Saturday Night, Hockey Night in the Great White North. Here for consideration and possible scorn a collection of fives. All of the nominees fall under the category of players that I actually can remember.
FIVE BEST FORWARDS
Wayne Gretzky (changed the way we watched the game) , Gordie Howe (Mr. Hockey) , Bobby Hull (don't get in the way of the shot), Guy Lafleur (the toast of Quebec) , Mario Lemieux (matched Gretzky shift for shift) Honorable mention to Jean Belliveau (he was winding it down when I really started paying attention but he was great to watch)
FIVE BEST DEFENCEMEN
Bobby Orr, (and then all the rest), Denis Potvin (all around player, closest we had to Orr), Paul Coffey (possibly not a defenseman as he rushed like a madman) , Larry Robinson (solid blue line defender), Ray Borque (A Bruin forever, despite his Avs cup)
FIVE BEST GOALTENDERS
Patrick Roy (when it counted he was it) , Grant Fuhr backstopped the Oil Dynasty), Billy Smith (battlin' Billy made the Islanders winners), Ken Dryden (what was he thinking about all that time on the ice, How he would run the Leafs?), Tony Esposito (Phils brother worked miracles in Chicago)
FIVE BEST COACHES
Scotty Bowman (he is the man), Glen Sather (maybe he just opened the gate, who knows for sure, but he sure had a team and knew how to get them working), Al Arbour (made the Islanders a force, as opposed to the farce they are now) , Jacques Lemaire (God I hate the trap but he gets the best out of his players), Roger Neilson (he had to suffer both Harold Ballard and Bob Clarke, for that alone he deserves mention). Honorables to Brian Kilrea, (how many has he sent to the NHL?)
MONTREAL CANADIENS 76-79 They seemingly owned the Cup these years , EDMONTON OILERS 84-88 no one knew what to do with those young legs, NEW YORK ISLANDERS 80-84 much to the chagrin of Ranger fans these guys won it all for NYC (well Long Island portion of anyways), PHILADELPHIA FLYERS 74-76 the dark days of the NHL by brute force they took the cup and scared the Russians off the ice to boot, DETROIT REDWINGS 95-2002 not always in the final but always very, very close in these years. Honorable mention to the Habs from 1968 to 1973 as well.
FIVE BEST EUROS
Borje Salming (was in the first wave and took the hardest punishment), Mats Sundin (to this day works hardest on the ice), Peter Stastny (made Quebec City forget about the Habs), Jarri Kurri (sure he had Gretzky but he could score on his own), Dominik Hasek (in his prime you couldn't beat the Dominator)
FIVE HEAVY HITTERS
Barry Beck (heaviest hitter I ever saw), Denis Potvin (could punish you at the line) , Scott Stevens (never, ever keep your head down), Mark Messier (in the day he was the most feared), Andre "Moose" Dupont (put the Bully into Broad Street Bullies, when he laid you out. you stayed out)
Harold Ballard (hope it's hot enough Hal) , Alan Eagleson (went so high, fell so far) Conn Smythe (funny how the first three are so closely tied to Toronto), John Riga (nothing better than to see your owner in cuffs), Bruce McNall (minor offender but none the less did some time)
That's it for now, just a few categories to ponder...