Jul 4, 2010, 11:00 PM EDT
In an earlier post, I took a look at how Patrick Kane’s first three seasons stack up to the early years enjoyed by the three best American born forwards in NHL history. Being that it’s the Fourth of July, I thought I’d extend the patriotic puck-based postings by picking my All-Time All-American team.
Surely there will be some dissent on my choices, so feel free to share your grievances in the comments. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan Miller ends up being the greatest American born goalie once his career his over, but I think it’s too early to put him or Kane on this list.
I’ll keep it nice and simple: three forwards, two defensemen, a goalie and a coach.
Pat LaFontaine – Mike Modano – Jeremy Roenick
Those three forwards have a stunning 3,588 career regular season points between them. Modano (1,359) and Roenick (1,216) watered down their careers a bit by playing past their prime while LaFontaine left hockey far too early. While John Leclair, Joe Mullen, Neal Broten and Keith Tkachuk put together nice careers, I think Modano, Roenick and LaFontaine are the clear best choices.
Brian Leetch – Chris Chelios
You can make a very strong argument that Brian Leetch is the greatest American-born hockey player ever. It’s impressive enough that he has a Conn Smythe, two Norris Trophies and 1,028 regular season points in his career. The thing that blows me away, though, is his 97 points in 95 career playoff games. Most forwards would kill for a point-per-game average in the playoffs, but a blueliner? That’s just incredible.
While Leetch distinguished himself in the offensive end, Chelios was incredible as a rugged, shutdown defenseman. Many will remember Chelios for playing deep into his 40’s, but hopefully the hockey world won’t forget that he’s one of the best American hockey players of all time.
It came down to Barrasso or Richter, and honestly, it wasn’t an easy choice. Barrasso’s two-to-one Cup advantage didn’t mean as much to me because those Pittsburgh Penguins teams scored plenty of goals to support whomever was in net. Still, the thing that stands out is his unusual rookie year in which he won the Calder Trophy and the Vezina Trophy.
Both goalies had highs and lows, but Barrasso’s ceiling seemed a little higher.
I mean, come on, it’s Herb Brooks.
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