Why choosing the NHL’s top 100 was a difficult task

Check out who made the list for the NHL’s Top 100 in the 2010s and currently playing.

The show ended at 11:07 ET, 8:07 in Los Angeles. And social media exploded. As expected. As it should.

Where was Jarome Iginla? And Joe Thornton? And Evgeni Malkin? Modern-day players of greatness. Just as old timers could ask where was Dit Clapper? Or Nels Stewart? Or Bill Cowley?

Let’s face it, there are more than 7,000 men who have had the honour of playing in the National Hockey League. All of them — yes all of them — were the best of the best. Some were just better.

To choose 100, from that pool, was a difficult a task.

The criteria? Numbers of all sorts, championships and longevity were all part of it. A Hall of Fame induction certainly had to have some weight, as well.

I was one of the fortunate 58 who had to research and reduce a ballot of 252 down to 100. The ballot also had a write-in spot (which I chose to use on Alex Mogilny), which means I would pick only 99 of the 252. On my ballot, I picked 15 goaltenders and there were 15 chosen, but I certainly didn’t pick all 100 that were announced on Friday night.


It was a huge challenge. Perhaps the biggest challenge was judging a great player from the first 50 years to players playing since 1967. Limited television and failing memories created huge issues in selecting those players. For that reason, in my opinion, that’s why there were only 33 of the 100 that pre-dated the 12-team league.

Many would say the athletes playing today are bigger, better and faster than the players of the first half century, and they are playing the game with more streamline, lighter, explosive equipment. But we’ve seen them so much more on video over the past two decades, and more recently with every game of the 1,230-game schedule televised, we see them everyday. Hence, pick 100, but don’t rank them. A fair decision, and certainly a "very hockey" decision. Even in proclaiming the greatness of the players, we don’t want to have to choose between Bobby and Wayne, or Gordie and the Rocket. I get that.

Which means to add a Malkin or a Clapper or a Hossa, someone would have to be removed. And who would that be? Every player on that stage deserved to be there. No one can question the pedigree of any of them. The greatest of the great.

In the end, the Top 100 is a remarkable group of stars and winners, and quite frankly it wasn’t big enough. Perhaps as much a celebrating the Top 100, the event reminded all of us how many great athletes have played in the NHL, and it’s us, the fans, who have had the honour to watch them.

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