We've reached the end of The Collector's NHL All-Time teams series! Before I reveal the Rovers, our "Best of the Rest" roster I want to sincerely thank those of you who read these posts - whether you followed along with every team or just stopped by to see your favorites. I know hockey isn't the most popular sport on the blogs and I wasn't expecting the same amount of feedback as I got on my MLB All-Time Teams series. This was a labour of love, and I'm thrilled that it received as many comments as it did.
If you missed a post and/or you'd like to go back to re-read any of these rosters, the entire catalogue is listed in a brand new tab at the top of this blog. And now, without further ado, here are the leftover Rovers:
So... here's the problem I was tasked with when creating this roster: I had to select the best 23 players from a pool of hundreds of players who were not selected to an 'established' All-Time roster.
It was easy to identify modern stars that didn't stay in one place or were stuck behind all-time greats - but it became much more difficult to compare them to Hall of Famers from the early days of hockey.
Until 1967 there were only six teams in the league - did that make the competition tougher, or easier? And how am I supposed to compare players who played 24-game seasons in the 1920s to those who played 82-game seasons in the 2000s? I'm not Stan Fischler or Bob McKenzie. And so I decided to create two more teams. Here are your pre-expansion Rovers. I'll spare you the details on these guys.
1st Line: Cy Denneny(Senators) - Nels Stewart(Maroons) - Hooley Smith(Maroons)
2nd Line: Toe Blake(Canadiens) - Max Bentley(Leafs/Hawks) - Roy Conacher(Blackhawks)
3rd Line: Bert Olmstead(Canadiens) - Frank Nighbor(Senators) - Gordie Drillon(Leafs)
4th Line: Lynn Patrick(Rangers) - Joe Primeau(Leafs) - Bobby Bauer(Bruins)
Spares: Cooney Weiland(Bruins), Sweeney Schriner(Leafs/Americans)
Defense Pair 1: Bill Gadsby(Hawks/Rangers), King Clancy(Senators/Leafs)
Defense Pair 2: Babe Pratt(Rangers/Leafs), Georges Boucher(Senators)
Defense Pair 3: Lionel Conacher(Maroons), Jean-Guy Talbot(Canadiens)
Spare: Bill Quackenbush(Bruins/Red Wings)
Goalies: Bill Durnan(Canadiens), George Hainsworth(Canadiens)
Head Coach: Dick Irvin(Canadiens) Captain: Toe Blake
*The Senators noted above are not the same franchise as the current Ottawa Senators.
And now, your post-expansion Rovers roster:
Right Wing - Joe Mullen The first of four Hall of Famers on this roster, Joe Mullen won two Lady Byng trophies and a Stanley Cup in Calgary - where he notched 388 points in 345 games. However Calgary's All-Time roster had no room on the right side. Mullen wasn't a great fit in St. Louis - where he scored 335 points in 301 contests - and his 325 points in six seasons with Pittsburgh weren't enough to slide into the Penguins' roster.
Center - Marc Savard A breakout star of the post-lockout years, Marc Savard dished out over 60 assists every season from 2006 to 2009. His brief tenure in Boston ended after 304 games due to concussion issues, and he didn't play enough games for any other franchise. Initially I had him in a group of five similar centers but his playmaking ability and production in a scoring-neutral era earned him the nod over players like Dennis Maruk and Pierre Larouche.
Right Wing - Alex Kovalev How does a player who ranks in the NHL's top 80 all-time in goals and points not find his way onto an All-Time team? Alex Kovalev played nine seasons with the Rangers - where he won a Stanley Cup - producing a solid but unspectacular 330 points in 492 games. He fared better in Pittsburgh, scoring 0.97 points per contest over parts of six seasons. But that Penguins roster is a tough nut to crack - just ask Joe Mullen.
Left Wing - Geoff Courtnall A six-time 30-goal scorer, Geoff Courtnall is as well-rounded a left wing as you'll find on the list of leftover players. In addition to his 799 points in 1,048 games, Courtnall posted a plus/minus rating of +118 and served 1,463 penalty minutes. His best years were in Washington, where he only played two seasons, and Vancouver, where his 246 points in 292 games wasn't enough to push for a roster spot.
Center - Ken Linseman How about another physical force who can also fill the net? Ken Linseman racked up 1,725 penalty minutes in 860 games - including 275 PIMs for the Flyers in 1981-82. "The Rat" also notched a career-high 92 points that season, but his 269 total games in Philly weren't enough to crack the Flyers All-Time roster. Linseman scored 372 points in 389 games for the Bruins - another team loaded with great centers.
Right Wing - Bill Guerin Currently the General Manager of the Minnesota Wild, Bill Guerin played for eight NHL teams in his 18 year-career. The Devils' first round pick (fifth overall) in 1989, Guerin only qualified for New Jersey - where he won a Stanley Cup in 1995 but tallied just 214 points in 380 games. A two-time 40-goal scorer, Guerin's 429 career goals are better suited for a top-six role, but the Rovers have loads of options at right wing.
Spares - Igor Larionov, Pierre Larouche
A three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings, Igor Larionov is enshrined in the Hall of Fame more for his success in the former Soviet Union than the NHL. However his stateside totals are impressive considering his age and the era in which he played: 475 assists, 644 points, and a +104 rating in 921 games from 1989 to 2004. Pierre Larouche averaged over a point per game from 1974 to 1988, piling up between 235 and 255 points in 235-255 games for three franchises: the legendary Canadiens, the forward-rich Penguins, and the Rangers - which might have been his best bet if he'd stayed there a bit longer.
Pete Mahovlich, Dennis Maruk, and Jim Pappin were among a handful of forwards I considered.
Defense Pair 1
Defense Pair 2
P. K. Subban - Bryan McCabe
The 2013 Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban is one of only two active players on this roster. The four-time 50-point scorer tallied 278 points in 434 games for the Canadiens before a 2016 trade sent him to Nashville. At the risk of turning this roster into Montreal's 'B' team (and his production falling off a cliff in Jersey) I think his 77.9 point shares in 721 career games is deserving of a spot on this roster. Bryan McCabe's 97.9 point shares are the second-highest total among available defensemen. A veteran of 15 NHL seasons, McCabe notched three 50-point seasons with the Maple Leafs, the only team for which he played more than three seasons.
Defense Pair 3
Spare - Dave Ellett
Starter - Carey Price
Backup - Ed Giacomin
Head Coach: Mike Babcock Captain: Saku Koivu
This concludes the Collector's All-Time Teams series. It's time for me to take a long break from posting and catch up on other things - including your blogs. Thanks as always for reading!