Gordie Howe scored 801 career NHL goals and 1,850 points in 1,767 games. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)
Dwayne Roloson shut out the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday; it was his fourth shutout of the season - not bad for a guy who turned 41 years old in October.
But is Roloson one of the best-ever NHLers to play into his 40s? The answer is below in our weekly Top 10 list:
The ‘Finnish Flash’ is still going strong for the Anaheim Ducks at age 40; with a handful of impressive records to his name - including most points (38) at the Winter Olympics and single-season goals (76) and points (132) by a rookie - he’ll without question be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
9. Ray Bourque
Bourque’s achievements include: Five Norris Trophies; an NHL-record 13 first-team all-star honors; still-standing records for the most goals, assists and points by a defenseman; and a Stanley Cup with Colorado to cap off his career at age 40. He just turned 50, but Bourque’s legacy will last far longer than a half-century.
8. Jacques Plante
The legendary originator of the goalie mask wasn’t just an innovator of hockey technology - he was a dominant force on the ice as well, amassing six Stanley Cup championships, a Hart Trophy and seven Vezina Trophies (the last of which he shared as a 40-year-old with Glenn Hall).
This is the first season the NHL has been without Chelios since 1982-83, the year before he made his debut with the Montreal Canadiens. In the 26 seasons that followed, Chelios made the playoffs 24 times, won three Norris Trophies and as many Stanley Cups. In his final season, Chelios also played in the American League, becoming the oldest player in that circuit’s history; he also is the second-oldest player in NHL history.
One of the greatest leaders hockey has ever seen managed to play until age 41 - this, despite suffering brutal injuries that would’ve retired lesser players far earlier. Three Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Selke Trophy don’t begin to illustrate how much he meant to the Red Wings; that he captained the team from age 21 until his retirement in 2006 still stands as the record for the longest captaincy in North American pro sports history.
5. Doug Harvey
In 24 pro seasons, Harvey made his name as a creative blueliner who was the game’s Bobby Orr before Bobby Orr arrived. He won seven Norris Trophies and six Stanley Cups in the 1940s and ’50s, played until he was 44 years old and was ranked No. 6 on THN’s list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
4. Terry Sawchuk
Arguably the greatest goalie ever, Sawchuk played until he was 40 and likely would’ve played longer were it not for his tragic death at that age. Nevertheless, he won four Cups, as many Vezina Trophies, the Calder Trophy and held the NHL record for career shutouts (103) until Martin Brodeur in broke it in 2009.
Second overall in all-time NHL regular season points, playoff points (295) and regular season games played (1,756), Messier lasted until age 43 before hanging up his skates as a New York Ranger. Like Yzerman, he is renowned for his leadership ability, but six Cups, two Hart Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy demonstrate his all-around impact.
The humble Lidstrom, who turns 41 in April, probably wouldn’t like to be known as a living legend. Yet with every passing season that his superb skill level fails to fall off, that label fits perfectly. His four Stanley Cups, six Norris Trophies and all-around consistent play helped make him THN’s greatest-ever European player - and clearly, one of the best blueliners ever to grace an NHL rink.
1. Gordie Howe
By almost anyone’s estimation, Howe is one of the three best NHLers of all-time. His accomplishments are too numerous to detail here, but the simple fact he was able to continue playing through his 40s and all the way to age 51 is a feat that likely never will be matched.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.