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A project that ranks the greatest players in modern NHL history

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Who is the greatest NHL player of all time?

Easy read? Wayne Gretzky.

Who else but the player who, over the course of a 20-year NHL career, has scored the most goals, assists and points in league history? At the time Gretzky retired, he owned 61 NHL records and most of them still stand today.

Gretzky’s place at the top of the charts seems indisputable, so we won’t discuss it. Instead, another 99 sites follow the 99 that we need to solve.

Welcome to NHL99, a project that aims to put a new spin on a familiar topic: Who are the top 100 players in NHL history after the 1967 expansion? Let’s face it, there have been several previous attempts to name the best players of all time, so this is the starting point and basic setup.

We didn’t want to go through the same old terrain again. Instead, we wanted to try something new, and the post-1967 NHL seemed like a good place to start. why? Because when the game and work of hockey changed dramatically. Instead of six teams, there were suddenly 12. Instead of a league dominated almost exclusively by Canadians, few players arrived and players eventually poured in from all over the world.

Today begins the countdown. We call it the NHL99 because there are 99 questionable spots on our Top 100 list and the number 99 resonates with hockey fans everywhere.

So, spoiler alert, Wayne Gretzky is #1 on our list. You could argue that Gretzky actually belongs in the Hall of Fame in two categories – as a player and as a captain. Arguably, no one has evolved the NHL game, on and off the ice, more than Gretzky.

But it became interesting and controversial after Gretzky. Nine books the athlete They had voices in this project: Eric Duhaczyk, Dom Loscheszine, Shayna Goldman, Ian Mendes, Scott Wheeler, Sean Gentile, Michael Russo, Sean Macindoe and James Myrtle. Each of the voters submitted a list of 100 players in the spring of 2022, before the playoffs began, and points were awarded based on position: 100 points for first on the list, 1 point for number 100, and so on. . Gretzky scored a total of 900 points. At the end of the project, we will reveal the ballots and point totals. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the athlete He has done similar projects with the NBAA, NFL, and MLB.

With the top 100 bands listed, the countdown begins now. But it’s more than just a countdown. By February, we’ll be revealing one player a day, six days a week, along with an in-depth feature that we hope is full of stories, angles, and trivia about these players that you’ve never read before. More than 40 writers from all over the world the athlete Newsroom contributed to this project.

Now, there are some important caveats to the process, starting with the recognition that any list dealing with the all-time greatest will be subjective and may contain some modernity bias. And again, we’re strictly focused on the NHL from 1967 to the present.

This should be pretty obvious because you won’t find Gordie Howe on our list. Is it sacrilege to have a list of the greatest players of all time without Mr. Hockey? Perhaps, but Howe only played 369 NHL games from 1967-68 and spent six seasons in the WHA. So he went out. You won’t find Bobby Hull, Maurice Richard, or Howie Morenz either.

Our toughest and most complex selections involved players who straddled both ends of the spectrum. Some fell through the cracks because their biggest impacts came before 1967. Some who qualified at the end were not on the list because they were still in the early stages of their careers.

Our cap was 400 skater games (300 guard games) at the end of the 2021-22 regular season, which is the standard for retired NHL games. So Auston Matthews (407 career games) has made it, just barely. Not Cal Makar. He played only 173 regular season games in the NHL. It’s a hard line to draw, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

The overall goal was simple: to tell 100 compelling stories about the 100 Most Influential Players in the NHL, and eventually, perhaps, create a conversation about those who might have made the list and been overlooked.

However, there is a caveat: if you want to add your favorite player or dispute one of our picks, you will also need to subtract one from the list.

What you discover, as the list counts down, may be easier said than done.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett, Gregory Shamus, Mike Powell, Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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