Thursday, March 22, 2007

Greatest American Player?

While surfing the net last night, I came across this blog on Hockey Blog In Canada about who is the greatest American hockey player. There is certainly a strong argument for Mike Modano, who recently became the second American to score 500 goals and passed Joe Mullen as the highest-scoring American of all time. Teebz was too dismissive of John LeClair saying that he scored most of his goals within 20 feet of the goal. The great Dino Ciccarelli also falls in this category, and very few people dismiss his career. Until injuries started slowing him down (and two ineffectual seasons with the Penguins), I always thought LeClair would be the second American to score 500 goals.

Modano has 503 goals and 716 assists for 1219 points in 1229 games. He's scored less than 20 goals twice in his career (once was during the lockout shortened season of 1994-95). He's scored less than 30 assists only once in his career (again during the lockout season).

Mullen has 502 goals and 561 assists for 1063 points in 1062 games, but his production really dropped off in his last two seasons. Mullen was also awarded the Lady Byng trophy for gentlemanly conduct twice.

It's easier to make a case for offensive players than it is for a defense like Chris Chelios given how most people look at scoring numbers to judge a player's greatness. I'm not ready to crown Modano the greatest ever, but there is a strong case.

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