Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

The Greats Of The Game

I've been watching this grand game of ours for over a half century and have always wondered how the greats of the past would do in the current National Hockey League.

Let's start with the greatest all around player ever to play, Gordie Howe.

The younger generation paying attention to the game know who Gordie Howe is, but those who are casual fans or just follow their team have no idea how great #9 was.

Come on man you say or even say comeon betting but Gordie Howe would be great today too.

Howe was a strong skate, he could not be taken off the puck and used his strength to power his way over or through anyone who got in his way.

With the newer training options available today including year around training, skating gurus and dietitians making sure you are eating properly, you can imagine what Gordie Howe would be today.  Dare I say still the greatest all around player in the game.  Sixty goals and 70 assists would be attached to his name while he was in his prime.

Probably not to be questioned is Bobby Orr.  There is no doubt in my mind he is the greatest defenseman to ever play the game and there is no one close.

If you don't know by now, he reinvented the game for defenseman.  Joining or leading the rush was not a common occurrence before he entered the league and I recall saying to myself, he is going to be in trouble by leaving his defensive position.  Boy was I wrong.

I am thankful I was able to witness his greatness and I still see him flying down the middle of the ice, opposing players trying to chase him down, not knowing what was coming next.  But Bobby Orr knew and he would either end the rush himself or pass off to an open player who finished the job.

Now I am going to group some players who in any era wold be great NHLers.  Bobby Hull, built like a bull, they say he built up his muscles by baling hay during his summer months working o his farm.  Stan Mikita who early in his career was known for his stick work, dirty stick work.  He changed his game over one summer and won numerous Lady Byng trophies.

The third person in this great is Jean Beliveau.  Known as "Le Gros Bill" after a French folk hero, Beliveau was as smooth as silk.  He was also one of the bigger players during that time period but never participated in the rough stuff therefore earning another nickname, Gentleman Jean.  Beliveau would dominate in today's game and the Habs may have won a few more Stanley Cups too.

Goaltenders are tough to compare from the current era against the time from the mid-50's to late 60's.  The goalies who I saw play and think they would star in the game today are Jacques Plante, Glenn Hall and Terry Sawchuk.

They were smaller than the goalies we see today but their reflexes would have made up for their smaller stature.

There are numerous players who I did not mention, perhaps another lesson is coming for you soon.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com