For 6 seasons – more than half a decade – there was arguably no better hockey player on earth than Guy Lafleur. And there is arguably no better team in NHL history than Lafleur’s Canadiens of the late ’70s.
For the rest of his career, Lafleur was, um, not the best hockey player in the world. And so the question is, was he good enough in those six seasons to rank among the very, very best forwards in history, who managed longer peaks but less consistency?
Listen to us talk about Guy Lafleur’s case for one of the Greatest of All Time here:
Tony Esposito has one of the best regular season careers of any NHL goalie ever, not just in germs of his peak but in terms of how long he was among the best goalies in the league (at least by Goals Saved Above Average). Also, he helped change goalie masks for the better.
Yet his playoff numbers are significantly worse. He underperformed in one of his two good playoff runs and he was only ever on one truly great international team, as a backup.
So, it’s obvious Tony Esposito belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame but where does he rank all time?
Darryl Sittler has a claim to be the Greatest Toronto Maple Leaf of All Time, as the former franchise record holder for Points, among other things. And though he was never clearly the best player in the league, he was one of the better ones for over half a decade, and a consistent offensive performer much longer.
Does his lack of NHL playoff success hurt him?
In this episode, we discuss whether or not Darryl Sittler belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame:
Denis Potvin was the greatest offensive D between Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey. He might have been the best all around defender too, as when was the last time you heard someone complain about his defence?
So obviously Denis Potvin belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But where does he rank all time?
Bob Gainey does not have your conventional Hockey Hall of Fame case, his offensive numbers are worse than a defensive defenceman. (Of the NHL players who are +200 for their career, Gainey has the lowest PPG of any forward.)
But, as legend has it, the Selke Trophy was invented for Bob Gainey. Until Bergeron won his most recent Selke, nobody had as many Selkes as Gainey. And then he has that Conn Smythe too.
In this episode, we talk about Bob Gainey’s Hall of Fame case: