There was a time in my life when this hockey card was my prize possession. I hid it in a shoe box, top drawer of my dresser, and Orr was hidden at the bottom–I felt thieves would go after the Leafs and Golden Seals at the top. I had the entire set (that’s a story for .another day) but the Orr card had special value. He was my hero, but he was also the very best player on the very best team–the Boston Bruins of my youth.
Choosing Orr as #1 among men like Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Wayne Cashman, Johnny McKenzie, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith, Gerry Cheevers and Derek Sanderson was easy–Orr was so unique as a player even the older men would tell you he was the bet hockey player alive in 1971. (Note: My Mom threw the entire shoebox out my first summer working away from home. Seriously. The entire 1970-71 collection–Ken Dryden’s rookie card was part of that collection).
I think we all have our own personal "pecking order" for our favorite teams. Take the current Oilers. Our man Wanye clearly values his Jordan Eberle bobblehead beyond any other, while I believe Taylor Hall is the top drawer talent. I’ve read many posters online suggest "the Nuge" may end up being the best talent–hell Jonathan Willis himself has waxed poetic on that very subject.
And what of the outsider, the Russian, the Nail? WHAT IF he’s the best of the bunch?
MY "TOP DRAWER" LIST
For me, Taylor Hall has been #1 on the list since this goal in December 2010 (it was in OT, and a winner). He’s the first of the kids to push the river, his secondary numbers tower over the others and he’s going to be a star in Eric T’s "zone entry" revolution I just know it.
However, that’s my opinion. That and $5 get you most of a cup of coffee these days, and there are some outstanding candidates for #1 on this Oilers team.
- Jordan Eberle, ridiculous scorer with soft hands. He’s so smooth he’s Don Juan on ice.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, sees the ice and dishes passes so beautifully it borders on the impossible. If he continues his current pace on the powerplay, he’ll soon erase the days of "MacTavish powerplays" which features things like a broken Mike York and a healthy Toby Petersen in our 5×4 memory banks.
- Nail Yakupov, who posted two more assists this morning and is having an outstanding season (18, 10-8-18) for Neftekhimik.
- Justin Schultz, the young man who has taken the AHL by storm and given Oiler fans one more reason to be excited for next NHL season.
THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE
My favorite Boys on the Bus member was Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri wasn’t far behind. I was in absolute awe of Gretzky, and maybe that’s why Messier was my favorite (it also probably didn’t help that my buddy Lorne kept saying 99 was better than Orr) but I think there’s something else at work here: it is not clearly established at this time which of these young players will have the highest ceiling and which of them will have health on their side.
Its an interesting question.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Five years from now, we should have a clear order 1-5 for this group. If you ask me which player will end up being the best in the group, my current order is this:
- Taylor Hall
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- Nail Yakupov
- Jordan Eberle
- Justin Schultz
- What does your list look like?
- Don’t tell Wanye I put Eberle at #4.