Top 10 Best Hockey Players of All Time

The Top Ten
1 Wayne Gretzky Wayne Douglas Gretzky CC is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. He played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League for four teams from 1979 to 1999.

The NHL has retired just one number. No one in the league will ever don a #99 jersey again. I'd like to think they knew what this other-worldly talent did for the game.

To try to expound on his accolades here would be redundant, as it seems many here know the true brilliance of this guy as a hockey player, and as a humble human being. Greatness of this level is not generational, or even once in a lifetime. In fact, I'm fairly confident there will never be another hockey player with his skill set, ever.

It was a blessing for me to watch his entire NHL career, and I fondly remember watching him play with much better hockey minds than me, guys way up in the NHL food chain. We were all in awe of Wayne Gretzky. He hit the ice and we were silent, as there was a fairly good chance we would see something that had never been witnessed before. The puck on his stick almost certainly meant a scoring chance. Those ridiculous point totals were not by accident.

Hey, I'm just happy to be among those that know. As time goes on, there seems to be less and less of us. All hail the Great One, the best there ever was, or ever will be.

2 Bobby Orr Robert Gordon Orr is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest hockey players of all time.

Most dynamic of all the superstars. He skated better, handled the puck better, saw the ice better, and was tougher and gutsier than anyone of his time. A defenseman who could win scoring titles? Who does that?! A player that could kill a penalty on his own, rush the length of the ice and either score or set someone up, and still make it back on D to block a shot if needed. Only Orr.

As Mr. Hockey said, "I've never seen a player dominate both ends of the ice like that young man did." There will never be another that could do as much - only his knees prevented him from doing it longer. If Gretzky is the Great One, #4 is the Greatest One!

Orr revolutionized the game in a way no one ever did - not Gretzky, not Howe, not Hull. I once heard this analysis from a respected NHL player who played against all those players: Howe could do everything but not at top speed. Hull would always perform at top speed, but he couldn't do everything. Orr could do everything - and at top speed. Orr invented the offensive defenseman.

Before he came along, 10 goals and 30 assists were considered big numbers. At his peak and while still reasonably healthy, Orr put up 46 goals and more than 100 assists, in an era when the game wasn't as wide open as during Gretzky's era. Plus, Orr played defense and played it as well as anyone. And he could fight if he had to. A much more complete player than Gretzky. Arguably, Orr's supporting cast wasn't as strong as Gretzky's.

At age 27, Orr won his second scoring title, his final healthy season. If he had stayed healthy, it's mind-boggling the numbers he would have put up. Gretzky played until he was 38. All things considered, in terms of impact, how he dominated his era, and his complete game, Orr has it over Gretzky.

3 Mario Lemieux Mario Lemieux is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and current owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played parts of 17 National Hockey League seasons with the team from 1984 to 2006, assuming ownership in 1999.

It is either Orr or Lemieux. Based upon pure skills alone, they are both far better than Gretzky. If people were allowed to check Gretzky, his numbers would have been different. If he didn't have protectors on his own team, the same could easily be said. Plus, Gretzky's teams were FAR BETTER than Mario's, and it was not mostly because Wayne made them better. They were better on their own than the Pens.

Of course, everyone knows Wayne's records would have been matched, at least if not surpassed, if Mario had played longer and healthier. Imagine how many points he would have had in seasons he played hurt or sick, not to mention the shortened career. Gretzky should be third. I would even consider Howe third and Gretzky fourth. Howe was more physical and a better all-around player, so was Mario.

Orr changed the game and redefined defensemen. He made people chasing him look silly. All of the fastest skaters of the time admitted they feared having to try to keep up with him, and even worse if Orr got past them… Forget it… He skated circles around the average player and beat the fastest.

4 Gordie Howe Gordon "Gordie" Howe OC (March 31, 1928 – June 10, 2016) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. From 1946 to 1980, he played twenty-six seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Howe had the unique ability to define how a game was to be played on any given night. Any style/speed his skill set allowed him to play any way the opponents wanted to play.

Probably the one thing about Howe was that while he was the most dominant player, he was not dynamic in the sense of the other great players. You had to watch him play over a period of time to witness how much better he was than his contemporaries. There would be even a higher appreciation of his extraordinary skill set if there were video and or tape of him during his prime.

Scotty Bowman. Do you know him? At a luncheon, he was asked who the best was and, without hesitation, said Howe. In an era spanning five decades, he defined the all-around player. He could score, he could defend, he could pass, he could skate. The Russians, when just starting to take ice hockey seriously, used Howe as their model. As far as Gretzky's goals, look at the number of goals scored when Howe played. The overall number per game was far lower than in Gretzky's time. So, based on the lower totals, Howe scored more goals based on overall production.

5 Maurice Richard

The Rocket never got the recognition he deserved at the time. Let's not forget that when Maurice started his career, the NHL was on the verge of folding. He rejuvenated interest in professional hockey. Besides being a pure goal scorer, he was fearless and had a mean streak that struck fear into even the most feared fighters of the time.

Maurice Richard was not only an excellent player, but he also had to endure the racism against the French-Canadians. He continually played brilliantly, like many others may have, but he also had another task: not letting the others get to him. It was a difficult time. Trust me, Richard should win, hands down, #1.

A true legend. He retired in 1960, and people still talk about him. A movie was made of his life. Go read Ted Lindsay, his greatest opponent's comments.

I summarize: If they play this game in a hundred years, there will never be a player like Rocket between the blue line and the net. In a league of his own.

6 Steve Yzerman

Steve Yzerman had something that Crosby will never have... class! I will never say that Crosby isn't talented or doesn't deserve to be ranked high on this list, but he can never be compared to Stevie, Wayne, Bobby, or Gordie. I think a lot of people have voted based primarily on who is currently on top and whose name they hear the most.

Possibly the best two-way player of all time. His work ethic, hockey smarts, and leadership put him in the top 10 for sure. When looking and measuring his skill level, he seemed to excel in every facet of the game. His shot from in the slot was great, as was his passing ability. They called him "Stevie Wonder" for a reason.

All-around talent, class, and commitment to the greatest hockey team ever. He was a hero to me and the rest of Detroit while growing up. Even at away games, Stevie would be cheered by their fans because they respected him that much. Now that's powerful and speaks to the character of that man. The Captain.

7 Bobby Hull

"The perfect mesomorph"--Time magazine, March 1, 1968. He had the fastest shot ever. His slap shot was clocked at 118.3 mph. His wrist shot was timed at 105.7 mph, and his backhand shot sailed along at only 96 mph. He was the fastest timed NHL skater ever, at 29.7 mph, with full hockey equipment on. The skates in those days were as heavy as lead weights. None of the modern players can touch those marks.

Just think what Bobby Hull would do in today's game with the graphite sticks and lightweight skates that are now used. Not to mention the state-of-the-art workout gyms that every NHL team has. Even though Hull had muscles growing out of muscles, he never took steroids to get that way. And he was one of the most complete players ever. He didn't need a bodyguard to protect him.

Hull should be in the top five players on any list. He played 23 years at a high level and scored 1,018 total goals. Three times in the old six-team league, he scored 50 or more goals. Rocket Richard, by contrast, played 18 years, scored 626 total goals, and only scored 50 goals once--in 1944-45 when the competition was weaker because of World War II.

Bobby Hull scored 77 goals and had 65 assists at age 36 in the World Hockey Association competition that was at least as good as the Rockets. Richard was 23 when he scored his 50 goals. As for Sidney and Alex being rated ahead of Hull, it shows that modern fans really don't know very much about the Legends of Hockey. Alex couldn't cut it as a left-wing anymore--that's why he was moved to right wing. Bobby Hull was the best left-wing ever.

And Sidney isn't near the goal scorer that the Golden Jet was. Nor is he better in other areas of the game than Bobby Hull. These two present-day players don't deserve to be rated above one of the true legends of Ice Hockey.

8 Sidney Crosby Sidney Patrick Crosby ONS (born August 7, 1987) is a Canadian professional ice hockey player who currently serves as captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League.

#1! Best player on the ice, currently speaking. And definitely one of the best players of ALL TIME! Anyone who says differently, or calls him a cry-baby, has no knowledge of the NHL and dislikes him because he doesn't play for their team. I can guarantee, anybody who speaks negatively about Crosby would be wearing his jersey and cheering him on if he played for their favorite team. Numbers don't lie (stats).

He also does a lot for his community, visits a lot of children's hospitals, and gives a lot of kids hope. He has earned his spot on this list. Keep in mind, he's not even 30 yet. If he stays healthy, and keeps up what he's been doing since day 1, he will be #1.

The best player in the history of the game, Sidney Crosby routinely draws 2-3, and even 4 players on him at a time. Yet he still manages puck protection and goal-scoring wizardry while engineering goals for his team. His ingenuity, athleticism, and skill are mind-boggling. Check out this guy's highlight reels on YouTube and try to find someone better. You can't. Crosby is a once-ever talent. I've followed him from his youth hockey days when he was an 11-14 year old kid, dismantling 16-19 year old players. It was self-evident that he was going to become one of the greatest players of all time.

He beats my team every time, but I'm not a pathetic loser who claims the wins and losses of my team as my own personal achievements or bemoans the losses as affronts to my ego. I can stomach the embarrassment and disappointment because he puts on such a great show. There's something electrifying and viscerally inspiring about Crosby's play. He does things that no other player can do. He achieves these feats with opponents hanging on his back, attacking his legs and skates, and turning the game into something resembling an MMA match on skates. And Crosby still beats them.

It's a privilege just to watch him on the ice and see what he does out there. It's kind of annoying and pathetic how many haters are drawn out of the woodwork because they can't stand how much he embarrasses their team, thereby threatening their fragile male egos. I've heard some laughable and hilarious claims from people of this ilk. For any fan in the know, who has an eye for the game and is capable of a modicum of objectivity, it's clear that Crosby absorbs the highest ratio of cheap shots in the league and receives very few of the calls that could or should be made.

The more outmatched a team is, and the more desperate they are to win, the more Crosby has to contend with their cheap shots, slashes, clotheslines, cross-checks, and the hack-job thuggery that comes his way from inferior... more

9 Mark Messier Mark John Douglas Messier is a Canadian former professional ice hockey centre of the National Hockey League.

This list is idiotic. Nobody still playing in the NHL should be in the top 30 except for maybe Martin Brodeur - certainly not Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin. How could any of these guys be rated above Mark Messier? He is 2nd all time in scoring and perhaps the best 2-way player of all time.

The best leader in hockey history. A great two-way player. He admitted to adding extra padding in the playoffs because he would be hitting and getting hit more. He was one of the best-amped Stanley Cup playoff competitors.

The Moose, The Messiah, or whatever you want to call him, was the best leader of all time. During the Oilers era, Gretzky admits he wore the C, but Mark led the team to victory. Messier has to be in the top 3 or at least 5.

10 Jaromir Jagr

What makes Jagr a top-5 player of all-time is his ability to succeed in the many changing eras of the game. It's nearly impossible to compare Crosby and Gretzky, given the evolution in rules, conditioning, goalies, etc. But, here's a guy that managed to be successful across all of these eras.

His lack of success without Mario wasn't a function of riding coattails as much as it was a team running dry on money and talent. It takes a team to win, not an individual. The prime of Jagr's career was spent with lackluster teams expecting him to carry most of the load. The greatest of greats had supporting casts, including Gretzky, Howe, Orr, and even Crosby.

Let's face it, today's NHL is a young man's game, and Jagr has found a way to stay relevant and successful in spite of it.

I'm not saying Jagr is one of the greatest of all time, but I'm saying he should definitely be ranked higher. People need to start to realize that Jagr is one of the greatest ever. He is 4th in all-time points and is 23 points away from passing Gordie Howe for 3rd. Even at 43, he still puts up about 50 points a year! He is the most skilled player to ever play (maybe 2nd behind Datsyuk). Depending on how long he plays for, he might pass Messier for 2nd. In the end, he is one of the greatest.

The Contenders
11 Patrick Roy Patrick Jacques Roy is a Canadian former professional ice hockey goaltender and the former head coach and vice-president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League.

Best goalie in the history of the sport, and far too low on this list for someone who did so much.

He has to be the best goalie ever in the history of the NHL.

4 cups in 3 different decades. Only 3-time Conn Smythe winner. Once in each decade. His performance in the '93 playoffs, winning 10 consecutive overtime games, is the greatest sustained effort in hockey history.

12 Alexander Ovechkin Alexander Mikhailovich "Alex" Ovechkin is a Russian professional ice hockey winger and captain of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League.

Is this a joke? He has beaten almost every single NHL record in history, and he's only 12? Come on, he should switch places with Lemieux!

You look at this man's career so far, and it is just undoubtedly better than Crosby's. From a talent perspective, he is top 3 of all time. It just amazes me how durable and how reliable Ovi is. He has put up incredible numbers for many more games than Crosby has. The combination of durability and talent are what will make Ovi go down as one of the best to ever grace the ice...

He has the speed of light and is awesome. He has dangles and is tough and doesn't get concussions all the time, and he fights like a man. And it doesn't matter about stats. Just because a player has better stats doesn’t mean you can trash talk another player, because that player can crush you any day!

13 Teemu Selanne

There's nothing about the "Finnish Flash" I didn't like. He is one of those guys who is very good. He scored 50 goals in a season with the Winnipeg Jets and also played against the great one, Wayne Gretzky, in a game. He got his 1000th point, 500th and 600th goal with the Anaheim Ducks. He won a Stanley Cup in 06-07, and in that same year, he got the game-winner in game 5 in Detroit. I am glad that the LA Kings did something nice for him before his last games.

Teemu Selanne would, the next night, skate with his friend and former teammate JS Giguere (who helped the Ducks win their 1st Stanley Cup) on the rink.

It's amazing how he still can keep playing at such a high level - he must soon have some kind of record as an NHL pro in years. His dedication to ice hockey is one of a kind. And it does not seem like anyone is going to break his rookie year record of 76 goals - and that was only the beginning.

The guy is past 40, an old man, and still one of the best players in the world. Beast! He also comes from a great hockey country, Finland.

14 Jean Beliveau

Jean Beliveau is too good of a player to be this far down. He should be higher than Crosby and Ovechkin at the least. I don't think Crosby and Ovechkin deserve to be on this list, but Rocket Richard does.

A reliable and highly skilled centerman. Always a force to be reckoned with on the ice, he could move quickly for a big man, handle the puck, pass, and shoot with great skill.

He was a real gentleman and a great player. He is somebody all hockey players should strive to be like.

15 Phil Esposito

One of only four players to top 150 points in a season, which he did in the '70s, a far less offensive era than the '80-'90s when Gretzky, Lemieux, and Yzerman all did it (also more than Jagr has ever got). When he scored 76 goals in '70-'71, it had never been done before. Second place that year scored 51. Third place scored 44. Just to give some perspective, he had as many goals as 6th + 7th place combined. That would be like scoring 73 goals in a season today.
He was the most dominant forward of his era. Period.

There are a definite top five iconic players in hockey who will always be considered the best: Gretzky, Howe, Hull, Orr, and Richard (with an honourable mention to Lemieux). But Phil was a cool cucumber, so I'm giving him my vote.

Esposito and Orr dominated the scoring. Only Hull and Mikita could be compared. Esposito broke Hull's scoring record with 76 goals in one season, and he was the best player on Team Canada in the '72 series. Maybe a top ten.

16 Martin Brodeur

How many rules did the NHL change for Patrick Roy? Did Marty ever pout like a baby and quit the team, wrecking an organization and their ability to win for decades? People keep talking about how Marty won because of the team around him. Look at Roy's teams... they weren't slouches. Patrick was a true pioneer and gifted as a player, so he should be on this list. But, not higher than Marty. Stats don't lie.

He was the best goalie of all time. Who has the most wins as a goalie? Marty. Who has the most shutouts? Marty. Games played? Marty. He even had a rule made because of his style of play. He is simply the best goalie to ever play the game. Yes, Roy is good, but not as good as Marty!

He holds every important record for goaltenders. He is the only person with over 600 wins, and no one will come CLOSE to his records for years. The. Best. Goalie. To. Ever. Play.

17 Mike Bossy Michael Dean Bossy or, according to some sources, Michael Jean Bossy was a Canadian former ice hockey player who played for the New York Islanders for his entire career and was a crucial part of their four-year reign as Stanley Cup champions in the early 1980s.

Bossy is at least top 10. He had over 500 goals in less than 1,000 games in his career. If he had continued his insane pace, he would have been the highest goal scorer in NHL history. It wouldn't have been that high, but it would have been much higher. He was always one of the best players in the league, and I still stand by him being underrated.

I can see people rating their fair share of people above Mike Bossy, but not this many. He's AT LEAST top 10 material. He holds the record for most goals per game of all time, and even the Great One's goals per game doesn't threaten his record. So, ranking Ovechkin 7th and Bossy 33rd makes absolutely no sense.

Mike Bossy had "the touch." No matter where he was near the net, he could turn and spin and know exactly in his mind where the open corners were. His feel around the net was second to none.

18 Marcel Dionne

More dangerous than most centers on this list. Barry Sanders on ice.

19 Peter Forsberg

Greatest all-around hockey player ever. He wasn't just good at defense or manhandling defensive players. He was a dominant force. Plus, he was physically one of the most powerful and quick players to take the ice. Big flames burn up fast, however, and we didn't get enough good years to put him up there with Orr, Howe, and Lemieux. But, I'd still rather have him on my team for a game seven than Gretzky. The Great One was great but not the greatest player of the game. No fault of his own, his size limited what he could do, and he absolutely made the best of it. Hockey is a two-way game, though.

No one had that balance and magnetic way of handling the puck, the brute force of offensive jumping in tackling, and passes, probably only surpassed by Gretzky and Lemieux. The competitive attitude. I don’t think I've seen anything like it, along with his balance on the ice. Some stuff he did was just hockey poetry. He had that extra magnetic sense of getting the puck or balls his way, and as Markus Naslund said, "that happened all the time, even in other sports they played as youngsters." Extremely fun to see him steal pucks from others and going inside out and around other players.

20 Stan Mikita

I saw Mikita play one time in Toronto. What a player, and that was at the very end of his career. This guy is a top 10. I thought he won the scoring title 4 times. At one point, Hull and Mikita / Orr and Esposito dominated the NHL scoring. Mikita was also a class act and did the NHL proud.

He should be a top 10 player. He is a hockey legend, winning the Hart Trophy twice, the Art Ross Trophy twice, and the Lady Bing twice. At one point, he was one of the most heavily penalized Hawks due to getting into scraps. He was a great fighter for his size and could take on an opponent 30 pounds heavier than him and make him feel sorry he took the challenge. He is one of the NHL's greatest snipers.

21 Pavel Datsyuk

Pavel Datsyuk is probably one of the best hockey players of all time because he is an amazing shooter. He makes the best plays, and his puck control is amazing, even better than others in the top ten.

He is the smartest hockey player of all time, hands down, no contest. He has unbelievable defense along with the best hands the league has ever seen and barely takes any penalties. We will never see another player like Pavel.

712 takeaways since '05-'06. That's crazy. He's good in his own way. For some reason, he usually seems to be overlooked. Now off to promote Darren Helm.

22 Brett Hull

Brett Hull was a scoring machine: 14 seasons he scored over 30 goals, 8 seasons over 40, 5 seasons over 50, 3 seasons over 60, 2 seasons over 70, and to top it off, he had an 86 goal season, the second highest ever scored in one season. Add on 103 playoff goals and a Stanley Cup overtime winner. Top 10 for sure.

This is a disgrace! Whoever made this doesn't know anything about stats. Hull is in the top ten. He is second all-time in goals.

Brett is an amazing player and a wonderful person. I met him on 2 occasions. He was very friendly. Top in his field.

23 Vladislav Tretiak

Vladislav Tretiak is the greatest goalkeeper of all time. It was a mistake to bench him in the OS 1980 semifinal against the USA (the "Miracle" game). This probably affected the USSR playing morale negatively, and it boosted the USA team morale. If they hadn't benched Tretiak, the USSR team would probably have won the OS, and the title would have stayed in the USSR. However, the young USA team won the game, and they deserve the greatest credit for their fantastic efforts. And Herb Brooks too, of course.

He has earned so many awards, even though he was in the Soviet "Cage." He taught many great goaltenders, such as Dominik Hasek. It's a shame the Cold War was happening during his career.

He is one of the greatest goaltenders ever. He stood on his head against Team Canada and in other international hockey events.

24 Gilbert Perreault

I saw him put the puck right between Orr's legs and go around him as if he was standing still. The guy was the most graceful and dynamic player I've ever had the pleasure of watching, and to top it off, he was all class.

He was the greatest stick handler to ever play the game. A tremendous playmaker and skater. Even as a junior, he skated circles around visiting Soviet teams. He is a quiet man and very underrated.

The 1976 Canada Cup had the best team ever assembled. With Perreault and Hull on the same line, they were unstoppable. Perreault should be considered a top 25 player.

25 Guy Lafleur

He definitely should be in the top ten. He was a game-changer and dominated the league for four years as the best player in the world - check your history. It seems everyone forgets that Lafleur was a playmaker, not just a goal-scorer. He consistently got many more assists than goals and made everyone around him better.

Along with Lemieux, he is the most naturally skilled hockey player and a real winner. It's too bad he sat on the bench for a couple of seasons as a rookie. Bossy was good, but not like Lafleur. Lafleur had natural skills and talent.

The best player on the greatest team in North American team sports history, period. He had six 50-goal seasons and was the best combination of skating, shooting, and passing ever.

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