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100 people who changed the NHL’s business

100 people who changed the NHL’s business

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1. Gary Bettman
Commissioner for nearly a quarter century during the league’s greatest business growth.

2. Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky
Photo by: Getty Images

“The Great One” remains the person most associated with the game of hockey.

3. Clarence Campbell
The league’s third president reigned for more than 30 years, from 1946 to 1977.

4. Gordie Howe
“Mr. Hockey” redefined the game on the ice and helped spearhead the players union off of it.

5. Frank Calder
The league’s first president, from 1917 to 1943, presided over the expansion from Canada into the U.S.

6 (tie). Ted Lindsay & Doug Harvey
Star players and rivals who in the 1950s worked together to form the first NHL Players’ Association.

8. John Ziegler
President of the NHL from 1977 until 1992 who presided over the merger with the World Hockey Association.

9. The Wirtz family
Arthur, Bill and now Rocky have been influential owners of the Blackhawks for decades.

10. Mario Lemieux
“Super Mario” starred for the Penguins before eventually buying and saving the franchise.

11. Bobby Orr
One of the league’s greatest stars, he also was one of the first hockey players to use an agent and has served as a top-flight agent for the past 20 years.

12. Ed Snider
Founder and influential owner of the Flyers for 50 years.

13. Maurice “Rocket” Richard
Star player was a cultural icon across French Canada whose suspension in 1955 even triggered a riot in Montreal.

14. Jeremy Jacobs
Owner of the Bruins since 1975, Jacobs has been a guiding force for the league for decades.

15. Molson family
Owners of the Canadiens for 60 years, or for two-thirds of the franchise’s 24 Stanley Cups, the family’s brewery also has been a consistent corporate presence in the game.

16. Alan Eagleson
Former agent was the first executive director of the NHLPA who later was imprisoned after it was found he abused the position.

17. The Patrick family
Three generations of players and coaches have helped shape the way the game is played and organized.

18. Bob Goodenow
Succeeding Eagleson at the union, Goodenow was a hard-nosed negotiator who led the players through multiple labor disputes.

19. Tim Horton
Legendary player whose doughnut brand has become synonymous with the sport in Canada.

20 (tie). Mike & Marian Ilitch
Owners of the Red Wings for the past 35 years, accounting for four of the franchise’s 11 Stanley Cups.
Clarence Campbell
Photo by: Getty Images

22. James Norris
Red Wings owner for five of their Stanley Cups who also had ownership interests in the Blackhawks and Rangers.

23. Phil Esposito
Hall of Fame player who helped bring the NHL to Tampa in 1992.

24. Danny Gallivan
The voice of “Hockey Night in Canada” for 32 years.

25. Art Ross
As a player and executive, greatly affected the game’s rules, created the style of puck used today and improved the goal nets.

26. Don Meehan

Hugely successful agent for the last 30-plus years.

27. Conn Smythe
Owner of the Maple Leafs for eight of their 13 Stanley Cups, his name has adorned the playoff MVP trophy since 1965.

28. Tex Rickard
The former Texas lawman founded the New York Rangers in 1926 and built the third incarnation of Madison Square Garden.

29. Bill Daly
Right-hand man for Commissioner Bettman during the league’s massive growth during the last 20 years.

30. Borje Salming
The first European player to have a major impact in the league in the 1970s and ’80s.

31. Don Ruck
Hired by the NHL in 1966, considered the first marketing executive for the league.

32. Ralph Mellanby
Longtime producer for “Hockey Night in Canada.”

33. Marguerite Norris
First female executive in league history who served as president of the Red Wings from 1952 to ’55.

34. Willie O’Ree
The Canadian is the first black player in the NHL, debuting in 1958.

35. John Collins

Helped spearhead the league’s business growth with such initiatives as the Winter Classic and Stadium Series.

36. Ken Dryden
Legendary player, author, executive and thought leader.

37. William Jennings
Longtime governor and president of the Rangers and a key figure in the league’s expansion in 1967.

38. Joel Nixon
Pioneered the NHL’s broadcast strategy moving into cable.

39. Gary Davidson
Co-founder and president of the WHA, which led to four franchises joining the NHL in 1979.

40. Lord Stanley
Namesake of the most famous trophy in sports.

41. René Fasel
President of the International Ice Hockey Federation responsible for the NHL appearing in the Olympics.

42. Brian O’Neill
Fifty years with the league, handling everything from the draft to player discipline to the Stanley Cup.

43. Scott Bowman
Arguably the greatest coach ever with nine Stanley Cups and nearly 1,500 victories between the regular season and playoffs.

44. Chris Chelios
Essential American player and players union advocate who tied Gordie Howe’s record of appearing in 26 NHL seasons.

45. Tommy Gorman
NHL co-founder who won seven Stanley Cups as a general manager.

46. Viacheslav Fetisov
Defied the Soviet Union and established the right for Soviet players to play abroad when he joined the Devils in 1989.

47. Ken McKenzie
Former NHL executive co-founded the The Hockey News in 1947.

48. Bobby Hull
One of the greatest and most recognized players of all time whose son Brett ranks fourth in NHL goals scored.

49. Jack Cooper
Namesake and longtime leader of Cooper Canada, which pioneered several innovations in hockey equipment.

50 (tie). Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin
Photo by: Getty Images

& Alexander Ovechkin

Two of the game’s best players emerged as the new faces of the league coming out of the 2004-05 lockout.

52. Mike Emrick
Noted national TV voice who’s the first hockey play-by-play sportscaster to win a Sports Emmy.

53. Walter Bush
Longtime president of USA Hockey who also helped bring the NHL to Minnesota with the original North Stars.

54. Bruce McNall
Brought Gretzky to L.A. in 1988, sparking hockey interest in the U.S. and expansion into warm-weather cities in the 1990s.

55. Donald Fehr
Labor leader helped settle the NHL Players’ Association after years of dysfunction.

56. Punch Imlach
Legendary coach and general manager who won four Stanley Cups in six years in the 1960s.

57 (tie). Rob Lee & Dominique Fillion
The Reebok/Adidas design team for uniforms during the past 15 years, including event uniform looks.

59. Red Dutton
The league’s second president, from 1943 to 1946, and a Stanley Cup trustee for 37 years.

60. Frank Zamboni
Frank Zamboni (right) and son Richard
Photo by: Getty Images

Inventor of the ice-resurfacing machine that bears his name.

61. Tony Ponturo
Marketing executive put Anheuser-Busch’s money behind the NHL and many of its teams for a quarter-century.

62. Rene Lecavalier
The first commentator for the French version of “Hockey Night in Canada” and a longtime voice for the Canadiens.

63. Brian Burke
Team and league executive was a huge help to Gary Bettman when he took over as commissioner in 1993.

64. Lou Lamoriello
One of the longest-running and most successful GMs in NHL history.

65. Foster Hewitt
Iconic Canadian television voice who became famous for the phrase “He shoots, he scores!”

66. Mike Barnett
Gretzky’s agent also handled work for Brett Hull, Jaromir Jagr, Grant Fuhr, Sergei Fedorov and a host of other stars.

67. Dave Ogrean
During two stints as president of USA Hockey, he fostered a partnership with the NHL and produced an influx of American players.

68. Don Cherry
Outspoken Canadian commentator who often takes a fan-friendly, old-school bent on things.

69. Jaromir Jagr
Still playing at age 44, the international star ranks behind only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe in goals scored.

70 (tie). Michael Brook & Mark Lesser
Designer and programmer, respectively, of EA Sports’ “NHL ’94,” the biggest hockey video game of all time.

72. Sam Pollock
Former general manager of the Canadiens won nine Stanley Cups from 1964 to 1978.

73 (tie). Pat Brisson & J.P. Barry
High-powered agents with CAA Sports have handled career moves for Crosby, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and dozens of others.

75. Eddie Livingstone
Owner of the Toronto Blueshirts in the National Hockey Association, his battles with NHA owners led to the creation of the NHL.

76. Bill Torrey
Has spent 50 years in the league, was the architect of the Islanders’ dynasty and was with the Panthers at their start.

77. Red Fisher
Based in Montreal, the longest-serving beat writer of an NHL team at more than 50 years.

78. Howard Zunenshine
Created and oversaw The Hockey Co. for decades, which includes the CCM equipment brand.

79. James Dolan
Like him or not, he’s been the owner of the most valuable franchise for the last 22 years.

80. Kenny Holland
Longtime Red Wings GM with a major voice across the league.

81. Ted Leonsis
Owner of the Capitals for nearly 20 years, he pushes the league in new ways of thinking.

82. Brian Jennings
With the NHL for 28 years, he’s the highest-ranking executive still there from the pre-Bettman days.

83. The “Cup Keepers”
For more than 20 years, they have provided white-glove service to the Stanley Cup to keep it out of harm’s way.

84. Bob Batterman
Key negotiator for the league side during some of its most difficult labor talks.

85. Leo Dandurand
Early owner, president and coach of the powerhouse Canadiens.

86. George Tackaberry
The CCM “Tack” skate, created by Tackaberry, dominated the market for decades.

87. Harley Hotchkiss
Former Calgary owner and NHL chairman credited with strengthening Canadian teams and ending the 2004-05 lockout.

88. Greg Neeld
Became the first non-goalie to develop and wear a visor after losing an eye in junior hockey.

89. Bill Hay
Longtime head of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

90. Sam Flood
Executive producer is a big advocate for hockey inside NBC.

91. Dan Craig
Dan Craig
Photo by: Getty Images

Ice guru who prepares the surfaces for many of the league’s outdoor games.

92. Cooper Smeaton
Head referee for the first 20 years of the league and a Stanley Cup trustee for 30 years after that.

93. Murray Edwards
Billionaire Flames co-owner and arguably the most influential Canadian team owner.

94. Dennis Meggs
Invented breakaway hockey nets, a major safety innovation.

95. Jacques Plante
First goalie to wear a goaltender mask on a regular basis, inadvertently also creating artistic expression on the ice.

96. Stan Mikita
Father of the curved hockey stick, a game-changer for the sport.

97. Norm Green
Owner who moved the Flames to Calgary and the Stars to Dallas.

98. Laura Stamm
Power-skating pioneer has helped teach hockey players how to get down the ice quickly since 1970.

99. Bob McKenzie
The leading hockey journalist of the last quarter century, TSN’s McKenzie has thrived in the new media age.

100. Steve Hatze Petros
NHL schedule maker for nearly 30 years who balances increased TV demands with each team’s needs.

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