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Ever wondered who owns the ice in the bone-chilling arena of hockey?

From jaw-dropping goals to fist-clenching fights, these 15 behemoths have become the epitome of ice hockey supremacy.

Strap on your skates as we dive into the rink with the giants of the puck, one legendary tale at a time.

Best Ice Hockey Players:

  1. Wayne Gretzky
  2. Bobby Orr
  3. Gordie Howe
  4. Mario Lemieux
  5. Maurice Richard
  6. Doug Harvey
  7. Jean Beliveau
  8. Terry Sawchuk
  9. Patrick Roy
  10. Bobby Hull
  11. Ray Bourque
  12. Mark Messier
  13. Steve Yzerman
  14. Nicklas Lidstrom
  15. Martin Brodeur
Ice Hockey

#1 Wayne Gretzky

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: January 26, 1961
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Centre
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— Stanley Cup champion, 9Γ— Hart Trophy (MVP), 10Γ— Art Ross Trophy, 18Γ— All-Star, Hall of Fame inductee (1999)

Often called “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky is widely considered the greatest ice hockey player of all time. His vision, intelligence, and exceptional scoring ability shattered numerous records, many of which still stand today. Gretzky’s playmaking skills revolutionized the game, leading to a more offensive and dynamic style of play.

Gretzky’s impact extended off the ice, where he became a cultural figure and ambassador for the sport, promoting ice hockey globally. His philanthropic endeavors include supporting various charities and youth hockey programs. His legacy is not merely in his statistics but in the way he gracefully carried the mantle of the sport’s greatest ambassador.

#2 Bobby Orr

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 20, 1948
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Defence
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2Γ— Stanley Cup champion, 3Γ— Hart Trophy (MVP), 2Γ— Art Ross Trophy, 8Γ— Norris Trophy, Hall of Fame inductee (1979)

Bobby Orr redefined the role of a defenseman with his unparalleled skating speed, scoring abilities, and defensive prowess, famously scoring “The Goal” to clinch the Stanley Cup in 1970. Nicknamed “Number 4,” his end-to-end rushes were a precursor to the modern, offensive defenseman.

Despite his career being hampered by knee injuries, Orr’s influence on the game is indelible, particularly in how defenders participate in the offensive play. His post-retirement efforts have been focused on player representation and charitable work, especially with children’s charities, signifying his ongoing commitment to the sport and community.

#3 Gordie Howe

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 31, 1928 (Deceased: June 10, 2016)
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Right Wing
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— Stanley Cup champion, 6Γ— Hart Trophy (MVP), 6Γ— Art Ross Trophy, 23Γ— All-Star, Hall of Fame inductee (1972)

Gordie Howe, known as “Mr. Hockey,” was noted for his scoring talent and physicality, setting records for both points and longevity in a career that spanned five decades. Howe’s combination of skill, strength, and tenacity made him one of the most dominant players of his era.

Howe’s legacy includes the “Gordie Howe hat trick,” which consists of a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game, spotlighting his multifaceted approach to hockey. Off the ice, Howe was known for his charitable efforts and approachable demeanor, endearing him to fans and players alike. His name remains synonymous with durability and excellence in professional hockey.

#4 Mario Lemieux

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: October 5, 1965
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Centre
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2Γ— Stanley Cup champion, 3Γ— Hart Trophy (MVP), 6Γ— Art Ross Trophy, 10Γ— All-Star, Hall of Fame inductee (1997)

Mario Lemieux, affectionately known as “Super Mario,” was an offensive powerhouse with his size, strength, and agility. Lemieux overcame significant health challenges, including a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, to maintain an exceptional level of play, serving as an inspiration for perseverance in sports.

Lemieux’s contributions to the game continued after his playing career as he became owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, ensuring the team’s survival. His charitable efforts, particularly the Mario Lemieux Foundation, have made significant impacts in cancer research and patient care. His legacy is not only as a player but as a savior of the Penguins franchise and a philanthropist.

#5 Maurice Richard

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 4, 1921 (Deceased: May 27, 2000)
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Right Wing
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 8Γ— Stanley Cup champion, Hart Trophy (1947), 14Γ— All-Star, Hall of Fame inductee (1961)

Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season, doing so in just 50 games. His fiery playing style and goal-scoring prowess made him a hero to the Montreal Canadiens’ fanbase and a symbol of French-Canadian pride during a politically charged era in Quebec’s history.

Richard’s legacy includes the spark that ignited the “Richard Riot” in 1955 and the creation of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s leading goal scorer. His dedication to the sport and his cultural impact on Canadian society are integral parts of his storied legacy.

#6 Doug Harvey

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 19, 1924 (Deceased: December 26, 1989)
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Defence
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 6Γ— Stanley Cup champion, 7Γ— Norris Trophy, 11Γ— All-Star, Hall of Fame inductee (1973)

Doug Harvey is often cited as one of the greatest defensemen in hockey history. His command of the ice, coupled with his strategic thinking, made him an exceptional playmaker. Harvey was instrumental in revolutionizing the position of defense, using the power play to orchestrate offensive chances.

Harvey faced challenges with alcoholism later in his career, but his contributions to the game endured. His advocacy for players’ rights helped lay the groundwork for the creation of the NHL Players’ Association. Harvey’s prowess on the ice and his influence in shaping the identity of professional hockey players off the ice secure his legendary status.

#7 Jean Beliveau

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 31, 1931 (Deceased: December 2, 2014)
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Centre
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 10Γ— Stanley Cup champion (as player), 7Γ— All-Star, 2Γ— Hart Trophy (MVP), Conn Smythe Trophy (1965), Hall of Fame inductee (1972)

Jean Beliveau, known as “Le Gros Bill,” was celebrated for his sportsmanship, leadership, and gentlemanly conduct, both on and off the ice. His talent and towering presence made him one of hockey’s most dominant centers, winning an unmatched 17 Stanley Cups as a player and executive with the Montreal Canadiens.

His impact on hockey is commemorated with the Jean Beliveau Trophy awarded to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s humanitarian of the year and through his charitable work with the Jean Beliveau Foundation. His legacy as a player and as a man of great character and generosity endures.

#8 Terry Sawchuk

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 28, 1929 (Deceased: May 31, 1970)
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Goalie
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— Stanley Cup champion, 4Γ— Vezina Trophy, 7Γ— All-Star, Hall of Fame inductee (1971)

Terry Sawchuk set the standard for excellence in goaltending with his aggressive style, unyielding focus, and acrobatic saves. His record for the most shutouts in a career stood for decades, a testament to his enduring skill and determination between the pipes.

Sawchuk’s life off the ice was marked by personal struggles, including depression and injuries, culminating in a tragic off-season incident leading to his untimely death. His contributions to the game have been honored with the Terry Sawchuk Trophy, awarded to the top American-born goaltender in the UHL, signifying his lasting influence on the position of goalie in ice hockey.

#9 Patrick Roy

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: October 5, 1965
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Goalie
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— Stanley Cup champion (1986, 1993, 1996, 2001), 3Γ— Vezina Trophy winner, 3Γ— Conn Smythe Trophy winner, 11Γ— NHL All-Star

Known as “Saint Patrick,” Roy revolutionized the style of goaltending with his butterfly technique, where goaltenders drop to their knees to cover the lower half of the net but keep their torsos upright to block high shots. This style became a staple for future goalies in the league.

Roy’s passion sometimes led to controversy, notably his request to be traded from Montreal after a dispute with his coach. Despite this, he is remembered for his immense impact on the game. He transitioned into coaching after retirement and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006. His combative nature and confidence on the ice are imprinted upon the memories of hockey fans everywhere.

#10 Bobby Hull

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: January 3, 1939
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Left Wing
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Stanley Cup champion (1961), 2x Hart Memorial Trophy winner, 12x NHL All-Star, led the NHL in goals scored seven times

The “Golden Jet” wowed audiences with his blistering slap shot and incredible skating speed. Hull’s powerful shot was a game-changer, influencing other players to develop similar techniques. He was known for his strength and durability, making him one of the best forwards to play the game.

Throughout his career, Hull faced controversy, including when he jumped to the rival World Hockey Association (WHA), shaking the foundations of professional hockey. Hull was also a prominent figure in the players’ push for better wages and conditions. His impact on the sport can be seen in today’s player salaries and game dynamics. Outside of the rink, his personal life has been scrutinized, but his on-ice achievements remain legendary.

#11 Ray Bourque

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 28, 1960
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Defenseman
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Stanley Cup champion (2001), 5Γ— Norris Trophy winner, 19Γ— NHL All-Star

Ray Bourque, known for his impeccable ability to play on both ends of the ice, is often considered one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history. His skill to read the game and contribute offensively, as well as his defensive acumen, made him a cornerstone player throughout his career.

Bourque’s dedication to the game was rewarded late in his career when he won his first and only Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche after being traded from the Boston Bruins, where he had played for over two decades. He has since been active in charitable work and youth hockey initiatives. His number 77 is retired by both the Bruins and the Avalanche, sealing his legacy in the annals of hockey.

#12 Mark Messier

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: January 18, 1961
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Center
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 6Γ— Stanley Cup champion (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994), 2Γ— Hart Memorial Trophy winner, Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1984), 15Γ— NHL All-Star

“The Moose,” Messier is lauded for his leadership and hard-nosed playing style. He was instrumental in the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty years and famously guaranteed a win for the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, then delivered personally by scoring a hat trick.

Messier’s leadership on the ice was only part of his story; his ability to inspire and rally his teammates was legendary, resulting in numerous come-from-behind victories and a reputation as one of the game’s great leaders. His philanthropic efforts are numerous, including his work with the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. He is both a symbol of perseverance and a true ambassador of the sport.

#13 Steve Yzerman

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 9, 1965
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Center
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— Stanley Cup champion (1997, 1998, 2002), Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1998), 10Γ— NHL All-Star

Steve Yzerman, or “Stevie Y,” is celebrated for his exceptional leadership as the long-time captain of the Detroit Red Wings. He is known for his all-around play, commitment to defense, and clutch goal-scoring ability. Yzerman transformed himself from a high-scoring forward into a defensively conscious team leader, exemplifying the dedication required to lead teams to championships.

Overcoming a serious knee injury late in his career, Yzerman’s perseverance and dedication to the game were important in his return to top form and leading the Red Wings to continued success. After retiring, he moved into management and has had significant influence in shaping successful teams. His charitable contributions, particularly to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, reflect his commitment to giving back to the community.

#14 Nicklas Lidstrom

  • 🌍 Nationality: Swedish
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 28, 1970
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Defenseman
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— Stanley Cup champion (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), 7Γ— Norris Trophy winner, 12Γ— NHL All-Star

Nicknamed “The Perfect Human,” Lidstrom is revered for his intelligence, poise, and consistently stellar performance on the blue line. He possessed a remarkable ability to anticipate play and rarely made mistakes, earning him a reputation as one of the most dependable defensemen of all time.

Throughout his 20-season career with the Detroit Red Wings, Lidstrom exemplified leadership and sportsmanship. His extraordinary career was devoid of major controversy, setting a standard for professional conduct on and off the ice. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015, reflecting his standout contributions to the game. Lidstrom’s grace under pressure and commitment to excellence continue to inspire future generations.

#15 Martin Brodeur

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 6, 1972
  • πŸ’ Position/Role: Goalie
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— Stanley Cup champion (1995, 2000, 2003), 4Γ— Vezina Trophy winner, 10Γ— NHL All-Star, NHL record for most career wins and shutouts by a goaltender

Affectionately known as “Marty,” Brodeur is celebrated for his innovative hybrid style of goaltending, combining traditional stand-up technique with butterfly elements. His outstanding puck-handling skills often saw him act as a third defenseman, transforming the way goalkeepers involve themselves in play.

Brodeur faced and overcame personal challenges and controversies during his tenure, yet his on-ice performance and affable nature endured, endearing him to fans. Post-retirement, he remains involved in the NHL through management. His impact extended to international play, representing Canada in numerous competitions. A beacon of durability and excellence, Brodeur’s legacy is felt throughout the hockey world, and he continues to influence the evolution of the goaltending position.

Discover the gear that these legends wore on the ice in our comprehensive ice hockey equipment list.

Ice Hockey

FAQ

Who is the best Ice Hockey player of all time?

Wayne Gretzky is the best Ice Hockey player of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Wayne Gretzky is the best Ice Hockey player of all time. His extraordinary statistics and impact on the game are unparalleled.

Who are the top 10 greatest Ice Hockey players of all time?

Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, Jean Beliveau, Terry Sawchuk, Patrick Roy, and Bobby Hull are the top 10 greatest Ice Hockey players of all time. Each has left a significant mark on the sport with their incredible skill and legacy.

Who is the most famous female Ice Hockey player?

Hayley Wickenheiser is the most famous female Ice Hockey player, known for her exceptional talent and being a multiple Olympic gold medalist, she has made significant contributions to the sport.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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