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Jake DeBrusk Jersey

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Jake DeBrusk was a big piece to the offense for the Boston Bruins last year. He scored 27 goals in only his second year, so expectations were high in advance of year three.

Although most expected DeBrusk to flirt with the 30-goal mark, he started the season ice cold. He didn’t even record a point until his fifth game. Then, it took DeBrusk three more games to score his first goal.

A big reason for DeBrusk’s slow start was the absence of David Krejci. Without Krejci down the middle, DeBrusk and his linemates struggled to generate chances.

Then, DeBrusk picked up an injury of his own. He missed five games for the Bruins before he returned against New Jersey on November 19. That game marks a turning point for DeBrusk’s season in more ways than one.

First, the game against New Jersey obviously represented DeBrusk’s return from injury. More importantly than that, it represented a significant shift in DeBrusk’s play.

He didn’t have a point against the Devils, but DeBrusk flew up and down the ice all night. He was physically engaged, and he looked like the guy we all saw last year. Based on DeBrusk’s play, it seemed like goals would come. That’s certainly been the case.

Since his return from injury, DeBrusk has two goals and three assists in six games. All these points, in fact, came in the past four games. These are modest numbers, but this pace is definitely better than it was before the injury.

That’s five points in three games for @kurals9.#NHLBruins

— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 29, 2019

DeBrusk was especially good in the last game against the Rangers. He assisted on two of Boston’s three goals. His first assist came off an excellent individual effort when he circled around the zone and fired an easily-tippable shot on goal.

DeBrusk really turned his season around these past two games. Surprisingly, he’s done so without Krejci as his center.

Krejci jumped up to the top line in the absence of Patrice Bergeron. That left DeBrusk with some new centers, including Charlie Coyle most recently.

DeBrusk and Coyle form a strong duo. Coyle’s bigger and more physical than Krejci, and he plays a north-south game like DeBrusk. Coyle also forces DeBrusk to play with more pace, something that definitely works out.

With new linemates, DeBrusk improved his play for the Bruins at the right time. Bergeron’s out of the lineup, so Boston needs secondary scoring now more than ever. DeBrusk, Coyle, and company provide that.

DeBrusk remains an important part of Boston’s forward group now and in the future. He’s a restricted free agent after this season, so DeBrusk needs to show Boston why he’s worth a long-term commitment. If he continues to play like he has since the injury, the Bruins will have no choice but to extend him.

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Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle came home to a better place.

A hockey product of Weymouth High School and Boston University, Coyle came to the Bruins from Minnesota in a deadline trade for Ryan Donato on Feb. 20, 2019.

Coyle will go up against his former team for the second time when the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins (14-3-5) host the Wild on Saturday night (7) at the TD Garden. The Wild are 9-11-2 and in last place in the Central Division.

“I’m happy where I’m at and this is where I want to be,” said Coyle following an intense, drill-oriented practice on Friday at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton.

“We have a great team and we have a great thing going, so yeah, I am definitely happy to be here.”

Donato was a finisher with great upside while Coyle was an established NHL veteran when Bruins general manager Don Sweeney pulled the trigger.

Coyle, who was a first-round draft pick (28th overall) by the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, played in 479 regular-season games with the Wild and accrued 91 goals and 151 assists. Coyle was not surprised that he was traded but pleasantly surprised he was coming to Boston.

“I was always in trade rumors and stuff and, as you get older, you learn to block it out and focus,” said Coyle. “I felt like I was doing my best job of that and not thinking about it and obviously that’s when it happened.”

Coyle adjusted to playing a variety of roles on multiple lines in the final 22 games last season, when he finished with four goals and seven assists. He enjoyed a more defined role in the postseason with nine goals and seven assists in 24 games.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy prefers Coyle in the middle of the third line between left wing Anders Bjork and right wing Danton Heinen.

But Coyle played some wing on the second line when center David Krejci replaced injured Patrice Bergeron on the first line. He has four goals and seven assists in 22 games this season.

“I’ve always moved around and injuries happen in games,” said Coyle. “I try to take pride in my versatility and be that guy that can do that and we have a few different guys who are able to fill roles like that which is great for our team.”

Krug going Wild
Defenseman Torey Krug, who missed the last five games with an upper-body injury, expects to be back on the second unit with Brandon Carlo against the Wild.

Krug is the Bruins best puck-moving defenseman and serves as rainmaker on the first power play unit with Bergeron, Jake DeBrusk, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

Krug has played in 17 games with two goals and 11 assists. Matt Grzelcyk did an exceptional job in Krug’s absence on the second unit and first power play.

“I felt good today and we’ll see how tomorrow goes,” said Krug.

Taking a break
After missing two games with a lower-body injury, Bergeron skated 18:16 minutes and notched an assist in the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night. Bergeron was excused from practice for maintenance purposes but will play against the Wild.

Cassidy added that Par Lindholm suffered a cut that required 18 stitches in the first period against the Sabres and was excused from practice. He will be a game-time decision.

Brett Ritchie missed the Sabres game with an undisclosed ailment but practiced and should play. Defenseman John Moore (shoulder) is still two weeks away while Kevan Miller (knee) suffered a recent setback

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Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara probably is pretty frustrated with his team’s performance as of late.

After dropping the mitts with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson on Wednesday, Chara did not hesitate to stir the pot once again on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 42-year-old and Bolts forward Pat Maroon got in a tussle seconds after the puck was dropped at Amalie Arena.

Check it out:

Zdeno Chara and Pat Maroon drop the gloves.#BOSvsTBL

— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) December 13, 2019
According to, Chara hadn’t fought in two straight games since 2008, just his third season as B’s captain.

The B’s have dropped their past four games, so Chara rightfully is irritated after Boston got out to a hot start and first in the Atlantic Division. He most likely was trying to give his team some juice early on to send a message.

Also, Maroon was a thorn in the Bruins’ side in last year’s Stanley Cup Final as a member of the St. Louis Blues, so that may have played a role in Chara’s decision to fight him.

Tim Thomas tears up while discussing hockey related brain injuries >>>>>
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Y’know the sick part about this game is that for a good portion of it, the Boston Bruins ended up looking pretty good, as after a dust-up between Zdeno Chara and Pat Maroon, and Brad Marchand getting a fantastic opportunity with Patrice Bergeron with the finish! 1-0 Bruins!

Patrice Bergeron opens the scoring for the @NHLBruins with his 10th goal of the season.

— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 13, 2019
Oh if only the rest of the game could’ve been this good…

2nd Period:
The Bruins took a penalty to abdicate the lead of this game for the rest of eternity. Steven Stamkos was left undefended.


Steven Stamkos gets a one-timer to tie the game in the 2nd!

Watch @TBLightning action on FOX Sports Sun and FOX Sports Go:

— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) December 13, 2019
Unrelenting sadness ensued. 1-1.

Thankfully, the Bruins shut things down, with Rask making a bunch of absolutely phenomenal saves to keep things tight.

The period of unrelenting pain:
Another penalty, another good save by Rask…

Another @TBLightning power play, another ⚡ goal!

Brayden Point scores on a no-look pass from Nikita Kucherov and the Bolts take a 2-1 lead over the Bruins!

Don’t miss the 3rd-period action on FOX Sports Sun and FOX Sports Go:

— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) December 13, 2019
But not enough saves to matter. 2-1 Bolts.

Things didn’t improve, as a turnover in their own end had the Bruins all bunched up high, then Steven Stamkos got another chance to shoot effectively undefended.

Step 1: Get puck ✔️

Step 2: Put in back of net ✔️

Steven Stamkos gets his 2nd goal of the night!

Keep watching @TBLightning action on FOX Sports Sun and FOX Sports Go:

— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) December 13, 2019
I N F I N I T E S A D N E S S. 3-1 Bolts.

Thankfully, the Bruins would attempt to mount a comeback, as a net-scramble resulted in chaos in front of Vasilevskiy, and John Moore cleaned up for a nifty goal nobody saw coming! 3-2 Bolts.


John Moore brings the Bruins to within one! #NHLBruins 2#Lightning 3

— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) December 13, 2019
That looked all the world like Anders Bjork scored it, but Moore got his stick in there. Hockey’s funny like that.

Regretfully…that’d be the end of the scoring. And Boston would drop their 5th game in a row.

Game Notes:
Tuukka Rask finished with a .903 SV%. He tried his damnedest to keep his team in this. They did not reciprocate. It will not get better with Halak, as you saw last game.
Your TOI leaders was far and away Charlie McAvoy, who played almost 28 minutes tonight.
Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen have gone 8 games without a goal. Brett Ritchie last scored back in October. The middle six depth once again has something deeply wrong with them, or they’re all mercilessly unlucky. The Fancystats that track luck say that isn’t the case, so it would behoove them to start acting like their jobs are on the line, because they all very well could be for the rest of the calendar year.
The Depth in general seriously has to step up. Boston looked quite Edmontonian in their ineptitude whenever the Bergeron line was off the ice. Say what you will of the individual players on it, at least they were able to mount possession time of some kind. Serious change needs to be considered before 2020 rolls around.
This team got torn to shreds possession-wise. Something’s gotta change there or things for the second half of the year could get really gross.
The great thing about the NHL in general is that you can play like ass for 60 minutes and if you score during any one of them you can be ultimately forgiven for most of it. Regretfully, John Moore’s goal in the third period does not entirely absolve him of the rest of his game, which indirectly resulted in Boston losing their lead for good.
Of course, the killer right now is special teams. Boston’s power play has gone stagnant, and tonight the PK was just not going to do it against one of the most lethal teams on the man-advantage in the league. You cannot get that many opportunities and do nothing with it. And that was what killed the B’s tonight.
Next game’s against Florida on Saturday.

We’ll see if the B’s show up for that one.

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The 2010s saw the Boston Bruins bring home their first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years, but there were also many other playoff moments that helped define team history.
If you’re a Boston Bruins fan this decade has been relatively good for you. Aside from a few mediocre years in the middle, the B’s have been competitive Cup contenders multiple times. And while they did lose a pair of titles, they had as much success throughout the decade as nearly any team but the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The decade began and ended with heartbreak in the final game, but there was plenty to enjoy in between. 2011 was a dream. 2013 was a showcase of resiliency and 2019 was a ride to remember.

As Boston Bruins fans, we were privileged to witness three Winter Classics, two of which had terrific endings. We were able to see some of the game’s best players, Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla, here for a brief time. By the end of the decade, there were plenty of moments that stood out, but the playoff runs were what we should all cherish.

Here are the five best Boston Bruins playoff moments of the decade.

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1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

It’s hard to imagine there being all that many hot takes sizzling out there about MacKinnon not being able to dominate on his own, but if they existed, they’ve gone ice cold as the speedster continues to score with Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog on the shelf. (Among others.)

The Blackhawks had little hope of slow MacKinnon down – literally and figuratively – as he scored one goal and three assists, with two of those helpers being of the primary variety.

J.T. Compher had a strong game as well with a goal and two assists, while Pavel Francouz made 34 out of 36 saves.

2. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

The Predators have an elite defense, but at times, that label is more about how much they can drive offense (and serve as a net-positive) more than it is about always locking teams down, at least now that we’re firmly in the Peter Laviolette era.

With that in mind, Rinne, in particular, has been crucial to Nashville’s success. So, when he struggles (18 goals allowed in his last four games heading into Friday, with only one full game during that time), it’s a Rinne-sized worry.

Maybe Friday can serve as a confidence-booster? He made 31 saves to shut out a tough Hurricanes team, hitting some significant milestones in the process. Consider these some early factoids: Rinne became the 22nd goalie to reach 350 career wins, and this marked his 58th shutout, tying him for 19th in NHL history.

3. Gustav Nyquist, Columbus Blue Jackets

For all the CBJ lost during the offseason, they made a reasonable pickup by adding Nyquist’s skill and smarts to their mix.

After a respectable-but-unspectacular October, Nyquist scored 12 of his 18 points during 13 November games. Friday was the highlight, as Nyquist generated a hat trick as the Blue Jackets beat the Penguins. Considering how much John Tortorella seems to dislike the Pens, that’s a triply delicious accomplishment.

The only thing that keeps Nyquist from advancing up this list is that one of his three goals was an empty-netter.

Highlights of the Night

David Pastrnak‘s fantastic overtime setup can be seen in the overall highlights of the Bruins’ OT win against the Rangers:

To spread the wealth a little bit, enjoy Brenden Dillon setting up Noah Gregor for one heck of a first NHL goal. This is like a … well, luckier version of Erik Karlsson‘s memorable setup for Mike Hoffman from a few years back.


NHL PR notes that Henrik Lundqvist is the only goalie with more shutouts (63) than Pekka Rinne (58) since Rinne came into the league in 2005-06.
David Pastrnak scored 12+ goals for the second consecutive month. Via NHL PR: only three other players have managed that during the first two months of a season: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Mike Bossy.
Maybe don’t sit on a lead against the Capitals? Washington already has five wins in games where they trailed by multiple goals in 2019-20, the most of any team, according to NHL PR. Alex Ovechkin scored his 255th career power-play goal, tying Teemu Selanne for third-most in NHL history. Brett Hull is second all-time with 265 PPG, while Dave Andreychuk has the record with 274. Feels like a healthy Ovechkin could blow those totals out of the water, right?
Sportsnet stats with another interesting Ovechkin nugget:
#ALLCAPS Alex Ovechkin is 2nd on this list for youngest players to reach the 675-goal plateau.

Will he catch Wayne Gretzky as the NHL’s all-time goal scorer?

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It’s been exactly six years since Boston had Stanley Cup Final fever. It’s been 49 years since the Bruins swept the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final to win the then fourth Cup in their franchise history.
Beginning next Monday, two teams will knuckle down and compete for the Stanley Cup. The Boston Bruins will aim for their seventh elusive trophy and the St. Louis Blues for their first ever.

The very first time the Boston Bruins made it to the playoffs, in 1927 they also made the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Bruins lost to the Ottawa Senators. That time, 92 years ago, the Stanley Cup Final was played up to two wins regardless of the ties. The Senators won two games and two games ended up in a tie. The Sens hoisted the Stanley Cup in Ottawa on April 13 that year.

90 years back in 1929, the Boston Bruins won their first ever Stanley Cup against the New York Rangers in the old Madison Square Garden, with Bill Carson scoring late in the third period to win the Stanley Cup for Boston. Well, that’s not the last time when the Bruins lifted the Stanley Cup in New York, surely a beloved city for all Boston Bruins’ fans.

The following year, the Boston Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Final again, this time to meet the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup back in Montreal. The Bruins had to wait until 1939 to get to the Stanley Cup Final again.

The Bruins met the Toronto Maple Leafs in a then new final series system, where the team has to win four games in a best-of-seven series. The Bruins won in five games, clinching at home in the old Boston Garden. It was Roy Conacher with the Cup-winning tally in that Game 5.

Just two years later, the Bruins returned to the Stanley Cup Final after they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, back then, the semi-final of the playoffs. In that Stanley Cup Final in 1941, the Bruins swept the Detroit Red Wings with Bobby Hauer scored a Cup-winning goal in Detroit in Game 4 on April 12.

Two years later in 1943, the Red Wings got their revenge as they swept the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final and hoisted the Cup at Boston Garden. In 1946, the B’s returned to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost to the Montreal Canadiens. again.

Not a pleasant fact for the Bruins for sure, but the Canadiens and the Bruins have met in the Stanley Cup Final seven times and the Habs have won all of those meetings.

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Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler writes a weekly scrapbook for Fischler, known as “The Hockey Maven,” will share his humor and insight with readers each Wednesday.

This week’s edition features interviews with Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Boucher. Stan worked as assistant publicist with the New York Rangers during the 1954-55 season, Boucher’s last as their general manager, and saved many of the stories Boucher told him. They convened again for lunch (and more tales) at a Manhattan restaurant in 1968 and again in 1973, when Frank was promoting his autobiography, “When the Rangers Were Young.”

Here are some of Boucher’s best stories, as told to Stan.

You won the Lady Byng Trophy seven times. Did you ever get to actually meet Lady Byng?

I did but I was a kid at the time, growing up in Ottawa. Close to where we kids played was a neighborhood of prominent people and, since we were poor, we’d canvass these influential folks for money so we could buy equipment to play hockey. We often made a stop at Governor General Baron Byng’s mansion, The baron and his wife, Lady Byng, loved hockey and liked us kids. She gave standing orders that she be told when I arrived. She asked her gardener to give me flowers to take home. She’d watch our games and when we passed a hat she’d contribute and that helped pay for our hockey equipment.

Your first NHL club was your home team, the Ottawa Senators, in 1921-22. What was it like being a big-leaguer at the age of 20?

Attitudes toward the game were very different then. The NHL was very young and there were no such things as agents or a players’ union. Someone once asked me if I got a “bonus” for signing my first NHL contract, and I had to laugh. Not on your life. When the Senators asked me to play for them in 1921, I signed a one-year contract for $1,200 and considered myself lucky to be playing hockey. Even after I won the Lady Byng Trophy seven times, I never made more than $8,500 in one season.

Before signing with Ottawa, you were a detective in the Royal North-West Mounted Police. What made you quit the Mounties for pro hockey?

When I was posted to Lethbridge, Alberta, I organized a Mounties hockey team — a Senior level club. A year later I was posted to Banff and put together another Mounties team. By this time I realized I wanted to play hockey more than being a cop, even though I always had a great respect for the Mounties. Meanwhile, my hockey skills improved and while I still was in Banff, pro people began contacting me. Apparently, they had seen something about my game they liked.

Which offer did you get that you couldn’t refuse?

I got two NHL calls that were very tempting; one from the [Montreal] Canadiens and the second from Ottawa. My decision was to go with my home team, but first I had to legally leave the Mounties. It cost me $50 to get out of the force, and then I signed to play 24 games. The problem in those days was that guys would be on the ice playing 60-minute games and my “luck” was that I backed up my idol, Frank Nighbor, who could play without substitution. I wound up freezing my behind on the bench more than I ever wanted.

How did you get out of that situation in Ottawa?

Frank Patrick owned the Vancouver Maroons of the Pacific Coast League and wanted me to come out there because Western teams had first dibs on players who were skating in Alberta, as I had been. Frank let me finish my year with the Senators, and then I signed with Vancouver. What a difference that made! Instead of making me a sub, the way I was in Ottawa, Patrick let me have all the ice time I wanted, and I made the most of it.

How did you wind up being an original member of the New York Rangers?

Early in the 1920s it became hard for Western teams to make money. The big hockey money moved to the East after Boston entered the NHL in 1924. One by one Western teams began selling players to Eastern teams. After my fourth year with Vancouver, Frank Patrick sold me to the Bruins, but, as it happened, I never played for Boston. The Rangers were entering the NHL in 1926, with Conn Smythe first doing New York’s recruiting. One of the players he signed was the great right wing Bill Cook, who had played against me when he was with Saskatoon. It was Bill who told Smythe to sign me. So for $15,000, which went to the Bruins, I became an original Ranger.

What was that first Rangers team like in 1926-27?

Smythe had stocked our roster with good players. In addition to Bill Cook, he got Bun Cook, Billy’s brother, plus a couple of solid defensemen, Ching Johnson and Taffy Abel, and a wonderful ironman forward named Murray Murdoch. But Smythe, who was fiery, got into a feud with ownership and was fired before training camp was over. In his place, the Rangers bosses brought in Lester Patrick, Frank’s brother, to run the club. That first [season] wasn’t easy for us because we were competing with the New York Americans, who had entered the NHL a year earlier and already had a fan base. Right from the start we had a terrific rivalry with the Americans, especially since both of us were playing out of [Madison Square] Garden. We actually finished that year (1926-27) with a better record than the Amerks. And we kept getting better.

How much better did the Rangers get in 1927-28?

In that second year, we had one of the finest teams ever seen in the NHL. I centered the first line with Bill Cook on the right and Bunny on the other side. Our defense had Ching Johnson and Taffy Abel as the key guys, but Leo Bourgeault also was very good. Plus, we had Lorne Chabot in goal, and he proved through a long NHL career to be one of the best. Other good men included Murray Murdoch and Paul Thompson, both excellent second-liners. Plus we had Lester, a wonderful leader, behind the bench.

What was it like to win the Stanley Cup in the Rangers’ second NHL season?

It was quite a challenge. We wound up in the Final against the tough Montreal Maroons and couldn’t play any games at the Garden, which had other commitments. The entire Final — it was best-of-5 in those days — was played at the Montreal Forum. We lost the first game, but that was the least of our problems. The biggest was that our regular goalie, Lorne Chabot, got badly hurt in the second game and we didn’t have a backup — so Lester, who once had been a great defenseman, went into the net. He was 45 years old and never had been a regular goalie, but that didn’t stop him from putting on the pads.

How well did Lester play?

He had a 1-0 shutout with less than two minutes left in the third period, but Montreal scored and we went to overtime. They couldn’t crack Lester even in overtime, which was unforgettable enough. And I was thrilled, scoring the game-winner in sudden death with just over seven minutes gone. Lester then made a deal getting Joe Miller to be our goalie for the rest of the series. Joe had been with the Americans and was nicknamed “Red Light” because he wasn’t supposed to be so good. We were on the ropes when the Maroons beat us in the third game, but then Joe got a 1-0 shutout win on my goal in Game 4. “Red Light” stayed good in the rubber game, never giving up a goal until late in the third period. By then I had scored twice, and we won 2-1 to take the Cup home to New York.

Why was your second New York Cup win in 1933 so special?

Our goalie, Andy Aitkenhead, was a rookie but he wound up with [a 1.60] goals-against average in the playoffs, plus a pair of shutouts. Then there was a revenge thing because we faced Toronto in the Final after the Leafs had defeated us in three straight to win the championship the previous year. It also was memorable for me since this was the last Cup that Billy and Bun Cook won with me at center. Right from the get-go, our line set the pace in the opening game. Bunny got the first goal with assists from Bill and me, and we wound up taking the game 5-1. Our Cup-winning game, Game 4 in the series, was 0-0 into overtime; then Bill Cook got the Cup-winner.

When did you decide it would be a good idea to retire?

By the 1937-38 season I’d finally had it. My buddies from our original team, Bun and Bill, already had retired along, as had Ching Johnson and Murray Murdoch. I only played a handful of games and called it quits as the last of the Rangers originals. I had a dozen years with New York, led the team in scoring five seasons and was a three-time [NHL] All-Star. I had complete satisfaction with my playing career because I was able to do many difficult things passably well against the best talent available. And I did it within the structure of the rules. I was always a stickler when it came to playing the game fairly.

What made you turn to coaching?

I had studied the game enough and felt I still had something to contribute. I was overjoyed during the summer of 1938 when Lester invited me to coach the New York Rovers, the Rangers farm team in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League. We had a fine young team, beating everyone in sight, and in July 1939 Lester named me coach of the Rangers. He would still be [general] manager — and my assistant. I couldn’t have been happier to sign an NHL coaching contract for $4,500.

Could you have guessed how well you’d do as a rookie NHL coach?

It’s an old story that a coach is only as good as his players, and Lester presented me with one of the greatest teams in history. My first line had Lynn Patrick, Lester’s son, on left wing with Bryan Hextall on the right side and Phil Watson at center. But the second unit, starring the Colville brothers, Neil at center and Mac on the right, plus Alex Shibicky on the other side, was just as good. Even my third line — Clint Smith, Kilby MacDonald and Alf Pike — would match up with the League’s best. Dave Kerr was the top goalie in the League that season, and the defense wasn’t bad either. We had two Hall of Famers, Babe Pratt and Art Coulter, as well as Lester’s other son, Muzz Patrick, and Ott Heller. We were at a disadvantage in the six-game Final against Toronto since we only could play two games in New York. But it didn’t matter; Hextall scored the overtime winner in Game 6 and we had another Cup for New York!

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The National Hockey League was founded on November 26, 1917. Over the league’s 100 years, countless players have left indelible marks on the game. Names like, Morenz, Shore, Richard, Howe, Beliveau, Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux are uttered in hockey circles with the utmost reverence. If one were to ask multiple generations who the best NHL players were, one would receive multiple answers.

Attempting to compare, contrast and list the greats across multiple decades is a near-impossible (and extremely subjective) endeavor. In an attempt to at least minimize the subjectivity while also giving each legend their proper respect for the time in which they played, the following list will be broken down decade-by-decade, all the way back through the NHL’s first full decade (1920s). The five best players will be mentioned for each, the “best” will be identified, and honorable mention will be bestowed upon the greats who didn’t quite crack the top five.

Tidbits and Criteria
Beyond the 1920s, candidates must have played a minimum of 200 games.
Players are only being measured for their play and impact during the decade in question.
Following the identification of each decade’s “best” player, the subsequent four players (and honorable mentions) are listed in no particular order.
Top-billing serves as the annotation for the decade’s “best” player.
Some players wrapped their best seasons around the end of one decade and beginning of another. This is taken into account, but again, each decade is measured independently from one another.
This is not merely a list of best stats. If so, Ron Francis would be the fifth-best player of all time. This list is about all-around play, impact and innovation.
Like the statistical component, Stanley Cup wins will be taken into account, but this is also not merely a list of “Best Winners.” If it were, Henri Richard would top the list. Great players from mediocre-to-bad teams deserve some love too.
Some of the all-time greats will not be listed as the “best” player from their respective decade(s), and some won’t even crack the top five. It will be as surprising to you as it was to me. Some decades were just too chock-full of talent.
The Lester B. Pearson Award became the Ted Lindsay Award prior to the 2009-10 Season.

Finally, I want to thank my father. His insight, knowledge of the game and firsthand experience watching some of these players proved invaluable. Considering the fact that I’m his namesake, I’m happy to share the byline of this article with him.

Buckle up.

Best NHL Players of the 1920s
Howie Morenz — Montreal Canadiens

(“The Stratford Flash,” Howie Morenz)
Howie Morenz was the first legitimate superstar in NHL history. He was the first player to record 50 points (1927-28) and 40 goals (1929-30) in a season. His 179 goals in 258 games average out to 56 goals per today’s 82-game schedule. Allegedly, it was his breathtaking ability and speed which persuaded Boston businessman Charles Adams to found the Boston Bruins, bringing the NHL to the United States.

The best of the era, according to another one of the decade’s best:

He was the best. He could stop on a dime and leave you nine cents change. Howie was in a class by himself. And when he couldn’t skate around you, he’d go right over you.

-Francis “King” Clancy (Joe Pelletier,

He finished the 1920s with one Hart Trophy and two Stanley Cup championships, scoring the winning goal in each. Morenz tragically passed away at age 34 from complications stemming from a broken leg. Fifty-thousand people attended his funeral service held at the Montreal Forum.

Cy Denneny — Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins
Cy Denneny was the NHL’s first sniper, scoring 34 goals in just 24 games during the 1920-21 season. His 243 points paced the decade, besting Morenz by two points (in eight additional games). Despite standing just five-foot-seven, Denneny would seldom skate away from confrontation; he played with a bit of a mean streak. He would win 4 Stanley Cups in the decade, including one as a player-coach for the Bruins in 1929-30.

Georges Vezina — Montreal Canadiens
Georges Vezina was the league’s first star goaltender, donning the “Bleu, blanc, et rouge” for his entire career. Vezina excelled in an era when goaltenders were not allowed to go down to the ice to make saves or freeze the puck (or wear helmets or masks, for that matter). “The Chicoutimi Cucumber” was known for his poise and cool demeanor while staring down the league’s best. He was the first goaltender to post a sub-2.00 goals-against-average, doing so in consecutive seasons. He won one Cup in the 1920s before an untimely death from tuberculosis at age 39. The award for the NHL’s best goaltender is named after Vezina.

Cecil “Babe” Dye — Toronto St. Pat’s, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Americans
Toronto’s first superstar. His 190 goals topped all scorers in the decade, leading the league in single-season goals three times. Prior to his career being derailed by injury in 1927, Dye had registered 189 points in just 182 games. Blessed with a rocket of a shot, Dye struck fear in the hearts of the era’s goalies. Furthermore, “Babe” played professional baseball and football, making him the best athlete in the NHL in the 1920s. He won one Cup with the Toronto St. Pat’s in 1922.

Francis “King” Clancy — Ottawa Senators
The league’s first star defenseman. Diminutive, speedy, and tough-as-nails, he could do it all. In the 1923 Stanley Cup Final, Clancy played every position on the ice (yes, including goaltender); Ottawa won the game and the series. Clancy remains the only player to accomplish this feat. He scored 153 points in 306 games, primarily playing defense, and won two Cups in the decade.

Honorable Mention: Aurele Stewart, Nels Clark, Bill Cook
Eddie Shore — Boston Bruins, New York Americans
greatest NHL defensemen Eddie Shore
(Eddie Shore)
“The Edmonton Express” was as feared as he was revered. He essentially singlehandedly brought hockey to the United States. Shore registered 199 points in 386 games, giving him an average of 42 points per 82 games; incredible numbers for a defenseman in the era. He also set the bar for toughness. Shore once had his ear severed so badly from his head that the team doctor insisted on amputating; an assessment with which Shore disagreed. He found a different doctor to sew the ear back on, refused an anesthetic during the surgery and insisted on holding a mirror so he could supervise the work being done. Eddie Shore was back at practice the next day.

The legendary tough guy played through more than just a severed ear:

Driving himself the way he drove his players later, Shore had also acquired more than 900 stitches in his face and body, several fractures in his back, hip, collarbone, nose and jaw, and a mouth minus every tooth.

-Stan Fischler (Sports Illustrated) March 13, 1967

He won four Hart Trophies (still a record for a defenseman) in a six year span. He won one Stanley Cup, and also holds the record for most fights in one game (five).

Cecil “Tiny” Thompson — Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings
The star goaltender played more games (465) than any other player in the 1930s. The pioneer of the glove-save, Thompson’s catlike reflexes and innovative technique made him the best goaltender of the decade. He finished a season with a goals-against-average below 2.00 four separate times, and recorded 63 shutouts. He’s the only goaltender in the Hockey Hall of Fame to post a shutout in his NHL debut. He was also the first goalie to record an assist. Thompson finished the decade with three Vezina Trophies.

Charlie Conacher — Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Americans
No one scored more goals in the 1930s than Charlie Conacher. With 198 goals in 374 games, Conacher

Leafs legend Charlie Conacher
scored at a rate of 46 goals per 82 games throughout the decade. “The Big Bomber” was one of the league’s first power forwards, possessing an imposing frame and booming shot. Teaming up with fellow legend “Busher” Jackson, the two wreaked havoc on opposing defenses for the first half of the decade. He led the league in goals five times, and twice paced the league in points. Conacher won one Stanley Cup with Toronto in 1932.

Aubrey “Dit” Clapper — Boston Bruins
Dit Clapper, like King Clancy before him, played all over the ice. He remains the only player in league history to be named an All-Star at both forward and defense. His 279 points rank ninth in scoring for the decade, despite multiple seasons spent exclusively as a defenseman.

A peacemaker despite his large stature, Clapper was involved in one of the most surreal moments in league history: After twice high-sticking an opponent to the head, referee Clarence Campbell reportedly unloaded on him with a string of verbal jabs. Clapper responded with an actual jab, dropping Campbell to the ice with a single punch.

He finished the decade paired alongside Eddie Shore, giving Boston the best defense pairing in the league. He won one of his three Stanley Cups in the decade (1939).

Marty Barry — Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens
Marty Barry was a model of consistency. During the rough-and-tumble 1930s, Barry played an unthinkable 509 consecutive games. Moreover, his consistency extended beyond endurance, as he recorded six-consecutive 20-goal seasons during that span. His 353 points in the decade were enough to pace the league, tying with Busher Jackson. Barry won the Stanley Cup twice, doing so in back-to-back seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.

Honorable Mention: Harvey “Busher” Jackson, Nels Stewart, Howie Morenz, Dave Kerr
Maurice “Rocket” Richard — Montreal Canadiens

“The Rocket” was cut from a different cloth; he was unlike anything the league had previously seen. Even Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster Dick Irvin put Richard in a class to himself:

There are goals, and there are Richard goals.

-Dick Irvin (Herbert Warren Wind, Sports Illustrated) December 6, 1954

With unmatched speed and the consummate finisher’s touch, Richard changed the game more than any player before him. He was the first player in league history to score 50 goals in a season, doing so in just 50 games during the 1944-45 campaign. He scored 56 more goals than his closest competitor. His 250 goals in 404 games average out to over 50 goals per 82 games.

With piercing black eyes and a temper to match, Richard was also not a player to be trifled with. Though his winningest-days as player would come in the following decade, “The Rocket” still managed a Hart Trophy and two Stanley Cup wins in the 1940s.

Doug Bentley — Chicago Blackhawks

Doug Bentley
Though marooned on the cellar-dwelling Blackhawks for the entire decade, Bentley found a way to excel. His 475 points in 455 games led the league in both total points and points-per-game, averaging out to 85 points per 82 games. Doug and brother Max Bentley were the original Sedin twins prior to Max being traded before the 1947-48 season, as the brothers finished the decade ranked first and fourth in league scoring. Doug’s lack of supporting cast kept his name off of the Stanley Cup, and he never finished higher than second in Hart Trophy voting. However, it was his ability to outscore everyone else in the decade in spite of that support which cements his place on this list.

Bill Durnan — Montreal Canadiens
Bill Durnan was the greatest goaltender of the decade, and it’s not even close (with all due respect to Frank Brimsek and “Turk” Broda). Durnan captured six Vezina Trophies in a span of seven years; sheer dominance. He was just as excellent in the playoffs, posting a 2.07 goals-against-average over 45 games, winning two Stanley Cups.

Walter “Babe” Pratt — New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins
The second “Babe” on our list, Pratt’s nickname was earned for his exploits on AND off the ice, much like the baseball-playing “Babe.” The defenseman (and occasional forward) was a notorious playboy, drawing the ire of Rangers GM Conn Smythe and precipitating his trade away from the bright lights of Broadway. Standing a then-massive six-foot-three, 215 pounds, Pratt could skate and rush the puck as well as anyone not called “The Rocket.”

He registered 218 points in 310 games, and had the Norris Trophy existed in the 1940s Pratt would have won more than a few. He won one Hart Trophy and one Stanley Cup, scoring the series-winning goal in Game 7 of the 1945 Final.

Hector “Toe” Blake — Montreal Canadiens
Though better known as an eight-time Cup winning coach, Blake was quite the player in his day. The slick and skilled Blake registered 386 points in 376 games from the left wing position, helping Montreal capture two Cups in three years.

Maurice Richard, Elmer Lach Toe Blake
Maurice Richard, Elmer Lach and Toe Blake – the Punch Line.
Honorable Mention: Bill Cowley, Syl Apps, Elmer Lach, Max Bentley, Frank Brimsek, Turk Broda, Bill Mosienko
Gordie Howe — Detroit Red Wings
“Mr. Hockey” isn’t the most subtle nickname, and Howe was not the most subtle player. One way or another, his presence was felt each and every time he hopped onto the ice.

He was built to be a hockey player. He was strong as an ox. Howe was mean as a rattlesnake and you treaded lightly when you came around him. He had a very heavy shot and a soft touch. Old school hockey. That was Gordie Howe.

-Red Wings and Maple Leafs forward Paul Henderson ( June 10, 2016

Gordie howe
(Gordie Howe)
Considered by many (including a few fellow contenders) to be the greatest player of all time, Gordie Howe WAS hockey in the 1950s. His 806 points (in just 688 games) lead the second-place finisher by 249 points. That second place finisher also happened to be his linemate, Ted Lindsay. He averaged 99 points per 82 games throughout the 1950s.

In the decade, Howe won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies five times apiece, while winning the Stanley Cup four times. The “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” (a goal, assist, and a fight) is the most “hockey player” stat in the game, and is a fitting testament to one of the most complete players of all time.

Jean Beliveau — Montreal Canadiens
The only things that kept Jean Beliveau from more awards in the 1950s (and top billing on this list) were Howe and his incredible supporting cast in Montreal.

Hockey’s best – Jean Beliveau
Maurice Richard and Jean Beliveau
Beliveau is the only player of the decade to score at a higher rate than Howe, potting 242 goals in 437 games. He’s also the only player even remotely close to Howe in points-per-game, with 510. Beliveau was a wizard with the puck, and could skate like a man half his size (six-foot-three, 205 pounds). He captured one Hart Trophy, one Art Ross Trophy, and won the Stanley Cup five times in the decade. Like Howe, his greatness did not go unnoticed by other legends:

He’s great. He’s got the greatest shot I’ve ever seen in hockey and he’s a fine man.

-Maurice Richard (Dave Stubbs, January 1, 2017

Also like Howe and Richard, Beliveau’s greatness was hardly relegated to one decade.

Maurice “Rocket” Richard — Montreal Canadiens
The first player on this list to crack the top five in multiple decades. Richard was still elite in the 1950s, as evidenced by his 294 goals (second only to Howe). “The Rocket” won the Stanley Cup six more times in the 1950s, including the last five of the decade.

Doug Harvey — Montreal Canadiens
The greatest defenseman of the decade, and to this point in history, ever. Doug Harvey won seven Norris Trophies in a span of eight seasons in the 1950s. Had the award existed prior to the 1953-54 season he likely would have won one or two more. His 360 points led all defensemen in the decade.

Harvey was a dynamo at both ends of the ice. He was impossible to beat one-on-one, and quarterbacked the greatest power play of all time. Montreal’s power play was so good in the 1950s that in 1956 the NHL instituted a new rule, ending a team’s power play once a goal was scored. Prior to the amendment, Montreal would often score two or even three goals over the course of one power play.

Harvey won the Stanley Cup six times in the decade to go along with his impressive haul of Norris Trophies.

Jacques Plante — Montreal Canadiens
Yes, another Canadien. Four of the top five spots, and had this been a top ten list a few more Habs would be included. Montreal was that dominant.

Jacques Plante won each of the last five Vezina Trophies of the decade. Only once in the 1950s did Plante post a goals-against-average north of 2.16, and in that one anomalous season he still won the Vezina. He backstopped each of Montreal’s six Stanley Cups in the decade.

Honorable Mention: Ted Lindsay (I can’t believe he’s not in the top five), Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, Terry Sawchuk, Alex Delvecchio, Bill Gadsby, Andy Bathgate, Dickie Moore, Henri Richard
Bobby Hull — Chicago Blackhawks

Bobby Hull tests Montreal goalie Gump Worsley
“The Golden Jet” was the greatest goal scorer in an era of great goal scorers. Hull could skate nearly 30 miles per hour, and his slap shot was the stuff of legend. Rumor has it his slapper was once clocked at 118 miles per hour. Though that’s likely a bit of an exaggeration, it didn’t seem like hyperbole to the era’s goaltenders; it’s no surprise that the widespread use of masks by goalies coincided with Hull’s ascension. Former opponent and Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall was elated to join Hull on on the Blackhawks:

The best part about coming to Chicago was that Bobby Hull was on my side,” But I still had to face him and his shot in practice. The idea was not to stop that thing, but to avoid getting killed. Every once in a while, Bobby would fire the puck and it would fly into the stands at the Stadium. If the cleaning ladies were up there, you should have seen them scatter. They looked like Olympic sprinters.

-Glenn Hall (Bob Verdi, January 1, 2017

Hull’s 440 goals outpaced second place finisher Frank Mahovlich by 111. His 1.173 points-per game (96 points per 82 games) are second in the decade only to linemate Stan Mikita. He eclipsed 30 goals every year in the decade, 40 goals six times and 50 goals four times. He finished the decade with two Hart Trophies, two Art Ross Trophies and one Stanley Cup ring.

Jean Beliveau — Montreal Canadiens
Beliveau was still elite in his second decade, recording 633 points in 618 games. He added another Hart Trophy to his mantle, and was the NHL’s first Conn Smythe winner in 1965. He won the Stanley Cup four more times in the 1960s, giving him an inconceivable 10 rings as a player. Beliveau would go on to get his name on the Cup seven more times as an executive with Les Habitants. What a career for one of the game’s greatest ambassadors; a true gentleman on and off the ice.

Gordie Howe — Detroit Red Wings
Like Beliveau, Gordie Howe was still wreaking havoc on the league in the 1960s, registering 780 points in 708 games. Despite being 32 years old at the beginning of the 1960-61 season, Howe still managed to play more games than anyone else in the decade. As further testament to his unmatched longevity, let’s step out of the 1960s for a moment for this little tidbit: During the Hartford Whalers’ inaugural NHL season in 1979-80, Howe registered one goal and one assist over three playoff games in addition to his regular season 41 points; he was 52 years old.

Stan Mikita — Chicago Blackhawks
The Czechoslovkia-born Stan Mikita was raised in Canada, but is still technically the first non-North

Stan Mikita
The Scooter Line
American-born player on this list. The crafty pivot led all players in the decade in scoring, both in terms of total points (827) and points-per-game (1.18). Teaming with Bobby Hull to form the most formidable duo of the 1960s, Mikita captured four Art Ross and two Hart Trophies. He registered nine consecutive seasons of 76 points or more, and won one Stanley Cup.

Mikita could do more than just score and make plays, however. He had an exceptional Hockey IQ, and was a master of “the little things” that are so important for a centerman. He was a genuine pain-in-the-butt to play against as well.

Interestingly enough, Mikita was one of the league’s chippiest players in the first half of the decade. In the back half of the decade he won the Lady Byng Trophy twice. Allegedly, the change in playing style was attributed to Stan wanting to set a better example for his young daughter watching at home. Good man, Stan.

Bobby Orr — Boston Bruins
Bobby Orr, Ian Young, Danny O’Shea
Danny O’Shea, Ian Young and Bobby Orr
Though the lion’s share of Bobby Orr’s greatness would come in the following decade, he’d already changed the game forever by the time the sun had set on the 1960s. A more detailed breakdown of the player himself will come in the next section.

Orr won three straight Norris Trophies to close out the 1960s. His 64 point campaign in 1968-69 broke the record for points by a defenseman in a single season, which merely set the stage for the following year. In 1969-70, Orr broke his own record by 56 points (33 goals, 87 assists) becoming just the second player of ANY position to eclipse 100 points in a season.

The campaign would become the most decorated season for any individual player in the history of the NHL, as Orr would take home the Norris, Hart, Art Ross and Conn Smythe Trophies as well as the Stanley Cup. The Cup was won only after Orr scored the most iconic goal in NHL history. Not a bad year for a 22 year old.

Honorable Mention: Phil Esposito, Frank Mahovlich, Pierre Pilote, Dave Keon, Alex Delvecchio, Norm Ullman, Johnny Bucyk, Tim Horton, Glenn Hall
Bobby Orr — Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks
No player before nor since has changed the game more than Bobby Orr. Had more than a dozen surgeries on his left knee not ended his career prematurely who knows what else he could have accomplished. Regardless, the indelible mark he left on the game cements his place in history as arguably the best player of all time, and easily the best of the 1970s, despite only playing 36 games from 1975-on.

Bobby Orr seemed to be playing a different game than everyone else when he was on the ice. It was as if some great player from the future had gone back in time to expedite the maturation and progress of the game.

All that Bobby did was change the face of hockey all by himself. Bobby was as fast as he needed to be in a particular situation. No matter how fast an opponent was, Bobby could skate faster than him if he needed to in the framework of a play. If he was caught up the ice and the other team had an odd-man rush, that’s when you saw his truly great speed. Very seldom did he not get back to have a hand in breaking up the play. To have seen his ultimate speed, you would have needed to play faster than any in hockey history.

-Phil Esposito (Dave Stubbs, January 1, 2017

With every breathtaking end-to-end rush, impossible goal scored or penalty killed single-handedly, Orr captured the imagination of hockey fans everywhere.

“Number Four” tallied 659 points in just 407 games; that’s 132 points per 82 games. He scored at a higher rate than any player in the decade (1.62 points per game). His plus/minus of plus-124 in 1970-71 is one of sports’ most unbreakable records. He won five straight Norris Trophies to begin the decade, capping an incredible run of eight consecutive Norris wins. Orr added two additional Hart Trophies, one additional Art Ross Trophy, one Lester Pearson Award, an additional Conn Smythe Trophy and one more Stanley Cup win to his resume in the 1970s, giving a solid argument for considering him at the top of any list of best NHL players.

Guy Lafleur — Montreal Canadiens
With a name like “Guy Lafleur,” there was only one team worthy of his services.

“The Flower” dazzled fans in Montreal and around the league in the 1970s with his speed, effortless skating, creativity and scoring touch. Lafleur registered 941 points in just 677 games; his 1.39 points-per-game was a figure matched only by Orr and Phil Esposito. He was the first player in NHL history to record six consecutive 50 goal and 100 point seasons. During Montreal’s four-peat to end the decade, he recorded 36 goals and 41 assists in just 58 playoff games.

Lafleur would end the decade having won the Hart Trophy twice, the Art Ross Trophy three times, the Lester Pearson Award three times, the Conn Smythe Trophy once and the Stanley Cup five times. Merci beaucoup, Guy.

Bobby Clarke — Philadelphia Flyers
Great players typically want to play against other great players; it serves as an accurate and motivating measuring stick. Bobby Clarke, however, was not much fun to play against.

Though Clarke’s offensive numbers were impressive enough (891 points in 773 games), it was his all-around play that earns him a spot in the top five. Raised in a Northern Manitoba mining town, Clarke brought that workmanlike mentality to the rink every day. He was tireless on the forecheck and backcheck, and an excellent defensive centerman. Beyond that, he was a genuinely nasty guy on the ice. His slash on Valeri Kharlamov during the 1972 Summit Series versus the USSR was about as vicious as it gets.

Being a dirty player didn’t make Bobby Clarke great, nor is it part of why he’s on this list. Bobby Clarke was the most ferocious competitor of the era (and maybe ever), and the slashes, elbows, punches and pleasantries were merely an extension of how badly he wanted to beat you. And more often than not, he did.

Clarke captained the Flyers to back-to-back Cup wins in 1974 and 1975, and appeared in the finals two more times over the next five seasons. He captured three Hart Trophies in a span of four years as well as one Lester Pearson Award.

Phil Esposito — Boston Bruins, New York Rangers
“Jesus Saves, Esposito Scores on the Rebound,” was a popular bumper sticker in New England during Esposito’s tenure with the Bruins. It served as an equal testament to his beloved status and the nature in which he scored the lion’s share of his goals.

His 509 goals and 1,087 points were 104 and 126 (respectively) more than second-place finisher Guy Lafleur’s totals. “Espo” remains to this day the most dominant net-front presence in NHL history. Between the 1970-71 and 1974-75 seasons, he averaged 67 goals per year. His 76 goals during the 1970-71 campaign shattered Bobby Hull’s single-season record by 18 goals.

In the decade, Esposito won the Art Ross Trophy four times, the Lester Pearson Award twice and the Hart Trophy once, in addition to one Stanley Cup victory.

Ken Dryden — Montreal Canadiens
Ken Dryden was a new breed of goaltender when he arrived during the 1970-71 playoffs. Standing a monstrous six-foot-four, he towered over the crossbar, earning him the nickname “Four-Story Goalie.” His abilities dwarfed even his own stature, never mind the play of his peers.

Ken Dryden
With just six games of NHL experience at the onset of the 1970-71 playoffs, Dryden got the call in net against Bobby Orr and the defending Stanley Cup Champs in the first round. The 1970-71 Bruins had rewritten virtually every offensive record and breezed through the regular season. Nevertheless, it was the 23-year-old unknown goaltender and his Montreal Canadiens who moved on en route to a Stanley Cup win, earning Dryden the rare distinction of having won the Conn Smythe Trophy a full year prior to winning the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.

In just seven seasons, Dryden won the Vezina Trophy five times. He won the Stanley Cup six times. He sat out the 1973-74 season to finish up his Juris Doctorate despite having won two Cups in the previous three seasons. Upon his return, he won four Cups in six seasons.

In an era of outrageous goal scoring, Dryden’s 2.24 goals-against-average in the decade was equally outrageous. He registered nearly as many shutouts (46) in the decade as he did losses (57). Unreal.

Honorable Mention: Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault, Jean Ratelle, Bernie Parent, Tony Esposito, Brad Park, Denis Potvin, Larry Robinson
Wayne Gretzky – Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings

Wayne Gretzky (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
“The Great One” is about as subtle a nickname as “Mr. Hockey.” Where does one begin when extolling the greatness that was Wayne Gretzky? How long did it take Glen Sather (his first NHL coach) to be sold on his greatness?

It took one practice and one game. I watched him in the morning at the practice and I watched him play that night, and I was convinced that this guy was going to be an incredible player.

-Glen Sather (The Canadian Press, The Hockey News) January 25, 2011

Gretzky was the greatest scorer, playmaker and passer of all time. “Eyes in the back of his head” doesn’t even begin to do his abilities justice. Quite frankly, he knew where his teammates were going to be before they did. With the exception of Bobby Orr, no player has processed the game at Gretzky’s level; when I think of him on the ice I imagine a bunch of swirling equations floating around in his mind’s-eye.

He finished the decade with 1,842 points in 768 games, a ratio of roughly 2.4 points-per-game. He averaged 196 points per 82 games. If one were to remove every one of Gretzky’s league-leading 626 goals in the decade he would still have 157 more points than his closest competitor. He recorded four 200-point campaigns in a span of five seasons. Unless the NHL makes multiple, massive rule changes it’s unlikely that anyone comes close to “99’s” scoring records.

best hockey players Gretzky and Lafleur
Gretzky chats with Lafleur (Photo by Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Eight Hart Trophies, eight Art Ross Trophies, five Lester Pearson Awards, two Conn Smythe Trophies and four Stanley Cup wins make Gretzky the most decorated player on this list.

And forget having your jersey retired by your former team; Gretzky’s 99 is retired by the entire league.

Mario Lemieux — Pittsburgh Penguins
Despite not coming into the league until the 1984-85 season, Mario Lemieux did more than enough in his six seasons to make the top five of the decade. “Super Mario” wreaked havoc on the league from the moment he stepped onto the ice…literally. He scored a goal with the first shot of his first shift of his first game.

Lemieux had a genuinely unfair blend of size (six-foot-four, 230 pounds), skill and speed that made him nearly unstoppable, much like fellow Quebecois-star Jean Beliveau.

He registered 838 points in just 427 games, and his rate of points-per-game (1.96) is the only figure that even comes close to Gretzky’s. Per 82 games, the average Lemieux season featured 66 goals (fitting) and 94 assists. He recorded 199 points (85 goals, 114 assists) during the 1988-89 season; the highest point total ever by a player not named “Gretzky.”

Lemieux finished the decade with two Art Ross Trophies, two Lester Pearson Awards and one Hart Trophy. Though the 1990s were a slightly more decorated era for “Super Mario,” the fact that a kid in his early-20s was able to wrestle awards away from a still-in-his-prime Gretzky is astonishing. Stay tuned for more on Mario….

Mike Bossy — New York Islanders
Mike Bossy is arguably the greatest pure-sniper of all time, and he honed his skills in an incredible and unique way:

Your mother loves to tell people the story about how you scored 21 goals in your first mite hockey game. But even if that story is true, the goals only tell part of the story. Because your mom always leaves out the part about how much time you spent all by yourself out in the backyard rink, shooting at a wooden board. You don’t have a real net, so you practice by aiming for the black puck-marks on the board over and over and over until your feet are frozen.

-Mike Bossy (Player’s Tribune) June 7, 2017

Mike Bossy
Canadian hockey player Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders on the ice, February 1982. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
Bossy scored 400 goals in just 524 games. He hit the 50-goal mark in six consecutive years to start the decade, scoring 60 goals or more in four of those campaigns. His average of 62 goals per 82 games trails only Gretzky and Lemieux. He and Bryan Trottier served as the offensive engine for a New York Islanders team that won the final three of their four consecutive Stanley Cups to start the 1980s. Bossy won the 1982 Conn Smythe Trophy, scoring 17 goals and 27 points in 19 playoff games.

Mark Messier — Edmonton Oilers
Though Mark Messier was outscored by a few of his contemporaries, the completeness of his game (in conjunction with a still-stellar 937 points in 723 games) earn him a spot in the decade’s top five.

Messier was essentially the Bobby Clarke of the 1980s; he did it all. He scored, assisted, checked and defended with equal aplomb. Like Clarke, he brought a little bit of nasty with him to the rink on a daily basis. His 200-foot game served as the perfect second line compliment to Gretzky; probably the best one-two punch down the middle in the history of the game.

Gretzky’s departure to Los Angeles prior to the 1989-90 season paved the way for Messier to step out from “The Great One’s” shadow to showcase just how great he was himself. Messier recorded 45 goals and 129 points that season, winning the Hart Trophy, Lester Pearson Award and his fifth Stanley Cup of the decade.

Raymond Bourque — Boston Bruins
As far as two-way defensemen are concerned, only Bobby Orr (and maybe Doug Harvey) top Ray Bourque.

Bourque was dominant at both ends of the ice, creating and denying chances with equal aptitude. He registered 775 points in 714 games, good for an average of 89 points per 82 games. He was a cumulative plus-327 in the decade, second only to Brad McCrimmon among defensemen.

Throughout the 1980s, “77” would win three of his five total Norris Trophies. He was named a First Team All-Star six times, and a Second Team All-Star four times. As virtuous, honorable and humble as they come, Bourque’s greatness began in the 1980s, but spanned two full decades.

Honorable Mention: Paul Coffey, Rod Langway, Peter Stastny, Bryan Trottier, Jarri Kurri, Marcel Dionne, Denis Savard, Patrick Roy, Michel Goulet, Phil Housley, Cam Neely, Luc Robitaille, Grant Fuhr
Mario Lemieux — Pittsburgh Penguins

Mario Lemieux (Tony McCune/Wikimedia)
Had cancer and multiple back surgeries not taken their toll and abbreviated Mario’s career he could have made a legitimate run at Gretzky’s scoring records. He averaged more than two points-per-game in the 90s; no other player eclipsed 1.4 points-per-game.

Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster Dick Irvin had the following to say regarding Lemieux’s greatness:

In the playoffs of 1991 and 1992, Mario Lemieux raised the individual aspect of the game to a higher level than anyone I’ve ever seen play.

-Dick Irvin (Stu Hackel, January 1, 2017

Despite missing three full seasons and large chunks of two others, Lemieux still managed to win four Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, two Lester Pearson Awards and two Conn Smythe Trophies. After missing 56 games during the 1990-91 season, he registered 44 points in 23 playoff games, leading Pittsburgh to its first-ever Stanley Cup title. It was the first of two Cups Lemieux would win, doing so again the following season.

Dominik Hasek — Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres
Dominik Hasek was so good in the 90s that I briefly considered putting him at the top of this list. “The Dominator” was a brick wall, but one that could contort and morph like the T-1000 from Terminator 2.

How good was Hasek? He won five Vezina Trophies in a decade when Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour were in their prime, and some kid in New Jersey named Brodeur was winning Cups. He’s the only goaltender in NHL history to win the Hart and Lester Pearson multiple times, doing so in back-to-back seasons (1996-97, 1997-98).

He carried the 1998-99 Sabres (whose best skaters were Miroslav Satan and Michael Peca) to the Stanley Cup Final. He even took those Sabres to triple-overtime in Game Six versus the mighty Dallas Stars, a team which included Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Joe Nieuwendyk and the aforementioned Ed Belfour.

His crowning achievement of the decade was backstopping (and leading) the 1998 Czech Republic team to a stunning gold medal win over Canada in the Nagano Olympics.

Wayne Gretzky — Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers
Though well-traveled throughout the 90s and on the “back-nine” of his career, Gretzky was still “Great” in the decade. His scoring rate of 1.372 points-per-game (878 points in 640 games) trailed only Lemieux. Only once in his illustrious career did “99” average less than a point-per-game in a season, doing so in his 20th and final year at 38 years old. Still, the 62 points in 70 games during the 1998-99 season were more than respectable.

Gretzky captured two additional Art Ross Trophies in the decade, and with all due respect to Marcel Dionne, brought hockey to Southern California.

Jaromir Jagr — Pittsburgh Penguins
Long before he was a greybeard playing alongside guys young enough to be his children, Jaromir Jagr was a teenager excelling against grown men.

That blistering speed. That incredible skill. That legendary mullet.

Jagr’s speed, creativity and finishing ability would have made him a threat regardless of who was centering his line. Make that centerman Mario Lemieux and the writing was on the wall; teams would be giving up goals, and plenty of them.

His 958 points (in 725 games) led all scorers in the decade. Before discrediting Jagr one iota as being “just Mario’s sidekick,” note that Jagr recorded 325 points in 221 games without Lemieux between 1997-2000. That’s an average of 120 points per 82 games.

He captured the Art Ross Trophy four times, the Lester Pearson Award twice, the Hart Trophy once, and lifted the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years to begin the decade.

Eric Lindros — Philadelphia Flyers
Admittedly, the 1990s were the most difficult decade to assess; just too much talent spread throughout the league. It was in this decade that the parity in the NHL began to approach the levels of today’s game. This spot could have gone to nearly a dozen players, but in the end went to Lindros. What he was able to accomplish when healthy enough to play was remarkable.

Lindros was the prototypical power forward. He could score at an elite level, distribute from the center position to fellow star John LeClair, and strike fear in the hearts of defensemen with his size (six-foot-four, 230 pounds) and tenacity. His battles with Scott Stevens were the stuff of legend, like Achilles and Hector on ice. Unfortunately for Lindros, he ultimately played the role of Hector.

He registered 659 points in 486 games, giving him an average of 1.36 points-per-game (and 111 points per 82 games). He won the Hart Trophy and Lester Pearson Award during the strike-shortened 1994-95 season.

Had he not been slowed and eventually subdued by a never-ending list of injuries (including a horrific concussion sustained here), Eric Lindros could have been one of the all-time greats.

Honorable Mention: Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Teemu Selanne, Peter Forsberg, Pat Lafontaine, Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Ray Bourque, Brian Leetch, Chris Chelios, Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur
Nicklas Lidstrom — Detroit Red Wings
Nicklas Lidstrom
(Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)
In a way, Nicklas Lidstrom picked up where Ray Bourque left off as an all-situations stalwart on defense. Up a goal, down a goal, offensive zone face-off, defensive zone face-off, it didn’t matter; you wanted Lidstrom on the ice.

I think he’s going to go down as one of the all-time best defensemen ever to play. Having played with him and watched him closely from his first game, people know about it now but we’ve said it all along—you have to watch him closely to appreciate how good he is, what a great athlete he is because he makes the position look so easy. He is a special athlete.

-Steve Yzerman (SportingNews) May 31, 2012

Quietly excellent throughout the 1990s on a star-studded Red Wings squad, Lidstrom’s play (and acclaim) exploded in the 2000s. His 550 points and cumulative plus-235 led all defensemen in the decade. He added 92 points in 124 playoff games, winning the Stanley Cup twice while capturing one Conn Smythe Trophy.

His six Norris Trophies in the decade’s first seven seasons serve as a proper testament to just how dominant Lidstrom was at his position. The aforementioned accolades and statistics are made even more incredible by the fact that Lidstrom was already 30 years old when the decade began. A gentleman on and off the ice.

Martin Brodeur — New Jersey Devils
Like Lidstrom, Martin Brodeur saw his quiet-excellence blossom from the 1990s blossom in the 2000s. Backstopping the stingiest team in the league, he was a brick wall at the end of New Jersey’s endless thicket of forecheckers, backcheckers and Scott Stevens.

His 358 wins in the decade outpaced the second place finisher by 67 wins, and his 49 playoff victories also led the decade. His 2.22 goals-against-average was second only to Dominik Hasek, though Brodeur played in twice as many contests.

He won four Vezina Trophies in the decade; no other goaltender won more than one. He backstopped the Devils to his third (and final) Stanley Cup win in 2003.

Sidney Crosby — Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby hit the ground running immediately after being selected first overall in 2005. With fewer and fewer players eclipsing 100 points in a season, Crosby did so in four of his first five seasons. The lone exception being an injury-plagued 2007-2008 campaign in which he still managed 72 points in just 53 games. His 1.36 points-per-game paced the decade, averaging out to 111 points per 82 games.

“The Kid” captured one Hart Trophy, one Art Ross Trophy and one Lester Pearson in the decade. He captained the Penguins to back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals, bringing the trophy back to Pittsburgh in 2009 for the first time in nearly 20 years.

More on Crosby to come…

Alexander Ovechkin — Washington Capitals
A goal-scoring machine. “Alexander The Great” potted 52 goals in his rookie season, becoming just the fourth rookie to eclipse 50 goals (Bossy, Nieuwendyk, Selanne). His 269 goals in 396 games (.68 per game) average out to 55 goals per 82 games; easily the highest scoring rate in the league. His one-timer (particularly on the power play) was unstoppable.

Best NHL Players
Ovechkin & Jagr, two of the best of all time(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Players his size (six-foot-three, 240 pounds) should not be as fast as Ovechkin. That combination of size and speed made Ovechkin one of the most feared hitters of the decade as well.

He captured two Hart Trophies, one Art Ross Trophy and three Lester Pearson Awards in the decade.

With a blistering shot, tremendous speed and elite size, Ovechkin in the 2000s was the consummate weapon.

Pavel Datsyuk — Detroit Red Wings
Joe Thornton — Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks
Our first tie. I know it’s kind of a cop-out, but I truly could not decide between these two surefire Hall of Famers.

On one hand, Pavel Datsyuk was one of the most complete players of his era, and of recent memory. “The Magic Man” combined mesmerizing puck handling, brilliant playmaking and a deft scoring touch to become on of the most dangerous scorers in the league. Just as importantly, he possessed Thomas Crown-level thievery skills, earning three Selke Trophies in the decade.

There haven’t been many players in the history of the league capable of averaging nearly one point-per-game (592 points in 606 games) for a decade while also being one of (if not THE) best defensive forwards in the game. Datsyuk registered 87 points or more in four consecutive seasons and won the Stanley Cup twice in the decade.

Joe Thornton, meanwhile, was the decade’s leading scorer with 823 points. That’s 99 points more than second place finisher Jarome Iginla. I couldn’t justify leaving the decade’s leading scorer out of the top five.

Thornton was arguably the best passer of his generation, averaging 68 assists per 82 games throughout the decade. A more-than-capable defensive centerman himself, “Jumbo Joe” didn’t shy away from the rough-stuff either, earning the respect of opponents and teammates alike.

He owns the distinction of being the only player in the near-70 year history of the Art Ross Trophy to have been traded during his trophy-winning season.

A cornerstone player for two franchises in the decade.

Honorable Mention: Jarome Iginla, Daniel Alfredsson, Joe Sakic, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Peter Forsberg, Dany Heatley
Sidney Crosby — Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby
(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Despite missing 197 games in the decade (thus far), Crosby sits just one point behind Patrick Kane for most in the decade. His 1.27 points-per-game average out to 104 points per 82 games; no one else is even close.

An all-situations player, there isn’t a facet of the game in which Crosby doesn’t excel. With speed, smarts, playmaking ability, scoring touch, defensive acumen and passion to burn, “The Kid’ is a winner.

His has been a subtler brand of exceptionalism, born of outsized effort and impressive skating edge work and an unparalleled backhand and all the details that piled high, create a mountain of hockey excellence.

-Michael Farber (Sports Illustrated) March 3, 2016

He captained the Penguins to back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017; the first team to repeat as champs in 20 years.

Through 2016, he won one Hart Trophy, one Art Ross Trophy and one Lester Pearson (Ted Lindsay). He’s nominated for another Hart and Lester Pearson (Ted Lindsay) at next week’s NHL Awards.

Erik Karlsson — Ottawa Senators
In another year or two, Erik Karlsson may have done enough to supplant Crosby at the top of the list. As of now, he must settle for a close-second.

Erik Karlsson is a game-changer, and easily the best defenseman of the decade. Shades of Paul Coffey.

He’s a possession monster, swift and slick with the puck, commanding attention every time he’s on the ice. And his stats are incredible.

Erik Karlsson NHL’s best defenceman
Erik Karlsson (Photo by Andy Martin Jr)
In an era when many great forwards fail to average 70 points per season, Karlsson has averaged 71 points per 82 games from the blue line (430 points in 496 games). He owns three of the top four single-season scoring marks for defensemen in the decade.

The knock on Karlsson’s game had been his play in his own zone. Though still above average, it paled in comparison to what he was able to do offensively or in transition. How did Karlsson respond? By leading the NHL in blocked shots during the 2016-2017 season.

Through 2016, Karlsson won two Norris Trophies, with a third likely coming following his stellar 2016-2017 season. Still just 27 years old, the crafty Swede likely has a few Hart Trophies coming his way.

Alexander Ovechkin — Washington Capitals
Alexander Ovechkin is still one of the best players in the league in his second decade. His 289 goals lead all scorers in the decade, and his rate of .55 goals-per-game (45 per 82 games) trail only Steven Stamkos. Ovehkin has captured a Hart Trophy in the decade to go along with four-consecutive Maurice Richard Trophies between 2013-2016. Still a force on a nightly basis.

Evgeni Malkin — Pittsburgh Penguins
Like Mark Messier before him, Evgeni Malkin has been arguably the second-best center in the league while also being just the second-best center on his team. Also like Messier, Malkin showed his full value when the star center ahead of him wasn’t around (in Malkin’s case the 2011-12 season in which Crosby missed 60 games). The Russian pivot responded with 50 goals and 109 points in 75 games, winning the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and Lester Pearson (Ted Lindsay) Award.

He has won two Cups in the decade, and his 1.14 points-per-game (451 points in 397 games) trail only Crosby among qualified players. His 84 points in the playoffs lead all NHL players.

Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith — Chicago Blackhawks
Another cop out! With league-wide parity at an all-time high, I eventually settled on acknowledging what the aforementioned ‘Hawks have accomplished in the decade. As a team, they won two Cups in three years after closing out the previous decade with another Stanley Cup victory. The one season in between Chicago’s two Cups saw them make it to the seventh game of the conference finals before bowing out to the eventual-champion Los Angeles Kings.

Jonathan Toews Patrick Kane
(Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Individually, all three can make cases for inclusion in the the top five; they’re an incredible trifecta of talent and intangibles. Patrick Kane leads all scorers in the decade with 522 points, and owns the slickest-mitts in the league. He has won the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Lester Pearson (Ted Lindsay) Award and the Conn Smythe Trophy once apiece.

Jonathan Toews is Mark Messier 2.0, playing arguably the best 200-foot game in the league. He’s a born-leader who has captained the Blackhawks since he was just 20 years old. His 431 points in 495 games aren’t too shabby either.

Duncan Keith is the consummate 21st century defenseman, capable of shutting down an opponent’s attack and transitioning play/generating offense with equal aplomb. His 58 playoff points lead all defensemen in the decade, and he has won the Norris and Conn Smythe Trophies once apiece.

Together, the three players have made the Chicago Blackhawks one of the league’s most formidable teams, and with the exception of possibly the Pittsburgh Penguins, the best team of the decade.

Honorable Mention: Shea Weber, Kris Letang, Drew Doughty, Carey Price, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Patrice Bergeron, Claude Giroux, Anze Kopitar
Including the “Honorable Mentions,” 135 players are listed above, and another 135 (at least) could have easily cracked the list. Each had their day in the sun, and one way or another have cemented their place in history. After countless hours of reasearch, note-taking and internal debate this is the list of what I believe to be the best players of all-time, by decade.

It’s been quite a ride. If the NHL produces just half as many legends in the next 100 years the game will be in good hands.

Frank Fredrickson Jersey

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His blue eyes and fair complexion notwithstanding, Sigurdur Frank Fredrickson experienced discrimination in his early years in Winnipeg. Born in Canada, Fredrickson was the son of parents who had immigrated to Manitoba from Iceland toward the end of the 19th century. He spoke only Icelandic before he went to school.

They ate different food, went to a different church and spoke accented English, but Fredrickson and his friends were perfectly Canadian in their enthusiasm for the game of hockey. Shunned by lads of other ethnic origins, the Icelanders organized themselves into hockey teams of their own. Soon enough, they were beating everyone in sight.

By age 18, in 1913, Fredrickson was the leading light of the Winnipeg Falcons, almost all of them ethnic Icelanders. That year, their first in the Independent Hockey League, the Falcons finished last. It took only a year for them to reverse their fortunes: In 1914-15 they won the league championship.

In February 1916, Fredrickson — known to all by now as Frank, rather than Sigurdur — volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He enlisted in the 196th Battalion, but soon moved to the 223rd Battalion (Canadian Scandinavians). Enrolled in the University of Manitoba at the time, he listed his “trade or calling” as student.

The 223rd embarked from Halifax in early May 1917, arriving in Liverpool on May 15. It didn’t take long before Frederickson decided that the life of a foot soldier in an infantry battalion might not be the best option on offer in King George’s combined forces. He decided to become an airman and, together with two fellow Falcons, managed to get a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps.

Aboard the troopship Aragon, the Icelanders departed Taranto, Italy, for Alexandria, Egypt, to do their air training. Shortly after their safe passage, the Aragon was torpedoed by a German U-boat, which resulted in the loss of more than 600 lives.

While learning to fly at the British airbase in Aboukir, the Winnipeggers managed to squeeze more than a little fun into their days. Fredrickson took a camera wherever he went; photographs taken during his time in Aboukir show him at the Sphinx, riding a camel and wearing his airman uniform but with an Egyptian fez on his head. There is a standard feature in every image — Fredrickson’s beaming smile.

In May, his flight training successfully completed, Fredrickson departed Alexandria for the return voyage across the Mediterranean. He had avoided disaster on his outward journey but he was unluckier this time. On May 28, the transport ship he was travelling on, the Leasowe Castle, was struck by a German torpedo. Ninety-two men were lost.

Fredrickson was a highly accomplished violinist. As men fled the sinking Leasowe Castle, he put his cherished violin in the hands of a lifeboat captain. There was no room for Fredrickson, but once in the water he managed to scramble into a different lifeboat. The violin was saved, and so was Fredrickson.

Once in Britain, he was posted to a Royal Air Force airbase in Gullane, Scotland. The average life expectancy of a fighter pilot operating over the Western Front was less than 20 hours of flying time, but Fredrickson struck it lucky again. Because he was a talented flier and able communicator, his commanders decided the best use the RAF could make of him was as a flying instructor and test pilot.

He flew an array of machines: the Sopwith Camel and Pup, Bristol Fighter, Nieuports and the superb new Royal Aircraft Factory scout, the SE5A.

As he had done at Aboukir, Fredrickson made a point of balancing duty with fun. Charmed by a young Edinburgh woman, Fredrickson decided to do some “sensational flying” over a tea party she had arranged. On returning to Gullane, the engine of his SE5A failed. He crash-landed, sustaining multiple and widespread cuts, contusions and bruises. But he survived again.

Gullane was close enough to Edinburgh that Fredrickson was able to take frequent advantage of the city’s amenities, and he attended many theatrical events and concerts. He was a capable photographer and took impressive images of Edinburgh landmarks and kept a diary recording detailed impressions of the city and the urban attractions he liked best. While flying out of Gullane, he experienced the occasional hair-raising landing but suffered nothing worse than bruises and lacerations.

Nov. 11 brought the end of the war. Fredrickson had come through.

He returned to Canada in time to resume playing for the Winnipeg Falcons in 1919-20. He hadn’t lost a step, once again leading the league in scoring with 23 goals in just 10 games. After establishing themselves as the best team in Manitoba, the Falcons took on the University of Toronto for the Canadian amateur championship — and the Allan Cup. They won easily, outscoring U of T 11-5 in a two-game series.

On the strength of that victory, the Falcons earned the right to represent Canada in the first Olympic Games that included hockey. Fredrickson and the Falcons travelled to Antwerp, Belgium, for the 1920 Games. In the quarter-final against Czechoslovakia, the Canadians won easily, 15-0. The semifinal was tougher, as they were facing Moose Goheen and his fellow Americans, but the Canadians won, 2-0.

The gold medal game against Sweden was a cakewalk: a 12-1 victory.

2_Frank Fredrickson Couga00.jpg
Frank Fredrickson was a top scorer with the Victoria Cougars for six years, leading them to a Stanley Cup Victory in 1925. – Courtesy Alan MacLeod
Iceland could take as much pride in the gold medal as Canada did: the Canadians were almost entirely sons of Icelandic immigrants, men named Johannesson, Halderson, Fridfinnson and Fredrickson. The boys with odd-sounding names had turned themselves into world champions.

As this great adventure was drawing to a close, Fredrickson was offered another. He learned that an Icelandic company was looking for an ethnic Icelander to introduce people to flying. Fredrickson seized the opportunity to travel to the land of his forebears and take Icelanders into the air in a 504K Avro. While in Iceland, he crash-landed — and survived — again.

One more great adventure lay in store. Mulling his options at age 26, Fredrickson was contemplating a career in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Then Lester Patrick made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: $2,500 to play a 24-game season with his Victoria club in the PCHA. Fredrickson agreed.

What followed was a storied six-year career in British Columbia’s capital. The pride of Icelandic Winnipeg led his club in scoring all six years and was a league all-star in all but one of those years. In 1922-23, he scored 39 goals and added 16 assists to win the league scoring title by 18 points over the second-best scorer. In 1925, he led the Victoria Cougars to a Stanley Cup victory over the Montreal Canadiens. It was the last time a club not part of the NHL would have its name inscribed on the Cup.

Fredrickson had one more kick at the cup the following year, 1925-26, but this time the Cougars lost to the Montreal Maroons. It was a finale for the league too; the Western Hockey League folded after the Stanley Cup series.

In 1926-27, Fredrickson and several of his Victoria teammates found themselves reconstituted as the Detroit Cougars of the NHL. Fredrickson reached another pinnacle: earning $6,000 for the ’26-27 season, he was the highest-paid player in pro hockey. He played only 16 games in Detroit before he was parcelled up and shipped to the Boston Bruins for Gordon Keats.

In his 30s by this time, Fredrickson would not shine in the NHL as brightly as he had done in Victoria. He played three years in Boston and liked his situation there, but in 1928, he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played two seasons there before returning to Detroit for one final go-round in 1930-31. By age 35, he was done.

In 1929-30, while still a player, Fredrickson had taken over as Pittsburgh coach. The new role was not rewarding: the Pirates won only five times in a 44-game schedule and finished 21 points behind next-worst Detroit. The following year, the franchise was moved to Philadelphia and Fredrickson was replaced as coach by none other than Cooper Smeaton.

In 1933, Fredrickson accepted a job as coach of Hobey Baker’s alma mater, Princeton University. There was another Princeton rookie that year, a physicist-mathematician who had decided that Adolf Hitler’s Germany was no longer a tolerable place to call home. The learned man had something in common with Fredrickson: he, too, was an accomplished violinist. They struck up a friendship and often walked to campus together. The other violinist? Albert Einstein.

When the Second World War erupted in 1939, Fredrickson stepped forward again. He joined the RCAF, commanded an air force flying school, and coached an air force hockey team, the Sea Island Flyers, from 1940 until 1945. After the war, he took over as coach of the University of British Columbia and was highly regarded by the Thunderbirds who played for him.

Another member of the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 1958, Frank Fredrickson lived long and well. He died two weeks short of his 84th birthday, in Vancouver, in 1979.

• All are welcome to attend a free talk by author Alan MacLeod at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Victoria Public Library Central Branch.