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NHL

The List: Why Gordie Howe Was The Greatest NHLer Ever

You can stage an argument about the greatest player in NHL history and make a strong case for Wayne Gretzky. Had it not been for knee injuries shortening his playing career, others insist Bobby Orr owns this debate hands down.

Personally, we’ll always go with Gordie Howe. This could be for myriad reasons. Howe could play the game any way you liked. If you were behind a goal, he’d either get it, or he’d set it up. If the puck needed retrieving, he’d go get it. If an opponent required straightening out, Howe could take care of that, too. He could play any position on the ice except goal.

In short, he could do it all.

Statisically, Howe played an astonishing 26 NHL seasons and an awe-inspiring 33 years of pro hockey. He was a major-league MVP in three different decades. He finished among the NHL’s top-1o scorers a record 21 consecutive seasons.

The one number that separate Howe from every player is that he played in the NHL at the age of 52. But it isn’t merely that he played at that age – Howe was an accomplished player during that 1979-80 season. He scored 15 goals and posted 41 points while skating in all 80 games for the Hartford Whalers.

To grasp how impressive that is, let’s transport Howe’s farewell campaign into the 2018-19 NHL season.

What if Howe’s last season was last season?

He would’ve finished no worse than 10th in scoring on any of the 31 NHL teams last season.

On the Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks, Howe would’ve ranked fourth in both goals and points. He’d have been third in scoring for the Edmonton Oilers.

Even had he played for the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, Howe’s numbers placed him fifth in goals and points.

No wonder they called him Mr. Hockey.

Let’s look at where Howe’s 1979-80 totals put him on each of the 31 NHL teams last season:

Where 1979-80 Gordie Howe Points (15-26-41) Ranked Him On 2018-19 NHL Teams

Team Goals Points
Anaheim Ducks 4th 5th
Arizona Coyotes 4th 4th
Boston Bruins 6th 7th
Buffalo Sabres 5th 6th
Calgary Flames 8th 7th
Carolina Hurricanes 7th 5th
Chicago Blackhawks 7th 7th
Colorado Avalanche 6th 7th
Columbus Blue Jackets 8th 7th
Dallas Stars 4th 5th
Detroit Red Wings 7th 6th
Edmonton Oilers 5th 3th
Florida Panthers 6th 6th
Los Angeles Kings 4th 4th
Minnesota Wild 4th 7th
Montreal Canadiens 6th 8th
Nashville Predators 5th 6th
New Jersey Devils 5th 4th
New York Islanders 9th 5th
New York Rangers 6th 4th
Ottawa Senators 5th 8th
Philadelphia Flyers 8th 6th
Pittsburgh Penguins 8th 6th
St. Louis Blues 5th 5th
San Jose Sharks 10th 10th
Tampa Bay Lightning 8th 9th
Toronto Maple Leafs 10th 8th
Vancouver Canucks 4th 4th
Vegas Golden Knights 7th 6th
Washington Capitals 8th 8th
Winnipeg Jets 6th 6th
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