With the lockout still in full effect, many websites are doing top team, and players lists. Lets take a bit of a twist on that and work on the top five man unit in NHL history.
Now when I say five man, I do mean the traditional Left / Right Wing, Center, and two Defense model.
If you just went by star power a list might look like this.
Center: Wayne Gretzky
Right Wing: Gordie Howe
Defense: Bobby Orr
Defense: Doug Harvey
How could you go wrong with that?
I can tell you that you can. There is only one puck to go around, and these guys all want it. The best players do not always equal wins. If you look back at history an example could be made by the 1979 Challenge Cup with team USSR Vs NHL All-Stars.
Game 1 USSR 2 NHL 4
Game 2 USSR 5 NHL 4
Game 3 USSR 6 NHL 0
A good mix of players and a disciplined system usually override the most talent. (See the New York Rangers)
Those NHL teams featured names like Bossi, Savard, Lafleur, Trottier, Clarke, Dionn, and Dryden.
Some of the biggest names in the history of our game against players who had been home-grown in the USSR out of the NHL spotlight.
Allow me to show you what this list SHOULD look like, and why.
Left Wing: Mario Lemieux
Center by trade, and one of the best ever at that. Lemieux has to be on this list and an argument could be made that he is the best players ever.
Why left-wing? Mario is no stranger to the left-wing. He played the left side on the power play, sometimes shifted to the left after a faceoff, and frequently played on the left side of Ron Francis in the 90′s.
Center: Ron Francis
Speaking of Francis. Was he better than Gordie Howe? No, and if you were basing this by the star power center criteria, he wouldn’t even be close. However, when you have offensive minded wings, you must have a responsible two-way center, and Francis was one of the best. He could play defence with the best and had the goal scoring and playmaking to keep up with the big boys. His poise, talent, faceoff ability, and own end responsibility make him a great choice for this line.
I did have a debate with myself on this one, so I have a couple of runners-up to note: Pavel Datsyuk and Brian Trottier.
Right Wing: Wayne Gretzky
Hey I’m crazy but I’m not nuts. In most circles Gretzky is considered to be the best player to ever lace up skates. So how could you move history’s greatest center to wing? Easy, Lemieux would be more comfortable on the left, Francis is an asset in both end and faceoffs, not to mention that fact that you could play Gretzky at the janitor position and he could store a hat trick with a spaghetti mop.
Defense: Bobby Orr
Again, a lock on this list. A player who won the scoring race multiple times as a defenseman is a must.
Defense: Larry Robinson
How could you go wrong with the guy who holds the record for career plus / minus at +730.
When playing with the best offensive defenseman in history you need someone who can cover the back-end while keeping up in the opposing zone.
The easy choice for most would be Lidstrom, Bourque, or Coffey, but this name just makes sense.
So there we have it, the strongest 5 man unit in history. It may not consist of the most talent or have them in their expected roles, but head to head I would take these guys against anyone, any time, anywhere.
Hey, for good measure why don’t I throw in Marty Brodeur for as my goaltender for good measure.
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Until next time…..
Photo From jpowers65 flickr.com
Photo by Cupcanal flickr.com