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NHL Ultimate Team: 1st Team

Aug. 07, 2020 - Michael Stewart

NHL Ultimate Team: 1st Team

Introduction: With the NHL playoffs underway it made me reflect on the history of hockey and all the great players who have played this great game. I wonder if I was able to go back in time and assemble the greatest of the greatest and collectively put them on one team; what would it look like? After all, where would I start and how could  I decide who is selected and who is not? After careful research and putting together a short guideline of rules and eligibility; this is what I came up with: Rule 1: A player selected will be based on their accomplishments during their career and their impact to the game. Rule 2: I will select the greatest 12 forwards and not be restricted by position, so you probably won’t see four right wingers, four centers and four left wings chosen. Rule 3: I will only go back to 1950 to the present to keep my sanity. So with the rules in place let’s begin; this will be a series of four articles breaking down my all-time 1st line, top defensive pairings and top goalie; along with the top coach off all time. So obviously article two will be line 2 and so on. So with the rules in place let’s begin: He is my ultimate NHL all-time team, including the greatest coach in NHL history:

First Line

Center

Wayne Gretzky: Gretzky’s accomplishment was mind-boggling when you look at his career stats: 894 goals/1,963 assists in only 1,487 games. Gretzky is the only player in NHL history to eclipse more than 200 points in a season (212) and the only player to score more than 90 goals in a season (92).

Right Wing

Gordie Howe: Mr. Hockey was an absolute beast during his prime with the Detroit Red Wings and his career stretched across nearly 5 decades. Howe moves over to right wing on my list as he finished with 786 goals, but he will always be remember as arguably the greatest all-around forward to ever play the game.

Left Wing

Bobby Hull: Hull edges out some great forwards to claim the left wing spot on the #1 line. Hull was a 12 time All-Star and finished with 610 goals; despite finishing his career in the WHL, so he could have easily reached 700. Many hockey historians still rate Hull’s slap shot as one of the hardest of all-time.

Left Defense

Bobby Orr: Was there any doubt Orr claims this honor as the best ever defensemen in NHL history. Orr changed the game of the defensemen and was the 1st defensemen to record 100 points in a season and finished with right Norris Trophies as the top defensemen in the league. Orr’s final three seasons, he only played a total of 36 games due to injuries; however; if you were fortunate to watch him play during his prime years; he was a sight to behold and a joy to watch.

Right Defense

Ray Bourque: Bourque edges out a couple of elite defensemen on my list as I gave the edge to Bourque based on his overall performance in all three zone of the ice. Bourque played 23 years in the NHL and was a Five-time Norris Trophy winner. Bourque a steady rock for the Bruins during his 21 seasons in Boston and he needed to force a trade to ultimately achieve his main objective and that was to win a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche.

Goalie

Martin Brodeur: This was a no-brainer on my part as Brodeur was easily in my opinion; the greatest goalie of all-time. For 21 years, Brodeur was the face of the New Jersey Devils and won three Stanley Cups with them. Brodeur finished with a career save percentage of .912 and an astounding 2.24 GAA. Brodeur finished out his career with the St. Louis Blues playing in only seven games.

Head Coach

Scotty Bowman: Bowman won 9 Stanley Cups behind the bench for the Montreal Canadians, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues and the Detroit Red Wings during his 30 seasons in the NHL. Bowman also served as a Senior Advisor in Hockey Operations with the Chicago Blackhawks winning three more Cups. Bowman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

Final Thoughts: This was the first of four articles as we covered the top line, top defense pairings along with the top goalie and top coach. This list is subjective as many hockey fans could have their own list totally different from mine and that’s fine with me. In my opinion, my first team was the best of the best and we could somehow bring these players all back during their prime and assemble them on the ice; it would be the closest thing to being in heaven. Next article: Second greatest team of all time.