Inspired by this, we’ve decided to take a look at the NHL’s greatest players by letter. Like all lists, this will probably lead to some debate, anger, insults and accusations of bias, but we’re doing it anyway.  There are a lot of great players on this list and many others who didn’t make the cut.

Today’s post will include players whose last names start with letters between A and M.   We’ll have part two in a couple days.


Sid Abel

There are a lot of choices for the letter A, but Sid Abel stands out amongst them.  While his career statistics don’t look impressive when compared to today’s standards, Abel was a creative player and a great leader.  He benefited from playing alongside Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe during his career in Detroit, but managed to stand out on his own enough to win the Hart Trophy in 1949.  Abel won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings.

Honourable Mentions:

Glenn Anderson, Syl Apps (Jr. and Sr.), Dave Andreychuk


Jean Beliveau

Beliveau won 10 Stanley Cups as a player, which alone would be enough to put him at the top of this list. When you add in the Art Ross Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, two Hart Trophies and the fact that he was one of the most dynamic, powerful players in the game, it’s easy to see why he’s ranked first under B.

Honourable Mentions:

Johnny Bower, Ray Bourque, Mike Bossy, Martin Brodeur


Bobby Clarke

It was very tempting to put Sidney Crosby here and not just to inspire hate, but because he’s accomplished a great deal in his career.   In 10 years or so this spot could definitely belong to Crosby.   However, Bobby Clarke was about as feared as can be during his playing career.   He was a fierce leader and would do anything to win games, no matter how controversial.   As a player he won two Stanley Cups, three Hart Trophies, the Pearson Trophy and the Selke. That’s enough to make him the best of the Cs.

Honourable Mentions:

Sidney Crosby, Yvan Cournoyer, Paul Coffey


Marcel Dionne

This was another tough one and Ken Dryden put up quite a fight.   However the fact that Dionne had eight 100+ point seasons, that he set the rookie scoring record (at the time) and that he won the Art Ross and the Pearson puts him at the top of this list.   He currently sits fourth in NHL history with 731 goals scored and fifth in points with 1771.   He never won the Stanley Cup, which hurts his case slightly, but he still holds quite an impressive resume.

Honourable Mentions:

Ken Dryden, Alex Delvecchio, Pavel Datsyuk


Phil Esposito

Phil Esposito currently sits fifth in goals in NHL history and 10th in points.   During his NHL career he won five Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, two Pearson Trophies and two Stanley Cups. He scored more than 30 goals in thirteen consecutive seasons and was the captain of Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series.

Honourable Mentions:

Tony Esposito, Patrik Elias, Ron Ellis


Grant Fuhr
Lists like this one are always a little unfair to the men in net. It’s difficult to compare goalies and skaters to one another and the netminders are usually left out.  During his playing days Fuhr was far from the league’s best goalie statistically, but you couldn’t ask for a better guy when it really mattered. Fuhr was a “money goalie” in every sense of the word. He won five Stanley Cups with the powerful Oilers of the 80s as well as the Vezina and the Jennings.  Peter Forsberg gave him a good fight for this position, but Fuhr comes out on top.

Honourable Mentions:

Peter Forsberg, Sergei Fedorov, Ron Francis, Bernie Federko


Wayne Gretzky
Our apologies to Doug Gilmour, Mike Gartner and Jonas Gustavsson (!?) but there wasn’t much debate for this one. If you don’t know who Wayne Gretzky is or what he achieved in his career it’s likely that you’ve stumbled onto the wrong blog by accident.   Four Stanley Cups, nine Hart Trophies, 10 Art Ross Trophies, five Pearson Trophies and two Conn Smythe Trophies and several NHL records are good enough to top this letter.

Honourable Mentions:

Boom Boom Geoffrion, Doug Gilmour, Mike Gartner


Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe is Mr. Hockey, so he kind of wins this by default, but that’s not the only reason he’s here. During his career Howe won four Stanley Cups, six Art Ross Trophies, six Hart Trophies and a Pearson. He currently sits third in career points and second in career goals. His physical play separated him from other greats as he wasn’t shy about the rough stuff.

Honourable Mentions:

Bobby Hull, Glenn Hall, Dominic Hasek, Dale Hawerchuk, Brett Hull


Jarome Iginla
The letter I hasn’t produced very many NHL all stars but that doesn’t mean that Iginla isn’t a great hockey player. Iggy is the first active player to earn top spot for a letter and he definitely deserves it.   The strong power forward has won two Rocket Richard Trophies along with an Art Ross and a Pearson while recording 920 points in his career to date.

Honourable Mentions:

Dick Irvin, Al Iafrate


Jaromir Jagr
While still active in the KHL, it looks like Jaromir Jagr’s NHL career is over.  And it was quite the career.   He currently sits ninth in among all scorers in NHL history with 1599 points and 12th in goals with 646. He won two Stanley Cups, five Art Ross Trophies, three Pearson Trophies and a Hart Trophy in his career.   He’s scored more NHL goals and recorded more NHL points than any European born and trained player in history.

Honourable Mentions:

Joe Juneau, Ed Jovanovski, Aurele Joliat, Busher Jackson


Jari Kurri
Riding alongside Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri racked up points in the 80s.   However, he was a prolific player on his own as well.  Without Gretzky in 1988-89, Kuri led the Oilers in points with 102.  Then he scored 93 points the following year.  Kurri currently sits 18th in career goals and 19th in career points in NHL history.

Honourable Mentions:

Dave Keon, Paul Kariya, Alexei Kovalev, Slava Kozlov, Red Kelly


Mario Lemieux
There aren’t too many players who have accomplished what Mario Lemieux did in his career.   He currently sits seventh in all time points, 10th in all time points and ninth in all time goals.  Lemieux won two Stanley Cups, three Hart Trophies, six Art Ross Trophies, two Conn Smythe Trophies, four Pearson Awards and a Calder.   His tenacity and ability to play through significant injury throughout his career gave him the edge over Guy Lafleur in this spot.

Honourable Mentions:

Guy Lafleur, Igor Larionov, Pat LaFontaine, Nick Lidstrom, Brian Leetch


Mark Messier
“The Moose” is one of the greatest leaders in NHL history.   His tough, aggressive style made him one of the most feared and most successful players of his day.   Messier won six Stanley Cups, two Hart Trophies, two Pearson Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy in his career.   He is second in all time points to Gretzky, seventh in goals and third in assists.

Honourable Mentions:

Frank Mahovlich, Al MacInnis, Stan Mikita , Evgeni Malkin

What do you think?

Stay tuned for Part Two in a couple of days.