The Story of the NHL: Three well known but not legendary players and their influence on the game we love

Influence is not the same as greatness.  Sometimes the two concepts reside in the same entity, but that’s not the case in most circumstances.  Here’s a couple parallels from other entertainment genres.


Blade Runner (1982) 

I am not a fan of Blade Runner.  It’s glacially paced and doesn’t tell a compelling story (according to me).  No one can deny it’s influence.   It’s a dark future film noir, that launched the cyberpunk movement.  Nueromancer  by William Gibson is my all time favorite novel and directly influenced by Blade Runner.  The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, and dozens of other video media call back to boring Blade Runner.

Revolver – The Beatles (1966)

This is maybe my 4th or 5th favorite Beatles album.  The only song I really like is Eleanor Rigby.  From it’s wiki

Revolver expanded the scope of pop music in terms of the range of musical styles used on the album, compositional form, and the lyrical content of its songs. The album was influential in advancing principles espoused by the 1960s counterculture and in inspiring the development of subgenres such as psychedelic rock, electronica, progressive rock and world music. Many music critics recognize it as the Beatles’ best album, surpassing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I can disagree with critics about how much to enjoy this album, but I can’t disagree that this album shaped the story of pop music in the 60s and beyond.


Alexei Yashin

Not all influences are positive!  Alexei Yashin was a great player, who was the first to sign a ridiculous long term contract.    It’s important to know, that taking the money offered to him, was a logical and appropriate thing to do.  I’ve never refused a raise either.  It’s also important to remember that Yashin was very, very good.   He scored 337 goals and 444 assists mostly in the Dead Puck Era.  But all anyone remembers is The Contract.   The Contract was a catalyst to the 2005-2006 lock out that forever chanced the NHL.

Slava Fetisov

Most of my knowledge on Slava Fetisov comes from the 30 for 30 documentary, “Of Miracles and Men“.  It followed the legendary Soviet international team through their 3 decades of dominance.  The last third focused on the late 80s and the gradual release of Soviet/Russian players into the NHL.  This was really well done, and it needed to be to make me care about a durty, durty Red Wing.

I now find Fetisov admirable.   He was the pioneer for making the NHL a truly international league.  There were notable Eastern European players before Fetisov, but those players fled/escaped/defected their home countries.  Fetisov was the first Eastern European to arrive in North America and likely be welcomed back to his home country.

Neal Broten

Neal Broten is a hot button issue for me.  Neal Broten should 100% be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

  • 923 points in 1099 NHL games
  • On the Miracle on Ice team
  • First player to win an NCAA championship, Olympic Gold medal and Stanley Cup championship
  • Inaugural Hobey Baker Award winner.

The Miracle on Ice was a seminal moment 38 years ago.  It laid the foundation for the NHL to expand into the Sun Belt.  It also forced the NHL to take American born players seriously.  Neal Broten had the best NHL career of that team (apologies to Mike Ramsey).


To be continued?

There’s more to the history of hockey than Mount Rushmore : Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux, Howe.   I’ll try and find some more influences.




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