With the NHL All Star weekend upon us, it’s fitting to look back and think of the All Star games that we watched growing up. With so many great players being in the games of yesteryear, we here at The 4th Line Podcast endeavoured to find the best All Star that a particular team had. The criteria: Which player had the best collection of years with that team? Sure, Wayne Gretzky was the best player to ever play on the St. Louis Blues, but with only 18 games with the team, he’s not their All Time All Star. So, without further ado……
The Calgary Flames have a rich history of leadership and captains. Some with a brief run and others having longer careers with the “C” on their chest. So which one is the greatest? We think Jarome Iginla deserves that title. Drafted 11 overall in the 1995 draft by the Dallas Stars but was traded to the Calgary Flames without ever playing a game for the Stars. Not many people drafted ahead of him has had the same success that Iginla has had in the NHL. Never scoring less than 30 goals in all 15 full seasons with Flames, Iginla holds many Flames records till this day. Some of the highlighted few are most games played with 1219, most goals with 525 and most points with 1095. Racking up over 1,000 penalty minutes, many in which were due to 5 minute majors for fighting. One of the few Flames captains who was always willing to drop the gloves to protect his teammates and give the boys a boost.
What also made Jarome Iginla our choice for the best Flames captain of all time, the amount of work he did with the community. Being part of multiple community outreach programs, attending and donating to many charitable events and simply doing the odds and ends that were never captured on film for adoring fans. Through his years with the Flames, there were many games where the team found themselves in a slump, having a bad game or simply not energized but you could always catch Iginla with a smirk on his face. With 6 all star appearances, 5 individual awards and multiple highlights in his career, the one thing he never accomplished though was, hoisting the Stanley Cup. We look forward to watching the Calgary Flames celebrate with Jarome Iginla on March 2nd when the Flames take on the Minnesota Wild. The organization will be raising a banner with the number 12 on it to the rafters, saluting a Flames legend and fan favorite.
Joe Sakic – by Carl Landra
When the Colorado Avalanche won two Stanley Cups after their move from Quebec City, like most Stanley Cup champions, no one person did it alone. However, as the captain of the team from 1992 to 2009, 13 time All Star Joe Sakic led the charge. Scoring 20 goals or more in every non lockout shortened season from 1988 until 2007 (he had 19 in 94-95), scoring more than 40 goals five times. For those counting at home that’s EIGHTEEN seasons in a row with 20 or more goals, longer than most NHL careers. He also scored his 600th career goal on my birthday, at a game I was at. Thanks Joe! Not to take anything away from Peter Forsberg or Patrick Roy, but Mr. Sakic will forever be the best of those Avalanche teams.
Detroit Red Wings
This one is a no-brainer. No player has been to more All Star games than the late, great Gordie Howe. His 23 appearances (22 for Detroit) set the record that nobody is going to beat. Howe was the best 200′ hockey player to every lace up a pair of skates, and his 1,809 points for Detroit will never be equalled. The Red Wings could easily fill a whole roster with ASG quality players; Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio and Nick Lidstrom each played out their whole NHL career with Detroit and each made double-digit ASG appearances. There are valid arguments why any of the four greats listed above should be considered Detroit’s All Time All Star, but for this writer, Howe is my nomination.
Mark Messier – by Spencer Love
It would be easy in the Oilers case to select someone like Wayne Gretzky or Connor McDavid. Both players can only be described as generational, and their both likely candidates for NHL all-time All Star teams, nonetheless the Oilers. However, rather than pick one of those two shoo-ins, my vote goes to none other than Mark Messier. The man known as Moose was a perennial All-Star for the Oilers, making seven appearances in the NHL’s annual showcase throughout his time in Edmonton. He was a three-time first team All-Star as well, and perhaps most importantly was part of each and every one of the Oilers five Stanley Cups thus far, something not even Gretzky himself can attest to. He’s just behind Wayne on the NHL’s all-time scoring list, perhaps the greatest leader in league history and my vote for the Edmonton Oilers all time All-Star.
Few teams in the history of sport can boast the storied history of ‘Le Glorieux’. Their list of alumni is littered with legend of the game. However, when a city riots (sort of their thing) because you were robbed of a chance to win a scoring title, (and booed your, well liked, teammate who did) , you’re immortalised in a popular children’s book, and a culture hero in Quebec, there can be no other choice for the Habs all-time great than the one and only Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard. The first man to score 50 goals in 50 games, he was the face of the franchise for years, capturing Stanley Cup Championships and vaulting to the top of the scoring record book. He was skilled and tough in an era when superstars often did their own dirty work. Few images conger up the history of the game more than the Rocket’s steely glare flying down the ice, imposing his will on opponents, and to this day remains one of the true icons of the game.
New York Islander
Finding the best All-Star on the New York Islanders posted a significant challenge. The dilemma is that there are so many good candidates as the franchise was a dynasty in the 1980’s. At first, I was predetermined to choose the great Brian Trottier. The six-time Stanley Cup winner was one of the best two-way players of all time. Ultimately, I changed by mind. And as close as the decision was, there was one kicker: the fact that a rival would chant that this player sucks.
Denis Potvin was a machine on the back end and a top 5 defenseman, all-time. If 4 consecutive Stanley Cup Rings is not proof, 3 Norris Trophies (best Defensemen) and the Calder Trophy (best Rookie) further cements him as the Isles best player. In 15 seasons, Potvin piled on points (1052 in 1060 games) at rate not done since Bobby Orr. For you “old time hockey folks,” the defender added over 1,300 penalty minutes (PIMS). And it was rare that a blueliner could be so good offensively yet not be afraid to do the dirty work. On top of that, Potvin generated shots at a rate of 2.87/GP in the regular season. By comparison, Nik Lidstrom was at 2.47. Not quite Bobby Orr (4.65) but still quite an accomplishment from the two-way defender.
Top defenders carry hefty minutes on a normal basis, which often increases during the post-season. Although TOI was not tracked at his time, Potvin was constantly on the ice during the playoffs. Despite facing the toughest competition, the Hall of Famer produced at a 0.88 points/game rate. Just as impressive was being at least 1 point/game in all but one year of the 4 year Cup streak. Safe to say this guy was freak of nature and a force to be recommend. Just ask the New York Rangers fans.
A clear two party race, as is often the case in Ottawa, and while Daniel Alfredsson may be the player most synonymous with the franchise, Erik Karlsson took the torch and skated off with it as only he can, hair flowing in the breeze…For the fan base his recent trade to San Jose hurt worse than a Chara slap shot (Not unlike when Chara himself left…) but the best defenceman of his era thrilled Sens Army for 9 incredible seasons, impacting the game like few in the league today. His ability to generate offence from the point is second to none and his hockey sense is uncanny. The only Senators player to win a major award other than Alfredsson (Calder Trophy), the two time Norris Trophy winner (and perennial candidate), Karlsson is a fixture on highlight reels and a one man breakout. He controls the game when he’s on the ice like his idol Nick Lidstrom and makes even the toughest defensive plays look routine. A future Hall of Famer, his tenure in the nation’s capital will never be forgotten…no matter how many drink it takes to get over it…
While the Big E (when healthy) could be a truly dominant force, selecting him would reek of recency bias. When you think of the Flyers franchise, you think, tough, physical, old time hockey and few epitomised this like Bobby Clarke. A three time Hart Trophy winner (in an era with Orr, Esposito, Lafleur, Perreault, etc.) he (and his toothless grin) was the poster boy for the Broad Street Bullies, playing with a mix of skill and grit few had before. He lead the Flyers to their only two Stanley Cup Championships, as they became the first of the expansion era teams to win. He added a Selke trophy to his resume years later, a testament to his complete game. A true leader, who set the example for the rest to follow, doing whatever it took to win (just ask Valeri Kharlamov) Clarke remains synonymous with the type of game Philly fans love, and he delivered for years, endearing himself to the blue collar city.
He scored on his opening shift, (beating a future Hall of Famer on route) and never looked back. The Magnificent one. Super Mario, the superlatives hardly do Mario Lemieux justice. His incredible mix of size and skill was (and perhaps is still) unrivaled. Unfortunately the only thing that could slow him down was his health issues (he player fewer than 1000 games). The Penguins’ franchise has had many greats, but Crosby, Malkin, Jagr, all these legends can only ride shotgun. Malkin, with his impressive mix of size and skill is compared to Mario, not vice versa. Jagr was Mario jr.. Crosby was handed the franchise and has continued the winning tradition, but the blue print was set by Mario. He is the only player anywhere near the same ball park as Gretzky in terms of points per game, and preserved through various ailments, coming back with success each time (even after being inducted into the hall of fame in 1997). Three Hart Trophies, six Art Ross Trophies, Two Conn Smyth trophies, Canada Cups an Olympic Gold Medal, and countless highlight reel plays, he is on the Mount Rushmore of NHL greats and takes his rightful place here.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Dave Keon – by Brodie Cotnam
While many legends have dawned the iconic Blue and White, Terry Sawchuck, Johnny Bower, Frank Mahovlich, Doug Gilmour, Mats Sundin, the one name that stands above them all is Dave Keon, just don’t tell Harold Ballard…While it’s before most fans time, (as are most highlights…) Keon was a superlative talent and an integral part of many of the franchises’ best years. Despite his falling out with ownership, he was never outcast by the fan-base who still revered number 14. A CBC poll voted him the greatest Leaf of all time and his impact on the franchise is unquestionable, helping lead them to four Stanley Cup Championships in the 1960’s. A two time Lady Byng trophy winner, a Conn Symthe winner, two time second team all-star and an 8 time All Star, he took over the captaincy from George Armstrong and ended his career wearing the C for the blue and white. Keon wasn’t the biggest guy, but found a way with skill and speed to create offensively and put up points using his phenomenal hockey sense, retiring as the Leafs all-time leading scorer.
Alexander Ovechkin – by Arik Krause
It’s simple, he’s debatably the best goal scorer in NHL history, he practically leads the franchise in every single statistic and has always been one of the most exciting players since joining the league. He also has a tendency to put on a show at the All Star Weekend recently. While he’s sitting out the 2019 All Star Game due to wanting to focus on the rest of the season, it doesn’t make him any less worthy of being the Washington Capitals All-Time All Star. In a franchise that has had lots of fantastic players, he’s head and shoulders above the rest. Nobody else in franchise history has ever been debated as one of the best at something.