Have you ever sat there and dreamed about teams full of NHL stars? Do you think to yourself: what if Sidney Crosby once played alongside Alex Ovechkin? What if Nicklas Lidstrom had teamed up with Chris Pronger on the blue line? What if Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky had once decided to join each other back when there was no salary cap? The only time we saw them play together was in All-Star games or the Canada Cup back in 1987.
However there are some NHL legends who did in fact play together once and we completely forgot about it. It could be that they joined another team on their last stop in the NHL, or they were rental players, joining another NHL star's team for a brief period. Either way, what you'll see on this list are brief pairings we once saw in the NHL. Players who once played on the same team, but for whatever reason, their tenure as teammates didn't last long.
It's a shame these players couldn't have stayed together longer or that they didn't team up in their primes. They could have really formed some super teams had they done so.
Here are 15 pairs of NHL legends you forgot were once teammates.
15 Jarmoir Jagr & Brendan Shanahan
Jaromir Jagr was still one of the NHL's elite scorers well into the 2000s and in the 2006-07 season, he was lighting the lamp with the New York Rangers. He recorded 96 points that season and got some help that season, as the Rangers signed Brendan Shanahan to a one-year deal in the 2006 offseason. Shanahan had just completed a long tenure with the Detroit Red Wings and felt it was time to move on in his career.
Of course, we all know how the Rangers always seem to sign a big name in free agency. Shanahan actually was quite productive in his first year with the Rangers, given the fact he was 38 years old. Shanahan scored 29 goals and recorded 62 total points and helped the Rangers to a playoff berth.
This pairing would only last two seasons, as Jagr left the NHL following the 2007-08 season while Shanahan was not re-signed by the Rangers.
14 Jaromir Jagr & Eric Lindros
This was the case of the Rangers realizing one big acquisition they had made wasn't working out and they wanted to move on to their next one. Eric Lindros was in his third year in the Big Apple after a blockbuster trade from the Flyers, and his numbers and health were dipping significantly. Midway through the 2003-04 season, the Rangers acquired the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr from the Washington Capitals for... Anson Carter. Yup, the Rangers somehow managed to pluck one of the NHL's greatest players of all time (and one of the NHL's best at the time) for Anson Carter. Oh, and they even got the Capitals to pay $4 million of Jagr's annual salary.
Unfortunately, this pairing didn't last long, as Lindros would become an unrestricted free agent following the 2003-04 season. Following the conclusion of the lockout, Lindros signed with Toronto. It's a shame the Rangers couldn't have gotten Jagr sooner, as seeing these two big bodies team up on a line would have sent shockwaves throughout the NHL.
13 Sidney Crosby & Mario Lemieux
Some of you reading will likely remember this, but some might have forgotten that while the Penguins were ushering in the era of Sid the Kid, Mario Lemieux was still an active player for them, and still producing quite well. The Penguins won the 2005 draft lottery and part-owner Mario Lemieux was right there on the stage to welcome Crosby to the Penguins. Lemieux stuck around for part of Crosby's rookie year.
Unfortunately, following the 2005 lockout, Lemieux decided fairly early in the 2005-06 season that he couldn't maintain the standard of play he had set for himself and decided to call it a career. Crosby and Lemieux were teammates for just 26 games, and it's a crying shame we couldn't see them together for at least one full season. This was truly a case of Lemieux passing the torch of the franchise to Crosby.
12 Brett Hull & Joe Mullen
Everyone recognizes Brett Hull for his tenures in St. Louis, where he emerged as one of the greatest snipers in NHL history, and for his run with the Dallas Stars, where he helped lead the team to their first Stanley Cup. However Hull was once another team's treasure; they just didn't know it. Hull began his career with the Calgary Flames after being a late-round pick in the 1984 draft. As Hull began to work his way up on the depth chart, the Flames had an amazing team that was only held back due to playing in the same era as Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers.
Among the Flames of the late 80s included Lanny McDonald, Doug Gilmour, Al MacInnis and Joe Mullen. Mullen was considered undersized coming into the NHL and there was a bias against American born players. Mullen came into the league and proved everyone wrong, becoming a star in, ironically, St. Louis, before being traded to Calgary to join the young Brett Hull. Unfortunately, Hull was traded by the Flames prior to their 1989 Stanley Cup along with Steve Bozek for defenseman Rob Ramage and goaltender Rick Wamsley.
11 Mario Lemieux & Markus Naslund
Markus Naslund is remembered as perhaps the greatest Vancouver Canuck of all time. He is the franchise's leading scorer and really carried the Canucks teams of the late 90s and early 2000s. Before he was leading the charge north of the border, Naslund was struggling to even stay on an NHL roster in Pittsburgh. Naslund made his way up to the main club in the lockout shortened 1994-95 season but struggled to stay on the team. By 1995-96, Naslund finally stayed on the roster playing alongside Mario Lemieux.
Naslund, in the last year of his contract, was traded for Alek Stojanov to give the Pens more grit. This proved to be one of the most idiotic trades in NHL history, from Pittsburgh's standpoint, as Naslund went on to have a storied career while Stojanov recorded six points for the Penguins in 45 games before being sent down to the minors.
10 Joe Nieuwendyk & Owen Nolan
The Maple Leafs felt they were in a Stanley Cup window in the early 2000s and year after year, they did all they could to bring the franchise their first Stanley Cup since 1967. With no salary cap, they didn't hesitate to sign aging veterans. One such season, the Leafs found themselves with both Owen Nolan and Joe Nieuwendyk on their roster, two players who had been elite players in the league through much of the 90s and even spilling over into the early 2000s.
In 2003-04, the Leafs went through their typical mid round playoff exit, but Nolan and Nieuwendyk did in fact have productive seasons, as Nolan tallied 48 points in 65 games, while Nieuwendyk totaled 50 in 64 games. After an ugly divorce between Nolan and the Leafs, and the lockout voiding Nieuwendyk's deal, the pair was split up, with Nieuwendyk going to Florida.
9 Mark Messier & Pavel Bure
What's ironic about this pairing is that the two were teammates on not one but two different teams. The Russian Rocket and Moose were adversaries in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, with Messier's Rangers knocking off Bure's Canucks in 1994. A few years later, Messier would sign with the Canucks. In the late 90s, Bure was still the undoubted star of the Canucks, leading the team in points in Messier's first season with the team. In the middle of Messier's second season, Bure was traded to the Florida Panthers, breaking up this dream pairing.
The two would later reunite in New York, as Messier returned to the Rangers following his disastrous tenure in Vancouver. As for Bure, he would remain in Florida until midway through the 2001-02 season when the Rangers traded for Bure, who was still productive, but began to suffer from recurring knee injuries.
Following two injury riddled seasons in New York, Bure was forced to retire. It's a shame these two couldn't have teamed up in the early 90s.
8 Ed Belfour & Dominik Hasek
How can one team possibly have Ed Belfour and Dominik Hasek on their roster at the same time? Belfour and Hasek were two of the greatest goalies of their era, and somehow they played several seasons together in Chicago with the future Dominator backing up Eddie the Eagle. Hasek played two seasons as Belfour's backup, only starting 25 games over those two seasons. Following Chicago's run to the 1992 Stanley Cup Final, Hasek would be traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Stéphane Beauregar.
Hasek took a long time to develop as an NHL goaltender, as he was first drafted back in 1983 at 199th overall. As we know, he didn't rise to prominence with the Sabres until the latter half of the 2000s. Belfour would go on to play several more years in Chicago before moving on to Dallas to help the Stars to their 1999 Stanley Cup. Who did they beat in that final? Hasek's Buffalo Sabres.
7 Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr & Luc Robitaille
We always picture Luc Robitaille in a Los Angeles Kings uniform or even in a Red Wings uniform, as that's where he won his only Stanley Cup. However following one of his departures from Los Angeles, he found himself with the Pittsburgh Penguins back in the mid 90s. As we know, that team was graced with legends Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.
Robitallie was traded to Pittsburgh in the summer of '94 for Rick Tocchet and a 2nd round pick. Sadly, Robitaille's stint in Pittsburgh was limited to 46 games, as he played for them during the lockout shortened 1995-96 season. Robitaille managed to average almost a point per game in Pittsburgh, totaling 42 points in those 46 games. At the end of the season, he was traded to New York with Ulf Samuelsson for Petr Nedved and Sergei Zubov.
6 Marcel Dionne & Alex Delvecchio
Marcel Dionne is viewed as a Los Angeles King through and through but Dionne started his career with the Detroit Red Wings who were just entering their longest dry spell as a franchise. A young Dionne found himself in the middle of a change of era. Back in the 1972-73 season, Dionne was a teammate of longtime Red Wings great Alex Delvecchio. Delvecchio played over 1,500 games in his career, all with the Detroit Red Wings and had won several Stanley Cups with the team back in the 50s.
This pairing of legends only lasted less than two seasons, as Delvecchio would retire early in the 1973-74 season. Dionne would continue to thrive on a struggling Red Wings team, even posting a 121-point season in 1974-75 despite the Wings being in the middle of their 'Dead Wings' era. Dionne would eventually be traded to Los Angeles.
5 Trevor Linden & Mark Messier
If you're a Canucks fan, you definitely remember this, as Messier's tenure in Vancouver was a disaster from the moment he arrived. As a sign of respect, Linden relinquished his captaincy to Messier, but soon found himself run out of Vancouver after head coach Mike Keenan continuously seemed to throw Linden under the bus. Being that Linden is the most beloved Vancouver Canuck of all time, this has Canuck fans upset at Messier to this day.
This pairing didn't last long, as Linden was traded to the New York Islanders in February of 1998, before the two could even finish a full season together. Without Linden, the Canucks would find themselves continuing to struggle and as the captain, Messier failed (for the first time in his career) to lead the team effectively.
This was perhaps the most tumultuous time in the history of the Canucks, and that's saying something.
4 Joe Sakic/Mats Sundin & Guy Lafleur
Guy Lafleur is a Montreal Canadiens icon. He holds many scoring records for the historic franchise, but unfortunately, a change of philosophy in the organization pushed Lafleur, not just out of Montreal, but the game of hockey altogether. In 1984-85 Jacques Lemaire had taken over as coach and began enforcing a defense-first philosophy (we all remember the infamous trap Lemaire eventually introduced to the NHL). Lafleur, being the offensive minded player he was, didn't see eye to eye with Lemaire and saw his ice time heavily reduced. When GM Serge Savard denied a trade request by Lafleur, The Flower opted to retire.
He would return to the NHL four years later to play with the Rangers, but eventually ended his career with the Quebec Nordiques. At this time, the Nordiques were a rebuilding team and Lafleur only went there to finish his career in Quebec. At this time, the Nordiques had several budding stars and among them were high draft picks Mats Sundin and Joe Sakic. What an amazing way to get from one generation to another.
3 Jaromir Jagr & Peter Bondra
Jaromir Jagr has had such a long career that it's almost not surprising that his name would appear on this list so many times. One of Jagr's career stops included a tenure in Washington, as the Penguins traded him once they felt he had grown too expensive for them. Following the 2000-01 season, Jagr was traded after friction had grown between him and a returning Mario Lemieux. Who did the Pens get for him? Kris Beech, Michal Sivek and Ross Lupaschuk. Yup, that's all the Penguins got for perhaps the greatest player of the 90s.
With Jagr going to Washington for a few seasons, he got the opportunity to team up with Peter Bondra, who was perhaps the Capitals' greatest player in franchise history (until Alex Ovechkin of course). Unfortunately, Jagr and Bondra couldn't quite click well enough to bring the Capitals to glory, as they only reached the playoffs once as teammates.
2 Gordie Howe & Bobby Hull
If you were putting together an all-time dream team, you would likely have both Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull somewhere on that list. This pairing actually did come to fruition, as back in the 1979-80 season, the Hartford Whalers somehow managed to sign both. At this point, Gordie Howe had returned to the NHL after a tenure in the WHA, intending to finish his career where it started, back in the NHL.
Bobby Hull meanwhile, had also spent time in the WHA through much of the 70s after a storied career with the Chicago Blackhawks. By the time Hull got to Hartford though, he was clearly on his last legs. This was the pair's final stop before retirement but they actually enjoyed some success in Hartford, making it to the playoffs, before being swept by the Montreal Canadiens.
Both guys would retire from hockey following that season.
1 Wayne Gretzky & Brett Hull
Wayne Gretzky's most memorable stops in his NHL career were with the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings. By the middle of the 1995-96 season, the Kings had fallen off as a Stanley Cup contender and Gretzky was a pending UFA. With it being clear that Gretzky wasn't coming back to Los Angeles, the Kings traded him to the St. Louis Blues for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, and two draft picks.
Hockey fans immediately rejoiced as this meant the greatest playmaker in the history of the game was going to join arguably the game's greatest sniper in Brett Hull. This seemed to be a match made in heaven and it had Blues fans thinking Stanley Cup. Gretzky was immediately named captain of the Blues, but unfortunately, he didn't click with Hull as well as the Blues had hoped.
Following a second round exit, Gretzky left St. Louis to sign with the Rangers. It's a shame this union didn't last longer, as perhaps a full season would have allowed Gretzky and Hull to build some better chemistry.
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