It's one thing to rank the best players in the history of the NHL. But that's almost too easy. Instead, we've decided to go letter by letter through the alphabet, then rank the best players based on the first letter of their last name.
Today, we start making some really tough decisions with the letter "B."
Here's how it works: I've gone through the history of the NHL and plucked the players I believe to be the best with "B" last names. But this isn't my decision completely. Each of these lists over the next five weeks will have a poll attached to it.
Look at the list and vote on the player you think is the best below, and (kindly) let us know in the comments if you disagree with our top five. The five players are listed in alphabetical order.
The entire series
I'd love to throw up a YouTube of Jean Beliveau's greatest moment, but you'd be waiting until August for me to narrow that down.
I don't care that there were only six teams when he played. Beliveau won 10 Stanley Cups as a player. He retired and won seven more as an executive, meaning his name is on the Stanley Cup 17 times. Let that sink in for a second.
The actual math is incredible, too. In 1,125 regular season games, he had 507 goals and 1,219 points, and 79 goals and 176 points in 162 playoff games.
Yes, it was a different era, but Beliveau's contributions to the game stand the test of time.
If we were listing the best in-season trade acquisitions in NHL history, Blake would make that list, too.
After moving from Los Angeles to Colorado for the final part of the 2000-2001 regular season, Blake would play an instrumental role in the Avalanche winning the 2001 Stanley Cup. Blake scored six goals and finished the 23-game journey with 19 points. He posted four straight 45-plus point seasons with the Avalanche before returning to the Kings.
Blake would "only" win that one Cup, but he was one of the best two-way defensemen in league history, only overshadowed for a good portion of his prime by another great two-way defenseman who might actually appear on this list.
(SPOILER: He does.)
777 points, including 240 goals, from the blue line? Yeah, that's pretty good.
Simply put, Bossy is one of the best goal-scorers in NHL history. It only took him 752 NHL games to score 573 goals, and he added an incredible 85 in his postseason career.
Bossy is the only player ever to record nine straight 50-goal seasons (1977-1986). He topped 100 points in seven of those seasons, hitting a career high of 147 (64 goals, 83 assists) in 1981-82. Fifty-one of Bossy's 85 playoff goals came over three of the New York Islanders' four straight Cup titles, as Bossy scored 17 goals each in the 1981, 1982, and 1983 playoffs.
Bossy's name is on the Cup four times, and his goal-scoring records are not going to be broken in today's NHL. Not now, probably not ever.
Do I need to say anything?
If you don't have goosebumps on top of goosebumps, then you're just not prone to goosebumps, I guess.
One of the single most memorable Stanley Cup moments of the last 25 years (or, perhaps, ever) came in 2001, when Bourque's 22-year career was finally punctuated with a championship.
It was Bourque's last moment in the NHL, making it all the more special. It wasn't like he couldn't play anymore. He had 59 points in 80 games for the Avalanche that year. But he reached the top of the mountain. Who doesn't dream of going out that way?
Bourque's 410 goals and 1,579 points (most ever in either category by a blue-liner) are the stuff of legend. Even playing through a portion of the "dead puck" era, Bourque had at least a point per game 14 times, and he added 180 postseason points.
Another part of this list where words are probably not needed. So we'll go purely with numbers.
Through the 2013-14 season:
- 688 regular season wins
- 2.24 lifetime goals against
- .912 lifetime save percentage
- 124 regular season shutouts
- 113 playoff wins
- 2.02 playoff goals against
- .919 playoff save percentage
- 24 playoff shutouts
Brodeur holds records for games played, minutes, shutouts, and playoff shutouts, among others. He won three Stanley Cups, Olympic gold and silver, and he won the Vezina Trophy four times. Oh, and he isn't necessarily done.