Sports Illustrated's 10 greatest hockey stories

From Gary Smith's profile of the irascible Mike Keenan to E.M. Swift's dispatch on Wayne Gretzky's final game, these are the 10 greatest hockey stories in SI history.
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The first true hockey story in the pages of Sports Illustrated called the game a “great northern sport.” (It’s better than the first mention of hockey in the magazine, which wasn’t even referring to the iced version. A boomerang was compared to a “sawed-off field hockey stick.”)

A lot has changed since those humble origins. Indeed, the magazine has been home to some of the greatest hockey writers in history—E.M. Swift, Michael Farber, among others—along with some of the most memorable dispatches of this great northern sport. 

Below is one attempt at culling the archives of Sports Illustrated for the ten best hockey stories in its history. They range from profiles of stars like Maurice “Rocket” Richard and Gordie Howe, to in-depth investigations on the role of Sudafed in the sport. All are classics.

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By S.L. Price | March 2, 2009

Long after his playing days finished, Bobby Orr’s second act as an agent is nearly as successful as his first act as star defenseman. With “that eternally boyish Bobby-ness,” Orr remains a singular hockey icon.

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By Gary Smith | May 8, 1995

Why is ever-successful coach Mike Keenan consistently looking for work? And why, after numerous firings, is he consistently re-hired? The answer lies within.

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By E.M. Swift | January 21, 1980

Gordie Howe keeps playing … and playing. Think he’s slowed down? Don’t tell him that.

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By Johnette Howard | November 2, 1998

Deep in the heart of Texas, Brett Hull set the foundation for the South’s first Stanley Cup win. 

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by Michael Farber | October 4, 1999

Long a league with players as white as the ice, the NHL is expanding in African-American communities, led by scoring stars Anson Carter and Jarome Iginla

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By Michael Farber | February 2, 1998

It’s not longer just for the common cold; Sudafed has become the NHL’s drug du jour for the jolt it gives players.

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By E.M. Swift | April 26, 1999

The Great One plays one final game.

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By Michael Farber | May 10, 2010

He’s only 22, but Sidney Crosby is the best player now and for the future.

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By Michael Farber | January 8, 2001

Owner-player-savior: Mario Lemieux can do it all, including playing top-notch hockey.