LCS Hockey: Born Again
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August 27, 2014
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LCS Top 100: 80-71




80. Mark Howe: When you’re following in the footsteps of a legendary father, it can’t be easy living up to expectations. Just ask David Flair.

While he never came close to matching his dad’s physicality, Mark Howe emerged as one of the top defensemen of the 1980s, using his exceptional skating, crisp passing, and superior hockey IQ to record six consecutive seasons with at least 15 goals and 50 points for the Flyers.

Howe started his career as a winger in the WHA, recording five 30-goal seasons in six years with the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers. When the Whale swam to NHL waters, Howe remained at left wing and managed a 24-goal, 80-point season before switching to defense full-time in Philadelphia.

Considering his success at both wing and defense, Howe could be seen as the modern Dit Clapper. But who cares? It’s just fun to say Dit Clapper. Either way, Howe should be in the Hall of Fame. Let’s make it happen.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Video


79. Bill Barber: Not all the Broad Street Bullies were goons. Someone had to score goals. And usually that someone was Bill Barber.

A solid all-around player, Barber had back-to-back 34-goal seasons during Philadelphia’s two Stanley Cup years before erupting for a career-high 50 goals and 112 points in 1975-76. Barber’s best attributes were his fierce competitive nature and a hard, accurate shot that produced five 40-goal seasons. Unfortunately, Barber also introduced diving to hockey. Not exactly a noble legacy. So let’s just focus on the goal-scoring.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Video


78. Grant Fuhr: His career 3.38 goals-against average would get him a ticket to the minors these days, and he only finished with a save percentage over .900 twice in his 19-year career. But stats don’t tell the story with Fuhr. He backstopped the Oilers to four Stanley Cups during the 1980s and seemed to always make the key save when his team needed it most. Fuhr had freakish flexibility and quickness between the pipes, relying on hair-trigger reflexes as opposed to precise positioning. He was as spectacular as any goalie in NHL history.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Video


77. Tim Horton: Known for his incredible strength, Horton played the first 19 years of his career for the Toronto Maple Leafs, earning a reputation as a hard-working, hard-hitting blueliner. While there was never anything flashy about his game, Horton was an excellent skater and possessed enough skill to contribute offensively, mustering three 10-goal seasons. But he’ll always be remembered as one of the game’s premier defensive defensemen. He also made a mean cup of coffee.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Video


76. Dale Hawerchuk: Let’s play Carnac the Magnificent. Leg warmers. Guns N’ Roses. Dale Hawerchuk. Name three things best left in the 1980s.

As an 18-year-old in 1981-82, Hawerchuk scored 45 goals and 103 points to win the Calder Trophy with the Winnipeg Jets. He would go on to post seven 40-goal seasons and six 100-point campaigns during his nine years in Winnipeg, emerging as one of the top point producers of the decade. Unfortunately, like a hair metal band in leather pants and lipstick, Hawerchuk’s game didn’t adjust too well to the 1990s. But we’ll always have the 80s. And when you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Video


75. Yvan Cournoyer: Nicknamed the Roadrunner for his ridiculous speed and penchant for frustrating cartoon coyotes, Cournoyer spent 16 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, winning eight Stanley Cups and serving as the team’s captain from 1975 to 1979.

Cournoyer’s explosive speed and phenomenal stickhandling confounded defensemen, as he could sweep wide or dart to the inside with equal success. And despite his diminutive size (5’7”), Cournoyer possessed a bullet shot, allowing him to notch four 40-goal seasons.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Video


74. Johnny Bucyk: A tribute to perseverance, The Chief suffered through some terrible Boston teams during the 1960’s before drinking from the Stanley Cup in 1969-70, his fifteenth season in the league. A year later, at the age of 35, Bucyk put up a career-high 51 goals and 116 points. In fact, all seven of Bucyk’s 30-goal seasons came after the age of 32.

And don’t let his two Lady Byng Trophies deceive you. Bucyk was a bruising power forward, known for his bone-rattling hip checks. Most of Bucyk’s goals came through hard work in front of the cage. He was also lethal on the power play, either barging the net or setting up teammates out of the left wing corner. His work with the man-advantage helped him produce four 50-assist seasons to go along with his 556 career goals. When he retired in 1978 at the age of 42, Bucyk’s 1,369 points ranked him fourth among the NHL’s all-time leading scorers.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Video


73. Jean Ratelle: Between squabbles with management and a devastating back injury, Ratelle’s NHL career got off too a rocky start. It wasn’t until 1967-68, at the age of 27, that Ratelle emerged as a star on Broadway.

A lanky center with exceptional skill, Ratelle often drew comparisons to Jean Beliveau for both his playing style and his classy demeanor. Ratelle’s greatest success came during the early 1970s when he teamed with sniper Rod Gilbert and power forward Vic Hadfield to form New York’s legendary Goal a Game Line.

In 1971-72, Ratelle enjoyed the best season of his career, posting a career-high 46 goals and 109 points in just 63 games. He also had only four penalty minutes, earning him his first of two Lady Byngs.

Thirteen games into the 1975-76 season, the Rangers traded Ratelle to Boston in exchange for Phil Esposito. Ratelle continued to thrive in Beantown, completing his second 100-point campaign and helping the Bears to two Stanley Cup Finals appearances.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Hockey Cards


72. Pierre Pilote: You know, there were defensemen who pressed the attack before Bobby Orr. While he only reached double-digits in goals once in his 14-year career, Pilote’s aggressive approach to offense, in which he often lugged the biscuit and joined the rush, opened up a whole new world for the next generation of defensemen. And when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 1961, Pilote led all playoff scorers with 15 points in 12 games.

But Pilote was far more than just a playmaker. He played a rugged physical game for his size (5-10, 178) and racked up four 100-PIM seasons, even leading the league with 165 penalty minutes in 1960-61. Pilote’s dominance at both ends of the rink earned him three consecutive Norris Trophies (1963, 1964, 1965) and five First-Team All-Star honors.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Blackhawks History


71. Eric Lindros: Like a punishing heavyweight boxer with a glass jaw, Lindros terrorized the NHL for five years until Darius Kasparaitis knocked him the (sunshine) out. A series of concussions followed. And what Kaspar started, Scott Stevens finished, rendering the once mighty goliath just another dude.

But before Kasparaitis scrambled his eggs, Lindros was a monster. With all the injuries and the off-ice squabbles with Bobby Clarke, it can be easy to forget just how special Lindros was, but that would be neglecting a significant, and rather glorious, chapter in NHL history.

The league had never seen a player with Lindros’ combination of power and skill. He was a 6-4, 240-pound bull with soft hands and a playmaker’s instincts. Lindros barged through defenders like a runaway locomotive and had a howitzer shot, unleashing a quick, compact snapper that could pulverize granite. And he was ornery. Lindros delighted in plastering hapless victims into the wall and welcomed all challengers.

Even before the concussion woes, Lindros proved brittle, missing 42 games his first two seasons with knee problems and another 30 games in 1996-97 due to various ailments. But when he played, he was dominant, putting up 193 goals and 436 points in 297 games over his first five seasons. That works out to 0.65 goals and 1.47 points per game, or 53 goals and 121 points over a full 82-game schedule.

Despite four terribly mediocre seasons with the Rangers, Leafs, and Stars to end his career, Lindros still retired with an impressive 1.14 career points-per-game average, ranking him 18th all-time.

If we’re imagining players in perfect health and at the peak of their abilities, a strong case could be made for Lindros being in the Top 20. So why isn’t he higher?

Well, Lindros wasn’t exactly a great leader. He had a reputation for being moody and disruptive in the room. Plus, if you draft him for the mythical pick-up game, you’d have to listen to his parents yapping from the stands and trying to coach the team. And Lindros never mastered skating with his head up. How long would he last in a game featuring some of the sport’s most feared hitters?

But how great would it be to see Lindros line up against Bobby Clarke? Good times, good times.

* Hockey-Reference.com

* Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends

* Legends of Hockey

* Video


[100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1]

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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