Monday, August 4, 2008

Take The Leahy Challenge

So "Friend of the Team" Sean Leahy put up a great post on Friday over at Puck Daddy where he laid out the roster for his ultimate all-time NHL dream team. I have to give Sean credit as he came up with a pretty solid team. And not too many people would have Kevin Stevens on their dream team, which is another credit to Sean's good taste.

Pleasantries aside, I thought this would be the perfect time for me to map out my own dream roster. So here we go!

First Line
Mario Lemieux - Ron Francis - Jaromir Jagr
The best line ever assembled will work just fine for me thanks. This line could do it all and had no trouble generating offense as they took three of the top four spots on the NHL's scoring list in the one season they played together as a threesome (that's the 95-96 season for those of you counting). There is no better top line I could ask for than Ronnie Franchise centering two of the best offensive talents to ever take the ice. Like I already said, best line ever assembled.

Second Line
Keith Tkachuk - Joe Sakic - Pavel Bure
This is a line that can do it all. Bure brings the explosiveness and will keep defenders honest at all times (especially if we're playing in today's no two-line passes NHL). Keith Tkachuk was one of the NHL's best ever power forwards when in his prime and he will fit in quite nicely next to Sakic and Bure. He's also a guy who was never afraid to, ahem... get his hands dirty if you know what I mean. Kevin Stevens in his prime would fit in nicely here too. And then there's Joe Sakic. Sakic is a great leader who can do it all and is better defensively than he often gets credit for, and then there's that whole best wrist shot ever thing too. Gotta have Sakic on my team.

Third Line
Mike Bossy - Doug Gilmour - Maurice Richard
"Killer" Dougie Gilmour centering the first two 50/50 guys in NHL history? Not a bad "third" line if I may say so. I've got Bossy playing on his off wing here, but I think that would just lead to more goals with Gilmour setting the table. Like my other centers, Gilmour is top notch in his own end and makes up for his lack of size with an abundance of grit and heart. As far as the "Rocket" goes... if I have to explain to you why he makes my team then you aren't a hockey fan.

Fourth Line
Bob Errey - Joel Otto - Gordie Howe
Bob Errey was one of my favorite players ever and I had to leave a spot for him on my team. He is a tremendous leader and will be valuable on the PK. Joel Otto was never a particular favorite of mine, but he brings size, toughness, great defensive ability, and great faceoff skills to the table. That's a prototypical fourth line center if you ask me. Otto is also American, which is always a bonus. Mr. Hockey lands on my fourth line bringing his toughness and scoring touch to the table. Gordie could easily slip onto the right side of either of the top two lines if needed and could be counted on to help dish out some punishment on opposing defenders.

First Defensive Pair
Scott Stevens - Bobby Orr
I truly could not come up with a better defensive pair than this if I had years to think it over. Orr redefined the position and would bring even more offense from the blue line, while Stevens is one of the games great intimidators and would ensure opposing forwards kept their heads up as they entered my defensive zone. Stevens also has a solid offensive game which would allow him to fit right in with my talented forwards.

Second Defensive Pair
Doug Harvey - Paul Coffey
Paul Coffey is the next best thing to Bobby Orr and would look great going coast to coast for my squad. He was also a good defender who could hold his own in the defensive end. Harvey may just be the best player I never saw play. He did a ton for the game off the ice, and was one of it's biggest stars on it. When The Hockey News names you as the sixth best player ever, you can bet there's room for you on my roster.

Third Defensive Pair
Larry Robinson - Larry Murphy
Can't go wrong with "The Larry's" rounding out my defensive six. Larry "Big Bird" Robinson was one of the NHL's great competitors and has a hockey mind to match. He is also one of the game's great all-time hitters. Larry Murphy was the consummate pro. He wasn't the best at anything, but he excelled at everything. I never really felt Murphy got the credit he deserved during his playing days (I still do not know how he did not win the Norris in 92-93), but as a first ballot Hall of Famer, he was recognized when it mattered most. There is no way I could have this team without good ol' number 55 on it.

Martin Brodeur
Ken Dryden
The debate over who is better between Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy will probably go on for quite some time. There is no doubt in my mind that Brodeur will own most of Roy's records by the time he retires, but it is Brodeur's temperment that secures him a place on my team. He is calm, cool, and collected at all times and would have no trouble handling the pressure that would come along with backstopping this team. Dryden may be the biggest winner the NHL has ever seen. That alone should be enough to get him onto my team, but there is more to it than that. Dryden probably knows better than any goalie in history what it is like to be expected to win every time your team takes the ice. I also think Dryden would be able to handle being a backup to Brodeur and not let his ego become an issue. Don't get me wrong, Dryden is one of the greats, but if this team plays an 82-game schedule I'm putting Marty between the pipes for at least 60 of them.

So there is my team in all it's glory. There were a few tough choices, but not too many. I really wanted to find a spot for Sidney Crosby on here, but I could not bring myself to drop Sakic or Gilmour to make room for him, and Joel Otto fills a very specific role for me that Sid would not. It took me a while to come to a decision on who was going to be my backup goalie. One of the things that makes a goalie great is that they always want to be the guy in net. Brodeur was clearly going to be my number one guy, so I needed someone who I thought could handle being the backup. That rules out a lot of history's greats. If I could add one more player in some kind of provisional spot it would be Scott Young. He was always one of my favorites (was firmly in my Top Five for a long time) and was also very versatile, which is never a bad thing.

By all means comment away on this and feel free to leave your own dream team in the comments as well. Tell me where I screwed up and tell me where I nabbed the right guy. Just spare me the "Where is the Great One?!?!?!" stuff. The guy is way overrated and never played enough D to get anywhere near my roster.

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