Best One-Two Center Punch

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Iron Mike Sharpe, Nov 3, 2018.

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  1. Iron Mike Sharpe

    Iron Mike Sharpe Registered User

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    Which One-Two center combos do you think were the best in hockey history & why? Are there any you liked for any particular reason? Here are a few candidates, feel free to throw in more:

    Norm Ullman - Alex Delvecchio
    Jean Beliveau - Henri Richard
    Dave Keon - Red Kelly
    Stan Mikita - Phil Esposito
    Bobby Clarke - Rick MacLeish
    Marcel Dionne - Butch Goring
    Phil Esposito - Ulf Nilsson
    Bryan Trottier - Butch Goring
    Bobby Smith - Neal Broten
    Peter Stastny - Dale Hunter
    Igor Larionov - Vyacheslav Bykov
    Wayne Gretzky - Mark Messier
    Marcel Dionne - Bernie Nicholls
    Wayne Gretzky - Bernie Nicholls
    Joe Nieuwendyk - Doug Gilmour
    Mario Lemieux - Ron Francis
    Pat LaFontaine - Dale Hawerchuk
    Steve Yzerman - Sergei Fedorov
    Joe Sakic - Peter Forsberg
    Sidney Crosby - Evgeni Malkin
     
  2. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    From a success standpoint I would say the three that stand out are Gretzky/Messier, Beliveau/Richard and Crosby/Malkin.

    The reason being, they all won lots of Cups. The first pairing was the best two centres in the NHL for a while and the last pairing for over a decade have been the best two centres in the NHL. Sure there are seasons where someone had a better year than them (Stamkos at times, McDavid now, etc.) but if you asked who the best two centres have been over the last 12 years it is these two.

    Mikita was better than Richard, and at times Beliveau too or at least equal. However, this combo won 21 Cups combined. Hard to overlook them as well.
     
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  3. Thenameless

    Thenameless Registered User

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    I agree with Big Phil. As good as the rest of the pairings are, they can almost be removed from this comparison for practical purposes. And for me, Gretzky/Messier take it by far. One is the greatest offensive player of all time, and the other is one of the most well rounded players of all time, and they were in their primes together (not saying that the others weren't).
     
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  4. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    If you remove the x-factor that is Gretzky - i think it might be Crosby/Malkin.

    The fact that all of their primes (which has last very long and during which they have both been top 2Cs in the league almost every year) overlapped perfectly helps.
     
  5. Thenameless

    Thenameless Registered User

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    That's a good point. Malkin is a ridiculous 2C, because for most of his career, he's probably been the second best center in the league, not just on his own team.

    I look at this way....If I had Gretzky and Messier as my top pairing to start with, I'd have absolutely no fear of any other pairing on this list. If they had stayed together in Edmonton, I'm actually not sure how strongly I'd choose them, because as you've mentioned how clearly Crosby and Malkin have established themselves as the two best over a long period. However, what convinces me to go with Gretzky/Messier is Messier's ability to win the Hart in Edmonton after Gretzky left, and then again with a new team in the Rangers. It really shows that Messier wasn't just being pulled along by a dynasty (facing easier second pairings etc), but rather that he was an integral part of that dynasty and maybe even more important in some ways - mind you, you could already see hints of this with his '84 Conn Smythe.

    And I'm not really a Gretzky/Messier fan.
     
  6. MadLuke

    MadLuke Registered User

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    Because of Greztky/Messier the question become a bit more about the number 2, I feel the only duo with some argument over the Oilers are Beliveau/Richard because of how much they won.

    Lemieux-Francis were high some season for sure and they did win 2 cups but I do not see how you build an argument over Gretzky-Messier.

    Crosby-Malkin could certainly build a nice numbre 2 case, if they both age well and play all their career together, say if they win a 4th cups with 5 finals in that era, it would be something for sure.

    Their duo by always being a good teams always making the playoff, they could both end with over 201 playoff points and the highest non Oilers in history, currently at 185 and 165 with Malkin the oldest at 32.

    That could be 5 to 7/9 playoff participation left for them, with an 7 points by playoff participation average that push them quite high in all time ranking.
     
  7. Ageless

    Ageless Registered User

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    Because of the cap now I’m tempting to go Crosby/Malkin. 3 cups\4 finals is exceptional. Obv Gretzky/messier is “better”
     
  8. Neutrinos

    Neutrinos Registered User

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    Bobby Smith & Neal Broten are the best 1-2 center punch in hockey history

    Why? For whatever reason the OP had for including them in this thread
     
  9. JackSlater

    JackSlater Registered User

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    Probably have to go with Gretzky and Messier, but depending on what a person values I could maybe conceive of cases for Beliveau and Richard or Crosby and Malkin. Not that it matters as it wouldn't answer the thread but I could also do with seeing Apps and Kennedy at least listed as an option. Perhaps Maltsev and Petrov among Soviet tandems.
     
  10. Iron Mike Sharpe

    Iron Mike Sharpe Registered User

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    Obviously they aren't, I'm just starting a general discussion about some of the top one-two center punches in history, for whatever reasons, which is why I threw out a bunch. Obviously, as the discussion indicates above, a duo like Gretzky-Messier slays most of the rest, easily. "Are there any you liked for any particular reason?" - refer to this as an adjunct question, as in, "beyond the absolute best, who were some of the other great one-two punches in history?" Cheap shots aren't necessary, let's just discuss some of the best one-two center combos in history & the impact they had for their teams.
     
  11. ehhedler

    ehhedler Registered User

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    None of Crosby/Malkin has ever been outstanding defensively/a Selke threat (although both has probably improved somewhat along the way, at least Crosby), and in that sense they’re perhaps too similar to each other (not stylistically, but practically), to be an ultimate combo. I think a better combo could probably be a pair with dissimilar skillsets/styles, so you can throw out something different or mix it up if something doesn’t work. Like when they got owned by Boston (Bergeron & system) and couldn’t buy a goal to save their lives.

    In that sense Gretzky/Messier, Beliveau/Richard or even Sakic/Forsberg were a little different.
     
  12. Neutrinos

    Neutrinos Registered User

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    I was just having a bit of fun, because as you say, "obviously they are not"
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
  13. Neutrinos

    Neutrinos Registered User

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    I think a case could be made for Lindros & Brind'Amour over many of the names mentioned in the OP
     
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  14. Iron Mike Sharpe

    Iron Mike Sharpe Registered User

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    That's the spirit! ;)
     
  15. Iron Mike Sharpe

    Iron Mike Sharpe Registered User

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    For those making a case for Crosby-Malkin, do you take them over Sakic-Forsberg or Yzermna-Fedorov?
     
  16. Iron Mike Sharpe

    Iron Mike Sharpe Registered User

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    Anyway, back to Smith-Broten:
    81-82 stats alone put them in the conversation:
    Smith 80-43-71-114
    Broten 73-38-60-98
     
  17. VanIslander

    VanIslander Don't waste my time

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    These are the only pre-modern era duos you list. And you've got the best pair there.

    Beliveau-Richard centered TWO dynasties together, totalling ten (10) Stanley Cup championships between 1956 and 1971.

    Beliveau was the league leader in playoff points in the first of the 5-year dynasty in the 1950's and in the 5th year the point leader was Henri Richard.

    People forget how good Henri was, living in Beliveau's shadow. In discussions of greatest two-way centers ever, his name should always come up.
     
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  18. Neutrinos

    Neutrinos Registered User

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    If we're going to cherry pick just one season, I'll see your Smith/Broten and raise you a Sundin/Sakic

    114 and 105 points respectively in '93
     
  19. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    Pretty easily

    Crosby is the best player

    You could argue Malkin as high as 2nd - or close anyways.

    They've also had the most playoff success
     
  20. VanIslander

    VanIslander Don't waste my time

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    In the modern era...

    Gretzky-Messier (1981-1988)

    Hands down.
     
  21. Jeffrey Pedler

    Jeffrey Pedler Registered User

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    Gretzsky and Messier. Number 1 and 3 all time in regular season points.
     
  22. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    It's hard to argue against Gretzky / Messier, with Beliveau / H.Richard at second.

    The advantage to Gretz/Mess is that both were young and in their primes when they were winning Cups. And when they played together again when they were old, they were still 4th and 15th in NHL scoring (each around 7th in PPG).
     
  23. Talisman

    Talisman Registered User

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    crosby-Lemieux!!
     
  24. Ghost of David Bruce

    Ghost of David Bruce Registered Geezer

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    Gretzky - Messier
    Lemieux - Francis
    Crosby - Malkin
    Beliveau - Richard

    then the rest.
     
  25. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    It happens, granted that Boston series in 2013 was downright ugly but Gretzky/Messier had that same thing in 1983. There were some playoff disappointments after 1960 and before 1965 with Beliveau and Richard too. Traditionally it has been very hard to contain Crosby and Malkin because you had them on back to back shifts even if they do bring much of the same to the table.
     

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