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NHL Ultimate Team: 3rd Team

Aug. 19, 2020 - Michael Stewart

NHL Ultimate Team: 3rd Team

Introduction: This is part 3 of a 4 series article of my version of the NHL Ultimate team; this week we look at my all-time 3rd line, 3rd defense pairing and 3rd best goalie and coach. Once again; here are my top 3 rules in determining my selections. 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: He is my ultimate NHL all-time 3rd team:

Third Line

Center

Mark Messier:  Messier was arguably the greatest captain in NHL history; which lasted 25 seasons. Messier prime years were with the Edmonton Oilers where he partnered with Wayne Gretzky to form a dominating pair for nine seasons, winning the Stanley Cup five times with the Oilers. However; Messier will always be remembered for what he did as a Ranger; bringing a Stanley Cup to New York in 1994 after a 54 year drought. Messier was not only an offensive force, but a very physical presence on the ice as he would often say that he wanted to be like the great Gordie Howe as a player.

Right Wing

Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin is the first current player to make my list, but it was a tough decision as I wanted to put another great winger here instead. In the end, I decided on Ovechkin as I believe he still has more left in the tank entering his 16th season. Remarkably; Ovechkin has 706 goals during a career where he has played mostly during a time when scoring throughout the league was down as defense was more evident and the goaltending more supreme. Ovechin is not only a lethal weapon shooting the puck, but don’t ignore him on ice or you will suffer the consequences with a bone crushing check. Ovechkin is currently sitting eight all-time in goals and before his career is over, expect him to finish possibly only behind  “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky.

Left Wing

Jaromir Jagr: Jagr played in the shadows of his teammate Mario Lemieux and together formed a very lethal duo that most nights dominate the ice. Jagr was flashy with the puck, but he was also big and strong (6’3/240) and would remind opponent players when they had their head down with a bone-crushing check. Jagr enjoyed a long and productive career playing for as many as nine teams, but will mostly be remembered for his time in Pittsburgh. Jagr finished with a total of 1,921 points in 1,733 games.

Left Defense

Paul Coffey: Coffey had a career that many could only dream during his 20-year career; which included: four Stanley Cups, three Norris Trophies and most goals in a season for defensemen with 48.  Coffey reached 1000 points faster than any other defensemen in NHL history and is the 2nd to do so. Coffey was lethal with his skating ability and an accurate shot that was just as impressive.

Right Defense

Denis Potvin: Potvin was the leader of those great Islander teams and he not only led by example in the clubhouse, but also on the ice with his overall play. Potvin is most remembered by his physicality; especially with his signature hip check either along the board or in open ice. However; Potvin can also score as evident of being the all-time defensemen in scoring when he retired after a 15 year career.

Goalie

Ken Dryden: Dryden only played eight seasons in the NHL, but he saw did make the best of it by winning the Stanley Cup six times, the Vezina Trophy five times (Best Goalie) and five 1st team all-star selections. Although Dryden’s career was not as long as many of the other great goalies, Dryden had an amazing won/lost record of 258-57; which included 46 shutouts. 

Head Coach

Dick Irvin: Irvin enjoyed a long career coaching in the NHL for 27 years from 1929-56. Irvin won four Stanley Cups as the coach for Toronto and Montreal. Irvin finished with 692 wins during an era when the season only had 70 games as opposed to 82 currently. Irwin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.

Final Thoughts:  The list of players on my 3rd all time team are legends and again you can argue that perhaps some should have made the 1st or 2nd all time teams. Again, I was fortunate to watch every player on this list during their careers and to be honest I was always amazed of their greatest.  I understand the game of Hockey is bigger than the player, but it would be hard to imagine players of this caliber ever being witnessed again. Next article: Fourth greatest Ultimate team of all time.

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