“The Guy”: NHL Edition (Part 1)

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

In professional wrestling, there is “The Guy.” He (or she, if you currently follow the WWE – hey, Becky Lynch!) is the face of the brand. In the same way, professional sports franchises have at least one player who the epitome of what that franchise is, the player who means so much to the franchise that if you say that franchise’s name, they are the first that comes to mind.

He is “The Guy.”

Every list is subjective is subjective and this one is no exception. This list is the first of several that takes a look “The Guy” for every NHL franchise. Today, I write on the Eastern Conference (Western Conference will be posted tomorrow.)

(Photo Credit: sportslogos.net)

Boston Bruins: Bobby Orr. Orr’s rushing style changed the way that defensemen played the position and made the B’s the most dangerous team in hockey during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He is the only defenseman to win the Hart, Norris, Art Ross, and Conn Smythe trophies in the same season (1970). Orr remains the top scoring defenseman in franchise history. 

Buffalo Sabres: Dominik Hasek. “The Dominator” was acquired from Chicago during the 1992 season and was the stalwart of the Sabres franchise for the remainder of the 1990’s before being traded to Detroit in 2001. He backstopped the Sabres to a Stanley Cup appearance in 1999. Hasek owns 25 franchise records, including wins, shutouts, and GAA. 

Carolina Hurricanes: Ron Francis. Francis started his career with the Hartford Whalers where he played for ten seasons before he was traded to Pittsburgh during the 1991 season. He rejoined the franchise as a member of the now-Hurricanes in 1999 and helped them to a Stanley Cup appearance in 2002. He retired in 2005 as the franchise's all-time leader in games played and points. 

Columbus Blue Jackets: Rick Nash. Nash was the number one overall pick in the 2002 draft. He led the Blue Jackets in scoring for six of his nine seasons in Columbus and helped the Blue Jackets to their first playoff appearance in 2009. Nash was traded to the New York Rangers during the 2012 season, but he is the Blue Jackets’ all-time leading scorer with 547 points. 

Detroit Red Wings: Steve Yzerman. Many will argue that Gordie Howe is “The Guy,” but Stevie Y. spent his entire 23-season career with the Red Wings. He led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups in the Motor City, winning the Conn Smythe in the 1998. He retired in 2005 as the all-time franchise leader in assists and sixth all-time in the NHL in points. 

Florida Panthers: Roberto Luongo. The man known as “Strombone” on Twitter began his career with the New York Islanders. He was traded to Florida in 2000 and quickly established himself as a premier goaltender. He was traded to Vancouver in 2006, but returned to Florida in 2014. He is the franchise leader in wins, games played, and shutouts. 

Montreal Canadiens: Maurice Richard. “The Rocket” became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games. For 17 seasons, Richard haunted opposing teams with his goalscoring prowess and his intense physical play. He helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup nine times during his career. Richard was so revered that Quebec held a state funeral after his death in 2000. 

New Jersey Devils: Scott Stevens. One could argue that Martin Brodeur should be “The Guy,” but the acquisition of Stevens in 1992 changed the fortunes of the Devils for the good part of a decade. Stevens captained the Devils to four Stanley Cup Finals, winning the Cup three times (1995, 2000, 2003) and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000. 

New York Islanders: Denis Potvin. Potvin joined the Islanders in 1973 and spent his entire career on “The Island.” He was instrumental in making the Isles a competitive team as they would win four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-83. He and Brian Trottier are the only two players to play more than 1,000 for the Islanders. 

New York Rangers: Bryan Leetch. Leetch set the NHL rookie record in 1989 with 23 goals as the Rangers slowly became a championship-caliber team. He became the first American-born defenseman to score over 100 points in a season and in 1994 became the first American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. 

Ottawa Senators: Daniel Alfredsson. “Alfie” joined the Senators in the 1995-96 season and made an immediate impact, scoring 61 points. The Senators would make the playoffs the following season and would guide the Senators to 11 consecutive playoff appearances, making their one Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2007. Alfredsson is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals, assists, and points. 

Philadelphia Flyers: Bobby Clarke. There’s only one name every hockey fan thinks of when they hear the Philadelphia Flyers and that’s Bobby Clarke. The kid from Flin Flon, Manitoba joined the Flyers in 1969 and captained them to the Stanley Cup in 1973 and 1974. Upon his retirement after the 1984 season, he became the team’s general manager. Clarke currently serves as the team’s senior vice president. 

Pittsburgh Penguins: Mario Lemieux. Lemieux scored his first goal on his first shot in his first NHL game in 1984. From then on, “Super Mario” battled through illness and injury throughout his career and became the owner of the team in 1999. He won two Stanley Cups as a player and has been a part of three additional Cup winning teams as an owner. 

Tampa Bay Lightning: Martin St. Louis. The diminutive forward joined the Lightning in 2000; his breakout season was in in 2002-03 when he scored 70 points. The next season, he won the Art Ross Trophy with 94 points and the Hart Trophy as league MVP en route to a Stanley Cup win. St. Louis is the franchise leader in assists and points. 

Toronto Maple Leafs: Mats Sundin. Sundin became the first European player picked number one overall in the draft in 1989 by Quebec, but was traded to Toronto in 1994. Sundin’s blend of size and skill helped the Maple Leafs to eight playoff appearances over the next ten seasons. Sundin finished his career in Toronto in 2008 as the franchise all-time leader in goals and points. 

Washington Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin. Since drafting Ovechkin in 2004, the fortunes of the franchise have changed for the better. The Capitals have made the playoffs every season since 2008 and Ovechkin has been among the league leaders in goal scoring since his rookie season. Ovechkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup win last season.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Feel free to let me know on our social media accounts.

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