Looking back throughout the decades in the world of hockey it's easy to see what made each era great. The 80s were fast paced, high scoring and dominated by the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders. Legends like Wayne Gretzky, Ray Bourque, Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy were all at the top of their games. These superstars would lead hockey to heights it had never seen before as they all became household names. Suddenly the NHL was becoming a top sport in the United States and these guys were leading the charge.
Then came the 90s, and while a lot of the top stars from the 80s did continue to play and play at a very high level, they were joined by some of the new stars that would define the 90s, such as Brett Hull, Mike Modano, Ed Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios, and Jaromir Jagr. As the decade wore on there was a change in mindset as teams went from the wide open style of play to a more defensive style. Clutching and grabbing became the way the game was played and that worked well for the Detroit Red Wings and the New Jersey Devils, who dominated the later half of the decade.
What came next was odd to say the least. Big payrolls and defense ruled the first half of the 2000s as the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Detroit Red Wings spent big money on roster choices and won because of it. Then came the darkest day in the history of professional sports as the entire 2005 season was lost due to millionaires arguing with other millionaires. Once the smoke settled, we ushered in a new era that was defined by new stars and fantastic stories.
Let's take a look at some of the best as we bring you the all NHL team of the 2000s.
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43 First Line
42 Center - Joe Thornton
Joe became the first and only man to win the Art Ross trophy and Hart Memorial trophy in a year in which he was traded. In 2005 the Bruins decided to build their team around Patrice Bergeron and traded Joe to the Sharks for three players. Joe scored 125 points that season. He didn't stop there as he scored a total of 823 points in 698 games throughout the decade. Those are some amazing numbers for a guy who proved he was an elite center in the NHL. Since the 2010 season, however, his play has consistently fallen off the older he gets. The Sharks have finally made it to the Stanley Cup in 2016 so lets hope this is his year.
40 Right Wing - Jarome Iginla
Not only does he have the biggest name in sports (Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla), but he may also have the biggest heart. Stories are all over the internet of great things Jarome has done, like paying for strangers hotel rooms and running a non-profit hockey school while giving all proceeds to diabetic research. His game on the ice is as big as his name too. During the 2000s Jarome scored at least 30 goals in all nine seasons. Two of those seasons he hit the 50 goal mark and he netted 350 goals for the decade.
38 Left Wing - Alex Ovechkin
You know a guy is good when he makes the first line of an all decade NHL team when he only played five years during that decade. Ovechkin is a rare talent and may be the best pure goal scorer we have seen in the NHL since Wayne Gretzky retired. Alex was the first player to win the Art Ross, Maurice Richard, Lester B Pearson and Hart Memorial trophies in a career. He is also the first to win all four of those trophies in the same year. He also became the first player since Pavel Bure in 1994 to score 60 goals in a season. The way he is going, he is definitely going to be an all NHL player for the 2010s as well.
36 Defense - Nicklas Lidstrom
There were nine Norris trophies awarded in the 2000s, and Nicklas won six of them. He became the first European born and trained captain to win the Stanley Cup when Detroit hoisted it in 2008. He was a point producer who was on par with legends like Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr. In 2006 he became the last defensive player to score a point per game, by posting 80 in 80 games, until this year when Eric Karlsson hit 82 in 82 games. Not only was Nicklas probably the best defender in the 2000s, but it's possible that he could be considered the best overall player of the decade.
34 Defense - Chris Pronger
Chris won the Norris trophy for the 1999-00 season and became one of the few players not named Nicklas Lidstrom to win it in the decade. He competed in two straight Stanley Cup Finals, the first with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 and then shortly after he forced a trade he was back to the finals again with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Chris was a gritty, tough defenseman who excelled with every team he played for and he get bonus points for wearing one of the greatest uniforms of all time since he began his hall of fame career with the Hartford Whalers.
32 Second Line
31 Center - Sidney Crosby
In what could be considered the greatest rookie class of all time Sidney has become the cream of that crop. The 2005 rookie class was a culmination of both the 2004 draft and the 2005 draft due to the lockout. As an all around player Sidney did more in five years by scoring 506 points in only 371 games than a lot of people do in a career. His rookie season he finished second to Alex Ovechkin in the Calder Trophy race but has gone on to much more. In the 2000s he won a Stanley Cup, two Art Ross Trophies, a Hart Memorial trophy and a Mark Messier Leadership Award.
29 Right Wing - Jaromir Jagr
This is an example of what happens when someone finds the fountain of youth. Jaromir turned 44 this year and scored 27 goals for the Florida Panthers. He ended the 90s on top of his game winning the Hart Trophy in 1999. he followed that up with a blistering start to the 00s by scoring 94 goals in his last two seasons with the Penguins. The strike may have been the best thing for him since he came back rejuvenated with the Rangers, scoring 109 goals in the three years with them. Had he not spent the last two years in the KHL he would have definitely been on the first line of this list.
27 Left Wing - Daniel Sedin
The Vancouver Canucks took a huge gamble trading up in the draft to select Daniel with the second overall pick. They spent the third pick on Henrik and threw all in on the twins. The gamble paid off in a big way as the twins went on to dominate the 2000s. Both of them have won the Art Ross trophy in back-to-back years in 2010 and 2011. However, during the decade Daniel was and still is the better scorer, having started his career by netting 20 goals in 2001. He ended the decade having scored 208 goals over that nine year span.
25 Defense - Scott Niedermayer
Scott was one of four guys to win a Norris Trophy during the 2000s. He won his trophy in the 2003-04 season. He also took home a trio of Stanley Cup wins in 2000 and 2003 with the Devils and then again in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks. After the 2005 lockout Scott became one of the most sought after free agents on the market. 14 teams called asking about his services and he turned down a five year deal with the Devils so he could play with the Ducks. The Devils offered him a longer deal with more money but his driving force was to win a Stanley Cup with his brother Rob.
23 Defense - Zdeno Chara
The fourth and final guy to win a Norris Trophy during the 2000s, Chara will forever be linked to Wade Redden. The two formed one of the scariest blue lines in the history of the NHL while playing for the Ottawa Senators. While both left Ottawa during free agency, Wade struggled mightily in New York while Chara blossomed into one of the best two-way defensemen in the NHL. Chara's point total and five-on-five defensive work improved every year and finally culminated in his own Norris Trophy in 2009. In 2011 Chara became only the second European born and trained captain to hoist the Stanley Cup.
21 Third Line
20 Center - Pavel Datsyuk
He is a future hall of famer and has won two Stanley Cups. Pavel also had his fair share of individual trophies. He won the Lady Byng Memorial trophy four straight years in 06, 07, 08 and 09. He also added three straight Selke trophies to his mantle in 08, 09 and 10. Pavel received the nickname "Magic Man" for his uncanny ability to get shots off when it seemed there was no space to do so. Throughout the second half of the decade his high level of offensive play mixed with a stifling defense and clean play has led him to be a role model to millions of people worldwide.
18 Right Wing - Ilya Kovalchuk
He was Alex Ovechkin before there was an Alex Ovechkin. In 2001 Ilya became the first Russian born player selected number one overall in the history of the NHL, and he paid off immediately. In his rookie season of 2001-02 he scored 29 goals and 51 points in only 65 games. Ilya scored 328 goals throughout the decade and turned that into a very rich contract from the New Jersey Devils. Even in the defensive-minded Devils system he continued to put up very good numbers. Kovalchuk retired from the NHL after the 2013 season but ended his career as a point per game player, and a big reason for that was his production in the 2000s.
16 Left Wing - Henrik Zetterberg
Henrik arrived in Detroit the year after the 2002 super team won the Stanley Cup. He teamed with Brett Hull and Pavel Datsyuk to form the famous "two kids and an old goat" line. It didn't take Henrik long to become a superstar in the NHL, posting seven 20 goal seasons throughout the decade, including 22 his rookie year. Of those seven seasons four were over 30 and one over forty, so he knows how to find the back of the net. Henrik helped win a Stanley Cup in 2008 and was named the Conn Smythe winner for his effort during that playoff run.
14 Defense - Sergei Zubov
Sergei is considered one of the best offensive minded defensemen in the history of the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup in 1994 with the Rangers when he posted a ridiculous 89 points. His second cup came for the Stars in the 99 season. As good as he was during the 90s he was almost better during the 2000s. Had it been any other decade than the Lidstrom-led 00s he may have won multiple Norris Trophies. Three times during the 00s he posted a plus-20 or higher. Those number came as a number one defeseman facing number one players on a nightly basis.
12 Defense - Tomas Kaberle
One of the more underrated defenders in the NHL, Tomas was the heart and soul of the Maple Leafs for the majority of the 2000s. He was a four time all star and won the Molson Cup in the 2009-10 season. The Molson Cup is awarded to the Canadian player who rates the most three star games during the season. He was a fantastic offensive-minded defensemen and was one of the more accurate shots in the league. Had it not been for the five guys ahead of him on this all 2000 team, this writer feels that Tomas Kaberle would have won multiple Norris Trophies throughout the decade as well.
10 Fourth Line
9 Center - Joe Sakic
On a personal level, it was very hard for this writer to have Joe Sakic this low. He had an amazing decade but you could tell he was getting towards the end of his Hall of Fame twenty year career. Joe was one of those players who took the mantle from Gretzky, Lemieux, and Bourque to become one of the greatest players of the 90s. He also became one of the greatest leaders of all time. Still during the 2000s Joe held his own posting two 100-plus point seasons and winning a Stanley Cup and a Hart Trophy for Colorado.
7 Right Wing - Martin St. Louis
Martin St. Louis was considered too small to play in the NHL, so he went undrafted and was signed by the Calgary Flames in 1998. In 2000 he signed with Tampa Bay and after a couple up and down years he really hit his stride. He won the Hart Trophy in 2003-04 and led the Lightning to a Stanley Cup championship in 04. He was a five time all star during the decade and won the Art Ross trophy. He hit the 30 goal mark five times and scored over a hundred points in 2006. St. Louis also had two other seasons where he scored over 90 points.
5 Left Wing - Dany Heatley
Dany came in to the NHL in 2001 and was an instant offensive force. He scored 26 goals his rookie year on the way to winning the Calder Trophy. For the rest of the decade he scored 39 or more goals six times and hit the 50 goal mark twice. During the decade Danny twice scored over 100 points while with the Ottawa Senators. In 2008-09 he scored 39 goals and 72 points, which was the first year with the Senators he scored below 40 goals. Due to a coaching change, Dany felt like he was not given the kind of freedom he needed, so he requested a trade. In the 09-10 season he bounced back with a point per game effort.
3 Goalie - Martin Brodeur
Not only was Martin the best goaltender of the decade, but there is a strong argument that he is the best goaltender of all time. He led the league in wins seven times throughout the 2000s. He also took home four Vezina trophies and two Stanley Cups. On top of all that he was also nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy three times during the decade. Brodeur is synonymous with the New Jersey Devils and benefited from having a spectacular defensive team around him, but he will ultimately go down as one of the all-time greats and a first ballot hall of famer.
1 Goalie - Henrik Lundqvist
Here's a guy who could definitely give Martin Brodeur a run for greatest ever by the time his career is done. Henrik did so much in only half a decade that he needed to be included on this list. He was nominated for the Vezina trophy each of his first three years in the league. He was also voted the Rangers MVP four times during his five years in the decade. Lundqvist won an amazing 130 games in only five years. Since he has had an incredibly strong start in the first half of this decade, expect him to be on this list when it is an all NHL team of the 2010s.
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