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100 Greatest Players

Sid Abel: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Centered Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay on famed 'Production Line'

by Stu Hackel / Special to NHL.com

The paperback book is old, its pulpy pages now a yellow-brownish color and its pasty binding worn. It has no publication date, but reading it reveals it's from 1952. Although entitled "Detroit's Big Three," it's not about the local automakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, but the trio of Red Wings pictured on its cover who made up one of the top lines in NHL history.

Author Ed Fitkin wrote of Sid Abel, the line's center and the eldest of the three, "Abel will go down in Detroit's club history as the greatest competitor and inspirational force the Red Wings ever had."

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100 Greatest Players

Syl Apps: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Legendary Maple Leafs center idolized for character, athleticism

by Stu Hackel / Special to NHL.com

Had legendary Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe been able to design the perfect man to personify his franchise in the 1930s and '40s, he could not have improved on Syl Apps.

"Apps had more to do with the image the Leafs in the 1940s as Canada's team - the good guys, the very good guys - than any other player," author Jack Batten wrote in his book "The Leafs in Autumn." "He looked so dashing on the ice, all that speed and skill. And off the ice, he was the last word in pure vessels, a teetotaler, a non-smoker, a Baptist steeped in moral propriety, the model team captain."

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100 Greatest Players

Andy Bathgate: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Tough, clean player was matinee idol for Rangers in 1950s, '60s

by Stu Hackel / Special to NHL.com

You couldn't call the New York Rangers of the 1950s and early '60s an elite hockey club, but they had a few elite players. One was extra special, regularly mentioned alongside Gordie Howe, Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey and Jean Beliveau, the NHL's superstars of the day. On top of his exceptional talent, he was a tough but clean player, a modest man of great integrity, a leader and something of a matinee idol.

That man was Andy Bathgate.

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100 Greatest Players

Jean Beliveau: 100 Greatest NHL Players

One of game's greatest ambassadors won Stanley Cup 17 times as player, executive with Canadiens

by Dave Stubbs @dave_stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

From his much-heralded signing with the Montreal Canadiens in 1953 through his retirement in 1971, Jean Beliveau's glittering career was one of staggering statistical accomplishment:

There were his 10 Stanley Cup championships won as a player and another seven as an executive vice president of the Canadiens, his name appearing on the trophy an unprecedented 17 times.

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100 Greatest Players

Max Bentley: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Electric performer won back-to-back scoring titles for Black Hawks, Stanley Cup three times with Maple Leafs

by Bob Verdi / Special to NHL.com

Imagine the outright shock felt by hockey fans in Chicago when they arose on the morning of Nov. 4, 1947, and saw the banner headline on the sports section of the Chicago Daily Tribune:

"MAX BENTLEY GOES TO LEAFS FOR 5 PLAYERS"

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100 Greatest Players

Toe Blake: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Left wing on Canadiens' famed 'Punch Line' was embodiment of 'old-time hockey'

by Stu Hackel / Special to NHL.com

"Damn right he was tough," Elmer Lach once said about his teammate Hector "Toe" Blake. "One time, he took on the whole Detroit team. They all came after him and he stood there at center ice swinging his stick, saying, 'Which one of you [guys] wants it first?' It was like a bunch of dogs trying to get at him."

To some, Toe Blake is one of the funny-named guys who symbolize "old-time hockey" in the film "Slap Shot." To others, he was the rough-looking, fedora-and-suit-wearing coach of the Montreal Canadiens who only seemed to smile when his team won the Stanley Cup -- which means he smiled at least eight times.

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100 Greatest Players

Mike Bossy: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Prolific scorer for Islanders dynasty, only man with nine straight 50-goal seasons

by Stu Hackel / Special to NHL.com

Mike Bossy was a phantom. He'd just vanish while his New York Islanders teammates moved the puck up ice and around the offensive zone. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he'd materialize with no enemy checker near him just as a pass would arrive on the blade of his stick.

That wasn't the extent of his magic, however, because Bossy's hands were quicker than your eyes - or those of the opposing goalie. He'd propel the puck goalward instantaneously -- so quickly that the movements of his arms and wrists were impossible to detect.

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100 Greatest Players

Ray Bourque: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Hall of Fame defenseman won Norris Trophy five times with Bruins, Stanley Cup with Avalanche in 2001

by George Johnson / Special to NHL.com

The Colorado Avalanche had just lost Game 5 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Final to the New Jersey Devils. Instead of being up 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, they were heading east one loss from elimination. 

Before an optional skate two days prior to Game 6, Avalanche coach Bob Hartley came into the dressing room looking for answers.

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100 Greatest Players

Johnny Bower: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Playing into his 40s, goalie won four Stanley Cup championships with Maple Leafs

by Stu Hackel / Special to NHL.com

Johnny Bower had a secret. Just how old was he when he was the backbone for the great Toronto Maple Leafs dynasty of the 1960s?

He wasn't telling and no one really seemed to know. He looked like your grandfather, but he moved like a teenager -- light on his feet, quick with his hands and especially adept at thrusting his stick out to poke the puck from a charging attacker.

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100 Greatest Players

Turk Broda: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Goalie thrived in playoffs, led Maple Leafs to five Stanley Cup titles, including three in row

by Stu Hackel / Special to NHL.com

"In the net," one hockey writer observed about Turk Broda, "he looks like a harmless, jolly tub of lard, but the Leaf goalie dives for the puck like an angry cat." Walter "Turk" Broda was even better than an angry cat. He was money. When the Toronto Maple Leafs of the 1930s and 1940s needed to win a big game, Broda was at his best.

"The Turk was inclined to loaf during the regular season, especially against weak clubs, and let in too many soft goals," Toronto columnist Jim Hunt wrote in his 1967 book "The Men in the Nets." "But once the playoff money beckoned, no goalie in hockey was tougher to score on."

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