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Hockey’s the most photogenic of sports

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Brett Hull’s controversial Stanley Cup-winning “foot in the crease” goal from 1999 is surely one of hockey’s most memorable photos. (Elsa Hasch/Allsport/Getty Images)

By Stu Hackel

There’s not much coming out of New York on the CBA negotiations — and perhaps no news is good news (except when it’s not). So let’s go elsewhere for today’s post. On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated rolled out its Top 100 sports photos of all time on SI.com, images that have appeared in the magazine and elsewhere, culled from thousands that the editors considered. It’s a fantastic gallery that you should view. Some are iconic and well-known, others not as much, but all are excellent examples of sports photography, if not breathtaking then at least historically momentous.

Of the 100, five were hockey photos. They included Bobby Orr’s Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Blues in 1970 at Number 80; the 1980 Miracle on Ice U.S. Olympic team’s victorious moment against the Soviet national team at Lake Placid at Number 78 (an SI cover that, as I recall, is one of the few that had no words on it beside the magazine name); Wayne Gretzky waving goodbye to fans after his final game at Madison Square Garden in 1999 at Number 74; and Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante crouching to find the puck in a 1957 game against the Rangers, another SI cover shot, at Number 60. Gretzky scoring his 802nd career goal against the Canucks in 1994, making him the top professional goal scorer of all time, was the highest rated hockey photo at Number 14.

One of the points of a list like this is to spark discussion and debate, and I’ll gladly comply.

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  • Published On Nov 07, 2012
  • The Hockey Hall of Fame, the Capitals and Adam Oates’ huge day

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    In new Hall of Famer Adam Oates (right), the Caps hired a superb teacher. (Shelly Castellano/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    You won’t see a guy have a better day than Adam Oates had on Tuesday, being officially announced as the head coach of the Washington Capitals and an honored member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (video) within the space of a few hours. “Obviously an absolutely fantastic day,” Oates said. “I don’t know if that’s ever happened before. I have to go out and play Lotto, I think.  Two huge honors.”

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  • Published On Jun 27, 2012
  • Chris Chelios tops stellar USA Hockey Hall class; Lokomotiv returns

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    Chris Chelios’ resume more than stacks up against any other American-born player. (Frank Gunn/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Is Chris Chelios the greatest American-born player in hockey history? Good question. Perhaps he is.

    Chelios will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame during a ceremony in his hometown of Chicago tonight, and he’s among a truly stellar group of inductees — perhaps the best class ever for this Hall — that includes the highly underrated defenseman Gary Suter, power forward Keith Tkachuk, broadcaster Mike Emrick and Flyers owner Ed Snider.

    In The Chicago Tribune today, Steve Rosenbloom makes the case for Chelios as the best player ever produced in the U.S., admitting that while he wasn’t the greatest skater, passer, stickhandler or shooter, no one has ever combined skill, smarts, leadership, toughness and longevity the way Chelios did.

    Rosenbloom elaborates on this — it’s worth reading — and makes a very strong case for Chelly.

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  • Published On Dec 12, 2011
  • Two Minutes for Booking: The Devil and Bobby Hull

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    Courtesy of Wiley & Sons

    By Stu Hackel

    If hockey ever produced a cautionary tale, it’s the life of Bobby Hull. That tale, and not merely recounting Hull’s on-ice exploits, is the approach taken by award-winning Toronto author Gare Joyce in his excellent new book, The Devil and Bobby Hull (John Wiley & Sons, 274 pages).

    Hull was hockey’s biggest attraction in the waning days of the Original Six era, more charismatic than the laconic Gordie Howe, flashier than the decorous Jean Beliveau. In his day, he was King of the Ice ( to borrow the honorific crown conjured up by the late Paul Quarrington in his great 1988 hockey novel, King Leary). Hull’s reign was wedged between those of Rocket Richard and Bobby Orr, although he was hardly in decline during Orr’s peak. He was not only the NHL’s top goal scorer — the first NHLer to break the 50-goal barrier in a season — but also it’s most explosive, visible and marketable player.

    Five times a Sports Illustrated cover subject — unprecedented for an NHL player of that time – Hull’s stardom transcended the game, and through his numerous endorsements, which doubled his Black Hawks salary, Gare establishes that he became the first hockey figure to gain continent-wide recognition and was the impetus for the league’s first great expansion in 1967.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2011
  • Two minutes for booking: “The Golden Jet” could have been as great as Hull

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    A new career retrospective on Bobby Hull curiously leaves out his years with the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets. (Courtesy of Triumph Books)

    By Stu Hackel

    In his prime, Bobby Hull was Original Six hockey’s most dangerous and prolific goal scorer. With his lethal slap shot, his powerful skating, matinee idol good looks and ability to bring fans out of their seats, the Golden Jet was the game’s top drawing card, the biggest sports star in Chicago and, to opponents and fans of other teams, the most feared player in the league.

    Younger fans who primarily know him as Brett’s father likely can’t begin to appreciate Hull’s talent or charisma. The thrilling sight of him flying down left wing, wearing that famous sweater with the Indian head crest on his chest and with puck on his stick lifted fans out of their seats throughout the league. Enemy coaches would draw up their entire game plans with stopping Hull as the focus. He’d absorb all variety of physical punishment and come back for more. A first team All-Star 10 times and the first player to break the 50-goal barrier, he would famously make his team’s bus wait at the arena after a game while he fulfilled every autograph request and answered every fan’s question. For fans of a certain generation, Hull was it.

    In 1972, when Hull jumped from the NHL to the WHA, “It shook the entire sports industry,” according to the new book The Golden Jet, by Bobby Hull with Bill Verdi (Triumph Books, 300 pages). “Only one player could provide the rival league with instant credibility and traction: Bobby Hull. His move, rife with pressure to produce, immediately enhanced the value of players in either league.”

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  • Published On Nov 29, 2010


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