When you come across a truly iconic NHL player, you don’t just get to witness a pro do what they do best but you get to watch somebody genuinely revolutionize the game. Because of this and the different elements that all of the greats have brought to the game of hockey, it’s incredibly difficult picking exactly who some of the best players to ever take to the ice are. That being said, there’s no harm in trying is there? Below is a list of some of the best NHL players of all time.
Starting his career in 1946 at the Detroit Red Wings (who were recently picked by Pro Sports Extra as one of the greatest hockey franchises to play for, a reputation that Gordie Howe has helped solidify for them), Gordie Howe is a major player in the sport. After 25 years with Detroit, which led to six league MVP awards, six scoring titles and four Stanley Cup championships, he is one that will be in everybody’s list as one of the all-time hockey greats.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so Wayne Gretzky ensured that he took every last one of them. Also known as the Great One, Wayne Gretzky is the best hockey scorer of all time by a very clear margin. There has been no player that has ever collected more goals or even come close to topping his unbelievable 894.
His ability with the puck led him to hold the Stanley Cup four times, as well as win 18 All-Star nods, 10 Art Ross Trophies and nine Hart Trophies. To this day he is the holder of multiple career records that no player looks to be anywhere close to beating.
Probably most famous for his leaping celebration in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, Bobby Orr will forever go down in history as one of the greatest offensive defensemen. He became one of the first ever defenders to lead the NHL in points as he ended his second season with a career high of 139 points.
Of course, his contributions to the sport go much further than simply offensive work. Bobby Orr, thanks to his impeccable skill, ended up securing eight straight Norris Trophies as one of the NHL’s top defensemen. It’s a shame that his career was cut short from injuries, but that doesn’t stop Bobby from making this list as one of the best to ever do it.
As one of the greatest goal scorers of all time, of course Mario gets a place on this list. He started his career playing in the Pittsburgh Penguins with a flying start, picking up six consecutive 100-point seasons, his highest being 199. Retiring in 1997 but returning in 2000, Mario ended his hockey career with a combined total of 1,723 points, as well as three Hart trophies, two Stanley cups and nine All-Star team appearances.
There are many other players who could have ended up on this list, including the likes of Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Mark Messier and Guy Lafleur.