“The Guy”: NHL Edition (Part 2)

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 Western Conference franchise. 

Photo Credit: sportslogos.net
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne. The Finnish Flash was originally a member of the Winnipeg Jets, but joined the Ducks during the 1995-96 season and played for 14.5 of his 21 NHL seasons. Selanne is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals and points. He scored 40 or more goals as a member of the Ducks five times. In 2007, he led the Ducks with 48 goals en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

Arizona Coyotes: Shane Doan. Doan was original Arizona Coyote and spent his ENTIRE 21-year career with the franchise. He was also the last active member of the original incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets. He is considered to many as the quintessential team captain and is known for putting his teammates' interests first before their own. Doan concluded his career in 2017 as the Coyotes’ all-time leader in games played, goals, points, and game-winning goals. 

Calgary Flames: Jarome Iginla. Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla was selected 11th overall in the 1995 draft by Dallas before he was traded to Calgary. Iginla’s skillset of physical play and scoring prowess helped him become one of the elite power forwards of the late 90's and early 2000's Iginla captained the Flames to the Stanley Cup Final 2004  He retired after last season as the Flames' all-time leading goal scorer. 

Chicago Blackhawks: Stan Mikita. Mikita’s innovation with his equipment – particularly the curved stick – gave him an advantage over his opponent, leading the league in scoring four times in his 21-year career, including a career high 97 during the 1967-68 season. He was also a member of the Stanley Cup winning 1961 team. After his playing career ended in 1980, he became a goodwill ambassador for the Blackhawks. 

Colorado Avalanche: Joe Sakic. Sakic started his career as a member of the Quebec Nordiques before the franchise relocated to Denver after the 1995 season. He captained the Avalanche to two Stanley Cups (1996, 2001) and scored over 100 points six times during his 20-year career. Sakic currently serves as the Executive Vice President of hockey operations for the Avalanche.

Dallas Stars: Mike Modano. Modano started his career as a member of the Minnesota North Stars, but would establish himself as Mr. Star when the team relocated to Dallas in 1993. Modano is the franchise all-time leading scorer and captained the team to two Stanley Cup appearances, winning the Cup in 1999. He is also the all-time leader among American-born players in games played, goals, and points.

Edmonton Oilers: Wayne Gretzky. “The Great One” started his career in the WHA with the Indianapolis Racers before being traded to Edmonton. After the Oilers’ were absorbed into the NHL, Gretzky became the first player in NHL history to score over 200 points in a season with 212 in 1982. He retired in 1999 (appropriately) as the all-time league leader in goals, assists, and points. 

Los Angeles Kings: Wayne Gretzky. This is the second appearance on the list for “The Great One;” August 9, 1988 is one of the most important days in league history with the Kings’ trading for Gretzky. #99 immediately made an impact. He captained the Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Final. Gretzky's popularity also helped put the NHL on the American sports map and helped the NHL expand to the South and Western United States.

Minnesota Wild: Mikko Koivu. Koivu was drafted sixth overall in the 2011 NHL Draft and has been a member of the Wild since. Though he didn't join the team until 2006, Koivu scored 21 points in his rookie season and then catapulted to 54 points in his second season. Koivu became the captain of the Wild in 2009 and is the all-time franchise leader in games played, assists, and points.

Nashville Predators: David Legwand. Legwand is the original Nashville Predator. The number two overall pick in the 1998 draft, he helped the Preds become competitive from the get-go, eventually leading them to the playoffs in 2004. Legwand is the franchise career leader in games played, goals, assists, and points in 15 seasons.

St. Louis Blues: Brett Hull. The son of Bobby Hull joined the Blues in 1988 and for the next ten seasons became one of the most prolific goal scorers in the league. He scored 50 goals in 50 games during the 1990-91 season on his way to scoring 86 goals. Hull scored over 50 goals five times during his career with the Blues. He is currently the Blues’ Executive Vice President over Business Development. 

San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton. Thornton was drafted first overall in 1997 by the Boston Bruins and spent his first seven seasons with the Bruins. He was traded to San Jose a month into the 2005-2006 season and caught fire, wining the Art Ross Trophy. Since then, he has gone on to score over 1,000 as a member of the Sharks. In 2016, Thornton finally reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Sharks. 

Vancouver Canucks: The Brothers Sedin. Daniel and Henrik Sedin were drafted during the 1999 NHL draft (Daniel was second overall, Henrik third). They would be cornerstones for the Canucks going forward. With the exception of the 2005 lockout season, they spent their entire career with the Canucks retired in 2018 as the top two scorers in team history (Henrik first, Daniel second). 

Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury. Even though he helped with Penguins win three Stanley Cups, Fleury was traded to Vegas in the 2017 expansion draft. That would become one of the biggest steals as he won 29 games for the Golden Knights as they finished with the best expansion record in league history in 2017-18. Fleury then backstopped the team to the Stanley Cup Final.

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