The NHL Network loves giving hockey fan things to argue about, so it did that again Monday by releasing a list of the top 25 captains in league history. Jonathan Toews comes in seventh, which makes him the highest-ranked active player.
Which, hey, that’s sorta cool. To be honest here, I don’t really have any idea how you evaluate the best captains of all-time. Presumably the easy answer would be, “Which captain won the most games and Stanley Cups?” But they put Mark Messier, a six-time Cup winner, over Jean Bealiveau, a 10-time Cup winner. So I guess it’s not that simple.
Being a great captain requires a lot of things that happen behind the scenes, so the only way to really evaluate one is based on what other people say about them. And when it comes to Toews, you can see why he’s No. 7 because effusive praise of his leadership is basically part of any discussion about him at this point.
Another Blackhawks captain, Pierre Pilote, comes in at No. 22. He wore the ‘C’ when Chicago won its third Stanley Cup in 1961.
Here’s the complete ranking:
1. Mark Messier, Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers
2. Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens
3. Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings
4. Scott Stevens, New Jersey Devils
5. Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins
6. Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers
7. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
8. George Armstrong, Toronto Maple Leafs
9. Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings
10. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
11. Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins
12. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
13. Denis Potvin, New York Islanders
14. Syl Apps, Toronto Maple Leafs
15. Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalance
16. Ron Francis, Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins
17. Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens
18. Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings
19. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
20. Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens
21. Derian Hatcher, Dallas Stars
22. Pierre Pilote, Chicago Blackhawks
23. Dit Clapper, Boston Bruins
24. Saku Koivu, Montreal Canadiens
25. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators