Hockey greats: three players you should know
Ice hockey is a North American sport that descends from a similar European sport. Like football and baseball, it took root in the New World and became more popular than its ancestor. The game’s official birth dates back to Montreal, Canada, in 1875, where it was played on a court the same size as those used today. In more than a century of competition, many titans of the game have risen and dominated to take their place in the pantheon of the greats. These three titans stand out from all other luminaries as the best to tie up a pair of skates.
You don’t get the nickname “the big one” for nothing. Wayne Gretzky is not the Michael Jordan of hockey, Michael Jordan is the Wayne Gretzky of basketball. He dominated his sport like few athletes. Gretzky scored more than 200 points (goals plus assists) in a single season in four separate years; no other player has done it once. He won the Stanley Cup four times and was named MVP nine times. When he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, he instantly turned Southern California into a rabid fan that sparked interest in the game in the early 1990s. He retired with 61 National Hockey League records and nearly two decades later, he still has 60 of them.
While Wayne Gretzky was a staunch defender of fights in hockey; Gordie Howe spoke with his fists. When a player scores a goal, an assist, and gets into a fight, NHL fans call this the “Gordie Howe hat-trick.” However, he and Gretzky were more alike than different. Howe is the only other player to break the 800 goal mark in his career. Howe’s toughness, courage and muscularity epitomized what Canadians love about their national winter sport. Gretzky broke most of the records he set, but Howe’s 26 seasons in the league still put him ahead of everyone else.
Bobby Orr may be the oddball on this list as the sole defender, but his style of play was just as valuable as the prolific scorers. He won three consecutive league MVP trophies and was also not far behind as a scorer. He revolutionized the way defenders attack in power plays and still holds the record for the most goals and points by a defender in a single season. He is also the only defender to have led the league in scoring for a season. Orr is best known for “the goal,” a back-and-forth shot Orr threw home to give the Boston Bruins their first Stanley Cup. Even casual hockey fans are familiar with the photo of a lush, horizontal Orr flying through the air after scoring the biggest goal in Bruins history.
Future generations may take their place, but these legends will live on.