In 1997, to celebrate their 50th year as the world's leading magazine devoted to professional hockey, The Hockey News conducted a poll of eminent hockey people to identify the 50 greatest hockey players of all time.The voters themselves made up a stellar list. Among the outstanding hockey writers and broadcasters to make their opinions felt were Don Cherry, John Davidson, Milt Dunnell, Stan Fischler, Dick Irvin, Brian McFarlane, Bob McKenzie, Jim Matheson, Harry Neale, and Frank Orr. Among the coaches, referees, general managers, and former players who filled out a ballot were Al Arbour, Scotty Bowman, Emile Francis, Howie Meeker, Scotty Morrison, Roger Neilson, Bud Poile, Sam Pollock, Marcel Pronovost, Billy Reay, Glen Sather, Frank Selke, Harry Sinden, and Red Storey.
Altogether, 50 of the game's most astute observers came together to select the games' standout performers. The first name on the list was no surprise: Wayne Gretzky: The next four may have been no surprise, either, although the order in which they were ranked — Bobby Orr followed by Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, and Maurice Richard — may raise a few eyebrows. But, without question, the names that make up the balance of the list, and the order in which they are ranked, could keep all true hockey fans awake for nights without end in passionate debate.
The truth of this proposition was amply demonstrated by the reception that greeted publication of The Hockey News special issue in which The Top 50 appeared. From one end of North America to the other, the list inspired every possible reaction from benign approval to anguished outrage. Altogether, some 250,000 copies of the issue were put into the market.
The Top 50Plus 50 is the highly successful magazine in a handsome, full-color cloth edition — and a great deal more. It includes, of course, another 50 hockey greats in the order in which they were ranked by the same stellar group of experts. In addition: a new introduction explains the process by which the list was compiled; a new and expanded section deals with the next generation of hockey superstars; and an afterword describes the remarkable reception accorded to the poll results.
This is a true collectors item aimed at the Christmas hockey market backed by the name and reputation of the foremost magazine devoted to the world's fastest sport.
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