As part of the NHL Centennial Celebration, renowned Canadian artist Tony Harris will paint original portraits of each of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian, as chosen by a Blue Ribbon panel. NHL.com will reveal two portraits each Monday in 2017.
This week, the portraits of centers Mark Messier and Sidney Crosby are being unveiled in the eighth installment.
Mark Messier, who was captain of Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, is described as an "updated version of Gordie Howe" in his profile, written by author John MacKinnon.
"Messier possessed elite skill and speed, his game spiced with physicality and a mean streak, when required, like Howe's," he said.
Artist Tony Harris said doing his research on the center helped him remember just how consistent of a player he was.
"One of the more fun aspects of painting the 100 Greatest NHL Players is reviewing their stats and being reminded of just how good they are," Harris said. "What struck me most about Messier was his consistency over such a long career. But I think his time in Edmonton was my favourite Messier period. I love the Winnwell helmet and no-one wore it better than Messier; well, maybe Mario [Lemeiux]."
Sidney Crosby is one of six active players on the 100 Greatest NHL Players list. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Stanley Cup three times (2009, 2016, 2017) with him as captain. (Editor's note: The third championship was added to this story after initial publication.)
In his 100 Greatest NHL Players profile on Crosby, author Stu Hackel says the Penguins center "truly is all hockey and is considered by most the greatest player of his era."
Harris said when it came to painting Crosby's 100 Greatest NHL Player portrait, he was looking to capture one specific element of the Penguins center's game.
"Having done portraits of Crosby before, I felt like I had a leg up on this one," Harris said. "The critical factor is trying to find the right image that reflects his personality on the ice. You can look at 20,000 pictures of Crosby and the one consistent element is his focus. In this painting, my goal was to capture his most impressive characteristic.