Thursday night’s games in the NHL will no doubt be painted green and teams will be hoping for some good fortune in their St. Patrick’s Day tilts, but their odds of a victory would be significantly increased if they had one of these great Patricks.
From stars both young and old, the game has seen some great players bearing the name, but these are the five best. They didn’t get here by the luck of the Irish, either. These are well earned nods to get onto this list. There are, of course, some honorable mentions, such as Patrik Elias and Patrick Sharp, and we also wish we could have found room for legends such as Lester Patrick. But even with the players left off the list, this is quite the roster.
In a one-game, winner-takes-all four-on-four contest, Team Patrick would be one to go with. And if that game falls on March 17, this should be the lineup you take every single time:
5. Pat Stapleton
Pat Stapleton excelled as a blueliner during an era when it was difficult for diminutive defensemen to really make their mark. But the 5-foot-8, 180-pounder proved he could skate and score with some of the league’s best. It’s for that reason he was a three-time end-of-season all-star defender, which is impressive considering the competition he was up against for those spots.
During Stapleton’s era, he lost out on Norris Trophies three separate times to Hall of Fame blueliners. His first loss came behind Hall of Famers Pierre Pilote and Jacques Laperriere, and he finished behind Brad Park and Bobby Orr in 1970-71 and 1971-72, with Bill White sneaking between Park and Stapleton that second year. Eventually, Stapleton would end up with the WHA’s Chicago Cougars, and it was there he was named the league’s best defenseman in 1973-74.
4. Patrick Kane
He’ll probably never be the best Patrick to play in the league, but if his career year isn’t simply an aberration, Kane has a chance at moving into the second-best spot before his career is through. Already in his young career Kane has a Calder Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, three Stanley Cups, a Stanley Cup winning goal and he’s a career point per game player.
Kane will likely never pass Stan Mikita as the Blackhawks’ all-time leading scorer, but he’s already sixth in franchise history for one of the most storied organizations in hockey. Realistically, by the time he hits his 30th birthday, he could be fifth all-time with Steve Larmer’s 923 points in sight.
Given what he has accomplished in his career, it wouldn’t be hard to make the case that Marleau has been one of the game’s most under-appreciated stars over the course of his career. He’s never won a major award and aside from Olympic gold he doesn’t have any major hardware, but Marleau has been one of the most consistent goal scorers of the past 15 years.
In seven of his past 11 seasons, Marleau has scored at least 30 goals, and he’s one of only 83 players in the history of the NHL to eclipse 1,000 points. If he plays one more season, he will very well become one of only 40 players in league history with 500 goals and 1,000 points.
2. Pat Lafontaine
Lafontaine was a dynamic and dazzling star, a consistent threat for 40 goals each season and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, when he was only 38. Lafontaine’s greatness was limited to only 865 games as he suffered several concussions that shortened his career and caused him to retire well before he should have had to hang up his skates.
Lafontaine ranks 15th all-time in league history in points per game, scoring 1.171 per game over the course of his career. That was good for 1,013 points, and it could have been much more if he didn’t retire at age 32. He suffered a career-ending concussion in March 1998 and never played again. In his final season, he scored 23 goals and 62 points in 67 games.
1. Patrick Roy
Fitting that the man nicknamed ‘St. Patrick’ would end up atop this list, but he’s more than earned the right to be called the greatest Patrick in NHL history. Before Martin Brodeur toppled Roy’s record, the now-Avalanche coach held the league marks for games played by a netminder (1,029), wins (551) and playoff shutouts (23). Roy still holds the all-time marks for playoff games (247) and playoff wins (151).
Roy won three Conn Smythe Trophies, three Vezina Trophies and five William M. Jennings Trophies as the goaltender on the team with the fewest goals against. He led the league in shutouts three times, goals-against average three times and he had the league’s best save percentage four times. Roy is arguably the greatest goaltender of all-time, and easily the greatest Patrick.