The highest 10 position-switch gamers in hockey historical past

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Hockey mourns the loss Corridor of Famer Purple Kelly after he handed away Thursday at 91. He was a legend of the sport, ranked 23rd on The Hockey Information’ all-time participant record, a member of Canadian Parliament, an eight-time Stanley Cup champion and, maybe most famously…essentially the most profitable position-switch participant in historical past, having made vital impacts at protection and ahead.
Nobody had extra success than Kelly shifting from protection to ahead, however he’s not the one one to do it. Who’re the opposite prime position-switchers in hockey historical past? Listed below are 10 names to contemplate, with a honest due to our resident hockey historian, James Benesh, for serving to dig up and rank the place switchers of generations previous. James has consulted with The Hockey Information on main latest “rating” tasks akin to our High 50 Gamers of All-time by Franchise and High 100 Goalies of All-Time.
For the aim of those ranks, we thought of gamers who made prolonged, sustained impacts at ahead and protection. Sergei Fedorov, for example, is as proficient as any participant on this record however made solely a quick foray onto the blueline, which is why he slots exterior the highest 10.1. RED KELLY
Kelly was a dominant Detroit Purple Wings defenseman, incomes first-team all-star honors six occasions in a seven-season stretch from 1950-51 to 1956-57. However he additionally underwent a outstanding profession change, turning into a middle in his 30s with the Toronto Maple Leafs. There, he gained the final of his 4 Woman Byng Trophies, completed sixth in NHL scoring in 1960-61 and cracked the highest 10 in Hart Trophy voting twice. He gained 4 Cups as a blueliner and 4 as a ahead. He was extra dominant on protection however extremely efficient up entrance, too. No NHLer has ever been extra prolific at two completely totally different positions.
A part of the Ottawa Senators ‘Silver Seven,’ within the Japanese Canada Novice Hockey Affiliation, Taylor was so dynamic dashing the puck as a blueliner that he earned the nickname ‘Cyclone.’ By 1913, he transformed to a ahead/rover and gained 5 scoring titles as a Seattle Millionaire within the Pacific Coast Hockey Affiliation, a circuit thought of on par with the NHL. Had he performed in a later period and piled up official NHL honors, he’d have a case for No. 1 on this record.
Clapper’s NHL resume as a place switcher ranks shut behind Kelly’s however in reverse. Clapper ranked top-10 in targets 4 occasions with no consideration winger. In 1937-38, his 11th NHL season, he moved to the blueline. Again there, he grew to become a first-team all-star thrice and completed top-three in Hart Trophy voting twice. Clapper loved outstanding longevity, turning into the primary 20-year NHLer. He really reached the NHL as a defenseman however was instantly moved to ahead as a rookie.
Howe constructed most of his Corridor-of-Fame resume as one of many NHL’s prime defensemen, rating top-10 in Norris voting eight occasions in an nine-season stretch from 1979-80 to 1987-88, throughout which he was runner-up thrice. Earlier than his fruitful NHL profession, in fact, he lit up the WHA taking part in left wing on a line together with his father Gordie and brother Marty. Throughout one WHA season, by which Mark performed ahead and protection, he made the mid-season all-star group as a ahead and the end-of-year all-star squad as a defenseman.
He was a rock-solid ahead, topping out at 25 targets and 48 factors in 44 video games in 1930-31, when he completed fourth in MVP voting. Goodfellow was born to play protection, although. He blossomed after shifting there in 1934-35, profitable two Stanley Cups, incomes two first-team all-star nods and profitable the MVP in 1939-40. If the Norris Trophy existed in his time, he would’ve gained it at the very least as soon as.
The profession trajectory is very much like Goodfellow’s. Siebert was a good-to-great ahead, rating top-10 in targets and assists twice and factors as soon as, however gained a Hart Trophy and earned three consecutive first-team all-star picks as a defenseman. That run got here within the twilight of his profession. Who is aware of the place he’d rank amongst all-time D-men if he’d performed there his entire life?
A constant offensive drive as a ahead, cracking the highest 10 in targets and factors six occasions. As a defenseman: strong, bodily and workmanlike. He was like the other of Brent Burns and Dustin Byfuglien of their transitions.
As Benesh explains it, Mohns had an unbelievably fascinating profession in ever-changing roles. He performed within the All-Star Recreation seven occasions between 1954 and 1972 and for very totally different causes relying on the stage of his profession: offensive defenseman who as soon as completed top-five in Norris voting; scoring winger who cracked the highest 10 as soon as; and defensive defenseman close to the top of his profession post-expansion.
The second participant to earn all-star standing as a ahead and defenseman. Colville was one of many NHL’s higher scoring forwards earlier than World Conflict II stole him away for 3 seasons. When he returned, he’d misplaced a step, so he shifted again to protection, the place he earned second-team standing in 1947-48.
It may be tempting to rank Burns increased. He’s one of many two greatest offensive defensemen of the previous twenty years and a Norris Trophy winner who could find yourself with one other earlier than his profession is up. Throughout his mid-career foray as a winger, nonetheless, he was merely good, nothing particular. It’s nonetheless a testomony to his great expertise that he might play each positions, however the gamers above him on this record had been high-level guys in every self-discipline.
Honorable mentions: Dustin Byfuglien, Jack Marshall, Barney Stanley, Tom Anderson, Bert McCaffrey, Phil Housley, Sergei Fedorov, Jim Roberts, Lindy Ruff, Dale Tallon, Mathieu Dandenault, Lou Nanne, Steve Staios, Ron Greschner, Mark Streit, Sami Kapanen
– With recordsdata from James Benesh

Tags: hockey historical past, lists, milestones and information, newsConnect: Concerning the AuthorMatt LarkinMatt Larkin is a senior author at The Hockey Information and has been a part of the group since 2011. He is your one-stop store for deep-dive participant interviews, predictions, statistics, fantasy participant rankings, participant security and hair suggestions. Catch him weekly as host of The Hockey Information Reside and The Hockey Information Podcast.

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