Top 10 NHL Legends and the Teams We Forget They Played for


It is hard to determine which is the greater anomaly: An NHL legend who sticks with one organization throughout a lengthy career or a Gordie Howe/Ray Bourque type who applies the savory cherry in another uniform.

In any given collection of all-time greats, both cases are likely outnumbered by those players whose legend was split among one, two or three teams, but who also had momentary stints elsewhere. Specifically, ones that are so brief they are all but impossible to remember.

For his entire NHL career, Toe Blake’s place of employment was always the Montreal Forum, but not exclusively with the Canadiens. Despite his polarizing move to pilot the WHA, Bobby Hull was not exactly banned for life from the NHL, though he did not stay with Winnipeg or return to Chicago for the final weeks of his career.

Can anyone recall Blake’s first team and Hull’s final club without clicking ahead?

In the cases of those players and anything comparable, the only surefire way to remember those fleeting stints is to be a fan of the team in question and be old enough to remember the player. For everyone else, it is akin to the material in a textbook that one highlights and underlines with three different colored pens in advance of the final exam.

Whether it is a revelation or a refresher, here are 30 members of the Hockey Hall of Fame who penned their legendary logs with at least one NHL franchise and added less than 30 regular season games played with another.

Marty Barry: NY Americans

Barry needed to reboot his NHL career when he spent the entire 1928-29 season in the minors after playing six games with the Amerks the year prior. He eventually found a fresh sheet in Boston and spent the better part of the next decade with the Bruins and Red Wings, tallying six straight 20-goal seasons along the way.

Ed Belfour: San Jose

Belfour bridged his hardware-laden tenures with Chicago and Dallas with a three-month stay in San Jose. It began with a trade in late January 1997 and ended after he posted an unspectacular 3-9-0 record in 13 games.

Doug Bentley: NY Rangers

After 11 sound seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Bentley slipped out of The Show in 1951 and spent the next five years with the Saskatoon Quakers.

The only interruption came in 1953-54 when he joined the Rangers for 20 games, the last 20 he would play at the top level.

Toe Blake: Montreal Maroons

Before Blake spent a combined 26 years (13 apiece) as a winning player and coach for the Canadiens, he broke into The Show across town, putting in eight appearances with the Maroons in 1934-35.

Gerry Cheevers: Toronto

Cheevers is famous for the clever artwork on his facemask, for scooping up two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins and sandwiching four years in the World Hockey Association with his two protracted Boston stints.

All of that notoriety, though, was preceded by six seasons spent largely in the minors and an altogether uneventful two-game twirl with the Maple Leafs in 1961-62.

Paul Coffey: Boston and Chicago

The three-time recipient of the Norris Trophy was hardly his former self or a replacement for beloved contemporaries Chris Chelios or Ray Bourque when he had 10- and 18-game stints with the Blackhawks and Bruins.

In each case, Coffey pitched in zero goals and four assists while incurring a minus-six rating.

Cy Denneny: Boston

Denneny’s days with the original Ottawa Senators overlapped with the founding and the first decade of the NHL. After the 1927-28 season, he transitioned to a part-time playing (23 games) and full-time coaching role with the Bruins, whom he guided to their first Stanley Cup title in 1929.

Ironically, two years prior, Denneny had scored the Cup-clinching goal for Ottawa at Boston’s expense.

Tony Esposito: Montreal

Ken Dryden likely saved the Canadiens from corrosive critique once he stepped in and started backstopping championship runs in 1971. Shortly beforehand, Montreal had let Esposito get away after only a 13-game stint in 1968-69 and then watched him win the 1970 Calder Trophy as a Blackhawk.

Ron Francis: Toronto

Francis was the face of the Hartford Whalers and later the Carolina Hurricanes in the 1980s and early 2000s, respectively. In between, he was a prolific playmaker and two-time Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After all of that, he was a trading deadline import who played 12 games apiece in regular season and playoffs for the Maple Leafs in 2003-04, his final season.

Grant Fuhr: Los Angeles

It is all little wonder the relationship between Fuhr and the Kings is hardly remembered. Each party has had brighter moments, Fuhr’s being back-to-back title runs with Edmonton and L.A.’s being the 1993 and 2012 runs backstopped by Kelly Hrudey and Jonathan Quick.

When Fuhr transferred from Buffalo during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, he posted a 1-7-3 transcript over 14 games played with the Kings. The following year, he became a regular in the win column once more with the St. Louis Blues.

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