30+ goals in 10 Consecutive NHL seasons
Of the thousands of NHL players who have played the game over the course of almost a century of NHL hockey--only 10 have ever done it--let that sink in and imagine all the names that are not on that list of ten.
Mario Lemieux never did it; Gordie Howe never did it; Mark Messier never did it; Steve Yzerman never did it; Joe Sakic never did it--and so on.
What makes this accomplishment so special is that it takes two of the cornerstones of a hockey player to the extreme; great hockey skill and great durability in the marathon that is the NHL season.
Injury in hockey is assumed – it’s the rule, not the exception. This is the fastest game in the world with full high-speed contact from 200 lb. players on hard boards, and where a 100 MPH rubber bullet called a "puck" is definitely going to hit you several times during the season.
Durability in one of the most dangerous games in the world is every bit equal to hockey skill in consistently hitting that 30-goal mark, season after season. This record screams consistency, and with it comes one of the highest standards of measurement for a player. It says this player is always there for his team year after year, both by being on the ice for the majority of the season and performing – year after year.
Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames has just joined an elite club and I just can't let Iggy’s milestone go by without a special article on the players he’s joined. Why does the bulk of this article focus on the other nine players and not Jarome? Because that is the way Jarome would want it.
An homage to the 10 Iron Snipers of NHL 30/10 Club after the jump....
Bobby Hull predates me by a lot. He was lacing up skates in Canada before the Russians even knew hockey existed. The Golden Jet was a Chicago Blackhawk at one time; I don’t blame the most marquee player in the NHL at the time for going for top dollar in the WHA.
Bobby Hull is unique in that he is the only LW on the list, and considered by many to this day to still be the greatest LW to play the game. He is also distinct in that his streak exists mainly in the original six era with the shorter 70-game schedule. His first 30+ goal season was in 1960 .
Hull was part of a generation that brought the curved blade to hockey--a lethal weapon for a shooter. Hull and Stan Mikita as a pair made the Chicago Blackhawks of the time not only a Cup winner but a Cup contender for several years.
He was on the Blackhawks team that won the Stanley Cup in 1961 and made three more Cup final appearances in '62, '65 and '71. The Winnipeg Jets in the upstart WHA signed him for the 1972-73 season and his NHL streak was stopped at 13 seasons.
Enjoy the clip and notice the lack of helmets, the speed, and how the net does not come off the iron pegs. In those days if you charged the net you could break a bone sliding into the posts.
In the first year of the '67 NHL expansion came Phil Esposito’s first 30+ goal season and the beginning of his 13 season run. Esposito was part of that legendary Boston Bruins team of the early '70s, with the likes of Bobby Orr, Wayne Cashman, Gerry Cheevers, etc.
Esposito would win the Cup with the Bruins in 1970 and 1972, and make another Cup final appearance with them in '74 before he was traded to the New York Rangers. He made one more Cup final appearance with the Rangers in 1979 and his streak ended in the 1980-81 season, after which he retired.
My personal memories of Esposito are almost as much about international hockey as they are with the Bruins. Esposito was the face of Canada in the 1972 Summit Series. Canada as a nation was being rudely shaken from the perch of its assumed dominance of the game.
The '72 Summit Series with Esposito as Captain of Team Canada expressing frustration with fans is a unforgettable moment. This was a time when Canadians almost exclusively dominated the NHL. The reality that the Soviet Union was beating us at our own game was beyond comprehension. Esposito’s rally to the Nation is a great moment, not just in hockey, but in Canadian history.
Put it on the list with any number of politician’s speeches as inspiring to Canadians and I’ll put money that Esposito’s spur of the moment unscripted speech moved Canadians more than any politician's ever did.
It was a turning point in hockey history for Canada that the game had grown beyond our borders and that respect was due both to Russian players and to Team Canada itself for the challenge they were facing.
Russian and European players were never underestimated again after it.
Marcel Dionne (center)
Dionne is the franchise player of the Los Angeles Kings, perhaps Anze Kopitar will wrestle that title from him at some point, but he has a long ways to go in his young career before he does that.
Ironically, for a pretty clear-cut franchise player, Marcel did not start or end his career in L.A. He was actually drafted by the Detroit Red Wings and had his first 30+ goal season with them in 1974-75. The late 70s saw the emergence of the goal scorer era – ideal conditions for the arrival of the coming Great One. Goalie equipment was small and enforcers still played a key role in protecting skill players.
Dionne was part of the famed Triple Crown Line, which included Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer. It was a prototypical line of the era. Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor as the large wingers grinding along the boards with Dionne, who flourished as the skilled finishing Center in the middle. It was a King’s cocktail of perfect proportions.
One of my memories of Dionne is how small he looked with Taylor and Simmer beside him. Hockey typically favored the large man but Dionne’s skill could not be questioned. He read the ice as well as anyone and the instant decision between pass or shoot was always in balance with him. He isn’t that small at 5’10", but Simmer was 6’3" and Taylor was 6 feet.
The year Dionne was traded to the Rangers was the year his 30+ goal streak ended. He achieved one more year of 31 goals with the Rangers and played his final NHL games the following year.
The greatest Toronto Maple Leaf player in my opinion is Sittler, I know a lot of people like to give that title to Dave Keon because of the Cups he won, but to me it is Sittler because he faced such incredible off-ice challenges with Harold Ballard.
Sittler started his 30 goal run in the 1973-74 season and closed it out with the Flyers in the 1982-83 season.
Sittler is a tragic figure for me, not because of the player he was but because of the circumstances he was in. The Toronto Maple Leafs, despite stellar efforts from Sittler were being deconstructed by a spiteful owner in the 70s.
Ballard had a golden goose and knew it. Ballard knew, with the Leafs situated in the market with the greatest population concentration in Canada in the Greater Toronto Area, that the team was impossible to lose money on, no matter what they did on the ice.
Ballard turned what should have been key positives into negatives. The charisma of Sittler and the unity of his teammates behind him made him an enemy of Ballard.
The trading of linemate Lanny McDonald in a spiteful move by Ballard still did not stop Sittler, as he continued to put up 30+ goals season after season. Sittler is probably most famous for his ten point night, a record unlikely to ever be broken and something every hockey fan should see the highlight reel of at least once.
Flames fans take note of that #7 in the blue and white. That is Lanny McDonald before he came home to win the Cup in Calgary…
The next man to join the 30/10 club would not start his streak until 1977-78, his rookie year. It is worth noting that we have gone through 60 years of NHL history and are half way through the list with Bossy as the fifth player.
We should also take note that Jarome Iginla is just being born on July 1 (Canada Day ) 1977. The same year Bossy starts his streak. Before all of this, Iggy was just a sparkle in his Dad’s eyes or a tiny sperm cell already checking the other sperm cells out of the way and getting ready for the big power forward move.
Bossy’s circumstances remind me a little of Marcel Dionne’s but with much more pronounced playoff success. Mike Bossy was a part of that Islander dynasty team and he was blessed with incredible line mates as well, Bryan Trottier and Clarke Gillis and they were collectively known as the Trio Grande line.
The Islanders won four straight Cups with Bossy and were defeated in their fifth straight Cup appearance by an even greater dynasty team that was emerging – The Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers.
It is not fair to describe Bossy as just a 30+ goal man over ten seasons. Fact is, he holds the record with Gretzky for the most consecutive 50+ goal seasons at 9.
The other element of this record is sturdiness and it is a shame we can never know what Bossy would have done if he had not suffered a career ending back injury after only ten years in the NHL.
He is the player with the shortest playing career of all players on the list and even with the back injury and being in decline in his final year, he still scored over 30 goals.
The Great One cometh and so much has been written about him. I don’t see how I can possibly add anything to it. he started his 30+ goal season in his rookie year in 1979-80 and it ended 13 seasons later in Los Angeles
I watched Gretzky up close and personal for many years and as a Flames fan, it was some of the greatest and most frustrating hockey I have ever seen in my life. The Calgary Flames of the 1980s were a great team, but year after year they faced the greatest hockey team of all time.
Gretzky had the good fortune of playing with five other future Hockey Hall of Fame players, all young and in their prime. He set single-season NHL records in Edmonton, which will not likely ever be equaled.
I won’t take anything away from Gretzky, but hockey is a team game and you cannot deny the role of the incredible players he had around him. Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Glen Anderson, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and even Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley as enforcers. They would literally smash any player who even attempted to bother the Great One. The age of the enforcer to protect the scorer was alive and well. All his teammates helped make him unquestionably the greatest player ever.
Then Peter Pocklington did the unthinkable in trading away the greatest player to play the game. Oiler fans may argue with Leaf fans over who truly had the worst owner in NHL history.
I’m not going to lie. As a Flames fan I was thrilled to see Gretzky leave Edmonton. The Flames won their only Stanley Cup the next season.
Speaking of how other players on the Oiler dynasty team helped Gretzky, this brings us to Jari Kurri, still perhaps the best Finnish forward to play the game, although there might be a case at this point that that title should be awarded to Teemu Selanne.
Kurri was a great player who played in the shadow of the greatest player, and was often overlooked because of it.
In his ten straight seasons with the Edmonton Oilers starting in 1980-81 he scored 30+ goals in every season until he left Edmonton. Vancouver Canuck fans today gush about the chemistry of the Sedins who have spent a lifetime playing together. I wonder how many of them witnessed Gretzky and Kurri.
No other two players I have ever watched, in my lifetime of watching the game, ever anticipated each other better.
Kurri has one important up on Gretzky. He won all five Cup rings with the Oilers while Gretzky only has four. Despite being overshadowed by the Great One in his career--Kurri remains a true elite and even without Gretzky, he put up two more 30+ goal seasons.
Mike Gartner is another very much underrated and neglected player. He is not a name that many bring up often and that is probably due to his nomadic nature. He played on 5 different NHL teams but spent the bulk of his career with the Washington Capitals. His number 11 is retired to the rafters there and justly so.
His streak started in 1979-80 with the Capitals and he carried it over to the Minnesota North Stars in 1988-89 and again to the New York Rangers only to finish off the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. An injury with the Leafs the next year ended his streak at the record 15 straight seasons, but he went on to play three more NHL seasons before he concluded his career with the Phoenix Coyotes.
It is worth noting that despite his streak being broken at 15 seasons, he put in two additional 30+ goal seasons at the ages of 37 and 38 and retired at age 39.
It is hard to find good clips of Gartner, like Kurri he is simply under the radar for a lot of hockey fans, but those old school Capital fans should remember him well.
As the era of the goal scorer and the enforcer starts to close, it is replaced by what I think of as the Jersey Trap era. Goals start to become harder and harder to get. The number of players who can even start a significant run shrinks significantly.
In this era of the trap and tighter and tighter defense, only one player emerges to join the 30/10 club and he does it with authority--Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr began his run in 1991-92 and completed it in 2006-07 equaling Mike Gartner’s all-time mark of 15 seasons. Jagr played in an era where the goaltending equipment expanded, techniques in the goaltending position were refined, and an improved and stifling defensive trap system emerged in hockey, which barred all from entering the 30/10 club--all but Jagr.
A member of the Cup winning Penguins in 1990-91 and 1991-1992, Jagr left the shadow of Mario Lemieux on the Penguins to play for the Washington Capitals and finished his NHL career with the New York Rangers. He still plays hockey in the KHL today as a member of Avangard Omsk.
A video is worth a thousand words, and these highlight-reel goals of Jagr'sillustrate why only he emerged from the stifling Trap Era of NHL hockey to join the 30/10 club.
Jarome is unique on the list in that he easily had the weakest team surrounding him for the first seven years of his career--relative to all the other nine players.
He was the lone bright spot for most Flames fans in the darkest time of the franchise. He performed well, but just missed starting his 30+ goal streak in 1998-99 with 28 goals and again in 1999-00 with 29 goals.
Finally, his streak began in 2000-2001 when he first broke the 30-goal plateau, and it continues to this day. Jarome emerged not only as a player of great skill and durability, but as a model of leadership and character.
His loyalty to the Flames is remarkable in an era where players often change teams in search of the top dollar. Jarome took a discount in his contract to remain in Calgary. He may join Mike Bossy with his short ten year career as the only player to play for only one team on the list.
One of my favorite clips of Jarome Iginla and favorite hockey moments is Trevor Linden’s last game. Jarome not only scores his 50th goal of the season in that game, but stays on the ice to shake Linden’s hand out of respect. A unplanned moment that saw half the Flames team rushing back from the dressing room to join their Captain.
That is true leadership by example. Another special moment in NHL history, it is a long clip but well worth watching as the mic picks up a private comment from Linden to Iginla @4:40 that shows the respect was mutual.
Jarome’s humility and class exudes at the end of clip – as he quickly dodges a direct question and puts the spotlight back to Linden.