Today’s Hockey Controversial article is the first in a three part series wherein I’ll name a complete NHL All-Star Team comprised of the best players from the past decade of hockey. Today I outline the decade’s First Team All-Stars; in the next I’ll cover the Second Team All-Stars; and in the third instalment I’ll fill out the remainder of a full team roster of 13 forwards, seven defencemen, and three goaltenders.
Criteria for selection to the 2010s All-Star Team includes everything a player has done on the ice over the past decade—from major junior to pro to international play. Note that players having burst onto the scene as major stars in just the past couple of seasons are at a serious disadvantage when compared to players that have been stars for most or all of the decade, though they will certainly be given every opportunity to impress. And I’m not averse to overloading on centres and putting them on the wing either. Let’s see who makes the cut!
First Team All-Stars
The decade’s First Team All-Star (starting) lineup consists of Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Patrice Bergeron up front, Zdeno Chára and Duncan Keith on defence, and Carey Price in net. Here’s why:
Sidney Crosby – Sidney Crosby’s inclusion on this list is so obvious that it borders on insanity to even argue the case. As such, I’ll simply provide a brief overview of some of his most significant accomplishments over the past 10 years: Two Stanley Cup championships this decade (three overall), two Olympic gold medals, two Conn Smythe Trophies, his second each of both the Hart and Art Ross Trophies, one World Hockey Championships gold medal, one World Cup championship (wherein he was also named tournament MVP), and many other accomplishments round out the resume of the best hockey player in the world—bar none, over the past decade. I didn’t even mention that he’s the only player in history to enter the triple gold club (Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, and World Championships gold) as the captain of each team he won with. In fact, with just one more World Championships gold as a captain in his future, Crosby will have done it twice!
Alexander Ovechkin – Similar to Crosby, the case for Ovechkin is a no-brainer. Among his accomplishments are one Art Ross Trophy (previous decade), three Ted Lindsay Awards (one this decade), three Hart Memorial Trophies (one this decade), one Calder (previous decade), one Conn Smythe Trophy, and the big ones—one Stanley Cup championship and eight (yes, eight) Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies as the leading goal scorer in the regular season (six of which came during this past decade). Internationally Ovechkin has not been as dominant as Crosby, but he does have some hardware in his trophy case from the World Championships. This includes three gold medals (two this decade), two silver medals (both this decade), and four bronze medals (split evenly between this and the previous decade). Ovechkin is also approaching 700 goals for his NHL career and has just under 1250 total points during regular season play at the time of this writing. His playoff numbers are also very good, at 65 goals and 126 points in 128 games played. Had the Washington Capitals been more successful in their many playoff runs, Ovechkin might give Crosby a run for his money as player of the decade. Crosby’s many championships in both the NHL and in best-on-best international play, however, preclude this possibility.
Patrice Bergeron – As almost certainly the best two-way forward of his generation (four Frank J. Selke Trophies certainly attest to that!), Patrice Bergeron easily deserves his place among the 2010 decade’s First Team All-Stars. But Bergeron is also a winner. Among his team accomplishments are one Stanley Cup victory with the Boston Bruins (not to mention two other Stanley Cup Finals appearances this decade), two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada, one World Cup championship with Canada, one World Championships gold medal (from the previous decade), and he’s even won both a World Junior Championships gold medal (previous decade) and a Spengler Cup championship in 2012. Simply put, Bergeron has won virtually every significant championship that one can win in he game of hockey. Had he not been so good as to immediately jump to the NHL after his draft from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, there is every possibility that he would have added a Memorial Cup championship to his resume as well. Of course, Bergeron does also have a King Clancy Memorial Trophy (exemplifying leadership both on and off the ice) from the 2012-13 NHL season, and just try to score a goal when he, Zdeno Chára, and Brad Marchand are all on the ice together. You just can’t do it!
Zdeno Chára – At 42 years old (and soon to be 43), not only has Zdeno Chára played more than 1500 games in his National Hockey League career, but the longtime captain of the Boston Bruins has also led his team to three Stanley Cup Finals appearances over the past decade and raised the Cup once with his mates at the end of the 2010-11 season. Chára is big (6′ 9″, 250 pounds), intense, and one of the most intimidating d-men ever to take to the ice. He’s also, by reputation, an absolute gentleman. With incredible reach and unmatched strength, this guy doesn’t allow anybody to just stand around in front of the net looking for loose pucks—but at least he’s not (usually) mean about it. He’s also a great leader, which was officially recognized when he won the Mark Messier Leadership Award at the end of the 2010-11 season. The fact that this guy has just one James Norris Memorial Trophy to his name (previous decade) only serves to reveal the mainstream hockey media’s complete lack of understanding of the trophy’s meaning. A career +281 at the time of this writing, nobody personifies defence like the Big Z, and even at 43 years of age by the time this season’s playoffs begin, there’s no other defenceman I’d rather have on my team come the post season. Had Chára not had his jaw badly broken by a puck riding up his stick during last season’s Stanley Cup Finals series, I have no doubt whatsoever that the Bruins would have raised their second Cup of the decade. Sometimes luck just isn’t on one’s side.
Duncan Keith – Duncan Keith’s career may now be in decline, but for much of the past decade he was the driving force behind the Chicago Blackhawks’ success—including their trio of Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013, and 2015. Throughout his career, Keith has been effective at both ends of the ice: he can score, and he can prevent his opponents from scoring. With two Norris Trophies, one Conn Smythe Trophy (Keith absolutely dominated the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs), and two Olympic gold medals to his name (not to mention a World Championships silver medal from the previous decade), Keith is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer once his hockey career is over, as well as an easy addition to the decade’s First Team All-Star defensive pairing alongside the big Z.
Carey Price – Choosing between Carey Price and Marc-André Fleury as the best goaltender of the past decade poses a dilemma akin to asking someone who their favourite child is—it’s nearly an impossible question to answer! In the end I went with Price largely due to his international success representing Canada in best-on-best competition. This includes both his Olympic gold medal performance in Sochi (2014) and his World Cup victory (2016). That and the fact that if Price’s Habs had Crosby and Malkin for the better part of the last decade (as the majority of Fleury’s decade had), Price would likely have an entire hand filled with Stanley Cup rings by now. That he doesn’t have any reveals far more about the Montreal Canadiens management over the last few years than it does Price’s ability. Oh, and let’s not forget that Price also holds a Vezina, Lindsay, Jennings, and even a Hart Trophy from the 2014-15 season (wherein his record consisted of 44 wins, 16 losses, a 1.96 GAA, and a .933 save percentage). Case closed!
And with that, my First Team All-Star lineup for the 2010s decade is complete. Stay tuned to Hockey Controversial where in a few days’ time I’ll reveal the decade’s Second Team All-Stars and ultimately the remainder of the decade’s top stars to round out a complete All-Star lineup. And also be sure to have your own say in the comments section below. Let me know who you would have selected, what you find right or wrong about my selections, and who you think should be named to the remainder of the team.