You’ve heard of the Seven Wonders? That list compiled by the Hellenic historian Herodotus noting the world’s most spectacular manmade structures, from the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Colossus of Rhodes?
His recognition of ancient marvels served as a guidebook for tourists of his time and inspired countless similar lists over the ages, honoring architectural and engineering achievements ranging from the Great Wall of China to the Panama Canal.
Though not as well known (or as visible from space), the hockey world has its own marvels, too. People, places and things that are revered by generations of fans. And after lengthy consideration, we’ve catalogued seven in each of those three categories that deserved to be honored for posterity.
In this, the second installment of our three-part series, we take at look at the seven living men who, each in his own way, have left a unique and indelible mark on the game.
Scotty Bowman, retired coach
Here’s the thing you need to know about Scotty Bowman. Few of his players over the years liked him. In fact, many actively despised him. But as Ken Dryden wrote in his seminal book, The Game, that didn’t matter.
“What [made] Bowman work is an understanding, the understanding that must exist between a coach and his team,” Dryden wrote. “He knows the most important thing to a team is to win; we know he does what he does to make us win.”
ront office executive, including one this past season as a special advisor to his son, Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman.
It all adds up to a legacy unmatched in the history of the game and one that's made him the professor emeritus of the hockey community. If there’s a question asked, there's no one who can answer it with more authority than Bowman.
Don Cherry, broadcaster
You either love him or you hate him. There’s little middle ground when it comes to Don Cherry. But no matter which side you're on, there’s no denying that he’s used his Coach's Corner pulpit on Hockey Night In Canada to fashion himself into the single-most influential voice in hockey today.
While the former Jack Adams Award winner (Bruins, 1976) is criticized by some for his abrasive, anti-modernist approach, Cherry is equally beloved for his devotion to old-time hockey and the code of honor that made the game great. A former minor league defenseman from 1954-72 (he played in one NHL game), he earned the distinctive nickname “Grapes” (the origin of the nickname varies from the shape of his head to his discontent—sour grapes—at being stuck in the minors and developed a fondness for his trademark flashy suits.
But what makes Grapes so good at what he does—and such a national treasure that he was once voted one of the 10 greatest Canadians of all-time—is that he’s not just another talking head poking at raw nerves for the sake of showmanship. He simply offers his truth, one unfiltered glass at a time ... and he doesn’t care whether you take a drink or not. He’s also not afraid to speak his mind on world events.
That consistent honesty means one thing: Don Cherry is the voice of the common fan. Love him or hate him, you have to pay attention when he speaks.
GALLERY: Don Cherry’s Fashion Statements
Don Cherry's Fashion Statements
May 28, 2008
Don Cherry is renowned for his sartorial splendor and nothing—we mean, nothing—says "famous NHL commentator" or "kid show host" quite like the plaid rainbow warrior look.
June 19, 2013
The purple passion ensemble. Perfect for pitching woo at the ladies.
Jan. 26, 2013
Attire that always looks good under the tree on Christmas morning.
May 30, 2012
Got a beef with the officiating? Meet ‘em head-on with the Zebra Look.
Jan. 29, 2012
There’s something to be said for subtlety, but let the other guy say it for cryin' out loud.
June 4, 2011
When it comes to natty threads, ya gotta lead by example.
May 15, 2011
Always dignified, no matter the company you keep.
Jan. 18, 2011
This will sharpen you up and serve 'em a bit of the ol' ultra-violet.
Sept. 28, 2010
Celebrating the Cubist movement.
May 31, 2009
Bustin’ out in style.
May 30, 2009
If you're planning to disorient your dinner guests or the opposing team, this is the jacket you want.
May 24, 2008
Planning a tropical getaway or a fruit fight? Don's got the jacket for you.
May 13, 2008
Nothing says "the sweet smell of success" like floral arrangement evening wear by Cherry.
Jan. 1, 2008
Top coat, top hat. He don't worry 'cause his wallet's fat. Black shades, white gloves. Lookin sharp and lookin for love....
June 4, 2007
This look is appropriate for more solemn gatherings with unwanted relatives, bill collectors and other opinonated types.
May 30, 2007
Rockin’ the Secret Service look.
March 31, 2007
A dignified gray suit calls for some dignified headwear, eh?
Jan. 19, 2005
A true leader behind the bench knows that to motivate a floater, you've got to put on the plaid. The louder, the better.
June 5, 2004
Oh, Canada, Don's hat stands on guard for thee.
May 31, 2004
The hat makes the man.
May 27, 2004
There's never any need to feel blue about a receding hairline...
May 25, 2004
Mardi Gras afterwear exclusively by Cherry.
May 11, 2004
Gotta always look sharper than a Great White's molars.
May 9, 2004
How to grace a construction site.
Sept. 6, 1996
Even the most hardworking hockey commentator needs to kick back in casual wear that doesn't take a shift off from making a statement.
March 6, 1993
You, too, can put your neighbors’ eyes out with a few tasteful selections from my exclusive clothing line.
Doc Emrick, broadcaster
Mike “Doc” Emrick is, without question, the most visible and beloved figure in American hockey today. As the lead announcer for both NBC and NBC Sportsnet, he’s the familiar and reassuring voice of the game and its greatest ambassador, capable of selling a meaningless mid-February clash between Carolina and Phoenix to a casual observer as though it were a Game 7 in the playoffs.
His passion for the sport shines through in every broadcast, as does his remarkable command of the English language, which continues to amaze even his most diehard admirers. One of them catalogued the 153 unique verbs to describe the movement of the puck during one Olympic broadcast ... and that may have been a slow night for Doc.
Emrick, who got his start calling games for the IHL’s Port Huron Flags in 1973, won the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 for his outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster. In 2011 he became the first broadcaster named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and is a three-time Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Sports Personality, including 2014 and 2015. He’s called 17 Stanley Cup finals, five Olympics, and earned the respect of everyone who’s dealt with him along the way.
It’s a legacy that led NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to suggest that legendary broadcaster Vin Scully “is the Doc Emrick of baseball.” Doc himself would never buy that, but in terms of his impact on the game the comparison isn’t so far off.
Wayne Gretzky, retired player
He was, arguably, the greatest to ever play the game. In fact, there’s a good case to be made that Gretzky made the greatest impact of any athlete in any sport. He won nine Hart trophies, a record for MVP awards by any player in North American professional sports. He led the Oilers to four Stanley Cups while setting a boatload of scoring records, capped by an astounding career record of 2,857 points.
, to catch him. Gretzky tallied more assists (1,963) than any other player has points.
A case can be made that The Great One is the most important Canadian sportsman ever, with his success extending beyond the borders of NHL play. He set up one of the greatest goals in hockey history—Mario Lemieux's clincher in the 1987 Canada Cup—and built the team that claimed gold at the Salt Lake City Olympics, ending a 50-year drought for Canadian hockey.
But what really sets players like Howe and Bobby Orr and Gretzky apart is that their greatness extends beyond the ice. They proved to be the sort of people we all aspire to be.
“He’s a gentleman and lives his life responsibly away from the rink,” Hall of Fame Jean Béliveau, the Canadiens great who is still regarded as the epitome of class, once said of Gretzky. “I have a lot of admiration for his longstanding efforts to sell the game across North America.”
Of course, for Gretzky it’s not really about selling the game. He simply has an enduring appreciation for hockey and everything it has given him. And because of that, he’s never forgotten what it’s like to be the one asking for the autograph. That’s why he always made time for fans, and found a way to make them feel special.
That’s greatness right there.
Gordie Howe, retired player
Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr, who know a thing or two about the game, believe that Mr. Hockey set the standard by which all others are measured. “He is, he was, he will always be the greatest of all time,” The Great One said at an event honoring Howe last winter.
“Gordie is, in my mind, the greatest ever,” said Orr.
It's hard to dispute their case. Howe skated for 32 years, 26 of them in the NHL, setting records for seasons and games played (2,186). He was named to the NHL’s All-Star Team 21 times and ranked among the league’s top-10 scorers in 21 consecutive seasons. Six times he was the league’s scoring champion. Six times he was the MVP. Four times he was a Stanley Cup champ.
Every record worth owning, Howe held until Gretzky came along. “His numbers are outrageous and most of that was with the [Original Six] teams, when it was a lot tougher," Orr said. “I don’t think there’s any question. Play any way you want to play … he was special.”
But as special as he was on the ice, Gordie has been an even better person off it. “Nobody handles people like Gordie. He’s just a natural,” Gretzky said. “He's at ease. He treats everyone the same, whether it's the prime minister of Canada or somebody that lives on a farm in Saskatchewan.”
Ask anyone who’s ever met Gordie and asked for an autograph or a photo and they’ll tell you the same. He is the game’s greatest ambassador.
Jaromir Jagr, forward, Florida Panthers
At 43, Jagr is the game’s elder statesman and a seemingly ageless marvel. “A lot of people thought I was done,” he told the Panthers website this summer after signing a new deal that will take him into for his 22nd NHL season, “but those young guys give me extra energy, extra life and I'm glad I can continue to play.”
But Jagr isn’t simply extending the clock. While he might not be the dominant player he was in his prime, his relentless devotion to training has allowed him to remain an effective offensive weapon at a time when most players are well into their retirement. Consider that during the final 20 games of last season alone Jagr tallied six goals and 18 points—enough to pass Phil Esposito for fifth all-time in goals (722), Adam Oates for sixth all-time in assists (1,080) and Ron Francis for fourth all-time in points (1,802). In May, he led the Czech Republic with six goals and was named the MVP of the World Championships.
And he’s showing no signs of slowing down as he battles for the second spot on each of the all-time lists. In fact, after joining the Panthers ahead of the trade deadline last March, he posted a total shot attempt contribution (individual shot attempts plus passes that lead to shot attempts) per 60 minutes of ice time of 35.03, fourth in the league behind only Joe Thornton, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
“He's basically a freak of nature,” Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “[H]is love and passion for the game are almost unparalleled right now. What he does at his age still and how much fun he looks like he’s having, that’s a rare commodity. I know I got to my mid-30s and I was thinking, ‘Boy, I’m not sure how long I can do this,’ and he’s still going hard.... It’s a credit to him as a player and his passion for the game.”
Fortunately for fans everywhere, that passion still burns bright. “I'll play for Florida for at least one more season,” he said after announcing his retirement from international competition. “And after an [NHL retirement] I’m still planning to come back and play in the Czech League.” Ageless, indeed.
Bobby Orr, retired player
Red Fisher, the long-time Montreal sportswriter and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, called Orr, “The best I’ve ever seen. He pulled me out of my press-box seat more often than Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe,” Fisher wrote, “and more often than Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. He lifted the game to another level.”
Before his career was cruelly cut short after just 12 injury-plagued seasons, Orr changed the nature of his position and, by extension, the game. He is the only defenseman to have won the league scoring title (he turned that trick twice) and holds the single-season record for most assists (102) and points (139) by a blueliner. Orr also won eight consecutive Norris trophies as the league’s top defenseman and three consecutive Hart trophies as the NHL’s MVP. He led the Bruins to a pair of Stanley Cups, accounting for the clinching goal in both. For good measure he holds the record for the highest single-season plus-minus rating with +124 in 1970-71.
He was tough as nails, too. Fisher recalled a bench-clearing brawl between the Bruins and Canadiens during Orr’s first season. The rookie sought out Montreal’s Ted Harris—by Fisher’s estimation one of the two best fighters in the game at the time—and knocked him down. Twice.
In 1979, at age 31, Orr became the youngest player ever inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Since then, he has remained one of the game's great ambassadors, working as an agent to help younger players navigate the path to NHL stardom.
GALLERY: Bobby Orr Through The Years
Bobby Orr Through The Years
Blessed with impressive two-way skills, Bobby Orr was signed to an exclusive contract by the Boston Bruins at the tender age of 12 but league rules required that he wait until age 18 before he played in the league.
Bobby Orr made his NHL debut in 1966-67 and went on to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year. He finished second among defensemen in scoring with 13 goals and 41 points, and his +30 rating spoke loudly of his formidable all-around play.
A swift, almost effortless skater and brilliant playmaker, Bobby Orr began revolutionizing the game by posting offensive numbers unprecedented for a backliner.
Bobby Orr won two scoring titles and had six consecutive 100-point seasons (1969-75), including the first by a defenseman.
Though his offensive exploits made headlines, Bobby Orr's defensive prowess was second to none. Unafraid of the physical game (or a fight) and able to use his speed to foil opponents' rushes, he won a record eight consecutive Norris Trophies, beginning with the 1967-68 season.
This iconic photo of Bobby Orr captures him in mid-flight moments after scoring the overtime goal against St. Louis in Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final that gave the Bruins their first championship in 29 years.
Bobby Orr not only drank from the Stanley Cup, he was the first defenseman to ever be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff MVP in 1970. He scored 20 points in 14 games.
Named SI's Sportsman of the Year for 1970, Bobby Orr proceeded to score a career-high 139 points in 1970-71, winning the second of his three straight Hart Trophies as the NHL's MVP. Orr remains the only player ever to win the Hart, Ross, Norris and Smythe Trophies in the same season (1969-70).
The NHL's first million dollar player when he signed a five-year contract at $200,000 per season prior to the 1971-72 campaign, Bobby Orr proved to be worth every penny, scoring 37 goals and 117 points.
The Conn Smythe was Orr's again as the Bruins beat the New York Rangers for the 1971-72 Stanley Cup. The silverware-winning goal was scored by Orr in Game 6, making him the first player to win the Smythe twice.
Incessant, painful knee injuries plagued Bobby Orr, who had countless operations and ended up skating on little more than bone on bone. After setting a goal-scoring record for defensemen (46, in 1974-75), his playing time and production declined dramatically.
Bobby Orr's agent Alan Eagleson (center) engineered a controversial deal with the Chicago Blackhawks before the 1976-77 season, but the backliner was limited by injury to only 26 games in the next three seasons, one of which he missed entirely. Refusing to cash his Chicago paychecks, the proud Orr retired in 1979 at the age to 31, with a total of 270 goals, 645 assists, and 953 points.
With the mandatory three-year waiting period waived, Orr was enshrined in the Hockey of Hall of Fame in 1979, the youngest player ever inducted. The Bruins retired his jersey number the same year.
Golfing great Jack Nicklaus gives Orr some tips at the Bobby Orr Invitational golf tournament at Emerald Hills in 1987.
In 1995, Bobby Orr was reunited with former Bruins Milt Schmidt, John Bucyk and Phil Esposito at a farewell ceremony for the old Boston Garden.
New England Patriots stars Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi walk to the mound alongside Bill Russell and Bobby Orr to toss the first pitch before the Red Sox home opener against the Yankees in 2005. After the Red Sox banished the Curse of the Bambino the previous fall, the team brought in some of Boston's biggest champions for the ceremony.
Bobby Orr collects a $100 bet from Don Cherry after the two coached the 2009 Top Prospects Game, the annual showcase for top junior talent. Orr's team won the game 6-1.