Here's the thing about listing the greatest power forwards in NHL history: the concept of what exactly constitutes a power forward is about as loose as the definition of comedy.
So how best to explain where this list is coming from? While I generally avoid Wikipedia like a dark alley after a run to the bank, I actually like the parameters they set on the term:
"A forward who is big and strong, equally capable of playing physically or scoring goals and would most likely have high totals in both points and penalties. It is usually used in reference to a forward who is physically large, with the toughness to dig the puck out of the corners, possesses offensive instincts...and willingly engages in fights when required."
It's not perfect, but it's close to what I'm thinking. That's why you won't see Mark Messier on this list -- he's more of a powerful forward than a power forward by my definition.
Same thing with Gordie Howe.
I like my power forwards to bring a bit more menace to the table. That's a quality inherent in each of these picks.
Disagree? Make your case in the comment section below.
10. Milan Lucic
It can't be easy to play the game the way Looch does in Boston. There are the constant comparisons to the patron saint of power forwards, Cam Neely, the expectations of a discerning and demanding crowd, and kids throwing snowballs. But the 6'-4" winger has emerged from early struggles to become the league's most dominating physical presence, and arguably the one most uniquely capable of changing a game with a thundering hit, a raucous tilt or a bullish assault on the net.
9. Clark Gillies
"Jethro" was never a volume fighter, but he dropped the gloves often enough to make a statement. In one memorable battle from his rookie season of 1974-75, he demolished Dave Schultz during the playoffs. It was the sort of decisive victory that made it a little more difficult for him to find someone willing to go, but he was more than just the cop on the beat for the dynastic Islanders. Gillies was an immovable object in front of the net, and he had the hands to take advantage of the opportunities provided by superstar linemates Bryan Trotter and Mike Bossy.
8. Brendan Shanahan
He'd eventually become one of the highest-scoring left wings in history, topping the 40-goal mark six times and twice breaching 50 on his way to 656 career tallies. But Shanny was a good Irish lad who enjoyed mixing it up on occasion. While he didn't drop them as often once he left his NHL stop in Hartford, he continued to play the sort of robust, physical game that gradually wore down defenses until he could beat them down low with a wicked wrister.
7. Al Secord
Still hard to believe the the Boston Bruins -- Don Cherry's Boston Bruins -- gave up on Secord just three years after drafting him 16th overall in 1978. He found a home in Chicago, playing mostly with the crafty Denis Savard, and matured into a wrecking ball with the Blackhawks. He played his best hockey over his 423 games there, scoring 199 goals and dropping the mitts 89 times on his way 1,292 PiMs. "He would pay any price to win," Savard said.
6. Keith Tkachuk
The son of a Boston fireman, Tkachuk learned early on that his size and strength -- and willingness to drop the gloves -- gave him a huge advantage playing the game. One of the sport's great personalities off the ice, he cultivated an intimidating aura of menace on it. More than one teammate remarked that Tkachuk liked hurting an opponent, and that reputation eventually bought him the time and space to show off a decent set of mitts. He's one of just four players to top both 1,000 points and 2,000 career penalty minutes.
5. Rick Tocchet
He was scarcely more than a blunt object when he entered the league, averaging 263 minutes in penalties and nearly 18 fights per year over his first four seasons. But his game slowly evolved as he cut down on his box time. Fearless and hardworking, he became as dangerous in front of the net as in the corners. In one remarkable four-game stretch in 1988, he notched three hat tricks.
4. Wendel Clark
As Mark Twain wrote, "it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." Clark was no one's idea of a heavyweight, but his heart alone made up for whatever advantages he gave up to an opponent. A raw-boned farm boy from Saskatchewan, he fought 52 times over his first two seasons and then was hard-pressed to find anyone willing to dance with him. Fortunately, there were still corners to work, and Clark was a master at separating the puck from a carrier with a hard hit. He also had a knack for scoring the big goal. His hat trick in Game 6 of the 1993 Campbell Conference finals ranks as one of the greatest performances in Maple Leafs franchise history.
3. Jarome Iginla
His last name means "big tree" in his Nigerian father's native language, which seems fitting for a player who is still virtually impossible to move when he plants himself in the slot. The beauty of Iginla lies in his longevity. While others wear down over time, his dark passenger has kept him company throughout his 16-year career. He's relentless and punishing along the boards and a terror down low, but it's his continued willingness to make a statement that sets him apart. When the moment arises, he'll drop them, and he remains one of the most ferocious fighters in the game at 35.
2. Eric Lindros
From the first time I saw Lindros running roughshod over the helpless Windsor Spitfires as a 16-year-old, it was obvious that he was different. Too big, too strong. If he hit you, you were lucky to get back up. And if he had the puck and lowered his shoulder, there was no way to stop him from driving to the net. But it wasn't just because he was a man among boys. When he finally got to the NHL with the Flyers, he was a man among men, Don Draper on steroids, the uber-man. He may have been the most physically gifted player ever until Scott Stevens scrambled his eggs and left him to finish out his career skating on eggshells. Still, a Hall of Famer in my book.
1. Cam Neely
You have to wonder how the Canucks missed it. All of it. The hands, the ferocious competitive drive, the double helping of courage. Neely was the complete package and the ultimate warrior. This was a player so tough that in one game against the hated Canadiens, he took a slap shot in the head, sat still for 16 stitches, then went out and fought Shayne Corson...who promptly split him open again. Didn't matter. He was always willing to pay the price, and he excelled at exacting a greater toll from the opposition with his relentless physical play and his Hall of Fame touch. And yet the Canucks gave him away.