There is a lot of time left before NHL hockey starts up again. I noticed that so many hockey fans still want to spend oodles amount of time online talking about the upcoming 2014-15 Canucks season. But let's change it up a bit. Rather than talk about what line Zack Kassian, Linden Vey, Radim Vrbata, Alex Burrows and co are going to play on this coming season, let's get to know eachother a bit more on a different topic. Name your top 5 favorite and least favorite NHL players of all time and WHY (if you'd like). Hell, if you want to narrow it down to top 3's, go ahead.
1. Mats Sundin. Super vision. Super hands. I have all of his rookie cards thanks to a buddy of mine. I grew up (and still am) a Leafs fan thanks to my father, and the fact that there were not many Canucks games televised back in the late 70's. So it was the Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. I have mentioned this a lot of times already in my history on NM. The Canucks were not my original fave team. Toronto was. Commence the stone-throwing. Anyway, Mats Sundin scored 114 points with the Quebec Nordiques once, but never eclipsed the 100 point barrier again. No matter: 1349 points in 1346 career regular season games. 82 points in 91 career playoff games. He never won a Stanley Cup. When Mike Gillis over spent (to hell) to get Sundin to play in Vancouver I was ecstatic. No, you did not see the typical Sundin in a Canucks jersey, but by god he was excellent in Toronto. A classy guy. A private guy. My fave player.
2. Wayne Gretzky. A very close second. Likely a tie. Growing up as a kid in the 80's, Wayne was the man. Being a kid in that decade, I was what most kids are now to Sidney Crosby. He's the best and they love him. Gretz was a guy that was arguably the best player to ever play the game yet also personified humility and class. I still have some excellent Gretzky memorabilia (pics, books, etc). When I was in elementary school I also had a Gretzky lunch kit. His hockey cards were so hard to come by and I wish I still had the ones I collected.
Killing the Leafs in Game 7 of the 1993 playoffs though, Gretz....DAMN YOU!
3. Doug Gilmour. At 5'11" and 170 pounds he played like a pitbull, all the damned time. He was what Trevor Linden is to Vancouver except so much better of a player. Linden has Gilmour beat in game 7's though, to Trevor's credit. But Dougie had 188 points in 182 playoff games. He was a beast. Oh, and also 1414 points and 1301 penalty minutes in 1474 regular season games. Still have my Gilmour jersey! Suck it, haters!
4. Roberto Luongo. Luongo made me love the Canucks again in 2006. A genius move by Dave Nonis to fleece the Panthers to get him. I love goaltenders. Roberto was a guy that could win games almost by himself. He still holds the record for most shots faced in a season (in Florida) and holds most Canucks' goaltending records because he is the best goalie Vancouver ever had. Often vilified but never duplicated I think he is one of the best goalies of the modern era and I wish he was still a Canuck.
5. Grant Fuhr. Tying in with my youth and love for the successful Edmonton Oilers of the 80's, Fuhr was a hot dog goaltender who made even easy saves look brilliant. Was he on cocaine most of the time? I don't even care. I mimicked his moves when I played.
Honorable mentions: Borje Salming, Tony Esposito (maybe the mask had a small role in that), Wendel Clark ( a guy that sacrificed his bones more than most players) and Vladislav Tretiak. Tretiak was a hero for the Soviets in the 70's. I totally got a mancrush on him after watching the 1972 Summit Series on video tape some time in the 80's. Oh, and Aaron Rome, because he got shit done. He's not in the NHL anymore because 30 teams are idiots.
1. Mario Lemieux. I always hated the Penguins as a kid and even today. Yes, Super Mario had insane talents that we had not ever seen before, but it was the diving and embellishing side of him that drove me nuts. I just didn't get how a 6'4" 210 pounder could dive and act like a wimp as much as Mario did. No honor. Yay, he won 2 Cups with the Penguins after revitalizing the dead franchise, but f*ck him. He is one of the pioneers of diving and embellishing in my opinion and I will never appreciate his NHL career. My hate runs deep.
2. Larry Murphy. It's often brief moments in time that can define "hate" for a player. I didn't watch Murphy play hockey a lot, but thanks to CBC and rabbit ears I gotta see him play for the Penguins vs the Blackhawks in the 1992 Cup Final. Dirty little diving chicken shit. Just ask Chris Chelios....and Hawks fans who are old enough to not give a shit about an urban dictionary. They witnessed it.
3. Alexander Ovechkin. Just rubs me as a selfish player and a coach killer. Terrible back checker, much like another Russian I can recall. But hey, he scored 51 goals last season. Love that -35 to go along with it!
4. Brett Hull. One of the best snipers ever. I just hated his (seemingly) arrogance. Plus he played for the Blues, Detroit, Calgary.....bah. Born in Canada but played for USA? BURN HIM!
5. Ulf Samuelsson. Another dirty little chicken shit. Loved the knee on knee hits, basically killing Cam Neely's career. Hid behind his visor when approached by an angry opponent. At least Domi got him.
Runner ups: Marty McSorley, Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Tomas Sandstrom, Ryan Smyth
Note: I am hypocritical in the sense that I really admired Claude Lemieux. I hate the divers, but good lord Claude would give a left nut to win a Stanley Cup. He won it all with 3 different teams, which is a feat that not many players have accomplished in NHL history.
Players I Disliked Because They Killed My Team But I Respected Them
1. Steve Yzerman.
2. Joe Sakic
3. Peter Forsberg
Enough of my opinions. Let's hear YOURS!