A wide range of variables determines a hockey player’s excellence. A good legacy requires more than just goals, assists, and victories. Stats are good indicators, but other aspects can’t be recorded on a sheet regarding how a player affects the game on the ice. Certain NHL players are easily considered to be among the best players of all time.
The definition of excellence is Wayne Gretzky. As a leader within the Big Four – MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL, Gretzky is known as The Great One for having more points and career assists than any other player in NHL history, 894 and 1,963, respectively. Four Stanley Cup victories, nine Hart Trophies, ten Art Ross Trophies, and participation in 18 All-Star Games were all accomplished by him.
Known as Mister Hockey Before The Great One arrived, Gordie Howe became the first player to achieve 800 goals in a career. Through 26 NHL seasons, he played a 20-goal season for 23 straight years and a 15-goal season at 52. Howe finished with 801 goals and 174 more goals across six WHA campaigns. After 1,767 games, nobody has played more than Howe, who also has six MVP honors, six scoring crowns, and four Stanley Cup victories to his credit.
Bobby Orr suffered from injuries often and may have had a more successful career under favorable circumstances. Orr only played for ten seasons, scoring 888 points in only 631 games. Despite this, Orr won the league scoring title in the 1969–70 season with 120 points while playing defense. Six times throughout his career, he scored more than 100 points. Orr also won eight straight Norris Trophies for being the best defenceman in the NHL.
Lemieux was as physically talented as they come. He was one of the league’s greatest goal scorers in league history. He and Wayne Gretzky are the only other players to score 69 goals four times each. Lemieux also has 199 points, which ranks seventh most in a single season. Lemieux concluded his playing career with 1,723 points, three Hart Trophies, two Stanley Cups, and nine All-Star selections.
With over 700 victories at the end of his record-breaking tenure, Martin Brodeur played in almost 200 games and has the most shutouts in his career of any goalkeeper. He also contributed three incredible goals and three Stanley Cup victories with the New Jersey Devils.