This week, the portraits of center Bryan Trottier and goalie Grant Fuhr are unveiled in the 19th installment.
In his 18-season, Hall of Fame NHL career, Trottier won the Stanley Cup six times, four in a row with the New York Islanders from 1980-83 and two with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and '92. He won the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie, the Art Ross Trophy as its top scorer and the Hart Trophy as most valuable player.
In his NHL100 profile of Trottier, author Wayne Coffey describes how Trottier wasn't sure he would be able to make it in the NHL before his rookie season.
"Selected by the Islanders in the second round (No. 22) of the 1974 NHL Draft after a couple of standout years with the Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Broncos in the Western Canada Junior Hockey League, he was 19 years old when he showed up for his first NHL camp in 1975.
"He recalls not scoring a single point in the entire exhibition season, and being wowed at how fast and strong and good everybody was. He wasn't at all sure he could measure up, and made it a point not to think about it. He just went full-out every second he was on the ice. He made it his mantra to hit somebody on every shift. Islanders coach Al Arbour noticed. So did general manager Bill Torrey.
"Trottier remembers being in a makeshift locker room in training camp with 60 rookies, then 50, then 40. Cuts kept coming, and Trottier, the kid from Frenchman Creek, was still around. Then there were 20 rookies, then 10, then five. Neither Arbour nor Torrey gave him any kind of feedback.
" 'They didn't say one word to me the entire camp,' Trottier said.
"Finally, the season started. Bryan Trottier, No. 19, found himself centering a line between Clark Gillies and Billy Harris. The Islanders tied the Kansas City Scouts 1-1 in Trottier's first game. In Game 2, he had a hat trick and five points. Through his first 11 games, Trottier piled up 20 points, and soon the whole league was talking about the Islanders' throwback teenager center, a two-way force who would be widely regarded as perhaps the best player in the league until Wayne Gretzky showed up."
Harris said the chance to paint Trottier made him think of his older brother.
"My older brother was a Rangers fan, but when they traded away Brad Park and Jean Ratelle he jumped ship to the crosstown rivals, the New York Islanders," Harris said. "Bryan Trottier quickly became a favorite, so painting his portrait brought back great some memories."
Fuhr was the backbone of the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty, winning the Stanley Cup five times in his 10 seasons with Edmonton. In 1987-88, Fuhr won the Vezina Trophy, going 40-24-9 and leading the League in wins, games played (75), minutes played (4,304) and saves (1,815).
His 92 wins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are third all time, and his 403 regular-season wins are 11th.
When Fuhr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, he was the first black player to be so honored.
Author John MacKinnon, in his NHL100 profile on Fuhr, wrote about the goalie's calm demeanor on the ice.
"Grant Fuhr never seemed to let the extreme pressure of stopping pucks affect his demeanor. The goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers glory teams of the 1980s, whose resume also includes stellar work for the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames, stood out by being easygoing and laid back.
" 'I've always been kind of a relaxed guy,' Fuhr said. 'I grew up that way and played sports that way my whole life. For me, it's a good temperament to have as a goalie. It's easy to get excited when things are going good, but it's also easy to fall into a rut when things are going bad.'
"On the ice, Fuhr tried to keep his emotions on a 'nice, flat line.'
"For many a goalie, that flat line would spike wildly in an eyeblink when dealing with an Al MacInnis slap shot, or fending off some opposing forward crashing the net, or a cluster of overeager youngsters ripping too many high, hard ones at your head in practice.
"But Fuhr's personality, like his playing style, was a hybrid. His was a relaxed intensity, his 'sure, no problem' affability masking a fierce competitive fire."
Harris said painting Fuhr, or any goalie for that matter, is always a thrill.
"Any day I get to paint a goalie is a good day," Harris said. "This particular painting brings me great joy as it covers all the criteria of what my 9-year-old self would believe a goalie painting should be: A cool mask, leather pads and gloves and an outstretched catching hand robbing an opposing player of a goal."