There are so many great photos in NHL history it’s hard to pick just one as your favorite. They come from iconic moments, in random game action, interactions with the crowd and more. Below are some of my favorite hockey photos of all-time with a brief description. Do you share my taste? If not, link to or share some of your favorite photos.
Heading into the 1969-70 season, Bobby Orr had a Calder and two Norris Trophies already and he’d win the Art Ross, Hart, Norris and Conn Smythe Trophies that season. Whew. His Bruins faced the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup final, a team that reached its third Cup final in a row, but had yet to win a game there (the ’67 expansion teams took a while to become competitive). The Bruins swept the Blues in 1970, but the series was capped off in dramatic fashion. Orr scored 40 seconds into overtime to lead the Bruins to victory after taking a pass from Derek Sanderson in the corner. It was Boston’s first Cup since 1941 and they’d win another two years later.
In the photo, Orr is flying through the air like Superman after he was lifted off his feet by St. Louis defenseman Noel Picard.
This is one I have hanging up at home. At the bottom of it is a quote from Gordie Howe: “I play religious hockey. It’s better to give than to receive.” No kidding. In this photo, Howe is throwing an illegal check for boarding, hitting from behind and, heck, probably charging too. Caught up in the fray is referee Frank Udvari, a legendary NHL official who passed away last week. He’s doing his best to get out of the way of this thundering Howe check. Helping him is the fencing around the board that he could grab on to. Fencing! How awesome is that?
We used this photo of Alexander Frolov for a photo gallery a few years back and it always stuck with me. A member of the Los Angeles Kings at the time, here Frolov has locked eyes with a young fan during warmup and is making somewhat of a goofy face at him. This is simply wonderful and puts a smile on your face. I wonder if the kid still remembers the interaction.
This has got to be one of the most famous hockey photos ever. Gordie Howe, who would have been close to or at the end of his days with the Detroit Red Wings, with Wayne Gretzky, who I believe is 10 years old in the picture. Howe would go on to play in the WHA for the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers and return to the NHL for a year when the Whalers moved to the NHL in the merger. Gretzky was still years away from turning pro, but even at such a young age, the spotlight was starting to shine on him. Howe, No. 9, was Gretzky’s idol, so when he did get to the NHL, he wore No. 99.
And despite the early pressure, Gretzky lived up to the hype and then some. In 1989, Gretzky passed how on the all-time points list, mostly because of the ridiculous amount of assists he tallied. It’s always mind-blowing to think about the fact Gretzky has more assists than any other player has points, so even if he never scored a goal in the NHL, he’d still be the all-time leading scorer.
But he did score a pile of goals, too. In 1981-82 he scored 92 in one season, a record that is hard to believe will ever be broken. And in 1994, Gretzky scored his 802nd career NHL goal, passing Howe’s record of 801 in the league. Gretzky scored it against the Vancouver Canucks – and here is the very moment he made history.
Maurice Richard was one of the most intense competitors ever to play in the NHL. His fiery eyes live on in his statue outside of the Bell Centre and in all sorts of photos from his playing days. The above photo is after Game 7 of a Montreal-Boston series from the 1952 Stanley Cup playoffs. Earlier in the game, Richard was caught with an open-ice hit, lost consciousness and must have sustained a concussion. He left the game for a while, but returned in time for the last few minutes of regulation in a 1-1 game. The Canadiens broke out of their own zone and got Richard the puck. He beat two defenders and deked around goalie ‘Sugar’ Jim Henry to give the Habs the lead. They hung on for the win and advanced to the Cup final.
After time had run out, the two teams went through the handshake line. Here, Henry and Richard meet and it;s almost as though Henry is bowing to The Rocket.
A few years later, in 1955, Richard was suspended late in the season for the rest of the schedule and all of the playoffs for attacking Hal Laycoe of the Bruins with his stick and punching linesman Cliff Thompson when he tried to step in. After Clarence Campbell suspended Richard, which cost him the league scoring title, the NHL president showed up at the very next Montreal home game – and he arrived late. This drew all kinds of attention to himself and fans started throwing food at him. One fan, who faked going in for a handshake, got close enough to Campbell to slap him in the face. The photo above is the aftermath of that incident. The 59th anniversary of the Richard Riots was this past St. Patrick’s Day and you can read more about it here.
We’ve spent some time in the old days, so how about something more recent? The photo above is from the outdoor game at Dodger Stadium this past winter – and what a spectacle it was. There were concerns about ice conditions leading up to the game, but in the end, it was one of the better al fresco productions the NHL has put on so far. There were no problems with the ice, the game was entertaining and the scene was incredible. This photo of the white ice inside an illuminated Dodger Stadium, against a sun setting behind the Los Angeles skyline shows hockey in a new and strange light. It may not have been everyone’s favorite event, but it really shows how far the NHL has come from the days of Richard and Howe and Gretzky.
And, sure, we’ll finish off with a little bit of comedy. Jaromir Jagr’s draft picture everybody! I think this is a favorite for obvious reasons. We’re still holding out hope that Jagr brings back the mullet one more time before his Hall of Fame career is over. Jagr, already the all-time leader in game-winning goals, could move into the top four or five goal scorers of all-time this season. Mike Gartner and Phil Esposito are within reach and he needs 27 to surpass Marcel Dionne for fourth.