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My all time top 10 NHL power plays

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Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier

Where would you rank a power play that could unleash Hall of Famers Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier? (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Yesterday, as part of SI.com’s Power Week, I ranked my top 10 NHL power forwards of all time. Today, it’s on to the power play.

I’ve always thought that the effectiveness of a power play is directly proportional to the fear it inspires.

The best  don’t simply score goals every third chance or so. They’re a looming specter that buys time and space during 40-odd minutes of even strength play — a constant, overhanging threat that forces defenders to hesitate, to keep sticks and elbows to themselves in order to not take the trip to the box that their coach specifically warned them to avoid.
It’s been a few years since the NHL has seen a truly frightening power play, but there have been some holy terrors in the past.

Click here for my 10 greatest in league history:


  • Published On Mar 07, 2013
  • NHL legend Jean Beliveau comes clean on To Tell The Truth

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    By Allan Muir

    Apparently Gordie Howe wasn’t the only hockey legend to make an appearance on a game show back in the day. Check out this vintage clip of Jean Beliveau on the classic To Tell The Truth, circa 1957.

    A four-person panel, including game-show staple Kitty Carlisle and Ralph Bellamy, was tasked with determining which of the three men dressed in full Montreal gear was the real Beliveau. The panel asked some pretty hardcore questions (“Where is McGill University located in relation to the Mount Royal Hotel?”) and a couple that were cringe-worthy (“Is this the costume you wear when you perform?”) but Bellamy failed to pose the one query everyone wanted to hear: “Why do you think the price of pork bellies is going to keep going down, William?”

    Oddly, Beliveau wore Donnie Marshall’s No. 22 jersey for the show instead of his famous No. 4.

    That sweater was worn by contestant No. 3, who turned out to be Jean-Guy Gignac, a former teammate of Beliveau with the Quebec Citadelles. He was property of the Rangers, but never advanced beyond the junior ranks.

    (s/t to Vassilios Bantourakis for the tip via Twitter)


  • Published On Feb 18, 2013
  • Racism denied Herb Carnegie but didn’t stop him

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    Though he never played in the NHL, Herb Carnegie inspired such all-time greats as Frank Mahovlich and Jean Beliveau. (Darren Calabrese/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Herb Carnegie passed away on Friday, a great hockey player who deserved a shot in the NHL. It was denied him because he was black. But while the institutional racism of all big league pro sports, including the NHL, in that era prevented him from reaching his goal, he spent his post-playing years mentoring youngsters and started one of the first hockey schools in Canada and a foundation.

    As an 18-year-old, Carnegie began attracting attention in 1938 while playing for the Toronto Junior Rangers under coach Ed Wildey, and one who saw him play at Maple Leaf Gardens was Conn Smythe, the owner of the Maple Leafs. Wildey told Carnegie that Smythe would sign him the next day…if he were white. Later, Smythe was widely reported to also have said, “I’ll give any man $10,000 who can turn Herb Carnegie white.” It was a slight that upset Carnegie at the time.

    “The Toronto Maple Leafs was the team I rooted for as a boy,” Carnegie said in a 2002 interview. “And to find out that was how the owner of the team I rooted for felt about me was shattering, just shattering.”

    It still upset him decades later, as Elliotte Friedman found out when he profiled Carnegie over the CBC on the Hockey Night in Canada pregame show.

    Carnegie became a star in the mining leagues of the 1940s, small semi-pro loops that played the mining towns of northern Quebec and Ontario. That’s where Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Mahovlich, who grew up in Timmons, Ontario, saw him play. Mahovlich said Carnegie’s slick moves and passing excellence inspired him, and the man who would later be called The Big M wanted to emulate him. Mahovlich told author Cecil Harris in Breaking The Ice, that he expected he’d soon see Carnegie and many other black players in the NHL. But that never happened.

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  • Published On Mar 12, 2012
  • Ailing Beliveau one of a kind

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    Big and tall, yet a graceful skater, the legendary Jean Beliveau was the personification of a classy player. (Denis Brodeur/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    In this darkest of seasons for Canadiens fans, the bad news continues to pile up. Their loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night dropped them three points behind the Islanders and Hurricanes for last place in the East. They were unable to peddle anyone other than the disappointing Andrei Kostitsyn on Monday’s trade deadline day, prompting The Montreal Gazette’s Red Fisher to write, “Once, teams would line up looking for help from this franchise. The view was that if a player was good enough to wear the CH, he surely had something to offer. Now, the franchise is in disarray from the top down. Now, it’s an embarrassment unworthy of attention. Where has the talent gone? Where has the pride gone?”

    And then the news came that Jean Beliveau, the man who personifies talent and pride — not just for the Canadiens, but all of hockey — had suffered a stroke, the latest of his many health setbacks. The living symbol of everything this franchise has wanted to stand for — excellence, achievement, dignity, class, respect — had been laid so low that Fisher concluded his Wednesday Gazette article on Beliveau with the three words he often reserves for those whose health is at grave risk: “Pray for him.”

    Those of you born well after Beliveau’s playing career ended in 1971 may well wonder, “Who is this man I’m asked to pray for?” and it’s a legitimate question.

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  • Published On Feb 29, 2012
  • 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
  • Savard’s status, van Riemsdyk’s deal, Capital critics, Beliveau’s B-day, and more

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    After 13 seasons, 207 goals and 706 points, it appears quite likely that the Bruins’ concussion-stricken center Marc Savard has played the 807th and final game of his NHL career. (Brian Jenkins/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The news out of Boston about Marc Savard is not good. “Marc Savard won’t play this year,” GM Peter Chiarelli told Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe today. “Nothing has changed in our monitoring. He’ll be examined and he’ll be declared unfit to play….”

    “Based on what I see, what I hear, what I read, and what I’m told, it’s very unlikely Marc will play again,” Chiarelli added. “Now, knowing the uncertainty of this injury, there’s always a chance [he could play]. But based on what I’m told, it’s very unlikely he’ll play. As an employer, I support him and hope he gets back to living a healthy life.”

    This is not entirely unexpected news, but it’s not good news in any event. The NHL has taken serious and good steps to reduce the chances of concussion but, sadly, they may have come too late for Marc Savard. He’s not the only one whose career has been cut short in this manner, but everything should be done to make sure that deliberate hits to the head are no longer allowed in the NHL’s rules. Right now, that’s not entirely the case.
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  • Published On Aug 31, 2011


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