Sometimes we wish we could have put two dozen players on each NHL team’s Mount Puckmore, which sought to tell the story of a franchise through the contributions and careers of those selected. Cover all the bases. Honor the honorable mentions. Everyone gets a blue ribbon, a gold star and a participation trophy!
There would still be fans griping about that 25th player who didn’t make the cut being disrespected and snubbed ….
In essence, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Mount Rushmore-inspired four players or 24 players that defined a franchise: Someone’s getting left off the peak, and that’s going to draw the ire of the supporters.
When we published Mount Puckmore last week, we offered fans the chance to tell us which players whom we didn’t select merited a re-chiseling of the mountain or if our choices were actually rock-solid.
Here’s a look at how you voted. Teams that received more votes for a player than for “this was perfect” are featured, with an explanation and some reader commentary. Those teams that had “this was perfect” as the leading vote-getter are listed at the end of each divisional section with the percentage of the vote.
Thanks again for reading and participating in our fun bit of summer hockey whimsy. Here’s who you thought were the biggest snubs:
Your snub: Cam Neely (26%)
The only other name in snub consideration was Zdeno Chara (16%), whom we imagine would supplant Bergeron on this list. Neely is one of the most popular figures in franchise history, and no one on this list can claim to have produced the cinematic magic that was “Sea Bass” in “Dumb and Dumber.” A few Bruins fans said it should be Neely over Bourque on Mount Puckmore, which is an understandable sentiment when the final lasting memory of Bourque is him being handed the Stanley Cup by the captain of the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
Your snub: Pat Lafontaine (52%)
This was one of the most emphatic snub votes for any of the Mount Puckmores, with the next highest Sabres vote-getter, Phil Housley, receiving 14 percent. Lafontaine played 268 games in Buffalo, and he ranks outside the top 10 in every cumulative offensive category. But he’s first in goals, assists and points on a per-game basis, and he was a Hart Trophy finalist in 1993. Ultimately, we went with specialization: Hasek was an obvious choice for that era, and Ray personified the brutal side of those teams.
Many of the Buffalo fans we polled before publishing Puckmore agreed that Ray deserved a spot, but many also dissented. “I love Rob Ray — he’s absolutely deserving, and it gives our Mount Puckmore an outlier (enforcer) that not too many other team’s Mounts will have, but I’m not sure I’d have him land my last spot,” reader Conor Hurley said. “I do think Hasek, Lafontaine and Perreault are locks. I don’t think any Sabres fan, young or old, could dispute any one of those guy’s place up there.”
Your snub: Jason Spezza (33%)
As reader Quentin Young simply put it: “Spezza over Yashin.”
The current Dallas Stars center is second in franchise history in goals (251) and assists (436), and he remains one of the more popular names among Sens faithful. Our question: Was having the second-best offensive career behind Daniel Alfredsson worthy of a spot on Puckmore? One of the aims was to have players who define the franchise through the years. Telling the story of the Senators would seem impossible without some reference to Yashin, both as an early franchise player and as the thing that brought Zdeno Chara and Spezza to the Sens, thanks to then-Islanders general manager Mike Milbury.
Our picks: Teeder Kennedy, C (1942-57), Dave Keon, C (1960-75), Borje Salming, D (1973-89), Mats Sundin, C (1994-08)
Your snub: Wendel Clark (28%)
This week’s “Predictable Thing Is Predictable” award goes to the Leafs fans who demanded that Wendel Clark be added to their Mount Puckmore. Clark won the snub vote over Darryl Sittler (18%). Clark had 1,535 penalty minutes (third in franchise history) and 260 goals (eighth). He’s the physical forward against whom all physical forwards are judged when they join the Leafs — please recall the Toronto Sun’s “WENDEL CLARKSON!” headline when David Clarkson signed his lamentable free-agent deal in Toronto. It’s an understandable sentiment from a generation infatuated with this alpha male captain, but Clark is ultimately not Puckmore-worthy.
“None! This list is perfect.”
Your snub: Cam Ward (45%)
The goalie who Ken Dryden’d his way to the franchise’s only Stanley Cup win and then stayed with the Hurricanes well beyond his best days as an NHL goalie, Ward was an overwhelming choice for biggest snub. An argument could be made for him, for sure, considering his role in Carolina’s lone skate with the Cup to date. But it would likely come at the expense of a player with ties to the Whalers; and this is, after all, a Puckmore for the totality of the franchises, not just the Raleigh years.
New Jersey Devils/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts
Your snub: Patrik Elias (60%)
Because it’s the Devils, we suppose it’s appropriate that so many fans grabbed their pitchforks to protest the exclusion of the franchise’s leading offensive player in goals, assists and points. Our argument was that if you agree that the Scotts and Brodeur belong on that mountain — some would argue that Niedermayer’s inclusion on the Anaheim Puckmore should negate his spot here — then it comes down to Daneyko and Elias. Frankly, we valued that link to the red-and-green jersey, “Mickey Mouse organization” days of the franchise with Daneyko, who also played on all three Cup teams.
Nick Villano of Pucks and Pitchforks was among those dissenting: “I get that. You want Mount Rushmore to extend throughout history. However, the Devils’ history has to include Elias. Now and forever, Elias will be one of the best players to ever put on the NJ crest. Whether that’s red and green or red and black, Elias 100 percent deserves to be on this Mount Puckmore.”
Your snub: Mike Richter (55%)
Nothing speaks to the power of the 1994 Stanley Cup win more than Rangers fans trying to find a place for Richter on Mount Puckmore. Heck, just carve the whole thing in honor of the 54-year curse being lifted: Doug Lidster, Brian Noonan, Jay Wells … here’s your part of the massif, champs. But honestly, who leaves for Richter? Certainly not Lundqvist, the best goalie in team history. Hopefully not Gilbert, who reminds us that Rangers history predated 1994. Leetch? Really?
The votes for Richter have the logical sturdiness of a trade suggestion from a New York sports talk radio caller. (“Hear me out … Zuccarello and Staal fuh Draisaitl ‘cuz the Oilers need winguhs and dee. I’ll hang up and listen.”)
Your snub: Peter Bondra (41%)
We fully expected Capitals fans who were still staggering through their post-championship haze to endorse Nicklas Backstrom as the greatest snub, but he garnered 25 percent to Bondra’s 41 percent. One thing was clear from both camps: Chisel Dale Hunter off that mountain.
“Putting Dale Hunter on the Capitals Mount Puckmore over Peter Bondra is like putting Tom Wilson on the poster for last year’s team over T.J. Oshie,” reader Ryan Cleaver wrote. “Bondra was the Caps’ first dynamic forward and first impactful homegrown forward. From his rookie year to his last full season in Washington, Bondra scored the fourth-most goals in the NHL, twice leading the league, with three more seasons in the Top 6. No other Capital to that point, except for a freak season from Dennis Maruk, had finished a season in the top six in goals, assists or points. At certain times he may not have been as recognizable to Washingtonians as Hunter, but this SI article was the first time that the Capitals received national media coverage for something positive and relevant. He was a star with tangible numbers and tangible results both unprecedented for this team. He was that bridge from the post-limo incident Caps to the ‘Screaming Eagle’ Caps.”
“None! This list is perfect.”
Our Picks: Bobby Hull, LW (1957-72), Stan Mikita, C/RW (1958-1980), Tony Esposito, G (1969-84), Jonathan Toews, (2007-present)
Your snub: Patrick Kane (30%)
Toews and Kane, Kane and Toews … pick one, and fans of the other will be outraged, as was the case with Patrick Kane getting the majority of the snub vote. “You putting Toews over Kane is exactly how Evgeni Malkin got overlooked by the NHL for the Top 100 players list,” reader Craig M wrote. “Kane is the better player in every way and star. Toews does not win a Cup without him. The Toews legend is utterly insane at points, ugh.”
No matter the choice, one thing was clear from some of the feedback we received from fans: “Honoring” Bobby Hull on Mount Puckmore wasn’t honorable, in their eyes. As reader Drew Letko wrote:
“Get Bobby Hull off of this hypothetical monument. It’s embarrassing enough that the Blackhawks erected their own actual statue of him just less than 10 years ago. This world does not need another shrine built in tribute to a notorious wife beater. He’s also a Nazi sympathizer,” he said.
Again, we didn’t see this as an honor, necessarily. It’s like a history book: Four players who tell the story of the franchise, one way or another. Hull was a seminal player for the Blackhawks. What he was off the ice and is off the ice is part of that story too, and it should never be ignored. The fact is that Hull remains a public face of the Blackhawks to this day, as an ambassador. Perhaps it’s a different conversation if the franchise approached his legacy in a different manner.
Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars
Your snub: Ed Belfour (25%)
Belfour’s an interesting snub choice because he owns the best goals-against average in franchise history (2.19) and was a vital part of a Stanley Cup win and two conference championships. If you want to argue that it’s too soon to have Benn on the mountain, that’s reasonable, as is the notion that Belfour belongs. He’s one of the franchise’s most popular players and, well, “unique” personalities. As reader Chad Balcom wrote: “Eddie Belfour would give a billion dollars to make this list.”
The Blues’ Mount Puckmore is, without question, the most contentious one we constructed. Not only was there a groundswell to have Tkachuk make the mountain, but there was an even louder group of fans who were livid over Pronger being a snub from the list of snubs. Wrote Todd Panula of Bleedin’ Blues:
“Shockingly absent from this list, given that Jackman is included, is Chris Pronger. Pronger played nine incredibly impactful years with the Blues and scored more points in those years than Jackman even sniffed in his entire Blues career. Pronger was not seen as an offensive powerhouse either. Pronger won the Hart Trophy and the Norris Trophy in the same season, a feat which has not been accomplished since. After a less than stellar debut in St. Louis, he was always in the top 10 for Norris votes. Sure, he played for many more teams than Jackman, but he’s likely more remembered in St. Louis than anywhere else.”
Mea culpa, he should have been listed among the snubs — and remained there.
“None! This list is perfect.”
Your snub: Lanny McDonald (27%)
We thought we were headed to a Miikka Kiprusoff vs. Mike Vernon showdown for a spot on the mountain, but Kipper received only 14 percent of the votes. No, the snub that burned Flames fans most was McDonald.
“How can you leave Lanny and his mustache off the mountain? With all due respect to Al, when you think of the Calgary Flames, how can you not picture Lanny McDonald and his bushy ‘stache lifting the cup? He was the captain after all,” reader Kevin Mitchell said. “On top of that, he’s still an active member of the Calgary community and the Flames alumni association. I don’t think he’s bought a drink in Calgary since the ’80s. Plus, you could probably get a discount from the monument construction team for the pure joy they would get from blasting his mustache into the side of some sacred mountain in North Dakota.”
It’s a strong case, what with 492 games in Calgary, 215 goals and a career-capping role on the 1989 Stanley Cup champions. But boy, we’d be hard-pressed to leave the Conn Smythe winner from that team, MacInnis, off the mountain.
Your snub: Paul Coffey (39%)
Again, we were wrong in our assumptions. We figured Oilers fans would reject the early chiseling of McDavid’s visage on the mountain in favor of another link to recent Oilers past in “Captain Canada” Ryan Smyth.
“What’s missing is a representative of the misery between 1991 and 2015, and especially the brief might-have-been of 2006. That guy can really only be Ryan Smyth,” reader Mike Haakstad wrote. “I loved Jari Kurri, but he really belongs in slot No. 7 or 8 at best on the Oilers Mount Puckmore, with Smyth, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr all ahead of him. You could maybe even make a corner case for one year of Chris Pronger.”
OK, that last suggestion would be utterly amazing but would also encourage frequent vandalism. Like we said, we thought Smyth would get the most support, but he earned only nine percent of the vote, while Coffey and Grant Fuhr (29%) received a lot more support as the biggest snubs. Coffey ultimately earned the most support; one assumes that with Gretzky, Kurri and Messier all solid choices, Edmonton fans want the dynasty to have a dynastic hold on Mount Puckmore as well.
Your snub: Rob Blake (29%)
This is another one of those snub votes for which we have to ask, “But instead of which guy?” Gretzky’s gotta be there. So does Dionne. So does Doughty, as the representative of the franchise’s only Cup wins. Blake over Lucky Luke, the franchise leader in goals (557) and arguably the most popular player in Kings’ history?
Maybe if the mountain expanded to five faces, Blake would make the cut. But as we wait for that tectonic plate shift in L.A.’s Mount Puckmore, it’s limited to four, and Blake isn’t one of them.
Your snub: Daniel Sedin (40%)
OK, so we tried to separate peanut butter from jelly, and Canucks Nation spoke loudly to tell us that no mountain can keep the Sedin Twins apart.
Reader Mike Dow thought both Linden and Smyl should leave the mountain: “In the Canucks’ three closest Cup chances, they were led by Hart Trophy and Hall of Fame-caliber players: Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund and Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Bure scored 60 goals for the Canucks twice, leading the league once. Naslund may have fallen short of a Hall of Fame career, but he was the NHL’s leading scorer from 2001-2004, and he’ll be the first three-time First Team All Star not to make the Hall. The Sedins won two Art Ross trophies, one Hart and should’ve won another. In those four players’ best years, the Canucks contended for Cups.”
Granted, there would be room for Smyl, Linden and/or Naslund if we did the “Sedins share a Hall of Fame plaque” thing and put them both on the mountain. But reader Ondrej Cernin had a better idea:
“Instead of doing something like a two-headed mutant like you proposed in the original article, I think the best solution would be to just have one Sedin face on there, but not reveal if it’s Henrik or Daniel. Since they are identical twins, no one could say which one of the two it is, so you could easily say that you have both twins on there while saving an extra spot and not giving either Henrik nor Daniel more material for their trash talk since they’re very competitive with each other!”
This belongs on the Mount Rushmore of novel solutions to monozygotic problems.
“None! This list is perfect.”