Just to distract people from the fact that there is a lockout, NHL.com released their take on the top 10 playmakers in NHL history. Unlike on the NFL Network (where they release so many top 10 lists that a “Top 10 Stadium Vendors” list probably isn’t far away), the NHL usually does a good job with these kinds of things. But as per any list like this, arguments can be made many ways. So here is the NHL’s top ten playmakers list, with my take on each.
10. Henrik Sedin
I don’t think the name Sedin should be anywhere on here. Is he a great passer? Absolutely. But to me, a playmaker is much more than being an assist man. Sedin has a tendency to disappear at times, which is probably what he should do from this list.
9. Peter Stastny
If he had been in the NHL as early as a Sidney Crosby or Mario Lemieux, lots more people would talk about him. Though Stastny was in his mid-20s when he came to the NHL, he made his mark quickly. Unbelievable vision, and he coupled that with tremendous athleticism and tenacity.
8. Stan Mikita
It doesn’t matter how good Mikita was. I will always think of Stan Mikita’s Donuts from Wayne’s World when I hear about him.
7. Joe Thornton
I definitely believe Thornton should be on this list, but not as high as seven. He does things on the ice that no one else does. But I have a general problem with the fact that for most of his career, he’s been a playoff bust. Playmakers keep going after game #82.
6. Peter Forsberg
Man, I loved watching Peter Forsberg play. Great puck control, and he always knew where he would go with the puck, even before it ever hit his stick. Were it not for a rash of injuries, he’d be higher on the list.
5. Sidney Crosby
There really isn’t a whole lot to say here. Just do a quick YouTube search and you can pretty much understand how he made the list.
4. Mario Lemieux
It’s hard to talk about Lemieux in this capacity. I am absolutely biased. I think that Lemieux was the greatest player to ever step foot on the ice. So it goes without saying what spot I think he should land on.
3. Adam Oates
Oates only scored over 30 goals twice in his career, but it doesn’t matter. If you were alive and watching hockey in the late 80s and into the 90s, Adam Oates annoyed you to no end. Maybe one of the best players at making something out of nothing, Oates brought success to every team he ever played on and turned barely above-average players into perennial all-stars.
2. Bobby Orr
Nobody revolutionized the game like Bobby Orr. Most people believe he was the fastest player in the history of the league, and he used that speed to do something that defenseman of his era simply didn’t do: start the rush. The game in its present state owes a whole lot to Orr.
1. Wayne Gretzky
Though I love Lemieux, I fully figured this guy would end up at #1. There are some things that are just beyond dispute: #1 all-time scorer, #1 all-time in assists, tremendous student of the game, spawned a super-hot daughter, and so on. It would have been great for hockey had Lemieux stayed healthy and been able to compete with Gretzky year in and year out, but things just don’t always work out that way. In this new era of hockey, with less scoring and better goaltending, it’s likely that his records are never touched.
Photo Credits: CBC