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8 Debate: Selanne ranks as all-time greatest No. 8

by Corey Masisak

It is an argument that inspires passion in every rink, sports bar and living room where hockey is being played or is on the television. It can incite elevated heart rates in people and long discussion threads on the Internet.

Who is the best? and NHL Network gathered 10 writers and television personalities and asked that very question. Each was asked to rank his top eight in eight categories -- centers, left wings, right wings, defensemen, goalies, coaches, general managers and guys who wore the No. 8.

The voting, which took place for all eight segments in mid-February, is complete and the points have been tallied. Here is our answer to the simple question, who are the best in the NHL?

A total of 386 players have worn the No. 8 in the NHL, according to -- the list includes six members of the Hockey Hall of Fame and a few players who are almost certain to join them.

8 Debate: Best players to wear No. 8

  • 1. Teemu Selanne (10 first-place votes) -- 80 pts
  • 2. Cam Neely -- 58
  • 3. Igor Larionov -- 55
  • 4. Alex Ovechkin -- 49
  • 5. Mark Recchi -- 44
  • 6. Larry Murphy -- 34
  • 7. Ken Hodge -- 11
  • 8. Randy Carlyle -- 10

Others receiving votes: Dick Duff (6), Bill Goldsworthy (3), Bill Mosienko (3), Allan Stanley (3), Drew Doughty (2), Syd Howe (1), Steve Vickers (1)

The No. 8 has been retired four times by NHL teams (Boston, Ottawa, St. Louis and the Minnesota North Stars), and a fifth will be coming shortly after the player who tops our list decides to retire. Three of the players who made our top eight played for the Boston Bruins, though one didn't wear No. 8 for them.

Two wore the number for the Winnipeg Jets and two have done so for the Washington Capitals. In both cases, the No. 8 sweater could be retired by the franchise in the future.

Here are the voting results. Note: A player received eight points for a first-place vote, seven for a second and so forth, to one point for an eighth-place ranking (number of first-place votes in parentheses).

1. Teemu Selanne (10 first-place votes) -- 80 points

Selanne appeared to be on the decline nearly a decade ago because of a slip in production then a major knee injury, but the Anaheim Ducks forward has crafted one of the greatest back-nines to a career in NHL history. He scored more than 25 goals in six of the past seven seasons before 2012-13, and that included an 80-point season after his 40th birthday in 2010-11.

The Finnish Flash took the NHL by storm with 76 goals as a rookie, and will be remembered as one of the greatest players in League history. His numbers are staggering -- 674 goals (11th all-time) and 1,429 points (15th) despite playing the majority of his career in the NHL's lowest-scoring era and missing a full season and parts of two others because of work stoppages.

He is a beloved figure in Anaheim, Winnipeg and Helsinki, where he played for Jokerit in his youth and has starred for his home country on the international stage on countless occasions. Beyond that, hockey fans have embraced Selanne regardless of their affiliations because of his ability on the ice and his demeanor and kindness away from it.

Selanne also earned the distinction of being the only unanimous No. 1 in this Network series.

2. Cam Neely -- 58

There was a period in the long history of the Boston Bruins when Neely was the face of the franchise and an icon of a proud sports city. Neely defined Bruins hockey with his ability to score goals and punish opponents with physical play.

Neely is one of the greatest power forwards in League history, even though his career was cut short by injuries. He had three 50-goal seasons, including 50 in 49 games played in 1993-94. He finished his career with 395 goals, 694 points and 1,241 penalty minutes in 726 games.

Though the Bruins were unable to win the Stanley Cup during his playing career, Neely helped build the franchise's first champion since the 1970s as team president in 2011.

3. Igor Larionov -- 55

Larionov was a legend before he came to the NHL, centering the famed "KLM" line for Russia in the 1980s. His international resume is amazing: two gold medals and a bronze at the Winter Olympics, six medals (four gold) at the World Championship, and two World Junior Championship golds.

Once he came to the NHL, Larionov played more than 900 games and won the Stanley Cup three times with the Detroit Red Wings. "The Professor" helped pave the way for Russian players to come to North America and make an impact in the NHL, and he remains one of the most influential figures in the history of the sport.

4. Alex Ovechkin -- 49

Ovechkin has been one of the most dynamic players in the NHL from the moment he joined the Washington Capitals for the 2005-06 season. Whether it is scoring goals or delivering punishing hits, he is a human highlight reel and might end up as one of the best power forwards in the history of the sport.

His accomplishments to this point already are closing in on Hall of Fame-worthy. Ovechkin has 367 goals and 727 points in 597 games to go along with a pair of Hart and Rocket Richard trophies. He has a chance to add a third of each this season; he leads the NHL with 28 goals despite a slow start.

Though his Capitals have yet to break through in the postseason, he has helped Russia to a World Junior title and two World Championship gold medals. Ovechkin will need to add further team accomplishments at the NHL and international levels, but if he does, the possibility of him being remembered as an all-time great remains.

5. Mark Recchi -- 44


Recchi was a fast and feisty forward for more than 1,600 NHL games. He moved around a lot, but was a key component for three Stanley Cup runs with three organizations in three decades.

His career numbers were impressive -- 577 goals and 1,533 points in 1,652 games. He had three 100-point seasons, and was considered an important veteran leader for both the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and the Boston Bruins in 2011. His last act as an NHL player was lifting the Cup with the Bruins in 2011, and his next one will be giving a speech at the Hockey Hall of Fame in the near future.

6. Larry Murphy -- 34

Murphy wasn't fully appreciated in all six of his stops during a lengthy, productive NHL career, but his achievements are unquestioned. He won the Stanley Cup four times -- twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins and twice with the Detroit Red Wings -- and was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

He finished his career with 1,216 points in 1,615 games, including 11 seasons with at least 60 points. Murphy also unofficially is credited with a pair of quirks -- Penguins broadcaster Mike Lange took to calling Murphy’s high-arcing, icing-erasing dump-ins as "Murph dumps," and Washington Capitals fans began a tradition of chanting "Whoop, whoop!" when Murphy returned to play against the team and carried the puck; it's a call that remains for any former Caps player who returns to Verizon Center today.

7. Ken Hodge -- 11

Hodge was best known as a running mate for Phil Esposito during the last golden era of Boston Bruins hockey. He was a three-time All-Star and two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Bruins in the early 1970s.

He had eight seasons with at least 25 goals, including a 50-goal season in 1973-74, and scored 100 points twice. Hodge finished his career with 328 goals and 800 points in 880 games.

8. Randy Carlyle -- 10

Before Carlyle became a Stanley Cup-winning coach with the Anaheim Ducks, he was one of the best defensemen in the early histories of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets. He had 647 points and 1,400 penalty minutes in 1,055 NHL games and won the Norris Trophy as the League's top defenseman while playing for Pittsburgh in 1981.

Carlyle had five seasons with at least 15 goals and five with more than 50 points. His career behind the bench has proven to be a successful one as well -- not only did Carlyle help the Ducks to their first championship in in 2007, but he is on the verge of helping the Toronto Maple Leafs snap the NHL's longest Stanley Cup Playoff drought.

Others receiving votes: Dick Duff (6), Bill Goldsworthy (3), Bill Mosienko (3), Allan Stanley (3), Drew Doughty (2), Syd Howe (1), Steve Vickers (1)

Brian Compton
John Kreiser
Adam Kimelman
Dave Lozo
Corey Masisak
1. Selanne 1. Selanne 1. Selanne 1. Selanne 1. Selanne
2. Neely 2. Recchi 2. Recchi 2. Larionov 2. Larionov
3. Recchi 3. Ovechkin 3. Neely 3. Murphy 3. Neely
4. Ovechkin 4. Neely 4. Ovechkin 4. Neely 4. Ovechkin
5. Hodge 5. Murphy 5. Larionov 5. Recchi 5. Recchi
6. Larionov 6. Larionov 6. Duff 6. Hodge 6. Murphy
7. Goldsworthy 7. Mosienko 7. Murphy 7. Ovechkin 7. Stanley
8. Vickers 8. Howe 8. Hodge 8. Stanley 8. Hodge
Shawn Roarke
Dan Rosen
E.J. Hradek
NHL Network
Mike Johnson
NHL Network
Barry Melrose
NHL Network
1. Selanne 1. Selanne 1. Selanne 1. Selanne 1. Selanne
2. Neely 2. Larionov 2. Larionov 2. Ovechkin 2. Larionov
3. Larionov 3. Neely 3. Neely 3. Neely 3. Murphy
4. Recchi 4. Ovechkin 4. Ovechkin 4. Murphy 4. Ovechkin
5. Ovechkin 5. Recchi 5. Recchi 5. Larionov 5. Neely
6. Carlyle 6. Murphy 6. Murphy 6. Carlyle 6. Carlyle
7. Murphy 7. Duff 7. Hodge 7. Doughty 7. Recchi
8. Duff 8. Carlyle 8. Mosienko 8. Recchi 8. Goldsworthy

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