This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
1. Bobby Orr (2598)
2. Ray Bourque (529)
3. Phil Esposito (172)
4. Patrice Bergeron (155)
5. Zdeno Chara (141)
Any credible discussion regarding the greatest player in NHL history requires at least a mention of Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr, who set a standard for defenseman that might not ever be approached.
The list of awards he accrued during his tragically brief career is just staggering, especially when you consider how rare it is for a defenseman to take home a single Hart Trophy, let alone multiple ones:
1966-67: Calder Trophy
1967-68: Norris Memorial Trophy
1968-69: Norris Memorial Trophy
1969-70: Art Ross Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Norris Memorial Trophy
1970-71: NHL Hart Memorial Trophy, Norris Memorial Trophy
1971-72: Conn Smythe Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Norris Memorial Trophy
1972-73: Norris Memorial Trophy
1973-74: Norris Memorial Trophy
1974-75: NHL Art Ross Trophy, Norris Memorial Trophy, NHL Ted Lindsay Award
Oh yeah, he also powered the Bruins to two Stanley Cup victories, celebrating a goal in such a momentous way that it became arguably the most famous photo in league history and was immortalized in statue form.
There have been some great players to wear the spoked B, but everyone else fights for second place after Orr*. It’s honestly kind of silly to even discuss franchise stats in this situation considering Orr’s near-indisputable reputation as the greatest defenseman who ever lived. (Someone somewhere might drudge up an argument for their favorite player, but really?)
Ultimately, the only real complaints about Orr stem from his career being cut short by knee injuries and the regrettable 26 games he spent with the Chicago Blackhawks to end his playing days. Aside from some trolling, those images are easily wiped away after watching a player who was clearly ahead of his time.
* – Interesting that Bergeron edged Chara for the most votes among active players, eh?