by Patrick Hoffman on 02/20/11 at 09:55 PM ET
To help celebrate Hockey Day in America, I created an all-time United States Hockey Team with a goalie, two defensemen and three forwards for RLD Hockey.
You can click here to check it out or continue below. Feel free to chime in on whether you agree, whether you disagree, whether you think I left someone yet, etc.
RLD All-Time American Lineup
By Patrick Hoffman
To celebrate Hockey Day in America here at RLD Hockey, I am proud to present you puckheads an historic/ultimate All-American hockey lineup.
The team has three forwards, two defensemen and of course, a goaltender. In naming this team, I looked at how they did both internationally and in the NHL. While you may not agree with my picks, I feel that the players mentioned below are worthy of being on our All-American hockey team.
Goaltender - Mike Richter (NYR)
This was an absolute no brainer.
In talking about former Rangers netminder Mike Richter, you are talking about a goaltender that won All-Star Game MVP (1994), a Stanley Cup (1994), a World Cup and World Cup MVP (1996), a silver medal (2002 Winter Olympics). He is a 300-game winner in the NHL and a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Richter is the all-time leader in wins for the Rangers and was a winner in every sense of the term.
If things ended today, Richter should go down as the best American-born goaltender in hockey.
Defenseman - Brian Leetch (NYR, TOR, BOS)
Brian Leetch, a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame, simply was one of the NHL’s best defensemen from throughout his career.
He finished his career with 247 goals and 781 assists for 1,028 points in the regular season to go along with a Calder Trophy, two Norris Trophies and two times as an NHL first team All-Star. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, Leetch was just as good as he had 97 points (28 goals and 69 assists) in 95 games while also winning a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1994 with the Cup Champion Rangers.
Internationally, Leetch captained the 1996 winning World Cup team, won a Silver Medal in 2002 and was named to the Olympic Tournament All-Star Team.
He will always be known as one of the best American-born defensemen of all-time.
Defenseman - Chris Chelios (MTL, CHI, DET, ATL)
Chelios may not have had the offensive flair that Leetch had, but he is still one of the best American-born defenseman to ever play the game.
Chelios played hockey until the age of 47 and did so with offensive talent (948 points), toughness (2,891 penalty minutes) and leadership (captain of the Blackhawks from 1995 to 1999). Internationally, “Cheli” won a World Cup in 1996, played in the 1998 Olympic Games, won a Silver Medal in 2002, and captained the World Cup team in 2004.
For this team, Chelios is Leetch’s rock.
Forward - Mike Modano (MIN, DAL, DET)
Modano, currently injured with the Detroit Red Wings, is in the midst of his 21st season in the National Hockey League.
At 40 years of age, he may have lost a step or two but he will always be remembered as a constant contributor to both the Stars’ organization and USA Hockey as a whole. Modano is currently the highest scoring American-born forward with 557 goals and 1,359 points. He also leads American-born forwards in games played (1,459) and playoff points (145). Perhaps most importantly, he has been an icon/idol for many hockey players around the country.
Modano will certainly go down as one of the greatest Americans to ever play the game of hockey.
Forward - Pat LaFontaine (NYI, BUF, NYR)
Had Pat LaFontaine not had an injury-filled career that caused him to shut it down at the age of 33, he could have possibly gone down as the greatest American-born to ever play the game.
In 15 seasons, LaFontaine recorded 1,013 points (468 goals and 545 assists), a remarkable 1.17 points per game. From 1987 to 1993, LaFontaine averaged 48 goals per season and in his career, he was the 15th fastest player to reach the 1,000 point mark. LaFontaine was also a five-time All-Star and a member of the 1996 World Cup team.
LaFontaine’s career ended prematurely due to concussions but he certainly deserves to be recognized on this list of great American players.
Forward - Joe Mullen (STL, CGY, PIT, BOS)
Not many people from Manhattan, especially an area known as “Hell’s Kitchen”, turn their life into a career of playing in the NHL and being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. This is exactly what native New Yorker Joe Mullen did.
In 1,062 games in the NHL, Mullen had 502 goals and 561 assists for 1,063 points. He was the first American-born player to score 500 goals and 1,000 points. Mullen won three Stanley Cups (1989 with the Flames; 1991 and 1992 with the Penguins) and was a three-time NHL All-Star.
Mullen will go down as one of the greatest American-born forwards to ever lace up the skates.
Honorable Mention: Tom Barrasso, Mike Eruzione, Phil Housley and Jeremy Roenick
Note: Brett Hull was not included due to his dual citizenship.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.