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A Gathering of Greats: Hockey

Gretzky Wayne Gretzky
The Great One holds 61 NHL records, including career marks in points (2,857), goals (894) and assists (1,963); nine times he was named league MVP.

"During the six seasons from 1981-82 through '86-87, Gretzky averaged 203 points per year. What was he doing, bowling?"
—E.M. Swift, SI, April 26, 1999

Howe Gordie Howe
Mr. Hockey, a six-time NHL MVP, is the game's alltime leader in seasons (26) and games played (1,767); he played in his final NHL All-Star Game at age 51.

"One precept Howe lives by is this: Set your goals high, but not so high that you can't reach them. When you do, set new ones. The trouble is, he has attained so many that he is running out of goals to set."
—E.M. Swift, SI, Jan. 21, 1980

Lemieux Mario Lemieux
Le Magnifique's per-game averages for goals (.823) and points (2.01) are the highest of any player in NHL history.

"Silently, serenely, Mario Lemieux comes to kill you. He arrives as if from nowhere, a towering apparition looming 6'7" above the ice in his three-inch-high skates."
—Jon Scher, SI, Nov. 16, 1992

Orr Bobby Orr
His ability to control the game from the backline forever changed the role of defensemen; he was named the NHL's MVP three consecutive seasons and the league's top defenseman eight straight years.

"When Bobby starts away on one of his rink- length rushes, the Garden -- and any other arena -- has an electric feeling. 'When he goes by my bench,' says [Toronto coach] Punch Imlach, 'I turn away so I won't have to watch.'"
—Mark Mulvoy, SI, Feb. 3, 1969

Richard Maurice Richard
The Rocket, the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games (1944-45), led Montreal to eight Stanley Cups and retired in 1960 as the NHL's alltime leader in goals (544).

"When Richard scores in the Forum ... it touches off a unique celebration.... Newspapers, programs, galoshes, hats are thrown onto the ice. Richard skates in abstracted, embarrassed, lonely circles through the heavy snow of objects. The game has to be stopped until the attendants clear the ice."
—Gilbert Rogin, SI, March 21, 1960

Sawchuk Terry Sawchuk
He has more games played (971), wins (447) and shutouts (103) than any other goaltender in NHL history.

"In a sport justly celebrated for the cobra-quick reflexes of its players, Terry Sawchuk unquestionably is the fastest-moving of all goalies.... He doesn't move so much as he explodes into a kind of desperate epileptic action: down the glove, out the arm, over the stick, up the glove -- all in such rapid succession that it is difficult to watch him."
—Andrew Crichton, SI, Jan. 29, 1957

Photographs by (from top) Brian Lanker, Bernie Fuchs(Artwork), David E. Klutho, Tony Triolo, Russell Hoban(Artwork), John Zimmerman

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