Playing for one organization throughout your entire career is a very difficult thing to do in the NHL. For Wayne Gretzky, he never got the chance to finish his career with his beloved Edmonton Oilers. Others chose to hang on for one more year with another team. Ray Bourque chased a Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. Both Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Modano jumped ship to the Detroit Red Wings for one last hoorah. And nobody can forget the seven-game stint Martin Brodeur had with the St. Louis Blues in the 2014-15 season. Here is a look at five legendary NHL players who were lucky enough to call one place home during their entire careers.
No. 5: Niklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings (1991-2012)
Accolades: 4 Stanley Cups, 7 Norris Trophies, 1 Conn Smythe Trophy, 13x All-Star
Like a fine wine, Nik Lidstrom kept getting better with age. Not just better, but dominant. In fact, Lidstrom put up possibly his best season during the 2010-11 campaign. He recorded 62 points and won his final Norris Trophy that season – he was 40-years-old at the time. Lidstrom was the backbone of some incredible Red Wings teams. He was the rare steady, stay-at-home defenceman that was also a force on the powerplay. He is considered by many to be the NHL’s second-best defender of all-time behind Bobby Orr.
No. 4: Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens (1950-1971)
Accolades: 10 Stanley Cups, 2 Hart Trophies, 1 Art Ross Trophy, 1 Conn Smythe Trophy, 13x All-Star
Beliveau lead the NHL in scoring twice, but topped the league in gentlemanly play throughout his career. Beliveau’s steady play helped Montreal become the mecca of hockey. He scored at least 30 goals in 8 seasons and finished his career with more than a point-per-game. The bigger the game, the better the results were for Beliveau. The Center put up 176 points in 162 career playoff games. He retired in 1971 and was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame a year later.
No. 3: Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings (1983-2006)
Accolades: 3 Stanley Cups, 1 Ted Lindsay, Conn Smythe, Selke, and Masterson Memorial Trophy, 9x All-Star
Stevie Y was the heart and soul of Detroit’s dominant stretch in the mid-90’s through 2000’s. Yzerman put up incredible offensive numbers (1,755 points – 7th all-time), but leadership will forever be his legacy. During his time as the Red Wings’ captain, Yzerman guided the club to an unmatched 62 wins and 131 points in the 1995-96 season. On a team loaded with talent, including Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan, Yzerman was the glue that held everything together for the perennial cup contender. Yzerman was long a legend before scoring one of the greatest goals in NHL history during the 1996 playoffs.
No. 2: Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens (1942-1960)
Accolades: 8 Stanley Cups, 1 Hart Trophy, 13x All-Star
You know you had an amazing offensive NHL career when the league names a trophy after you. The league’s annual top goal-scorer receives the award, fitting for a player nicknamed “The Rocket.” On his way to hockey immortality, Richard netted nearly a point-per-game – 965 pts in 978 games. Richard was able to put up consistent numbers throughout a very long career. But, he wasn’t some finesse player, shying away from contact. Richard recorded more than 100 penalty minutes during five different seasons – unheard of today. His undeniable scoring touch paired with grit made him the most popular player of all-time in Montreal's illustrious hockey history.
No. 1: Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins (1984-1997/2000-2006)
Accolades: 2 Stanley Cups, 3 Hart Trophies, 4 Lindsay Trophies, 6 Art Ross Trophies, 10x All-Star
According to many experts, Mario Lemieux was the most gifted athlete to ever lace up the skates at the NHL level. His biggest enemy in his race towards the hockey record books was time though. Lemieux racked up 690 goals in just 915 career games. Compare that to Wayne Gretzky, who skated in a whopping 1,487 contests. Lemieux’s career mark of .754 GPG is not even remotely challenged by any of the NHL’s top-20 all-time goal scorers. Lemieux not only made the Pens relevant with two Cups in the early-90s, but he is responsible for pulling the team out of bankruptcy in the next decade. Lemieux is the true definition of ‘franchise savior.’