John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


My latest for Hockey Prime Time

Montreal's Westmount Arena, site of the first NHL game.

Recognize this place? It's one of my top 10 arenas in NHL history. Hover your cursor over the picture for the answer.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I’m involved with a hockey website called It’s a great site that offers up news and analysis of the National Hockey League as well as hockey around the world.

Normally I’d be writing some notebooks on the comings and goings of the NHL’s Northeast division.

However, since there’s no hockey on right now we’ve been putting together a series of Top 10 lists. I’ve contributed two articles to the project and I’m really proud of both of them.

Most recent was my list of the Top 10 Arenas in Hockey History. A few recent rinks that made the list are Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena and Philadelphia’s Spectrum.

My other Top 10 list was posted about a week ago and breaks down the Top 10 Most Influential Individuals in NHL history. I had a blast writing it. Like my work with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame I got to combine my interest in history with my love of hockey.

Art Ross, former general manager of the Boston Bruins and innovator of the game.

Recognize this guy? He's #9 on my list of the most influential people in NHL history. Hover your cursor over the picture for his name.

I think my list of ten influential people will surprise some people and hopefully it’ll also introduce people to some players and builders who don’t get enough credit for shaping the modern NHL. I also feel that some people will be surprised at who is at the top of the list as the most influential man in NHL history.

In any event, it was a lot of fun putting these lists together.

What do you think the most significant hockey arenas are in hockey history?

What about influential people? Do you think I missed anyone?

Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Well it was hard to disagree with most of your choices, and there is no doubting that all 10 of those people had/have a great influence on the NHL but here is my list of who I think are the 10 most influential. My biggest issue with your list is that is a bit to focused on the business aspect of the game. I tried to balance mine a bit more towards the hockey aspect but am not sure if I actually succeeded:

    1. Clarence Cambell
    As League President from 1947-1977 Cambell was the man in charge during hockey’s “golden era’. He was crucial in overseeing the original expansion from 6 to 12 teams and up to 18 by the time he retired. He fought off the threat from the WHA ensuring that the NHL remained the Top league. And most notoriously he suspended the Rocket and had the guts(or stupidity) to show up to the next game leading to the Richard Riots. Through good and bad he set the leagues path for 30 years.
    2. Al Eagleson
    His influence is undeniable despite all his wrongdoings.
    3. Bobby Orr
    On the ice: he completely changed the way defence is played. He is still the greatest defenceman to ever play and off the ice he was and still is a major play in NHL labour relations.
    4. Vladislav Tretiak
    I had trouble choosing between him and Patrick Roy. Tretiak was the innovator of the butterfly style but Roy perfected it and led it to be the most dominant goaltending style in the game. I give Tretiak the nod only because in addition to the butterfly he backstopped the Russians in the 72 summit series which redefined how Russians and other Europeans hockey nations were viewed by North Americans.
    5. Gary Bettman
    While I agree he is hugely influential in shaping the NHL today I don’t think his true influence will be known till long after he is gone. It will be interesting to see how well his sunbelt expansion holds up over the next 10-15 years.
    6. Foster Hewitt
    The voice of Hockey Night in Canada. Hewitt brought the game to people across the country who couldn’t afford to go to a game or lived to far away from any NHL clubs. His influence is still evident anytime you hear an announcer say “He shoots He scores”.
    7. Bobby Hull
    Aside from being a prolific goal scorer Hull made his biggest influence on the NHL by leaving it. By signing a than unheard of 1 million dollar contract with the WHA Hull ushered in an era of exploding contracts leading eventually to the lockout of 04-05
    8. Börje Salming
    The first European star of the NHL. Salming paved the way for the wave of Europeans to make their way across the pond to play in the NHL. Followed by the likes of Jari Kurri and Petr Statsny, Salming led the way to the NHL being the truly multinational league it is today.

    9. George Hainsworth
    22 shutouts in 44 games. That amazing feat will never be matched mainly because it was the spur of the biggest rule change hockey has ever implemented the introduction of the forward pass. It is hard to imagine hockey without the forward pass so it is easy to overlook how important this change was but it all started with Hainsworth’s unbelievable feat of 22 shutouts in a single year.

    Left blank because I can’t think of a forward who was changed the way his position was played. Bobby Orr changed the way defence was played. Tretiak and Roy changed the way goaltenders play. But in my mind there has never been a player to truly change the way forwards play the game. Sure, Gretzky played differently than everyone else but he didn’t influence his position like Orr. No one who came after Gretzky could truly emulate him because his skill was just too high. Other players have all followed in the footsteps of those before them none that I can think of really changing the way the game is played quite like Tretiak, Roy and Orr did. Maybe there is someone but I can’t think of anyone so my tenth spot is left for the next great innovator who changes the way forwards play the game of hockey.

  2. Take a good look — Art Ross looks like John Chidley-Hill. Take another look — see! MoG

  3. Matt did not succeed in his hockey focus — he left out Rocket Richard!

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