January 11, 2013

100 Greatest Players from New England: 25-11

By Jesse Connolly

The countdown continues as we unveil Nos. 25-11 on our list of the 100 greatest players from New England. 

In case you missed it: 50 runners-up 100-76 | 75-51 | 50-26

25. Hal Gill
Stay-at-home d-man
Defense | Bolton, Mass. | April 6, 1975

A Hockey East champ at Providence and a Bruin for eight seasons, the 6-foot-7 Gill (pictured right) has long been a great leader and dependable defender. He won the Cup in Pittsburgh in 2009 and also has played with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators.

NHL career: 1997-present
NHL totals: 1,070 games, 184 points

24. Mike O’Connell
Crafty blueliner
Defense | Cohasset, Mass. | Nov. 25, 1955

A Bruin from 1980-86, O’Connell had a career-high 60 points in 1983-84 and held the NHL record for consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman (7) until 2009.

NHL career: 1977-90
NHL totals: 860 games, 439 points

23. Mike Grier
Barrier breaker
Right Wing | Holliston, Mass. | Jan. 5, 1975

Grier was a Hobey Baker finalist at BU, a hulking, tough-as-nails grinder and superb penalty killer who became the first African-American to reach 1,000 NHL games.

NHL career: 1996-2011
NHL totals: 1,060 games, 383 points

22. Mike Milbury
Rugged rearguard
Defense | Walpole, Mass. | Jan. 17, 1952

Milbury’s (pictured right) 1,552 penalty minutes prove his toughness, but he was also a tremendous defender. In his 12 seasons, he had a negative plus-minus once, finishing plus-173.

NHL career: 1975-87
NHL totals: 754 games, 238 points

21. Shawn McEachern
Sens’ sniper
Right Wing | Waltham, Mass. | Feb. 28, 1969

McEachern won the Cup in Pittsburgh in 1992, averaged over 30 goals a year from 1998-2001 in Ottawa and had five NHL seasons of 50-plus points.

NHL career: 1992-2006
NHL totals: 911 games, 579 points

20. Jim Craig
Miracle maker
Goalie | North Easton, Mass. | May 31, 1957

NHL success wasn’t in the cards for Craig, but the magnitude of what he accomplished before turning pro is almost immeasurable. A national champ at BU, Craig went 6-0-1 in the 1980 Olympics, backstopping Team USA to the “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviets before beating Finland in the gold-medal game to cap off the United States’ triumph at Lake Placid.

NHL career: 1980-84
NHL totals: 30 games, 11-10-7 record

19. Jonathan Quick
King of California
Goalie | Hamden, Conn. | Jan. 21, 1986

With arguably the greatest playoff run by a goaltender in NHL history, Quick (pictured right) led the eighth-seeded Kings to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2012, stampeding over the top three seeds in the West before defeating the Devils in the finals. The former UMass star won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP and already has climbed to third on L.A.’s career wins list.

NHL career: 2007-present
NHL totals: 249 games, 131-87-25 record

18. Bill Cleary
Olympic legend
Forward | Cambridge, Mass. | Aug. 19, 1934

An All-American record-setter at Harvard, Cleary turned down offers to join both the Bruins and Canadiens for the chance to play in two Olympics. He won silver in ’56 and gold in ’60.  Cleary was named to the NCAA Ice Hockey 50th Anniversary Team, tabbed the U.S. Player of the Decade for 1956-66 and is a member of the U.S. Olympic and IIHF halls of fame.

College career: 1952-56

17. Keith Carney
Iron man
Defense | Providence, R.I. | Feb. 3, 1970

A high scorer during his days as a Maine Black Bear, Carney was an absolute workhorse during a 17-year NHL career in which he played 80-plus games eight times. Carney came into his own in Chicago before finding his way to Anaheim. There, he was a key component of the Ducks’ blue line and helped the team reach the finals in ’03. His plus-164 rating ranks 93rd all-time.

NHL career: 1992-2008
NHL totals: 1,018 games, 228 points

16. Scott Young
Lethal shooter
Right Wing | Clinton, Mass. | Oct. 1, 1967

A star at St. Mark’s and a standout at BU, Young had eight seasons of 20 goals or more in the NHL, including a career-high 40 for the Blues in 2000-01. Drafted 11th overall by the Whalers in 1986, he was a Cup winner in Pittsburgh in ’91 and Colorado in ’96. The swift winger won a silver medal with Team USA in 2002 in his third Olympic appearance.

NHL career: 1988-2006
NHL totals: 1,181 games, 757 points

15. Mathieu Schneider
Hebrew hero
Defense | Woonsocket, R.I. | June 12, 1969

The highest-scoring Jewish player in NHL history, Schneider (pictured right) didn’t take long to establish himself as one of the game’s top offensive defensemen. Throughout a 21-season career, the 5-foot-11 rearguard scored 10-plus goals 13 times, made two All-Star Games and won the Cup in 1993 with Montreal. He notched 54 points in 114 playoff tilts.

NHL career: 1987-2010
NHL totals: 1,289 games, 743 points

14. Kevin Stevens
Potent Penguin
Left Wing | Brockton, Mass. | April 15, 1965

After four years at BC, Stevens ascended to the enviable role of left winger alongside Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh. In four years from 1990-1994 he scored 190 goals and totaled 408 points, winning two Cups along the way. Though never able to replicate such success after that, Stevens’ 260 goals as a Penguin rank fifth in team history.

NHL career: 1987-2002
NHL totals: 874 games, 283 points

13. Craig Janney
Super setup man
Center | Enfield, Conn. | Sept. 26, 1967

A slick playmaker who all but perfected the art of putting the puck on Cam Neely’s stick, Janney (pictured right) topped the point-per-game mark in his four-plus seasons with the Bruins, notching 283 in 262 contests. He was also a clutch playoff performer and played a big role in Boston advancing to the Cup finals in ’88 and ’90. He ranked in the top 10 for assists four times.

NHL career: 1988-99
NHL totals: 760 games, 751 points

12. Robbie Ftorek
High school legend
Forward | Needham, Mass. | Jan. 2, 1952

Long considered the greatest high school hockey player in Massachusetts history, Ftorek put up astronomical numbers at Needham High, including his second and final year at the school that saw him rack up 118 points in just 23 games. He still holds the state record for points in a single game with 11. He ranks sixth all-time with 523 career points in the WHA and was the league’s MVP in 1976-77.

Pro career: 1972-85
NHL totals: 334 games, 227 points

11. Rod Langway
Hall of Fame blueliner
Defense | Randolph, Mass. | May 3, 1957

Born in China — when his father was stationed in Taiwan — but raised in the Bay State, Langway was a six-time NHL All-Star who won the Norris Trophy in back-to-back seasons with the Capitals (1983, 1984). He captured the Cup in 1979 with Montreal and ranks 33rd all-time with a plus-277 rating. In 2002, the longtime Capitals captain was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

NHL career: 1978-93
NHL totals: 994 games, 329 points

Check back tomorrow for the top ten.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com