Picking hockey's Mount Rushmore

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

March 27th, 2020

As we wait for the NHL to return, it’s a good time to reminisce about some of the greatest hockey players to ever lace up a pair skates. Here is our version of the NHL's Mount Rushmore.

Wayne Gretzky

Any list of all-time NHL greats would be incomplete without “the Great One.” Gretzky has his No. 99 retired across the league for a reason.

His list of accolades is unlikely to ever be matched. He amassed 10 Art Ross Trophies, nine Hart Trophies (including eight in a row from 1979-80 to 1986-87), five Lady Byng Trophies, and five Lester B. Pearson Awards (since renamed the Ted Lindsay Award) during his 20-year career.

Gretzky, a 15-time All-Star, won four Stanley Cups and took home Conn Smythe honors twice. His 894 goals lead the NHL by a healthy margin (Jaromir Jagr is second with 801), and his lead in points (2,857 to 1,921, also over Jagr) is even more staggering.

Bobby Orr

Orr left an indelible mark on the game, even though he played just 631 games over 12 seasons. He was an eight-time Norris Trophy winner and a three-time Hart Trophy winner – only one blueliner has won the Hart since (Chris Pronger, 1999-00). Orr is still the only defenseman to ever win the Art Ross Trophy, doing it twice (1969-70, 1974-75). “Number Four” won two Stanley Cups in his career and earned Conn Smythe honors in each instance. Debilitating knee injuries robbed the NHL and Boston fans of at least several more years of production from Orr.

Gordie Howe

Jagr may be the player most associated with longevity these days, but before him, there was Gordie Howe. “Mr. Hockey” played 26 seasons in the NHL and another six in the WHA, before he hung up his skates at age 51.

Howe is most associated with the Detroit Red Wings, where he played 25 seasons. He made the All-Star team 21 times in that span and notched four Stanley Cup championships. Howe also won the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy six times apiece.

Jacques Plante

An NHL Mount Rushmore would be incomplete without a Canadiens alumnus, and Plante is most deserving of the honor. He won a record seven Vezina Trophies over his 18-year career, including an unprecedented five in a row from 1955-56 to 1959-60. That happened to coincide with a five-year run of Stanley Cup titles for Montreal (Plante won his first of six total titles in 1952-53 as a part-timer).

Plante, who retired for the first time in 1965, was lured back by the expansion-era Blues and played well enough to share Vezina honors at age 40, with fellow veteran Glenn Hall in 1968-69. In addition to his prowess between the pipes, Plante is also known for being the first goalie to wear a mask on a regular basis.