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in all of this, list-after-list continues to get published, and list-after-list continues to sit idly, growing old and outdated.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 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.

RankPlayerPositionYears
1Wayne GretzkyC1978-1999
2Gordie HoweRW1946-1980
3Alexander OvechkinLW2005-active
4Mario LemieuxC1984-2006
5Bobby OrrD1966-1979
6Sidney CrosbyC2005-active
7Patrick RoyG1984-2003
8Jaromir JagrRW1990-2018
9Mark MessierC1978-2004
10Martin BrodeurG1991-2015
11Phil EspositoC1963-1981
12Nicklas LidstromD1991-2012
13Ray BourqueD1979-2001
14Dominik HasekG1990-2008
15Jean BeliveauC1950-1971
16Bobby HullLW1957-1980
17Maurice RichardRW1942-1960
18Guy LafleurRW1971-1991
19Doug HarveyD1947-1969
20Jacques PlanteG1952-1975
21Ken DrydenG1970-1979
22Glen HallG1952-1971
23Stan MikitaC1958-1980
24Connor McDavidC2015-active
25Bobby ClarkeC1969-1984
26Evgeni MalkinC2006-active
27Eddie ShoreD1926-1940
28Joe SakicC1988-2009
29Patrick KaneRW2007-active
30Steve YzermanC1983-2006
31Bryan TrottierC1975-1994
32Brett HullRW1986-2006
33Paul CoffeyD1980-2001
34Chris CheliosD1983-2010
35Denis PotvinD1973-1988
36Nikita KucherovRW2013-active
37Andrei VasilevskiyG2014-active
38Mike BossyRW1977-1987
39Howie MorenzC1923-1937
40Terry SawchukG1949-1970
41Al MacInnisD1981-2004
42Larry RobinsonD1972-1992
43Jari KurriRW1978-1998
44Red KellyD/C1947-1967
45Pierre PiloteD1955-1969
46Sergei FedorovC1990-2009
47Peter ForsbergC1994-2011
48Patrice BergeronC2003-active
49Jarome IginlaRW1996-2017
50Chris ProngerD1993-2012
51Brian LeetchD1987-2006
52Cyclone TaylorR1905-1923
53Newsy LalondeC1917-1927
54Joe MaloneC/LW1917-1924
55Teemu SelanneRW1992-2014
56Scott StevensD1982-2004
57Ed BelfourG1988-2007
58Ted LindsayLW1944-1965
59Marcel DionneC1971-1989
60Scott NiedermayerD1991-2010
61Zdeno CharaD1997-active
62Duncan KeithD2005-2022
63Steve StamkosC2008-active
64Anze KopitarC2006-active
65Erik KarlssonD2009-active
66Brad ParkD1968-1985
67Bernie GeoffrionRW1950-1968
68Bernie ParentG1965-1979
69Bill DurnanG1943-1950
70Joe ThorntonC1997-active
71Doug GilmourC1983-2003
72Ted KennedyC1942-1957
73Drew DoughtyD2008-active
74Tony EspositoG1968-1984
75Frank MahovlichLW1956-1978
76Nels StewartC1925-1940
77Elmer LachC1940-1954
78Henrik LundqvistG2005-2020
79Pavel DatsyukC2001-2016
80Martin St. LouisRW1998-2015
81Eric LindrosC1992-2007
82Ron FrancisC1981-2004
83Billy SmithG1971-1989
84Luc RobitailleLW1986-2003
85Roberto LuongoG1999-2019
86Tim ThomasG2002-2014
87Rod LangawayD1977-1993
88Dickie MooreLW1951-1968
89Pavel BureRW1991-2003
90Andy BathgateRW1952-1975
91Johnny BowerG1953-1970
92Milt SchmidtC/D1936-1955
93Syl AppsC1936-1948
94Bill CookRW1926-1937
95Frank NighborC1917-1930
96Charlie ConacherW1929-1941
97Brendan ShanahanLW1987-2009
98Bill CowleyC1934-1947
99Turk BrodaG1936-1952
100Tim HortonD1949-1974