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The top 5 NHL players whose names begin with 'C'

From Chelios to Crosby, here are the top five NHL players with last names that begin with the letter "C." Be sure to vote for the best of the five in the poll below, and follow along all month long as we run through the alphabet.

Harry How

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 anger many fans of Eastern Conference teams with the letter "C."

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 "C" 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.

Chris Chelios

It isn't just the longevity, though the longevity might define his legacy. The guy played into his late 40s when some (even great) players were beginning to decline before their mid-30s. Hard to ignore that part of Chris Chelios' career.

And he wasn't just hanging around. Into his mid-40s, Chelios was a very good NHL player. The bit with the Thrashers was sort of a stunt more than it was Atlanta thinking he could play at a high level. But everything leading up to that was legit.

Chelios was a rock in Montreal, Chicago and Detroit. He ended up playing 1,651 NHL games, finishing 52 points short of 1,000 for his career. He added 144 postseason points, and he has his name on the Stanley Cup three times (Montreal once and Detroit twice).

Oh, and he'll go down in history as one of the greatest American-born players the sport has ever seen.

Dino Ciccarelli

In September of 1979, an undrafted Dino Ciccarelli signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota North Stars.

Nowadays, undrafted players -- both from juniors and the college ranks -- sign pro contracts regularly. Every now and then, you see someone like Tyler Bozak, who has become a serviceable NHL player. Most of those undrafted guys end up being career minor leaguers/fringe NHL players, or they go to Europe in search of a better opportunity to play.

Ciccarelli? He did things no undrafted player had ever done before him, and things no undrafted player has done since.

Before he was done in 1999, Ciccarelli played 1,232 regular season games, scoring 608 goals and finishing with 1,200 points. His 73 playoff goals were just an icing on the cake.

As was the money quote to describe the career of Claude Lemieux.

Hardly a Lady Byng candidate at any point, Ciccarelli went from "undrafted" to one of the best in the history of the sport.

Bobby Clarke

Speaking of hard-nosed, snarly players ...

I am not condoning the behavior in the above video, by the way. But that was Bobby Clarke. That and the skill he possessed to back up his sometimes questionable behavior.

Clarke posted 14 straight 60-plus point seasons in the NHL, all for the Flyers. He topped 100 points three times, 80 points five other times, and finished with 1,210 points in 1,144 games. Oh, and he only finished 47 PIMs short of 1,500 in his career, in case you were wondering.

The 1972 Masterton Trophy winner is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, and Clarke was the face of the Broad Street Bullies.

Paul Coffey

If it weren't for Ray Bourque, it's likely that more people would talk about Paul Coffey being a transcendent player on the blue line.

The well-traveled Coffey topped 100 points five times.

Did I mention he was a defenseman? His 48 goals for Edmonton in the 1985-86 season still stands as the record for goals by a defenseman. Coffey scored 396 of those in his career, finishing with 1,531 points and four Stanley Cups (three with Edmonton, one with Pittsburgh).

Coffey won the Norris Trophy three times and was part of three winning Canada Cup teams. He was a top player who helped redefine what we expected from defensemen.

Sidney Crosby

Turn away, Flyers fans. Oh, and virtually everyone else who doesn't fly a Pittsburgh Penguins flag.

This is like the moment where a WWE aficionado reminds fans that John Cena is really good at what he does. I can hear you booing as you read. Sorry.

Crosby has been a force since the second he walked into the NHL. Heck, he was an NHL force before he was even eligible for the draft. After the 2004-05 season was wiped away by a stupid lockout that deprived us of some serious draft-related tanking, the Penguins won a lottery to get the first pick. The rest is history.

Crosby became (then) the youngest captain in NHL history. He's backed that up with elite play from basically his first day in the league. In addition to a 50-goal season, Crosby has hit 30 goals five other times, and he has five 100-point seasons. Out of nine in the league. One of which was shortened by another stupid lockout.

Crosby has a Stanley Cup and two gold medals to his credit. He's won two Hart Trophies, led the league in goals once, and led it in points, both in the regular season and the playoffs.

Take a step back, away from the negative emotions Crosby makes you feel. You know he belongs on this list.