Earlier this week, I gave you my greatest team of big men of all-time. Now it's time to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and check out the tiny team. A lot of you will notice that I have a few players missing like Dino Ciccarelli
and Martin St. Louis
. I thought of Dino and Marty, and they probably would have been the next guys on the team, but on the numbers my forwards have them beat. For the sake of Ciccarelli and St. Louis, I'll just say they were too tall to make the team.
Here's my greatest team of little guys in NHL history.
Gump Worsley, G
-- Worsley was 5-foot-7, one of the most famous goaltenders in history, and he had one of the greatest nicknames in the history of the game. How many of us have pretended to be Gump Worsley
playing in the backyard? He's one of the great characters of our sport, and he had some of the greatest lines. When he played for the Rangers someone asked him which defense in the League scared him the most and Gump turned and said, "My own." That's the type of guy he was. Again, though, he was a great goaltender. His numbers are fantastic. When there were six teams he was always one of the six No. 1 goaltenders in the NHL and he was just a great personality.
Curt Giles, D
-- Curt was 5-8 and he was on those good Minnesota North Stars teams that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 1981 and again in 1991, and he played a lot of minutes. He was a defensive defenseman, but he was very physical for his size. It was amazing to think that a 5-8 defenseman at that time -- that was a real tough era in the NHL, and he was certainly able to hold his own despite being that small.
Lars-Erik Sjoberg, D
-- I played with this guy in Winnipeg. He's 5-8 and I know a lot of people won't know him because he only played one year in the NHL, but if you look at the history of Swedish hockey or the WHA, where he played for a number of years, he was always one of the best defensemen. He was one of the stars of the Swedish national teams that went to the Olympics in those years. He played the power play and was gritty and that was a tough time in hockey. It was a physical time and a nasty time and Sjoberg played against everybody and played very well. I caught him at the end of his career, but he was a great teammate and a very underrated hockey player.
Marcel Dionne, F
-- He was 5-8, but he also had over 700 goals and is probably the greatest player never to win the Stanley Cup. He was part of the Triple Crown line in Los Angeles, which was arguably the best line in the NHL for a period of time, he was very quick and he was a shorter guy but he was square. He had immense power in his legs like Sidney Crosby
. He was a great skater and very tough to play against if you were a defenseman. People probably don't give him the respect he deserves because he played in Los Angeles and didn't have a lot of playoff success, but this is one of the great players to ever play in our sport.
Yvan Cournoyer, F
-- "The Roadrunner" was 5-7 and was a captain for a few years of those great Montreal teams. After Beliveau left and Henri Richard
left he was the guy. There aren't many captains of the Montreal Canadiens
. He scored over 400 goals and was one of the fastest skaters ever to play the game. He played in the '72 series and he played with a straight stick, which allowed him to use his backhand as effectively as his forehand. He was one of the last guys in the League to do it that way and he was great when he was doing it that way.
Theo Fleury, F
-- Theo, at 5-6, is the shortest player on my team. I was coaching Medicine Hat the first time I saw Theo Fleury
and he was a menace up in Moose Jaw, and I could not believe it the first time I saw him play. Our team was real good in Medicine Hat, we won the Memorial Cup, and that night Fleury scored a hat trick against us. The guy was unbelievable. He was so fast, so brave, and an unbelievable competitor. I just loved watching him play. I didn't like coaching against him, but he was one of my favorite guys to watch. We all remember when he scored that playoff goal in overtime and slid down the ice on his knees and fist-pumped at the world. He was an unbelievable, emotional player who played with a lot of heart and character, so he makes up my tiny line.