The NHL's 100 Greatest Single-Season Performances: Nos. 80-61
Throughout the month of September, James Bisson and a cast of editors from theScore will share their rankings of the greatest players, teams, and moments in the 100-year history of the National Hockey League. This week's list focuses on the best individual seasons (* denotes a league-leading statistic).
- James Bisson, National Sports Editor
- Josh Wegman, NHL News Editor
- Sean O'Leary, NHL News Editor
- Esten McLaren, NHL News Editor
- Michael Amato, Senior News Editor
- Craig Hagerman, NHL News Editor
- Lanny Foster, Senior Social Media Editor
- Arun Srinivasan, News Editor
80. Dominik Hasek, Buffalo Sabres (1994-95)
This might be one of the most contentious inclusions on the list. While Hasek did lead the league in save percentage, goals-against average, and shutouts, his good-but-not-great W-L record and the taint of a shortened season might have played a role in this year not measuring up against his best. Still, it did earn him a second consecutive Vezina Trophy nod.
79. Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins (2000-01)
Many consider Jagr's 2000-01 showing the last great offensive performance prior to the 2004-05 full-season lockout. It also capped an incredible run of dominance for Jagr, as he captured the last of four straight scoring titles. Not surprisingly, he won just one Hart Trophy in that stretch, as sensational goaltender seasons seized the spotlight.
78. Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins (1986-87)
There are two clear lines of thinking on Lemieux's injury-shortened 1986-87 campaign: voters either punished him for missing 17 games, or rewarded his dominance when he was in the lineup. However you choose to remember it, Lemieux was magnificent enough in limited time to earn fourth place in Hart Trophy voting that season.
77. Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins (1996-97)
The season Lemieux put together a decade later was far less contentious, thanks in no small part to "Le Magnifique" winning his sixth scoring title. It was a bittersweet performance, as he would retire due to chronic injuries following the playoffs. Though he made a stunning return three-and-a-half years later, 1996-97 marked his final Art Ross Trophy.
76. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (2014-15)
Canadiens fans had been waiting for Price to live up to his potential - but not even the most die-hard Montreal supporter could have predicted what would transpire in 2014-15, when he swept the Hart, Vezina, Jennings, and Pearson trophies in one of the most dominant post-lockout performances by a goaltender. The 44 victories are a Canadiens franchise record.
75. Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings (1989-90)
Most of the attention paid to Yzerman's outstanding career focuses on his 155-point season (which we'll get to in the future). But he followed that up with an almost-as-impressive year in which he became one of just a handful of players to record back-to-back 60-goal seasons. He was seventh in Hart Trophy voting, and didn't finish higher the rest of his career.
74. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (2011-12)
Traditionalists might claim recency bias here, but it can't be overstated how difficult it is to score 60 goals in the modern NHL. Stamkos did so as an electrifying 21-year-old, capturing his second Rocket Richard Trophy while piling up a league-best 12 game-winning goals. The goal-scoring barrage earned him second place in the Hart Trophy race.
73. Sergei Fedorov, Detroit Red Wings (1993-94)
This might be one of the most underrated performances of the 1990s. The 24-year-old Russian phenom established career bests in goals and points, finishing second to Gretzky in league scoring while capturing his one and only Hart Trophy. Known primarily as a defensive forward, Fedorov capped a rare triple by winning the Pearson and Selke trophies, as well.
72. Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens (1975-76)
It all came together at the same time for Lafleur and the Canadiens. His first career scoring title coincided with the first of Montreal's four consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the late 1970s. Lafleur's 12 game-winning goals paced the league, and he finished in the top three in both the Hart Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy balloting.
71. Pete Peeters, Boston Bruins (1982-83)
Voting was split on Peeters, whose amazing season gets largely overlooked amid the crazy scoring lines of the 1980s. He posted a goalie point share of 16.3 - more than 5.5 points ahead of the next-closest netminder - and was the only goaltender in the league with a GAA south of 2.50. Gretzky and his 196 points ran away with the Hart, but Peeters was a deserving runner-up.
70. Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins (1974-75)
Esposito's final full season as a Bruin was a memorable one, as he won the goal-scoring crown for a sixth consecutive season while finishing second in the scoring race to teammate Bobby Orr. It marked the last big season for the superstar forward, who was dealt to the Rangers the following season and didn't finish with more than 83 points in a year the rest of the way.
69. Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks (1965-66)
Hull doesn't get much credit for being the first player in NHL history to score more than 50 goals in a season; perhaps the novelty of the 50-goal campaign wore off for a handful of voters. Hull's third scoring title also resulted in his second consecutive Hart Trophy nod, as he beat out Jean Beliveau for the honor. Hull would go on to win the goals title in each of the next three years.
68. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (2006-07)
Much was expected of Crosby when the Penguins made him the first overall pick in 2005 - and boy, did he come through in his first two NHL seasons. After scoring 102 points as a rookie, Crosby followed that up by winning the scoring title as a 19-year-old - joining Gretzky as the only players to do so. With it, he also captured his first Hart Trophy.
67. Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins (1972-73)
With five seasons of 115+ points on his incredible Hall of Fame resume, it didn't impress some of the voters that Orr managed "only" 101 points as a 24-year-old. But it was still one of the most impressive seasons ever put together by a defenseman. He finished third in the Hart Trophy voting and was a runaway winner of the Norris Trophy for the sixth year in a row.
66. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins (2010-11)
Thomas' time among the NHL elite was brief - he didn't break in as a starting netminder until he was 31 - but he made a significant impact in his short tenure. He was far and away the best goalie in the league in 2010-11, easily outdistancing Pekka Rinne for the Vezina Trophy after posting the best single-season save percentage in league history at the time.
65. Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings (1980-81)
Dionne was fortunate enough to win the 1979-80 scoring title by virtue of having more goals than Gretzky. No such luck the following season - Gretzky won in a walk - but Dionne was terrific in his own right, narrowly missing out on a career best in points while leading the league in shots for the fourth time in five seasons. He wound up third in Hart Trophy voting.
64. Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins (1972-73)
It might not rank as the best season of his Hall of Fame career, but 1972-73 was certainly one of Esposito's most complete campaigns, marking the only time he led the NHL in both goals and assists. He also paced the league in shorthanded markers (five) and game-winning tallies (11), while placing second in Hart Trophy balloting.
63. Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks (1971-72)
Sides are divided on Esposito's third NHL season. While he posted a career-best goals-against average and led the league in shutouts, he played just 48 of 78 games - resulting in him finishing outside the top five in Hart Trophy voting. He was also a major disappointment in the postseason, going 2-3 with a 3.20 GAA as Chicago was swept in the semifinals.
62. Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings (1978-79)
The first of Dionne's three consecutive 130-point seasons might have been his best of the bunch. He established a career best in goals, kick-starting a streak of five consecutive 50-goal campaigns in the process. He won the Pearson Award for his efforts, but couldn't duplicate his success in the playoffs, recording a single assist and a minus-5 rating in two postseason games.
61. Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins (1998-99)
Fans might not remember just how big an offensive threat Jagr was in the late-1990s, when he racked up four consecutive scoring titles while surpassing the 120-point plateau twice despite goal-scoring around the league plummeting. Jagr also led the league in even-strength goals (33) in 1998-99, en route to his one and only Hart Trophy.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
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