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NHL Ultimate Team: 4th Team

Aug. 23, 2020 - Michael Stewart

NHL Ultimate Team: 4th Team

Introduction: This is part 4 of a 4 series article of my version of the NHL Ultimate team; this week we look at my all-time 4th line, 4th defense pairing and 4th 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 2nd team:

Fourth Line

Center

Sidney Crosby: Crosby gets the nod and becomes the 2nd active player to make my list. Crosby has been in the league for 13 years and he still only 30 years old, so I expect him to have at least 5 more productive years ahead him to move up the all-time scoring list. Crosby has won two MVP awards, Two Scoring Titles, two goal scoring titles and two Conn Smythe Trophies. A three time Stanley Cup champion, Crosby has been the best all-round player in the NHL for the past decade.

Right Wing

Steve Yzerman:  Yzerman moves over to the right wing to accommodate Crosby on my fourth line as he played in the shadows during his career behind Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux at the center position and in my opinion didn’t get the full appreciation and recognition he deserved as one of the greatest centers of all-time. Only Gretzky and Lemieux finished with more points in a season with 212 and 199 respectively as Yzerman tallied 155 in the 1988-89 season. Yzerman has many awards attached to his name and finished 6th all-time in total points with 1,755.

Left Wing

Phil Esposito:  Esposito moves over to the left wing to complete my fourth line along with Yzerman and Crosby and don’t think for a second the move would restrict Esposito’s production. Esposito during a six year stretch (1969-75) scored 369 goals; which was 149 more goals in that span than the next player at #2. Esposito perfected the art of scoring in the crease and had an extremely accurate shot. Esposito finished his career with 717 goals; which was only second to Gordie Howe at that time.

Left Defense

Doug Harvey: Harvey was the first defensemen to implement offense as a Defensemen by utilizing his skating ability and his lethal shot to make him truly the first two-way defensemen in NHL history. Harvey won seven Norris Trophies and six Stanley Cups with the Canadians and was so much better than any other defensemen during his time that it wasn’t even close. Harvey wasn’t known as a big bruiser, but every known and then he would showcase a bone-crushing check on opposing players.

Right Defense

Brian Leetch; Leetch is arguably the greatest American born defensemen in NHL history and was a big catalyst for the Rangers Stanley Cup victory in 1994. Leetch was a rock on the Rangers Blue-line during his career and played in every situation (power play, penalty killing and 5 on 5). Leetch was a two-way defensemen with an extremely high IQ and never seemed to put himself out of position. Leetch finished with 1,028 points in 1,205 games (nearly a point per game) and averaged slightly more than a point per game in players (95 games/97 points).

Goalie

Jacques Plante: Plante played from 1951-75 and won seven Vezina Tropies and six Stanley Cups for the Montreal Canadians. Plante was the best goalie during his playing days and was credited of being the first goalie in NHL history to wear a mask; which he actually constructed and developed due to countless incidents of being struck in the face with a shot. Plante’s style of play set himself apart from his contemporaries

Head Coach

Toe Blake: Blake won eight Stanley Cups behind the bench for the Montreal Canadians from 1955-68; which included five straight Stanley Cups. Blake was a pioneer and really ahead of his time as he implemented set plays for the offense and defensive schemes against the opposing teams. Blake eclipsed over 500 wins in his short time and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. ­­­­

Final Thoughts:  Well there you have it, my all-time ultimate team in NHL history. Again, this list is subjective and you can argue with some of my selections and even replace some with other notable greats such as: Forwards: Brett Hull, Mike Bossy, Marcel Dionne, Stan Mikita, Ron Francis/Goalies:Dominik Hasek, Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall, Bill Durnan, Bernie Parent/Defensemen: Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens, Chris Chelios, Chris Pronger, Pierre Pilote.