Fan’s take: These six NHL legends would start on any all-time team

Here is the premise: Select three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie to create your own National Hockey League team.

The Hall of Fame is home to many deserving legends, but only six would be able to break into an all-time starting lineup.
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Who would you select and why?

Forwards

To suggest that any player could bump Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux from a top line is absurd.

Howe was a right wing and so he would take his spot there.

Since both Gretzky and Lemieux were centers, it seems certain that either could play left wing. Gretzky was a left-handed shot, so he could be put on that side. His play-making abilities allowed him to become the National Hockey League's all-time leading scorer, so you might opt to put Lemieux over there.

Since many coaches on every team in the league have centers move to the wing, there should be no rational outcry about this decision. One thing is certain, either man would handle it.

Defensemen

No one edges out Bobby Orr, as the passion of who he was resonates through time.

To watch him play live must have been a sight like no other. Hearing a Boston Bruins radio announcer describe Orr's movements with the puck must have sounded like a sports symphony.

Some propose that Orr was the greatest player to ever glide across hockey's frozen lines. Read between these and you will know what this author thinks about that idea being more than just a theory.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) is an active warrior who can still add to his career totals. Many of his regular season numbers are well behind those of Ray Bourque's. But, his postseason ones are not.

Lidstrom has also won seven Norris Trophies to Bourque's five and four Stanley Cups to Bouque's one.

The choice to pair Orr with Lidstrom was very difficult and in no way reflects upon the brilliance of Bourque, or the differences in talent that surrounded each during their careers.

Goalie

Terry Sawchuk played for over a decade of his career without wearing a mask. Most of his years in net were also spent inside the league's "Original Six" format.

While he has 178 less wins than New Jersey Devils great Martin Brodeur(notes), Sawchuk also played in significantly less games than that still-active goalie. That factor also serves to highlight Sawchuk's 103 shutouts, as compared to Brodeur's 116.

Sawchuk won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and one with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brodeur has claimed three silver chalices with the Devils.

So, let's allow the young protege Brodeur to serve as a backup to the veteran starter Sawchuk.

Faceoff

After the Stanley Cup has been awarded, summer's annual pregnant pause occurs until the next season is born.

Many students enjoy studying the greats of the game during that break time. Then, along with their fellow classmates, they all return to hockey school every fall.

I became a Flyers fan during the mid-1970s and consider street hockey to be the winter version of wiffle ball. Follow me on Twitter @ SeanyOB.

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Updated Thursday, Aug 4, 2011