The Concept

Few things get people fired-up faster than a top-100 list. Emotions range from palpable pride when a hometown hero holds a lofty spot to full-on, conspiracy-fueled paranoia when the opposite is true. It almost doesn’t even matter what’s on the list, it will generate a response, and we can be sure some combination of “stupid,” “dumb,” and “idiot” will show up along the way. Lists are lightning rods because they can’t be “right” or “wrong.” There are more than enough statistics at our disposal to keep even the weakest opinions afloat, and—when all else fails—there’s always the straw man. The number of possible disputes is limitless. Grab some popcorn and head to the comments section of a random top-100 list on Google to see that personified. People love/hate lists because there is something for everyone to love/hate. The only drawback—and it’s a big one—is that a list becomes dated as soon as it is published. The sports world moves so fast that it doesn’t take long for the next big thing to burst onto the scene or an injury to suddenly derail a Hall-of-Fame career.

To complicate matters, the first human to ever paint a list on the side of a cave set the unfortunate precedent that once we publish it, we walk away, never to return as if time freezes at that very moment. Maybe time did freeze. Perhaps Linkovich “Link” Chomovsky never got a chance to update his painting of “the greatest spear-throwers of all-time” before freezing-over and ending up an Estonian exchange student at Encino High School 40,000 years later. Regardless of Link’s role in all of this, list-after-list continues to get published, and list-after-list continues to sit idly, growing old and outdated. Imagine how self-conscious a list with LeBron James ranked outside the top 10 must feel. Even the lists themselves know they’re dated, and if they had opposable thumbs they’d have enough pride to update themselves. There has to be a better way than continuing to create sad relics destined for the farthest corners of the internet.

It is that realization that stands as the impetus for this real-time top-100 concept. Instead of viewing a list as something complete, we can endeavor to treat it as a living, breathing, evolving entity that is not to be finished but nourished and amended—in real-time—as players arrive, perform, and depart. Like a pot that refuses to boil, a top-100 list might not change much under constant scrutiny but allow enough time to pass, and drastic change materializes in short order. Whether it’s a series of dynamite UFC cards, an NBA Finals, or the Super Bowl, legacies are always changing, and those changes typically occur before most of us even realize it. Mike Trout and Aaron Donald were already among the 20 greatest players of all-time by the time they hit 29, even if conventional wisdom says we can’t say it out loud. Tending to these lists in real-time will help us reverse the bad habit of being kinder to older generations and harsher to the current. We can do this by reflecting elite resumes as they are formed, rather than after they are formed, with the added benefit of recognizing and appreciating greatness while it is still being displayed instead of long after it has departed. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Happy scrolling!

The 100 Greatest Hockey Players of All-Time

Methodology. (Last update: 6/25/24)

1Wayne GretzkyC1978-1999
2Gordie HoweRW1946-1980
3Alexander OvechkinLW2005-active
4Mario LemieuxC1984-2006
5Bobby OrrD1966-1979
6Sidney CrosbyC2005-active
7Patrick RoyG1984-2003
8Connor McDavidC2015-active
9Jaromir JagrRW1990-2018
10Mark MessierC1978-2004
11Martin BrodeurG1991-2015
12Phil EspositoC1963-1981
13Nicklas LidstromD1991-2012
14Ray BourqueD1979-2001
15Dominik HasekG1990-2008
16Jean BeliveauC1950-1971
17Bobby HullLW1957-1980
18Maurice RichardRW1942-1960
19Guy LafleurRW1971-1991
20Doug HarveyD1947-1969
21Jacques PlanteG1952-1975
22Ken DrydenG1970-1979
23Glen HallG1952-1971
24Stan MikitaC1958-1980
25Bobby ClarkeC1969-1984
26Evgeni MalkinC2006-active
27Eddie ShoreD1926-1940
28Joe SakicC1988-2009
29Patrick KaneRW2007-active
30Nikita KucherovRW2013-active
31Steve YzermanC1983-2006
32Bryan TrottierC1975-1994
33Brett HullRW1986-2006
34Erik KarlssonD2009-active
35Paul CoffeyD1980-2001
36Chris CheliosD1983-2010
37Denis PotvinD1973-1988
38Andrei VasilevskiyG2014-active
39Mike BossyRW1977-1987
40Howie MorenzC1923-1937
41Terry SawchukG1949-1970
42Al MacInnisD1981-2004
43Larry RobinsonD1972-1992
44Jari KurriRW1978-1998
45Nathan MacKinnonC2013-active
46Red KellyD/C1947-1967
47Pierre PiloteD1955-1969
48Sergei FedorovC1990-2009
49Peter ForsbergC1994-2011
50Patrice BergeronC2003-2023
51Auston MatthewsC2016-active
52Leon DraisaitlC2014-active
53Chris ProngerD1993-2012
54Brian LeetchD1987-2006
55Cyclone TaylorR1905-1923
56Newsy LalondeC1917-1927
57Joe MaloneC/LW1917-1924
58Teemu SelanneRW1992-2014
59Scott StevensD1982-2004
60Jarome IginlaRW1996-2017
61Steve StamkosC2008-active
62Ed BelfourG1988-2007
63Ted LindsayLW1944-1965
64Marcel DionneC1971-1989
65Scott NiedermayerD1991-2010
66Zdeno CharaD1997-2022
67Duncan KeithD2005-2022
68Anze KopitarC2006-active
69Brad ParkD1968-1985
70Bernie GeoffrionRW1950-1968
71Bernie ParentG1965-1979
72Bill DurnanG1943-1950
73Joe ThorntonC1997-2022
74Doug GilmourC1983-2003
75Ted KennedyC1942-1957
76Drew DoughtyD2008-active
77Tony EspositoG1968-1984
78Frank MahovlichLW1956-1978
79Nels StewartC1925-1940
80Elmer LachC1940-1954
81Henrik LundqvistG2005-2020
82Sergei BobrovskyG2010-active
83Pavel DatsyukC2001-2016
84Martin St. LouisRW1998-2015
85Eric LindrosC1992-2007
86Ron FrancisC1981-2004
87Billy SmithG1971-1989
88Luc RobitailleLW1986-2003
89Roberto LuongoG1999-2019
90Tim ThomasG2002-2014
91Rod LangawayD1977-1993
92Dickie MooreLW1951-1968
93Pavel BureRW1991-2003
94Andy BathgateRW1952-1975
95Johnny BowerG1953-1970
96Milt SchmidtC/D1936-1955
97Syl AppsC1936-1948
98Bill CookRW1926-1937
99Frank NighborC1917-1930
100Charlie ConacherW1929-1941