Grandfather of Ron, Bryan Hextall was one of the offensive stars of his era. And he was pretty good. If you fiddle with the VsX adjustment and do look at his per game numbers – something it’s not designed for – it paints Hextall as the best offensive player in NHL history in terms of adjusted PPG. That’s obviously not true and just exposes flaws in adjusted stats. But he must have been pretty good, right?
Listen to us talk about Bryan Hextall’s Hall of Fame case here:
Cooney Weiland set the single-season points record in 1930, but it was a banner year for the league and multiple other players could have broken the record if he didn’t. He led the playoffs in points twice, too. Seems like maybe a slam dunk.
However, these were the only great years of Weiland’s career and his career was pretty middling otherwise. Does someone like this belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Listen to us talk about Cooney Weiland’s Hall of Fame case here:
Prior to Bobby Orr‘s arrival, there was a consensus hockey GOAT (Greatest of All Time), Gordie Howe. That was due both to Howe’s dominance but, more importantly, his unprecedented longevity. Howe may have only been the best player in the NHL for six or so seasons, but he was one of the 10 best players in the NHL for over two decades.
Since then, there are a few other contenders for the throne. And the biggest knock against Howe is his Stanley Cups. Gordie Howe made the playoffs in 20 of his 26 NHL seasons. And he made the Stanley Cup Finals a remarkable 11 times. But he only won four Stanley Cups. One can make the LeBron James argument here: If Gordie Howe really is the GOAT, how come his finals record is 4-7?
Listen to us talk about Gordie Howe here:
Gordie Howe’s Career:
1946-71; 1979-80; 26 seasons, 25 quality
801G (3rd All Time – Gretzky, Ovechkin – 1st All Time at his initial retirement by 232; Howe was the career leader in goals from 1963-64 through 1993-94),
1049A (10th All Time – 1st All Time at his initial retirement by 300; Howe was the career leader in assists from 1957-58 through 1987-88) for
1850P (4th – Gretzky, Jagr, Messier – 1st All Time at his initial retirement by nearly 600; Howe was the career leader in points from 1959-60 through 1989-90);
+160* (14th All Time at his initial retirement) in
1767 Games (2nd All Time – Marleau – 1st All Time at his retirement by 300; Howe was the career leader in Games Played from 1961-62 through 2019-20)
217.1 PS (4th All Time – Gretzky, Bourque, Luongo – 1st All Time at his retirement by nearly 69; Howe was the career leader from 1960-61 to 1994-95);
Howe is 2nd All Time in Offensive Point Shares (Gretzky) – he was 1st All Time at his initial retirement by nearly 69 and was the career leader from 1958-59 until 1993-94
Howe is the 15th/13th Forward All Time in Defensive Point Shares – at his initial retirement he was 3rd/1st All Time
Per Game: At his initial retirement in 1971, Howe was
11th All Time in GPG
t-5th in APG (Mikita, Esposito, Cowley, Beliveau)
5th in PPG (Esposito, Hull, Mikita, Beliveau; Howe was the career leader in PPG from 1953-54 through 1958-59)
Era: Of the 13 skaters to play in at least 1148 games (14 modern seasons) between 1946 and 1971, Howe is
1st in Goals (by 369)
1st in GPG (by 0.17)
1st in Assists (by 300)
1st in APG
1st in Points (669)
1st in PPG (by 0.25)
2nd in Plus/Minus
1st in Offensive Point Shares (by more than double his teammate)
8th (2nd/1st Forward) in Defensive Point Shares
1st in Point Shares (by 68.7)
82-game average: 37G, 48A for 86P, +7*; 8.7 PS
3-year peak (1950-53): 70-game average of 46G, 43A for 89P
68G (20th All Time, 3rd at his first retirement – Richard, Beliveau),
92A (2nd All Time at his first retirement – Beliveau – Howe was the career leader from 1961 through 1970) for
160P (t-22nd All Time, 2nd at his first retirement – Beliveau – Howe was the career leader 1964 through 1970),
157 games (3rd All Time at his first retirement – Kelly, Beliveau)
Per Game: At his first retirement, Howe was
T-5th All Time in playoff GPG (Richard, Hull, Drillon, Beliveau)
T-6th All Time in playoff APG
T-4th All Time in playoff PPG (Hull, Beliveau, Blake)
Era: Of the 42 skaters to play in at least 82 playoff games between 1946 and 1971, Howe is
2nd in playoff Goals (behind by 12)
T-4th in playoff GPG
2nd in playoff Assists
4th in playoff APG
2nd in playoff Points (behind by 18)
3rd in playoff PPG
T-18th in playoff Plus/Minus
3rd in playoff Games
Adjustment for Era:
925G (1st All Time),
1265A (2nd – Gretzky) for
2190P (2nd – Gretzky)
Adjusted 82-game average: 43G, 59A for 102P (+16P per 82 games)
T-23rd All Time in Adjusted GPG
T-15th All Time in Adjusted APG
T-13th All Time in Adjusted PPG
1181 Goals (1st All Time by over 300)
1711 Assists (2nd All Time – Gretzky)
2444 Points (1st All Time)
T-19th All Time in VsX GPG
22nd All Time in VsX APG
22nd All Time in VsX PPG
If the qualifier is raised to 820 games played, Howe is
5th All time in VsX GPG (Richard, Hull, Geoffrion, Lemieux)
3rd All Time in VsX APG (Gretzky, Lemieux)
4th All Time in VsX PPG (Gretzky, Lemieux, Richard)
If the qualifier is set to 1230 games, Howe is
1st All Time in VsX GPG
2nd All Time in VsX APG (Gretzky)
2nd All Time in VsX PPG (Gretzky)
WHA: 1973-79; 6 seasons, all quality174G (16th),
334A (7th) for
+136 (7th) in
6th All Time in APG
8th All Time in PPG
82-game average: 34G, 66A for 99P, +27
3-year peak (1973-76): 78-game average of 34G, 72A for 106P, +30
Jean Beliveau is one of the rare NHL stars to combine regular season dominance with playoff dominance. Many of the centres who have scored more regular season points than Beliveau both haven’t done so relative to the league – Beliveau would have been the best offensive player of his era had it not been for Gordie Howe – and very few of them have Beliveau’s long history of success in the playoffs.
So where does he rank all time? Is he a Top 5 Centre? Is he a top 5 Player?
There is a never-ending debate among hockey fans as to which player of Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr was the greatest. There are certain areas where each stands supreme.
Our vote is for Orr because we think he played the more difficult and more important position and because he revolutionized the position as well. (Also, the skating.) But at least one of us thinks there’s room for debate.
Many 21st century hockey fans likely think the answer to the question “Who is the Greatest Left Winger of All Time?” has an easy answer, Alex Ovechkin.
But it’s possible we don’t remember how dominant Bobby Hull truly was. Hull won 2 Hart trophies and 3 Art Ross trophies. But he was a Hart finalist for most of a decade. Additionally, he was, by most standards, the best offensive player of his era, both in the regular season and, crucially, in the playoffs.
And then he went to another league and dominated it in his late 30s. (It’s possible his departure to the WHA colours how we think of his career.)
So, is Bobby Hull the Greatest LW of All Time? Listen here:
If you didn’t see him play, it’s possible Stan Mikita’s resume is better than you think it should be. In addition to winning multiple Hart trophies, Art Ross trophies and the Stanley Cup, he’s likely the 2nd best centre of the ’60s and among the best centres of the ’70s.
So it’s clear Stan Mikita belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The question is, where does Stan Mikita rank among centres all time?