances. Because he was so big (6'1", 210 pounds), he frequently hurt people when he hit them, and his balance ensured that he didn't fall or take himself out of the play. Not only could he skate fast, but he could also perform the elements of the game—passing, shooting and stickhandling—in full flight. This forced other players to concede him room. If you played him too close, he might leave you behind. And it was dangerous to crowd him. He was resentful of company and liable to violence. " Messier doesn't play the game square," Don Cherry once said. "He's like Gordie Howe: You bother him, and there's nothing he won't do to you. He could end your career."
...Part of what makes Messier so disturbing as an opponent is the suggestion in his eyes that he is occasionally only half under control. "When I first came into the league," says Rangers wing Matthew Barnaby, "if you hit him in the corner, you kind of stood back to see what would happen. Is he going to fight? Is he going to hit you? I don't fear too many guys in this league, but there's always been that aura about him that's different from everyone else's. He doesn't know what he's going to do himself."
...Messier was never the brainiest player in the game—Wayne Gretzky, Doug Gilmour, Lemieux and Steve Yzerman were more adept at thinking their way through the intricacies and possibilities, but Messier is a very intelligent player. He knows when to look and where to look, and he is capable of making precise and delicate plays at moments when they are the unexpected choices. He is as smart as he needs to be. None of those other four players had the array of talents that Messier has. He is also a bit of a riverboat gambler. He makes plays that are risky and sometimes they fail. No one is 100% in the NHL.
What about now? The succinct scouting report on Messier at 41 might be, "Aggressive, strong, nasty, solid skills, good vision, a warrior, can hurt you in all areas. Probably don't want to cross him." He is no longer one of the league's biggest players, but he is not small, either. He still skates with authority and power, and only the fleetest skaters can elude him. He's as good a playmaker as he ever was. His conditioning is superb. He's immensely reliable. He no longer intimidates simply by his presence, but as Rangers coach Bryan Trottier says, "I still don't think you want to make him mad."
...His most virulent detractors now say it was a decade only and a decade ago. The accolades many of them gave him so generously have been withdrawn ("He's too old") or are reserved ("Let's see how he does") or have turned harsh ("He should have retired instead of coming back to the Rangers"). They say that he plays too often on the periphery and that his presence is no longer daunting. That the ice time he consumes comes at the expense of a younger player who might occupy the role Messier did in times past. Finally they ask, a trifle querulously, how he can be described as the greatest leader in sports when for the past five years he hasn't led his team into the playoffs. There is no definitive response to any of these objections—they involve matters of opinion—but to take them one at a time, nonetheless: Messier no longer plays a power forward's game because a game based on banging and wrestling with towering young men isn't sensible for a man his age, even one as strong as Messier. It is why he developed his abilities as a play-maker. He can no longer take over a game, but he can frequently impose his intentions a shift at a time. And he cannot be over-looked. As New York center Bobby Holik says, "He's still Mark Messier."
The argument about ice time usually includes the surmise that the Rangers organization hasn't got the nerve to tell Messier that he isn't the player he was and that he cannot expect to kill penalties and skate on the power play and assume the ice time of a first-or second-line forward. Messier is, on paper, the Rangers' third-line center, behind Eric Lindros and Holik, and possibly their fourth, behind Petr Nedved. Nevertheless, before Holik injured his hip, Messier was on the ice nearly as much as any other Rangers forward. Partly this was a result of Lindros's being suspended for a game, thrown out of a game and benched for most of another. It is not that Trottier is reluctant to tell Messier that he cannot have the time he once had. Trottier doesn't strike anyone who talks with him as hesitant, and if there was a visual aid for determination in the NHL before Messier, it was Trottier. Messier's ice time is accounted for by the fact that when Trottier scans the bench he is looking for players he can depend on; who know what to do in any situation; who will play, as Trottier says, "with composure and poise." Down a goal or two, the Rangers want Lindros on the ice. After that they would prefer Messier to Holik, a defensive specialist. Protecting a lead, they prefer Messier to Lindros. Which leaves Messier a second-line center.
...He is like the soldier who keeps signing up for another tour when everyone else goes home. You wonder what makes him do it. As his father says, he doesn't need the money. You can regard Messier's life as an admirable example of selfless and single-minded purpose. Or you can wonder if it doesn't reside among the further precincts of what is tolerable and perhaps sensible as social behavior. The soldier who keeps reenlisting often regards civilian life as a territory he is afraid to inhabit. Decisions intimidate him. He prefers the routine, the dependable, life looked after by someone else, the anxieties collapsed to a single concern: his performance. Messier seems motivated by a love of hard work's best result. By a deep pleasure in pursuit, right conduct and desire within a context. He also seems like someone whose ideals and philosophies equip him to inhabit another version of himself when the time comes. He doesn't seem at a loss for imagining another way to be.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 2004
It's hard to tell this proverbial 800-pound gorilla to take a seat.
Originally Posted by McKeen's Hockey Pool Guide 2003-04
Messier is like that house party guest that refuses to leave - even though everyone else is gone. Virtually all his peers are well into retirement, but the longtime captain continues to lead by example. One of the best leaders in the history of organized sports, Messier is now a shadow of the great-skating, exciting big man he used to be. Still, he was fairly productive for a 42-year old last season.
Last edited by seventieslord: 04-08-2011 at 01:17 AM.
*Expected finish based on per game average, season cut short due to military service
Using these expected finishes, over these 2 seasons (his first 2 as a pro), Keats was 5th in total points (66% of 1st, 76% of 2nd, 83% of 3rd), and 5th in total goals (68% of 1st, 75% of 2nd, 82% of 3rd).
Alberta Big-4 Hockey League Scoring
The Big-4 League was a top level senior ice hockey league that operated in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta for two seasons between 1919 and 1921. Created with the intention of competing for the Allan Cup senior-amateur championship, the league's existence was marred by accusations that its teams were secretly paying their players. The Big-4 lost its amateur status after its first season and operated as an independent league until further accusations of the use of ineligible players led to its collapse in 1921. Two of its teams, the Calgary Tigers and Edmonton Eskimos went on to form the professional Western Canada Hockey League. - Wikipedia
In the 1923 WCHL playoffs + Stanley Cup series, he was tied for 2nd in goals with 2 (leader had 6), tied for 1st in assists with 2, and tied for 2nd in points with 4 (leader had 7) (no points in the actual Stanley Cup series).
X-Games Pro Scoring, 1923
From my newspaper readings, the X-Games appeared to be a series of exhibition games played between the Toronto St. Pats of the NHL and the WCHL teams during the 1922-1923 season. Apparently the St. Pats did a tour of the WCHL, I imagine to determine their worth as a hockey league. A newspaper quote which will be provided in that particular section of this bio details Frank Patrick's opinion of the WCHL.
During these exhibition games, Duke Keats was 5th in points and 2nd in goals, in only 2 games of action. He was by far the leader in points among the WCHL players. Newsy Lalonde was 2nd in goals with 3 in 1 games (no assists, so 3 points as well), and Herb Gardiner was 2nd in points with 5 in 3 games. Only Newsy Lalonde's per game pace approaches what Keats accomplished during this short tournament.
Why should you take the non-NHL/NHA scoring seriously?
One concept that I have never fully subscribed to, and one that I will try to prove is ultimately flawed in the approach that it is generally taken in, is the idea that seasons in which a player dominated lesser competition are meaningless. To use this as a blanket over every season in which a player dominated supposedly lesser players is an irresponsible practice when taken out of context, and I will demonstrate this with Duke Keats. First, the context:
In the 1915 - 1916 NHA season, Duke Keats was 5th in goals (79% of 1st, 88% of 2nd, 92% of 3rd), 4th in assists (47% of 1st, 70% of 2nd, 88% of 3rd), and 4th in points (74% of 1st, 83% of 2nd, 85% of 3rd).
In the 1916-1917 NHA season, Duke Keats played only 13 games due to military service. Are we going to hold that against him? I don't, for reasons I'll explain later. He had 16 goals and 2 assists. 19 games seemed to be the amount the leaders played, so if we extrapolate that, he would have scored 23 goals and 3 assists, for 26 points. 23 goals would have been good for 6th in the league (56% of 1st (2 guys), 82% of 2nd, 85% of 3rd), and while his assists would have been pretty inconsequential, his points would have had him good for 6th in the league (54% of 1st, 60% of 2nd, 81% of 3rd).
Using these adjusted numbers, over these full 2 seasons, Keats was 5th in total points (66% of 1st, 76% of 2nd, 83% of 3rd), and 5th in total goals (68% of 1st, 75% of 2nd, 82% of 3rd).
For a guy playing his first two pro seasons, these are impressive numbers, especially considering every single guy ahead of him was, to that point, an experienced veteran in the league.
Now, on to my rant:
Schmidt, and the war
A lot of people seem to believe that Schmidt should be given credit for seasons that he didn't play during the war years. Well, Keats also went to war, for two full years and another 1/3rd of a season. Should we give credit to him for that, as well as all the other star players who did the same during this period, Fredrickson included? There seem to be many who have absolutely no problem doing this for guys like Schmidt, yet these older players seem to be forgotten regarding this fact. If Milt Schmidt deserves credit for seasons he never played, then so does Keats. Both guys showed that before and after the war, they were stars.
Guys that played during World War 2
On a very similar note, guys that played hockey during the war, and showed that they were good players both before and after the war are generally not deducted anything for these war seasons. Duke Keats proved before his military service that he was an elite player in his first two seasons in the NHA, and then afterwards, he went on to be the best player in the leagues he played in for seven straight seasons. Especially considering what Keats did before his time in the Big-4, WCHL and WHL, why does he not deserve credit for these seasons? I find it impossible to imagine a world where a guy who played incredibly well his first two seasons, then absolutely dominated his league for the next 7 seasons would not have been a dominant player if those 7 seasons were played in a stronger league. He was consistently top-5 in scoring, and a couple times absolutely destroyed his peers. What reason do we have to believe that Keats suddenly would not have been an improved player in the PCHA/NHA during these seasons? I can understand not subscribing to this argument if the player couldn't show his best stuff against strong competition before these seasons, but Keats did incredibly well, all things considered, in his first two pro seasons against experienced vets. He was so valuable to Toronto, that Toronto attempted to block the 228th battalion from snapping him up, saying that if he would not play in Toronto, then he would not play at all. It did not work, but obviously Toronto must have felt they had a star in the making if they went to these lengths to keep this player. This argument is further validated by the fact that when he went to the NHL, despite having slowed considerably, he still played well enough to be twice in the top-10 in scoring out of 3 seasons that he played more than 5 games.
Why are these guys given the benefit of the doubt?
The Russians: These guys are typically given a lot of credit for what they did in their domestic leagues, their international play being used as the validation behind this. Yet when many of these players went to the NHL, they did not do nearly as well as expected, and one guy absolutely failed. Yet they are given the benefit of the doubt because of their great pre-NHL careers, despite their sometimes struggles in the show. Why can Keats not be given the benefit of the doubt for the same reasons?
Pre-NHA stars: Some of these guys dominated the **** out of their respective leagues, and the claim is that the best players in the world played in these leagues. Yet how many of these guys were actually good enough to give the best players a run for their money? I don't see a whole hell of a lot of difference in the depth of the leagues that, for example, Frank McGee played in and the WCHL that Keats played in. The only difference is that other great players existed in other leagues during Keats' time, and fortunately for McGee, this wasn't really the case for him. His short career is used more of an argument against him than any competition (or lack thereof) that he may or may not have faced.
To conclude, I see absolutely no reason why Keats should not have his Big-4/WCHL years taken into account for his peak. He demonstrated before these years what he was capable of against veteran players of the NHA. He goes on to become the best player in his leagues for 7 consecutive years. I simply cannot imagine a world where this man would not have been a dominant player in the NHA or PCHA if he had played there instead. And honestly, anecdotal accounts confirm just how good he was during these years as well. I'll let you guys decide how to view this, but I firmly believe that in cases where guys played in lesser leagues, one must take each case into account individually. The context behind these scenarios is oftentimes wildly inconsistent from player to player.
WCHL/WHL First All-Star Team (1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926)
Alright, Keats deserves the same kind of treatment as Denneny in terms of how he played and how good he was in different situations, so I did a pretty thorough inspection of him in newspapers. First, some general stuff from the standard sources:
Gordon Keats was born on March 1, 1895 in Montreal, but grew up in North Bay, Ontario where he learned to skate and play hockey. He quickly developed into one of the most skilled centers in the early 1900s. ...
... Duke survived the war and returned to his hockey career two years later when he signed with the Edmonton Eskimos in a western Canadian league. From 1919 until 1926 Duke excelled in the WCHL, a league operated by Frank and Lester Patrick, and considered by many to be as good as the NHL at the time. Duke's teammates on that team included Barney Stanley and Bullet Joe Simpson, both Hall of Famers.
But it was Keats who was the key to the Eskimos success.
"He was the hero of Edmonton and undoubtedly one of the greatest center icemen who ever laced up a skate" said journalist Ken McConnell. ...
... Frank Patrick said this about Keats:
"Duke is the possessor of more hockey grey matter than any man who ever played the game. He is the most unselfish superstar in hockey. I have watched him innumerable times. In one game, I especially checked up on his play. He gave his wingmen thirty chances to score by perfectly placed passes. He's the brainiest pivot that ever pulled on a skate, because he can organize plays and make passes every time he starts."
Assigned 1922 WCHL Hart Trophy.
... Keats uncannily could figure out how a play was going to work before it even happened (a gift that has often been attributed to Wayne Gretzky). ...
... He signed in the fall of 1915 with the Toronto Blueshirts. In 1915-16, his rookie season, the tall and muscular lad was stuffed in between Corb and Cy Denneny, a unit that would become the highest scoring in the NHA that season. ...
... Keats hit his peak in Edmonton. The "Iron Duke", hailed on all sides as one of the most dominating forces ever seen, was the best player in the league. Throngs of people clamored to see this big, strong center perform miracles with the puck. He shot as well as anyone anywhere, combining unparalleled offensive ability with a hard, clean style to become the greatest player to play in Edmonton before Gretzky.
... "Duke" Keats, captain of the Edmonton Eskimos, one of the smoothest, foxiest puck-manipulators and strategists in hockey today. - Vancouver Sun, Mar. 25, 1923
Duke Keats turned in his usual heady game and featured in most of the three-man rushes that sent shivers down the spines of the Regina backers. - Vancouver Sun, Mar. 15, 1923
The "Duke" gave Lehman plenty of trouble and fed his wings in perfect style ... - Border Cities Star, Feb. 21, 1927
Keats often displayed brilliant stickhandling ability, and he sometimes had to do it through illegal tactics being employed against him:
The feature of the game from an Edmonton standpoint was the work of the two thousand dollar kid, "Duke" Keats, the Eskimos centre. Two thousand bucks is a paltry figure to link up with "Duke" after his showing yesterday. It's a cinch he looked like two million to Deacon White and Barney Stanley. His reputation of being a burly wolf in the vicinity of the nets was worthily borne out, three of the Eskimo counters being from his stick. Boring in close whenever an opportunity presented itself, Keats gave Reid an anxious thought every time he came near the citadel, and on the three occasions he burled the twine the Calgary custodian never had a chance. After the first two or three minutes of play he was closely checked, and there were generally a couple of the Wanderers close to his elbow when he was given the puck. But the fact he scored three tallies was not the main reason why he looked so good to the fans. Throughout the game he gave an exhibition of stickhandling that has never been equalled, let alone excelled, in this city, and he had the Calgary defence tied in a knot on several occasions. Worming his way through three or four of the opposition was the easiest thing he did. His command of the puck smacking of wizardry. This gent is going to be a lot handful for every team in the league before "many" games have been played. A little more disposition to pass the rubber at critical times would have been more helpful to his team, but this is the only criticism that can be made of his display, and seeing that the game was the first serious effort of the Eskimos, Keats can be relied upon to work in a lot of nice combination later on. The goals he got were the kind that brought the fans to their feet, and all scored from such short range that nothing but a barricade could have kept them out. - Edmonton Journal, Jan. 2, 1920
"Duke" Keats was the star of the encounter and it is no wonder that the Toronto pro team is after this "bird" as it was worth the price of admission alone to see this player perform. His stick handling was marvellous. How he did it the way he was hooked and checked during the encounter is a mystery. - Edmonton Journal, Jan. 17, 1920
Keats was so dominant at times that the opposing team resorted to attempting to injure him to stop him:
The way the Eskimos were playing at the time looked as if the Wanderers were in for a sound trouncing as the Northerns were playing them off their feet, and the Wanderers could not get their bearings at all. The Wanderer defence tried to put Keats out of business near the end of the first period when he tried a lone rush through the Wanderers, but through good luck he escaped an injury. - Edmonton Journal, Jan. 17, 1920
Here's a great piece on Keats, giving examples of some of the conditions he played through and a testimony to him being one of, if not the greatest stickhandler of his era:
In professional hockey as in any other moneyed sport, one can generally find three types. ... there's the second that thrives on the cat-calls and "razzberry" chorus from the gallery ... But just at the moment we're interested particularly in the second type of puckchaser - the one that grows fat on the "boos" from the sidelines. Professional hockey has produced quite a few but we know of no better examples than Gordon "Duke" Keats of the Tulsa Oilers. ... Eastern fans hardly got a full opportunity to see Keats "at his best" as a clown (yeah.. I dunno) for it was while playing for Edmonton Eskimos in the old Western League over a four-year stretch that he built up his reputation. The "Duke" was a stickhandling wizard. Men who have watched them come and go for 20 years say that in his prime there was none like "Duke" - and yet it was the howling of the crowd rather than the cheers that spurred him on. "I'd rather play hockey in Saskatoon than any other place in the country." Keats once told us, yet he probably came in for more razzing in that city than anywhere in the west. Many the night Keats had to duck rotten eggs, lumps of coal, oranges, peanuts - and even chairs - and on more than one occasion he exchanged punches with half a dozen fans before reaching the Edmonton dressing rooms. But nobody loved a fight more than Keats. He used to skate up and down the sidelines before a game, feinting blows at fans with his stick, slamming the boards to scare some sky-gazer - anything to tantalize the crowd. Seldom did he fall and the harder the crowd howled and booed the harder "Duke" played. It's not likely he tried to get away with such tactics in the American Association, but he did out west for years and both on the prairies and coast they'll tell you Keats was the most hated hockey player that ever stepped on a rink - and the greatest stickhandler of them all. - Border Cities Star, Mar. 27, 1929
Even Frank Nighbor had trouble with Keats:
Edmonton scored several shots without Ottawa being able to retaliate. Keats' tricky stickhandling in centre ice was particularly annoying to the Ottawa forwards. - Calgary Daily Herald, Mar. 31, 1923
Finally, an example of some combination work by Keats. The following was obviously a set play, and it shows Keats' brilliant strategical sense:
The strategy of Duke Keats and the Caps' weakness in failing to cover the Edmonton wings contributed to the winning goal. Trapp broke away from the Eskimo end and passed to Keats in center ice. Gagne, unmarked by any of the Regina men, skated up fast along the right boards and worked into a perfect position to accept a pass. Keats saw his opportunity and slipped the pellet nearly to the Frenchman, who snapped it up, sailed in on top of Laird and flipped the puck home, bringing to a climax a beautiful piece of team-work. - Morning Leader, Mar. 15, 1923
Even after what appears to have been his prime, he was still a dominant player on the ice in the NHL:
The Black Hawks played a lively and determined sort of hockey, led by Duke Keats, their latest acquisition in heavy-firing centres. ... The Chicago attack was strong with McVeigh and Keats leading the van, and Miller was called upon to make some clever stops to prevent a counter. - New York Times, Dec. 19, 1927
With Keats and Briden starring on the front line, the Detroiters had a more systemetic attack than in any previous fixture at home. The "Duke" pulled a smart play to get his goal, outwitting the defence to get through and grab a rebound after Sheppard and Gordon had been foiled on their well-executed effort. Keats also proved a perfect pivot for the forward line, feeding his wings with well-timed passes and delighting the fans with his uncanny ability to stick-handle through the defence. - Border Cities Star, Jan. 14, 1927
Duke Keats, former Bruin, crashed through the Boston defense to beat Winkler for the goal that tied up the game and ended the scoring for the period. ... It was Duke Keats who again pulled the Cougars back in the running, his goal after nearly 19 minutes. Following a rush the length of the ice and through the entire Boston team. - Border Cities Star, Feb. 23, 1927
Fellows like Duke Keats, Ty Arbour, Alex McKinnon and Dick Irvin are not to be held lightly. They are past-masters at the trade and once left unguarded are good enough to pile up enough goals to win. - Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 24, 1928
The wise boys who made hasty guesses about the uselessness of the Fredrickson-Keats trade got a rude jolt as the Detroit Cougars stopped the Americans in New York last night. "Duke" Keats, the veteran for whom Art Duncan sacrificed the services of his big centre ice star, broke up a gruelling game by scoring the only goal of the night in the third period. And we'll gamble that it was tallied in typical Keats style, the result of a bit of the former Edmonton skipper's brainy hockey. The Duke has a habit of doing just such a trick - he gets his goals when they count most. - Border Cities Star, Jan. 12, 1927
... "Duke" Keats, rated as one of the foxiest centre ice men in the game. - Border Cities Star, Jan. 28, 1927
Keats was one member of the Chicago team who turned in a worthy performance. Although he was playing major league hockey when most of the Senator puckchasers were school boys, "Old Duke" cavorted about like a mavaric, manoeuvering his wings through the Ottawa ranks on combination plays that looked certain to end in goals. On the rush that brought the tally, however, Keats romped in alone, outguessing the Ottawa defence and circled the local net to draw the guard to one side and then send the puck into the opposite side of the cage. - Montreal Gazette, Mar. 5, 1928
Here is a clear example that his lack of speed nor any checking of his opponents deterred him from being dominant with the puck on his stick:
With the second period half over, Duke Keats, always noted as a clever puck manipulator, put on a splendid exhibition of juggling. The Duke, while not quite as slow as a snail, has little or no speed at any time and it was probably his lack of speed that enabled him to come through with Chicago's only tally of the game. He juggled the puck successfully to get in close to Connell, although two or three opponents endeavored to block his way to the Ottawa net. When in close, Keats decoyed Connell out of position to score easily. - Ottawa Citizen, Mar. 1, 1928
Here is an article from 1928 that demonstrates the importance of Keats to the Hawks:
The "Duke" is the star of the crippled Hawks. ... Keats is working his head off for Lehman, is in great condition and is working 45 to 50 minutes every game. Without him the Hawks would be making a miserable showing. As it is, they are dangerous to any of the teams. The "Duke", once rated as a bad man, is controlling his temper better than ever before and his effectiveness is greater than at any time in his hockey career. With wing men of real scoring ability, the Hawks should make plenty of goals because of the great puck carrying and deadly passing of Keats and the veteran Ty Arbour. While Keats is probably the slowest skating centre in the National Hockey League, he can carry the puck through the stiffest opposition and has a deadly shot. His greatest handicap has been overweight. When he reported to Detroit at the start of the season he was over the 200-pound mark and for several weeks was useless. Now he is down to 183 and going great guns. - Border Cities Star, Mar. 20, 1928
This article also demonstrates that while being slow and overweight was a weakness for him, he was able to identify when his team needed him in top shape and worked his ass off to be the best he could be, and that even in 1928, near the end of his NHL career, he was still a deadly offensive player.
Here is a piece from Ken McKenzie, the Eskimos manager, who recalls one of Keats' more dominating performances:
It was in a game in Saskatoon in 1926. The end of the first period found the Crescents leading 3-0. "I'll win this hockey game yet," vowed Keats in the dressing room and before the second period was over he had tied the score. Saskatoon went away to another lead in the last session, but again the "Duke" rushed from end to end, beat the entire Saskatoon team, Bill Cook, George Hainsworth and all, for the tying goal. - Leader-Post, Dec. 21, 1932
This little piece is particularly impressive, from the 1923 WCHL championship game:
The second chapter in the history of the Western Canada Hockey League championship struggle has been written. It has left Regina reeling under the shock of a championship lost on a penalty shot; it has left Edmonton the happiest and most jubilant city on the continent, and it has inscribed the names of Duke Keats and Bill Laird in letters of gold, for these peerless hockey stars were the heroes of a game that will never be forgotten. ... It was a revelation to see Keats play hockey on his home ice. He was a new and different Keats. Never once did he show any inclination to mix things; he played a cool, brilliant game, scarcely took any rests, and whenever he called upon a sub it was only because he was panting with exhaustion and streaming with perspiration. He was the iron man on hockey on Friday, and we know now why they call him the Iron Duke. - Morning Leader, Mar. 19, 1923
When his team needed him the most, when everything was on the line, the Duke delivered his best performance.
And finally, while he is generally regarded as slow, and I have no evidence to suggest he was fast in his early days, he was capable of showing speed at times:
Keats with an uncommon burst of speed, stickhandled through to Laird's threshold but could not beat the custodian. The Duke got a big hand. - Morning Leader, Mar. 17, 1923
Now, there is reason to believe that Keats was a strong two-way player as early as 1916:
Keats, playing centre, showed the Toronto crowd a brilliant performance. His stick-handling was superb, and he pestered everybody in sight with backchecking. - Toronto World, Jan. 13, 1916
Here is a particularly impressive display of defensive work that Keats showed, all in the same game:
Moran took the rubber on the faceoff and passed to Hay. Keats checked him. ... McVeigh skated up fast and regained the rubber. Keats got after Charley in center ice. ... Keats took the rubber Sparrow took it away from him. Keats got it back. ... Sparrow rushed and was blocked by Keats. ... Irvin went down with Hay and Keats intercepted a pass. ... Moran was stopped by Keats, who tried a long shot ... Arbour took the puck from the faceoff and passed to Gagne. In trying to get through the defense, the Frenchman was stopped by Moran. He rushed and passed to Irvin, but Ty Arbour intercepted the pass. Ty could not pass Traub. The latter's rush was stopped by Keats near the Edmonton blue line. Duke took it up and shot wide. Traub relieved and passed to Irvin, who was checked by Keats. The Edmonton pilot passed to Arbour. Sparrow took the puck away from Arbour and Keats did the same with Spunk. ... Ty passed to Keats and Moran regained the rubber. Keats again regained possession, but was blocked by Traub. ... Moran rushed into the defense and retained possession of the disc. Keats finally took it away from him. ... Moran rushed, but was stopped by Keats. ... Spunk was stopped by Trapp, who rushed <some indistinguishable word> as Bill Adams. Bill was stopped by Keats and Duke passed to Trapp. - Morning Leader, Mar. 2, 1922
Now, you might be saying, "So what? He did a lot but perhaps everyone else did more." I say to you that Keats was easily the most prominent for his team, and perhaps of any player in that game in terms of defensive work. Here is the article so you can verify it.
Here is one more example from his days with Edmonton:
Duke Keats was dangerous both on attack and defense although he somewhat marred his record by continual holding and tripping. He was penalized twice during the fray. He was checked closely all night for it would not do to let him run wild. He is too dangerous a shot. - Morning Leader, Feb. 4, 1922
It's a bit of a double whammy, because it notes that he used some illegal tactics to stop rushes. However, it claims that his work was only somewhat marred, so he must have done some pretty good legal defensive work too. Not only that, it's another demonstration of how dangerous he was on the attack as well, that the opponents were forced to check him so closely.
Here is another example illustrating Duke's willingness to go back deep in his own zone to help out the defense:
Down at the other end Duke Keats pulled a boner that very nearly cost the Esks a goal. Irvin took a pot shot at the nets, and Keats, attempting to clear the rebound, slapped the puck a few inches past the left post. - Morning Leader, Mar. 15, 1923
He almost scores on his own net, but the fact that he was willing to go all the way back to help is a good sign.
Here, his all around game is praised:
Gordon Duke Keats, skipper of the Eskimos, was the hero of the night's performance, and turned in one of his best games of the season. Duke was determined to advance into second place in the scoring record and he certainly grabbed off the honors with his all-round performance. - Calgary Daily Herald, Mar. 13, 1923
Keats was probably the hero of the night, to Edmonton fans at least. Besides generalling his men in a manner quite befitting of one who has been dubbed the "Iron Duke", the Edmonton center turned in an almost flawless performance. He never left the ice in the first period, and was seldom relieved in the remaining stages. - Morning Leader, Mar. 15, 1923
The above two probably refer to the same game, but it is good to get confirmation from multiple sources.
Even later in his career, past his prime, he seemed to be a strong two-way player:
"Hap" Holmes would never have been able to hold the fort but for the determined checking of the Cougar forwards, who came to the rescue of the crippled defense. Foyston, Walker, Sheppard, Gordon, Keats and Briden starred in this department as well as on the attack. - Border Cities Star, Jan. 14, 1927
This strongly suggests that Keats contributed more than just offense for his team:
The fans may expect too much of Keats but they will get plenty, for Keats is never a complete washout. - Border Cities Star, Jan. 12, 1927
I have a long article near the bottom that talks about a newspaper's all-star selection process for centers for the 1923 WCHL, which should add some measure of validation to the accounts above.
This one isn't much, but for Keats to stop Nighbor, he had to be pretty quick, given that Nighbor was a fast skater himself:
The initial rush of Nighbor was cut short by a hook check by Keats. - Calgary Daily Herald, Mar. 31, 1923
The fiery leader of the Esks ... - Morning Leader, Dec. 26, 1923
... the fiery Duke Keats ... - Morning Leader, Jan. 18, 1923
Keats, a fiery player ... - New York Times, Dec. 19, 1927
... the irrepressible Duke Keats ... - Morning Leader, Sep. 22, 1923
Duke Keats was hit on the head by a hockey stick, his friends said it must be annoying, but Duke told them it was next to nothing. - Morning Leader, Mar. 23, 1923
Here is an example of Keats' raw strength:
"Duke" Keats intercepted a pass-out from the goal three minutes after the start and after fighting two defenders for possession, snapped the rubber out of a melee to open the scoring. - Border Cities Star, Feb. 21, 1927
Some evidence that he may also have been a trash talker as well:
On the same token as above, it appears that Keats' demeanor on the ice could be likened to that of Bobby Clarke:
When the Edmonton Eskimos come here next Thursday to meet the Tigers, Calgary fans will see one of the shrewdest ice generals in hockey - Duke Keats. They will also see the "badman" of the section, but to the close observer it will be noticeable that that foxy performer seldom goes to the cooler without taking someone with him. It usually happens at a time when Keats has run his stretch of endurance without a rest, and he accepts this as an opportunity for respite. It is feared that too many teams in the league fall for the tactics of this calculating wizard. ... He is dangerous at all times, even though he does not squander much time tearing around, and showing the crowd fancy skating. ... He endeavours to arouse an opponent's ire in all sorts of ingenious ways, and he usually makes things appear as though the other fellow is quite as much to blame as himself, and the double penalty is inflicted. - Calgary Daily Herald, Jan. 8, 1926
For what it's worth, the above also indicates that Keats was a very smart player as well, both in terms of hockey prowess and getting the opposition to take a trip to the box with him.
Now this one isn't necessarily a good thing, but Keats got rough when he had to and wasn't afraid to go after a guy when he felt it necessary. He seemed to be particularly hot tempered in this incident:
Keats had been ruled off the ice for rough play, and as he was skating off the floor a spectator booed him. Keats dashed over to the man and swung his club. The man, seated in a box on the ice, ducked, and the club struck the back of a chair near Mrs. MaLaughlin. - New York Times, Nov. 27, 1927
... was persistently rough during the entire game. He chopped, hacked and generally used his stick as though it were an axe. - Morning Leader, Dec. 26, 1923
Still, it appears that he was able to control his temper at times as well. This is after some spectators started provoking the Eskimo players, one of which, Barney Stanley, went and cracked one of them over the head with his stick:
Even before this little fracas developed Keats was hit on the jaw by a Calgary fan while skating down the boards with the puck. Making life miserable for the Edmonton centre man appears to have been the prime object during the game, but Keats took his medicine without whining. - Edmonton Journal, Jan. 29, 1920
Keats also wasn't afraid to back down from fighting anyone, including Ching Johnson:
Ching Johnson, Ranger defense star, and Duke Keats, Blackhawks center, were the participants in the fist fight which was precipitated when they collided in a fast play. They were separated only after the players, referee and police intervened. - Milwaukee Sentinel, Mar. 22, 1928
A more detailed version of the above:
Ching Johnson and DUke Keats collided in midice, and a fist fight resulted. First the players swung at each other with their sticks, and when the clubs were knocked out of their hands they began to swing at each other with their fists. Players of both teams, the referee and the police, who rushed out on the ice, succeeded in separating the two belligerents. - New York Times, Mar. 22, 1928
Some more about fighting:
The irrepressible Spunk Sparrow and the fiery Duke Keats gave the fans a boxing show for extra measure shortly before the Eskimos' goal. It happened when Laird came out of his citadel to clear and fell down. Keats, hovering in the empty goal-mouth for a stray pass, was challenged by Sparrow, who hustled the Duke about. Keats became peeved, and the next minute the two warriors were swapping punches. - Morning Leader, Jan. 18, 1923
What did other people think of Keats?
First, a long article heaping nothing but praise for Keats. This was an all-star selection for a newspaper for the 1923 season. It states in a very general sense how good Keats was, particularly defensively. They felt that he was so good defensively that he deserved the call over Irvin, who they felt was a more skilled player:
Of all the positions in The Leader's All-star prairie hockey team, none caused us more profound meditation than the center ice job. We weighed the pros and cons of our two best bets - Duke Keats and Dick Irvin - until we were beginning to order Keats sandwiches and Irvin pie along with our coffee at the restaurant across the way. First we thought Irvin would be our ultimate choice; then the Duke popped up with an overlooked asset. Barney Stanley crossed their path for a minute; then Irvin again looked like a winner, until finally we had the merits and demerits of the two candidates trimmed down to such a nicety that we knew exactly where we stood. And we gave Keats the call. Both Keats and Irvin are pretty much invalids right now, but this fact was entirely overlooked in selecting the best man for the job. What turned the balance in favor of the Edmonton bad man was his back-checking ability. He is a two-way man, while Dickenson has a tendency toward a one-way ticket. Irvin is a better shot than the Duke and a better stick-handler, but Keats himself is far from being a slouch on the attack; he is an ideal pivot man, plays his position to perfection and knows all there is to know about combination. And his vigorous back-checking adds all kinds of strength to his team. There is no better shot in professional hockey than Dick Irvin. The Regina boy is a wizard at finding the treasured spot in the net. And his wonderful manipulation of the puck had won him friends wherever he has played. It is unfortunate that such a star as Dickenson should have to be passed up in favor of another; but backchecking is an invaluable asset to a hockey team, and just as we were on the point of awarding the position to Irvin, we recalled this very important factor and could do nothing else in fairness but to give Duke the job. Keats originally played hockey in the east but acquired little prominence until he burst into the limelight with the Eskimos last year. Ever since he has been one of the biggest noises in prairie hockey. The Duke is an ideal type of athlete, of husky build, quick on his skates, and possessing a good abundance of grey matter. He has one fault and that is temperament. ... There are man who will think Barney Stanley deserves the call. The General has been playing wonderful hockey lately while Irvin has been resting up. He is the most unselfish player in the league and one of the most effective. But he can't shoot like Irvin or check back like Keats. - Morning Leader, Jan. 13, 1923
Pro teams wanted him too:
Eskimo centre who gave the Calgary defence many anxious moments, and who demonstrated to the fans the reason why the Toronto St. Pats are so desirious of having him on their lineup. - Edmonton Journal, Jan. 2, 1920
... Duke Keats, the much touted Eskimo player, who is wanted so badly by the St. Patrick Toronto pros. ... - Edmonton Journal, Jan. 17, 1920
Frank Patrick had nothing but praise for Keats:
Keats and Joe Simpson are players who could make the grade in any club playing major hockey. Keats has earned his reputation as the best centre ice man in the four prairie league clubs. He also holds the doubtful honors as the league's bad man. In physique he is a small but thoroughly aggressive and has figured in many a wild fracas on the ice. - Morning Leader, Feb. 23, 1923
How important was he to his teams? Apparently they could barely function without him:
Without Keats' inspirational presence on the ice, the team slumped considerably. - Morning Leader, Feb. 23, 1923
The presence of Keats on the lineup makes all the difference in the world to the Edmonton team. Last night they looked every bit like the aggregation that had trimmed the Caps here in the league opener, and every man on the team played 60 minute hockey. Keats was not as brilliant as usual, but worked hard. - Morning Leader, Jan. 18, 1923
Keats is indispensible to the Eskimos. Playing without his services, the Esks are hopelessly lost. - Morning Leader, Jan. 22, 1923
The Calgary Tigers' victory over the Eskimos was not entirely unexpected. The Esks have hit a bad slump ever since their defeat at Saskatoon, and they haven't been playing anything like the hockey started out with. The injury to Keats is largely responsible for the poor showing of the team. When the Duke is back in harness, a different tale may be told. - Morning Leader, Jan. 9, 1923
A little more on the above quote:
The loss sustained by the leaders of the Western Canada Hockey League was their fourth in as many games, and that they are badly demoralized since their initial visit here about two weeks ago was evident. Duke Keats, their brilliant ice general, was not in the game, and without him the northerners were disorganized and at no stage of the play did they look dangerous. - Morning Leader, Jan. 9, 1923
Keats basically was the team.
Chicago thought enough of Keats that they felt he would be the answer to their struggles:
After losing seven games and winning only two, meanwhile the attendance fading toward zero, the Hawk officials decided it was time to "do something". Keats was the answer. - Telegraph-Herald and Times Journal, Dec. 16, 1927
A little tidbit that compares Nighbor's playmaking favorably to Keats', quite a compliment, especially considering this is from 1928:
Frank Nighbor is an ideal pivot man and as consistent in feeding the puck to his wings as Howie Morenz of Les Canadiens, Frank Fredrickson of Boston, or Duke Keats of Chicago, other sterling centres. - Border Cities Star, Mar. 6, 1928
Here is an article that wonders if Boston overpaid for Fredrickson when they traded Keats and Briden for him:
That Keats and Briden should figure in an even trade for him (Fredrickson), however, is surprising. It probably means that Ross has too many stars elsewhere, but not enough speed in centre ice. Keats has more hockey brains then Fredrickson, perhaps, but he hasn't the high-strung termperament, or the flashing speed net-wards that is Fredrickson's forte. - Border Cities Star, Jan. 14, 1927
The only two bad things I found about Keats were his skating speed and temper. The temper is evident from above, and here is some stuff about his slow skating. Most of it is from later in his career, though, giving us little reason to believe he was excruciatingly slow in his earlier days. I did not find anything calling him really slow before 1928.
Duke Keats, one of the "bad men" of hockey, was on his way to Tulsa, Okla. today, waived out of major league hockey. ... Of recent years he had taken on so much weight and had slowed up to such an extent that all other teams passed him by when Manager Herb Gardiner asked for waivers. - Calgary Daily Herald, Nov. 29, 1928
Even still, he worked hard early in his career to stay in shape so that he could perform in top form for his team:
Duke Keats has been questioned and argued with about his weight so long that he comes out with the announcement that unless the season opens early he is afraid that he will be under weight. This player is doing some work on the side that he is getting no credit for. The Duke is only carrying around ten pounds more right now than his weight showed during the playing season last year, so any doubt in local hockey circles as to his getting into shape will be quickly dispersed. - Vancouver Sun, Nov. 12, 1921
Zetterberg can handle himself, thank you, when he is not handling the entire Penguins team. At a pivotal point in Game 4 last Saturday night, a five-on-three advantage for Pittsburgh that lasted 1:26 midway through the third period, Sidney Crosby was on the edge of the crease and ready for a power-play gimme; Zetterberg abandoned his spot at the point and burst to the net, tying up Crosby's stick with his own and knocking the Pittsburgh center off the play. Zetterberg, a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward, also blocked a point shot during the same sequence and intercepted a pass, enabling him to carry the puck into the Penguins' zone, get off a shot and kill some clock. That might have been the best minute-plus by any athlete since Big Brown won the Preakness. Then with Pittsburgh pressing for a tying goal in the final seconds, Zetterberg stood in front of a Sergei Gonchar shot, helping to preserve a 2--1 win in which Jiri Hudler, a Czech, had scored the winning goal.
That defensive ability along with, of course, the superb offensive skills that tied Zetterberg with Sidney Crosby for the playoff scoring lead (27 points) this spring, is what leads Holland and many in the Detroit organization to call Zetterberg one of the top five forwards in the NHL—or better. "In my mind," says Kronwall, "[Zetterberg] is the best player in the world."
With the continued absence of Pavel Datsyuk, nursing an injured foot, Detroit was left with just one sublime two-way center—Zetterberg—who could play head-to-head against either Crosby, Pittsburgh's captain, or Malkin, the NHL's leading scorer and an MVP finalist. They are Sid and Geno to teammates, Hemlock and Arsenic to opponents. With the last line change that came with his home ice advantage in the first two games, Detroit coach Mike Babcock had to decide which of the two Penguins most deserved the privilege of a full-time escort from Zetterberg and the attention of the No. 1 defense pair of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski.
Crosby won—or in this case, lost.
This was less about Zetterberg checking Crosby than stalking him. The fluid Red Wing, strong on his skates, was so near he could have guessed Crosby's toothpaste brand. "That's what he tried to do the last couple of years that I've played against him," Crosby says. "He's always been close. He's a good skater. It always presents a challenge." Of Crosby's 49 shifts through two games, even-strength and power-play, Zetterberg was on the ice for all or part of 46 of them. They shared nearly 34 minutes of Crosby's 42 minutes on ice. Crosby took 35 face-offs; Zetterberg was across the dot in 27 of them.
Mike Babcock, 2008:
"Someone said to me earlier, 'You turned your best offensive players into checkers.' I never did that," said Babcock, referring to Zetterberg and linemate Pavel Datsyuk. "They're just very good both ways and deliver offensively. That's the philosophy I have, anyway. I believe if the people that are playing against the best people can score, they have to worry about them."
Until now, Zetterberg's niche wasn't nearly so clearly defined. That's why he landed on the NHL awards ballot under "Selke" despite being every bit as valuable to the Red Wings this year as the Hart Trophy finalists -- Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who will be an overwhelming winner when the vote is announced; Evgeni Malkin of Cup finalist Pittsburgh and Calgary's Jarome Iginla.
Zetterberg is every inch as good as those three and more rounded in his game. He can light it up offensively, shut it down defensively and be a leader. This year that's good enough for the Selke. Another year like it, and he'll be among the finalists for the Hart Trophy.
Zetterberg has become a leader in the Steve Yzerman mold, and when Lidstrom is ready to give up the "C" some day, it will be a perfect fit on Zetterberg's jersey.
Mike Babcock, 2009:
I believe [Zetterberg] has a 'will tank' deeper than anybody I've been associated with. His drivetrain is fantastic.
Nicklas Lidstrom, 2009:
[Zetterberg] is always competitive. You see that every time he is out there. He's trying to stay calm out there, but he keeps coming at you shift after shift. He's not going to let you take over.
Zetterberg has put his mark on hockey history with his regular season and playoff heroics in the last few seasons. But if you like to see a longer career than 6 seasons, Zetterberg was playing at a high level before the lockout also.
2000-01: 4th in points in Swedish Elite League
2001-02: Won the Golden Puck as hockey player of the year in Sweden
2002-03: Sporting News rookie of the year (voted on by players), playing very well in a depth role for a very deep Detroit team.
2003-04: 43 points in 61 games for a deep Detroit team.
2004-05: Led Swedish Elite League in scoring during the lockout season, ahead of many other NHL players.
I think that his lockout season, at least, was worth a fair bit. The competition for the scoring race in the SEL that year was very tough, and Zetterberg won. Zetterberg had no teammates in the top 10 in scoring, and Timra finished 3rd in the regular season with very few NHL players other than Zetterberg (and Aki Berg ).
He showed himself to be a speed merchant on the blades and had no peer as a backchecker
Originally Posted by Short Bio vs kaiser matias
One of the first 12 members of the HHOF, he is probably best known as the captain of the Rat Portage/Kenora Thistles, and won the Cup with them in 1907. Also won the Cup early in his career when he was a member of the Montreal HC in 1903. Played for the Cup another 4 times with the Senators, Vancouver Millionaires, Edmonton Pros, and Thistles.
He was one of the key players for the Thistles, he helped them grow into a powerhouse and able to challenge for the Cup. In the 1908 ECAHA season he was only 2 goals behind his teammate Marty Walsh and Russell Bowie for the scoring lead, while playing a defensive role. After one season with the Millionaires in 1911-12, he retired, and died after a pulled tooth led to an infection in 1923.
2 x Stanley Cup Champion (1903, 1907)
5 x Stanley Cup Finalist (1903, 1904, 1905, 1907, 1909)
Selected to The Hockey News’ pre-NHL First All-Star Team.
Ultimate Hockey awarded him:
“Best All-Around Player” of 1900-1909
“Best Defensive Forward” of 1900-1909
2 x Stanley Cup Challenge leading scorer (1905, 1907)
3 x Led his own team in Cup Scoring (1904, 1905, 1907)
Charter Member of the HHOF (1945 Class)
Originally Posted by Small Town Glory
A great stickhandler and natural leader… (after leaving Thistles,) remained a feared goalscorer. He became a highly paid ringer, often brought in to help a team with the Stanley Cup
Best player in the world / Most complete player of his era
Originally Posted by Ultimate Hockey
Virtually overnight, he was the talk of the hockey world. Stories were told of a speed demon from out west, a hockeyist “game” to the core. This man had a vast repertoire of skills, each of them polished to a glimmer. He controlled the puck exceptionally well, possessed a deadly shot, and had a knack for defensive pursuits, most notably the backcheck… He had a devastating shot. His blasts were often referred to as “cross fires”. At a tme when hockey fans argued on behalf of the Russell Bowies, Frank McGees, and Hod Stuarts as hockey’s top player, “Nibs” was easily the all-around pick of the litter.
Originally Posted by Total Hockey
He could skate, shoot, and stickhandle, and was considered the best backchecker in the game…was generally regarded as the best player in hockey…broke his ankle and was never the same player afterwards…
Originally Posted by The Montreal Herald, 1906
Who is the best hockey player in Canada? Nine out of ten people will tell you it is either Frank McGee or him. He is the speedier, but he has nothing on McGee in the matter of stickhandling and has not the same generalship. Where each shines is in pulling doubtful games out of the fires of uncertainty
Originally Posted by HHOF
Hockey Oldtimers who could recall the game as it was played in the early 1900s agreed that he was perhaps the greatest hockey player they had ever seen…
Originally Posted by Honoured Members
He showed great skating ability and had a backhand of unequalled speed and accuracy. Out west, he was often called the greatest player in the game, much like Frank McGee in the East
Originally Posted by The Trail of the Stanley Cup
Tom Phillips played in six Stanley Cup series and stands up well in the scorers for playoff games. He was undoubtedly a great player who was compared favouably with Frank McGee…
Originally Posted by The Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol 1
Passing through Ottawa en route to Renfrew (in 1909), Lester Patrick gave an interview to the press. He stated that he considered Tom Phillips the best player in the game.
Originally Posted by Art Ross
The Greatest Hockey player I have ever seen
A Complete Player
Originally Posted by The Ultimate A-Z guide of Everyone Who Has Ever played in the NHL
“In many ways, he was, in the modern vernacular, a complete player. He had great speed and a terrific shot, and he was a backchecker without compare.” –
Originally Posted by HHOF
He had everything a good player should have: whirlwind speed, a bullet-like shot, stickhandling wizardry, and was regarded as being without peer as a backchecker
Originally Posted by www.geocities.com/kinhobo/phillips.html
He soon showed superior talent in puckhandling and on-ice decision making that made him an unpredictable force to be reckoned with. Tommy could play both Left Wing and Right Wing, and had an unusually powerful shot to go along with pinpoint accuracy. His backchecking skills were exceptional as well. As the obvious superior in natural talent, he became the leader of a special group of close knit players that would be destined for hockey greatness
Originally Posted by Small Town Glory
Phillips earned praise for his “amazing” rushes and his “bullet” shots.
Best Left Wing of the Early Era
Originally Posted by THN's Century of Hockey
Here are the best of the pre-and non-NHLers.
THN’s First Team
G: **** ******
D: Hod Stuart
D: Lester Patrick
R: Cyclone Taylor
LW: Tommy Phillips
C: Frank McGee
RW: Didier Pitre
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
In a 1925 article (Lester) Patrick was asked to select his all-time all-star team. Here's what he said:
"My opinion is based on consistency of players over a period of years, and the fact that men selected possessed nearly all the fundamentals of an ideal player - physique, stamina, courage, speed, stick-handling, goal-getting ability, skill in passing, proper temperament and, above all, hockey brains."
Patrick selected Hughie Lehman in goal, Sprague Cleghorn and Hod Stuart on defence, and up front he chose Tom Phillips, Arthur Farrell and Fred "Cyclone" Taylor.
Offense in Cup Challenges
Originally Posted by seventieslord
As of the end of the pre-consolidation era, according to The Trail Of the Stanley Cup, here are the scoring leaders for all cup games:
1. Frank McGee - 63
2. Frank Foyston – 37
3. Alf Smith – 36
4. ***** ******* - 31
5. Newsy Lalonde – 27
6. ***** ******** - 26
7. ***** ***** - 25
8. Ernie Johnson - 23
8. Joe Malone - 23
8. ***** ***** - 23
11. Tom Phillips – 22
However, Phillips’ cup games all came against the very best teams. A couple of players at the top of the list padded their stats against some terrible challengers such as Queens University, Brandon, Smiths Falls, Ottawa Vics and Dawson City. Remove those games from the record, leaving only serious games in which there was doubt about the outcome, and you’re left with:
1. Frank Foyston - 27
1. Newsy Lalonde - 27
3. Tom Phillips - 22
4. Frank McGee – 21
5. ***** ******* - 18
6. Alf Smith – 15
7. Joe Malone - 14
8. ***** ***** - 13
9. Ernie Johnson - 11
10. ****** ******** - 9
11. ***** ***** - 4
And that’s not just over Phillips’ career (1902-1912) – That’s from the start of the Cup until consolidation! (1893-1926)
Remember, Phillips put up these numbers while continuing to play impeccable defense.
Did the Ottawa Silver Seven Flood the Rink to Slow Down Phillips in 1905?
Originally Posted by Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol 1 (game3)
Phillips and McGee were the stars, both scoring three goals… when Phillips scored his third goal it tied the score at 4-4 and the (Ottawa) crowd was yelling to salt the ice or flood it.
Originally Posted by www.geocities.com/kinhobo/phillips.html
Phillips scored three of the six Rat Portage goals in the final two games, but the watery ice of Ottawa's Arena Rink severely hampered his skating and shooting abilities. Many eastern hockeyists openly questioned the outcome of the series, with a good share of them proclaiming Phillips as the best player, not only of the west, but in all of organized hockey.
See seventieslords' "essay" on Tommy Phillips for a more detailed description his participation in Cup Challenges:
As Late as 1922, Phillips was still the Gold Standard for a "perfect" Hockey Player Out West
Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald, Jan 17, 1922
What should the perfect hockey player possess to be classed as such is the question that naturally arises. Should he be a goal keeper, a defenseman of a forward? As the game of hockey is won by the team that scores the majority of goals, and as forewards have this brunt of the work to do, the perfect player will, perhaps, be more readily discovered up on the firing line, hence the opinion of many that Frank Foyston should be acclaimed the leader. The player should first of all have speed. He should be a goal getter. He should be unselfish. He should be able to check back. He should have stick handling ability, hockey brains and the ability to keep his temper. He should also be able to stand the gaff and go 60 minutes without rest.
What hockey player has all these virtues? Does the history of the game show any man capable of passing a close test on these points? It is argued that Tommy Phillips, former Kenora star, who played his last hockey with Vancouver's first team in 1912, was the closest approach to the real thing that ever displayed his wares on the frozen pond. He was an all-round star.
Weight: 185 lbs
Mustache: Bad ass
500 goals club
1000 points club
Captain of a championship team
Five 40 goals season ( 66 goals season )
Bill masterton Trophy
King Clancy Trophy
All-star team: ( 2nd , 2nd )
Top 10 Even-strenght goals: ( 1 , 2 )
Top 10 Goals: ( 2 , 4 , 5 , 6 )
Top 10 Points: ( 8, 10 )
Top 10 PP Goals: ( 1 , 3 , 6 )
With the score 1--1 in the second period, McDonald came out of the penalty box after a hooking minor—"As a good Catholic boy, I said 200 Hail Marys in the box hoping they wouldn't score"—took a feathered pass from Joe Nieuwendyk and roofed a shot over goalie Patrick Roy. Calgary won 4--2, the only time the Canadiens would lose the Cup on home ice. McDonald announced his retirement before the next training camp.
Lanny McDonald's hero while growing up was his father who had taught him the value of hard work and honesty on the family farm in Craigmyle, Alberta, about 22 miles from Hanna. His mother was a teacher in the three-room school that McDonald attended through grade eight. In school he had to refer to his mother as Mrs. McDonald, but outside of the classroom he was raised with a deep sense of family and community. McDonald would carry those qualities with him throughout his life.
He was rated as the Western League's most complete player in 1972-73 and led the Tigers with 18 playoff goals in 17 games, playing alongside Boyd Anderson and Tom Lysiak. Scouts always mentioned three qualities when they described McDonald; a great shot, a good skater, and tough as nails
McDonald was Toronto's first choice, 4th overall, in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft and got off to slow starts in both his rookie and sophomore seasons. Everything seemed to come together by his third season and he more than doubled his point production from the previous year. His fine showing earned him an invitation to the Team Canada training camp in preparation for the 1976 Canada Cup tournament. He appeared in five games for the host country and assisted on Darryl Sittler's series-winning overtime goal against Czechoslovakia. The highlight of his Leafs career came in the 1978 playoffs when he scored in overtime of game seven to eliminate the New York Islanders and send his Leafs into the Stanley Cup semi-finals.
McDonald was known for his blistering shot off the right wing and when he took the body hard in the corners players felt the contact and remembered it. He was a tough, clean player and was named to the NHL's Second All-Star team in 1977. McDonald also played in the 1978 All-Star Game and was a member of the NHL squad that played the Soviet National Team in the Challenge Cup series in 1979 to replace that year's All-Star Game.
McDonald happily returned home to Alberta when he was traded to the Calgary Flames by Colorado on November 25, 1981. He provided the Flames with the best hockey of his career and recorded a career-high 66 regular season goals and 98 points in the 1982-83 season. He was selected for the second time in his career to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1983 and was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
McDonald scored his first NHL goal at the Montreal Forum in 1973 and scored the last goal of his career again at the Forum, in game six of the 1989 Stanley Cup finals. It was with his usual class and dignity that McDonald chose to retire from the game after the 1989 playoffs.
Former Calgary teammate Jim Peplinski once said, "If you want to be good inside and outside the rink, Mac's a good guy to pattern yourself after. He's first-class all the way."
Alf Smith is remembered as a bruising winger at one point described as the toughest, meanest player ever to call Ottawa home.
Originally Posted by The Trail of the Stanley Cup; Vol. 1
He was a good scorer and was very prominent in the team's victories but was constantly criticized for his dirty play.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
Smith played on a line with Frank McGee, making room for his talented teammate with his bruising style.
Originally Posted by Ultimate Hockey
Alfred Smith was possibly the meanest, most vicious hockey player of the early era. He was exceedingly expert with the stick, both for scoring and for head- cracking. He was an outstanding all-around player, a fortress of strength…
Originally Posted by Out of the Mist of the Past
Smith earned a reputation early on for his rough and tumble style of play, as well as his short-fused temper.
Originally Posted by The Renfew Millionaires
In 1903-4-5 he captained and led the famed Ottawa Silver Seven to three world championships in a row.
Alf Smith !!!
Awards and Achievements:
3 x Stanley Cup Champion (1904, 1905, 1906)
Ultimate Hockey's "Best Corner Man of 1900-1909
Ultimate Hockey's "Most Able Instigator" of 1900-1909
Ultimate Hockey's "Best Fighter" of 1900-1909
Ultimate Hockey's "Dirtiest Player" of 1900-1909
Ultimate Hockey's "Most Hated Player" of 1900-1909
Points – 1st(1897), 4th(1905), 6th(1896), 7th(1907), 8th(1904), 9th(1895), 9th(1906), 9th(1908)
Goals – 1st(1897), 4th(1905), 6th(1896), 7th(1907), 8th(1904), 9th(1895), 9th(1906), 9th(1908)
Assists – (while not officially recorded, SIHR has found that Smith was one of the best playmakers of his era)
According to that SIHR study, Alf Smith recorded 23 assists in 32 games. That gives him a 0.72 assist per game rate, which was by far the best of his time. The second best per game average was 0.50, and that was Russell Bowie.
Originally Posted by Dreakmur
According to the SIHR study, Smith had 23 assists from 1903 to 1909. He had an average of 0.72 assists per game, so I just used that per game average to figure out how many assists to give him. I also adjusted other guys we know the per game averages for, and also gave some guys the benefit of assumed assists (if he jumped up to a tie for 5th with a guy who we don't know assists for, I just gave that guy an assist and dropped Smith to 6th).
1896 - he goes from 9th to 7th
1897 - he goes from 6th to 2nd
1898 - he goes from a tie for 1st to a decent lead for 1st
1904 - he goes from 8th to 7th
1905 - he goes from 4th to 3rd
1906 - he stays in 9th
1907 - he goes from 7th to 4th
1908 - he goes from 9th to 8th
I'm not trying to pass these off as his new finishes, becuse I have no idea how his assists were actually spread out. I just spread them perfectly even though his entire career, which is unlikely.
I am just trying to demonstrate the types of adjustments that should be expected if assists were recorded during Alf Smith's days.
33 Goals in 18 Stanley Cup Challenge games
He was second only to Frank McGee on the Silver Seven dynasty
One of the most impressive thing about Alf Smith’s career accomplishments is that he missed almost his entire prime! From 1897 to 1903, during which he was 24 to 31 years old, Smith was banned from amateur sports due to him accepting a bonus from a lacrosse team he played for.
In that 6 year ban, he played only one season, which was in the Western Pensylvania Hockey League. He played 22 games with Pittsburgh PAC and scored 28 goals and 17 asssists for 45 points.
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette – March 25, 1907
Alf Smith was the life of the Kenora team, and without him they would have been in poor shape indeed. He rushed and checked like a fiend, bumping Hod Stuart or anyone else who blocked his path with an abandon that pleased the lusty-lunged rooters mightily. He had plenty of speed and did not spare himself.
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette – February 24, 1908
After the face off, Alf Smith broke away near his own end of the rink, dodged down through center ice, swung over to the left wing, and finally landed back in center in front of Nicholson and beat the Shamrock goaltender with a swift high shot.
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette – March 9, 1905
There was a dim suspicion that Smith and Westwick are not in the best physical condition, and they certainly showed the effects of the fast game at the conclusion of Tuesday’s match. Westwick held on well, but Smith faded perceptibly and lacked the vigour and dashing spirit for which he has hitherto been noted.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press – December 25, 1904
Manager McSwigan, of the garden, has done everything possible to get two fast wings, but they are not to be had. Tempting offers were made for Alf Smith of Ottawa....
Quotes from ATD GMs:
Originally Posted by seventieslord
Smith was the toughest player of his time, an excellent leader, a two-way player, very good scorer, and played both wings.
Originally Posted by seventieslord
… what you need to know is he was basically mr. intangibles. He was tough, dirty, good defensively, and a leader. His scoring was ok - I did a quick study and Smith's offensive contributions compared to a catalyst like Frank McGee were very similar to, say, Gillies or Tonelli compared to Mike Bossy.
Originally Posted by Kyle McMahon
Alf Smith's scoring exploits are not nearly so impressive, but he was a catalyst on the Silver Seven dynasty. He had enough skill to be a decent scorer, and was constantly mixing it up with his rough and dirty play. Presumably got under the skin of his opponents, and more often than not went down the ice and scored a goal just to rub it in. Think of Claude Lemieux in his Conn Smythe-winning playoff season, and span it out over the course of several seasons, and that probably describes Alf Smith.
A.K.A Vlad The Impaler
Weight: 190 lbs
All-Star Team: 2nd
Norris Voting: 2nd and 4th
1 Stanley Cup
Originally Posted by Legendsofhockey
By the time he joined the NHL's Detroit Red Wings in 1991, Vladimir Konstantinov was already a standout defenseman with the Central Red Army team in Moscow and a captain of the Soviet national team. Known for that hitting ability and solid defensive play, he helped the Wings end a 42-year drought to win the Stanley Cup in 1997. Tragedy struck shortly after that victory, however, ending his playing career and almost costing him his life
Within a couple of years Konstantinov grew interested in applying his talents to the North American game and so he made the necessary arrangements with Detroit, the team that had drafted him 221st overall in 1989. In 1991 Konstantinov made the move to Detroit, and he made an immediate impact. An aggressive, crafty player who relished the physical nature of the North American game, he was selected to the league's All-Rookie Team in 1992. Over the next few years he became one of the better defenders in the league.
He became known for his hard hits, both on open ice and along the boards, and his liberal use of his stick earned him some nasty nicknames, including "Vladimir the Terrible," "Bad Vlad" and "Vlad the Impaler." He was an expert at forcing opponents to take penalties, hitting them legally or otherwise, and then waiting for the referee to catch his adversary in the act of retaliating.
In 1996, Konstantinov's defensive toughness earned him a plus/minus rating of plus-60. and he was selected to the Second All-Star Team that year. In 1996-97 Konstantinov had an outstanding season. He was nominated for the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman, and the Wings team he toiled for was one of the best in the NHL. The team had not won the Stanley Cup since 1955, but with Konstantinov, Fetisov, Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov leading the way, the Red Wings easily dispatched the favored Philadelphia Flyers in the 1997 finals to win the Stanley Cup.
Originally Posted by Jim Devellano
We took Konstantinov in the 1989 draft for a good reason , he was an outstanding player , a great athlete , and should have been taken a lot earlier than he was , but the world was a very differant place in 1989 than it is today and drafting Konstantinov anywhere amounted to a real gamble despite his obvious skills.
In the 1990-91 NHL season , the NHL agreed to play a series of games with three of the top teams in the Russian Federation , these games would count in the NHL regular season standings and it was a big deal at the time.The russians would send over three teams each of which would play seven games against NHL opponants.With 21 teams in the NHL at that point , that meant everybody would play one game against the Russians in their own building.
As fate would have it , the Detroit Red Wings game that season was against the Russian Red Army.One of the player on that fine team was Konstantinov , our draft pick.Quite franckly , although the series was an inconvenience for the NHL teams that year , occuring right in the middle of the season , those games did afford us the opportunity to see him play against NHL opponants.Not only would we see him up close and personnal in the Red Army's game against us , we'd also see him in the other six games against other NHL teams.There was no doubt in our minds after seeing those seven games-Vladimir Konstantinov was a terrific player-and we wanted him.
He was a punishing body checker , very responsible in his own end , and a dominating presence whenever he was on the ice.He was clearly ready to step in and play against NHL opponants and help our hockey club right now.
Originally Posted by Ted Lindsay
Vladimir Konstantinov was the greatest hockey player in the world at the time of his accident