Within the hockey world, there is generally a large debate about who the greatest hockey players of all time are. However, five of these players repeatedly show up in every list whether it be top ten or top 100. These top five are:
1. Wayne Gretzky
Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about hockey has heard of Gretzky. To many, he is considered a hockey god. The nickname, "The Great One", wasn't given lightly. Throughout his entire hockey career Gretzky played 1,487 games over which he totaled 894 goals, 1,963 assists and accumulated 2,857 career points. He also broke the records set by Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy for fifty goals in fifty games.
Gretzky managed to score the fifty in thirty-nine games. Gretzky also left the league with sixty-one NHL records. To top it all off, Gretzky was awarded numerous trophies, awards and won the Stanley Cup four times with the Edmonton Oilers. He also played in eighteen All-Star games.
2. Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe is also a name you often hear in talks about hockey. Howe was nicknamed "Mr. Hockey". Gretzky idolized Howe who had set many of the records previous to Gretzky arriving on the scene. Howe in his five decade long hockey career played 1,767 games, scored 801 goals, had 1,049 assists and accumulated 1,850 career points.
Howe won four Stanley Cup championships, appeared in 23 NHL All-Star games, won the Hart Trophy six times, won the Art Ross trophy six times, and had twenty-two consecutive NHL seasons in which he scored at least twenty-three points.
3. Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr revolutionized the way that the game of hockey was played. Orr excelled in his position as a defensive player. Orr, as a rookie, was awarded the Calder Trophy. In his short NHL career Orr, played 657 games, scored 270 goals, had 645 assists, and averaged 915 career points.
He brought the Bruins two Stanley Cup championships, was awarded the Norris trophy as best defenseman in the league eight times in eight seasons, was awarded the Art Ross trophy, the Hart trophy, the Conn Smythe, and the Lester B. Pearson Award which has been renamed the Ted Lindsay Award. Unfortunately for Orr, he was forced to retire at 30 years old due to issues with his knee that left him in severe pain.
4. Jean Beliveau
Jean Beliveau is most noted for the fact that during his career in the NHL he took home a staggering ten Stanley Cup wins. He is also noted as being the first to have the three year retirement period waved in order to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career Beliveau played 1,125 games, scored 507 goals, had 712 assists and accumulated 1,219 career points. Beliveau won the Hart Trophy twice, the Art Ross Trophy, the Conn Smythe, and appeared in thirteen NHL All-Star Games.
5. Mario Lemieux
Mario Lemieux was considered one of the greatest hockey players to have played as well. Orr, considered one of the best, often gave praise concerning Lemieux and his style of play. In his career, Lemieux played 915 games, scored 690 goals, had 1,033 assists and averaged 1,723 career points. He won the Stanley Cup twice, received the Conn Smythe, received the Art Ross trophy six times, and the Hart Trophy three times.
Lemieux also had ten seasons in which he scored 100 points. However, his career was littered with serious injuries and illnesses. Even with severe back pain, Lemieux continued to play with utmost excellence. However, after being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and undergoing radiation therapy on top of suffering from severe back issues, Lemieux retired at thirty-one.
Every single one of these players proved themselves in one way or another through their innovative playing, their incredible showmanship, and the records/standards that they set for the rest of the NHL.