With the 2019-20 NHL season still in a holding pattern amid the coronavirus pandemic, hockey fans are finding creative ways to kill time until the season returns.
The folks at NHL.com decided to finally choose the best player to wear each jersey number, starting at 99 and going all the way down. It’s a pretty big project, but we’ve got the time now.
The rankings got spicy early for Flyers fans hoping that Eric Lindros might earn the nod for his No. 88, which he wore for eight years in Philly and five more years between New York, Toronto, and Dallas.
Alas, Lindros came close but finished in second place to a Flyers villain: Patrick Kane, the man who ended the Flyers’ magical Cup run in 2010.
Across 19 voters, Kane received 51 points during the vote, while Lindros received 41 points. First-place votes were worth three points, second-place votes worth two points, and third-place votes worth one point.
Kane received 13 first-place votes and six second-place votes. Lindros received five first-place votes, 12 second-place votes, and two (?) third-place votes. Inexplicably, Brent Burns received one first-place vote and one second-place vote.
Here’s some rationale for picking Kane, from NBC Sports Network analyst Pierre McGuire:
I can’t say enough good things about Patrick Kane and what he’s done to lead the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks over time after he was drafted. He and Jonathan Toews are just magical there, but Kane’s the guy that makes it happen. He makes everybody around him better.
It’s hard to argue with McGuire’s explanation, and it’s also hard to argue against Kane’s longevity. Here’s a side-by-side look at the players’ career numbers and accomplishments:
Kane: 973 games, 389 goals, 633 assists, 1,022 points (1.050 points per game) | Three Stanley Cups, one Conn Smythe, one Art Ross, one Hart, one Ted Lindsay
Lindros: 760 games, 372 goals, 493 assists, 865 points (1.138 points per game) | One Hart, one Ted Lindsay
But it’s arguable that Lindros deserves credit for scoring more points per game than Kane, and also that Lindros’s peak was better than Kane’s peak.
Lindros’s 1.13 points per game put him at 17th all-time – ahead of guys like Alexander Ovechkin, Jaromir Jagr, and Mark Messier – while Kane’s 1.050 points per game put him at 38th all-time. That’s a sizable gulf, and highlights just how talented Lindros was when healthy.
And in terms of peaks, let’s look at their best seasons ever. In Kane’s best individual season, his 2015-16 campaign, he scored 106 points in 82 games, or 1.29 points per game. In Lindros’s best individual season, his 1995-96 campaign, he scored 115 points in 72 games, or 1.59 points per game. Over an 82-game season, that’s a difference of nearly 25 points.
Kane has been incredibly productive for a long time, and he has the accolades and trophies to make his case, but Lindros certainly belongs right there in the conversation, if not at the top.
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