What If? The NHL’s Original Six Was Robots

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Let’s say that robots are introduced into the NHL. They’re programmed to play with the playing style of the best players of a given franchise, and each player-bot only gets assigned to one team. Sorry LA, New York, and St. Louis, Wayne Gretzky-bot only goes to Edmonton.

Each robot also plays at the same level of each player in his best year. That means that those best years should correlate with the teams they’re assigned to. Which is why Marian Hossa isn’t on the Blackhawks.

Which brings up: how do I decide which player goes on which team? In other sports, namely baseball, it would be their hall of fame team. Unfortunately, the HHOF doesn’t deal with “Hall of Fame teams”. So we’re looking at which teams, subjectively, the players played their best hockey with.

Let’s start with the Original Six because they have the richest (aka longest) history. We’ll start with Canada, and work our way across the league in a sort of clockwise fashion.

Montreal Canadiens

LW – C – RW

Dickie MooreJean BeliveauMaurice Richard

Howie MorenzJacques LemaireGuy LaFleur

Newsy LaLondeHenri RichardYvan Cournoyer

Toe BlakeElmer LachBernie Geoffrion

Larry RobinsonDoug Harvey

Serge SavardAndrei Markov

Guy LaPointeButch Bouchard


Jacques Plante

Ken Dryden

Thoughts: This is a ridiculously stacked team. Carey Price and Bill Durnan don’t even make the list as goaltenders. The offense is chock full of Top 100 players. The first pairing is a ridiculous defensive pairing. Actually, that whole defense is solid. This team is really amazing to look at, and Montreal wins the Cup 90/100 with this team. It’s just… it’s just amazing to look at. Montreal is the early favorite for being the best team. They just need better depth at defense.

Toronto Maple Leafs

LW – C – RW

Frank MahovlichDarryl SittlerBabe Dye

Busher JacksonTed KennedyCharlie Conacher

Wendel ClarkMats SundinGeorge Armstrong

Dave KeonSyl AppsDoug Gilmour


Tim HortonBorje Salming

King ClancyHap Day

Red HornerAllan Stanley


Turk Broda

Johnny Bower

Thoughts: This Maple Leafs team is stacked. If you accept loaded with two-way players as stacked. They have one of the best defensive defensemen in history in Salming. They have one of the best Selke quality centers in Sittler. They have a pure goal scorer in Dye. They have Sundin and Clark playing together. Then you have names like Horton, Clancy, Apps, old timey hard playing SOBs. Then you have one of the best playoff goaltenders in Broda. Stacked.

Chicago Blackhawks

LW – C – RW

Bobby HullStan MikitaPatrick Kane

Jeremy RoenickDenis Savard – Steve Larmer

Al SecordJonathan Toews – Bill Mosienko

Doug BentleyMax Bentley – Mush March


Duncan KeithChris Chelios

Pierre Pilote – Earl Seibert

Keith MagnusonDoug Wilson


Glenn Hall

Charlie Gardiner

Thoughts: This team is stacked. I just didn’t want to bring that up and sound even more biased. The team is better rounded than perhaps even Montreal, because of the Blackhawks’ depth at defense. From tough guy Seibert to Norris winning Duncan Keith, the Blackhawks top 4 defense is top of the league, talent-wise. In net, even Ed Belfour and Tony Esposito are left out, two of the best goaltenders of all-time. The Blackhawks are gritty, with guys like Al Secord. They’re fast, with that top line of just pure talent. They’re two-way able, with Toews and Mikita. Just a great team.

Detroit Red Wings

LW – C – RW

Ted LindsaySteve YzermanGordie Howe

Alex DelvecchioSergei FederovIgor Larionov

Henrik ZetterbergPavel DatsyukDylan Larkin

Sid AbelKris DraperJohn Ogrodnick


Nicklas LidstromRed Kelly

Vladimir KonstantinovNiklas Kronwall

Viacheslav FetisovReed Larson


Terry Sawchuk

Chris Osgood

Thoughts: I don’t know if there’s a team with better center depth on this team. I mean, Yzerman, Federov, Datsyuk, Draper. That’s an amazing list of players, and they’ve all won cups. Then, you come across that list of defenders. Gives Boston a run for their money, with Lidstrom, Kronwall, and the Russians. Hell, even in net, the Red Wings are set. They’re one of the later developing Original Six teams, but they’re still really good at every position.

Boston Bruins

LW – C – RW

Johnny BucykPhil EspositoCam Neely

Brad MarchandMilt Schmidt – Terry O’Reilly

Milan LucicNels StewartRick Middleton

Wayne Cashman – Patrice Bergeron – Adam Oates

Bobby OrrRay Bourque

Eddie ShoreZdeno Chara

Lionel HitchmanDit Clapper


Gerry Cheevers

Tuukka Rask

Thoughts: This is probably the best defense of any robotic team in the league. Eddie Shore and Zdeno Chara is certainly the best second pairing, especially that prime tower that was Zdeno Chara. Like, if any of those four are out on the ice – Orr, Bourque, Chara, Shore – you’re not getting the puck past them. Unfortunately, the rest of that team is iffy. Three players from the 2010 Cup are on the team. Milan Lucic is one of the Bruins’ best left wings. Cam Neely is their best right wing. But man, that defense. They just might stop everybody, and then whatever goals their offense gets wins them games. Dit Clapper’s robot gets turned off by applause, so fans have to be very quiet when he’s on the ice.

New York Rangers

LW – C – RW

Andy BathgateFrank BoucherMike Gartner

Adam GravesJean RatelleBill Cook

Vic HadfieldWalt TkaczukRod Gilbert

Bun CookDerek StepanBryan Hextall


Brad ParkBrian Leetch

Harry HowellRon Greschner

Ching JohnsonRyan McDonagh


Henrik Lundqvist

Mike Richter

Thoughts: Lastly, the New York Rangers. With Mark Messier going in (at least in my books) as an Edmonton Oiler, the New York Rangers are kind of lackluster. Many of their players come from the early days of the NHL, and they have two of their current players in their lineup. That’s not out of sheer earning it, like Kane, Toews, and Keith. It’s like Lucic, out of sheer necessity. Although it may be argued once McDonaugh calls it quits that he’s one of the best Rangers defenders in history. It kind of sucks that a lot of the 1994 Rangers go down as other teams’ players. The Rangers are a goaltending team, and three of the best were left off – Ed Giacomin, Dave Kerr, and John Vanbiesbrouck.

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