10 Criminally Underrated Forwards

Whether it be due to playing an unrecognized role or being in the pale shadow of one of their companions, there are some forwards that just don’t get the credit they deserve. Let’s take a look.

Mikael Renberg
The Legion of Doom line was incredibly popular amongst Flyers fans, that can’t be denied. However, it seems that the one European member of the line gets the least credit. Granted, playing on a line with Leclair and Lindros will cause at least a slight overshadowing, but Renberg does not get the praise he deserves for his exceptional hustle and fantastic hands – and sadly, most likely never will. Something along the lines of “Hey, who played drums on the first two blink-182 albums?”

Alex Tanguay
There is recognition of his skill prominent in the NHL, but it feels as though he might get more praise if he more frequently used his fantastic shot. He’s an excellent playmaker (most notably in traffic), which has made him popular amongst his teammates, but I’m certain that many fans and coaches have thought to themselves “IF TANGUAY DOESN’T START FIRING AT THE NET, I’M TAKING A GALLON OF GASOLINE AND A MATCH TO THE SADDLEDOME AND IGNITING HIS GLOVES!”

Patrick Sharp
He plays on a line with two of the 10 best young talents in the NHL today (Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews), but Sharpie alone is a master of special teams playing and clutch scoring. Sadly, his slightly less jaw-dropping overall scoring numbers leave him the unloved child of the top three in the Windy City.

Daniel Briere
It’s hard not to recognize Briere’s talent as a fantastic playmaker and effective net attacker, but he’s a more complete player than most would realize. He can certainly play the role of little ball of hate when provoked, usually posting somewhere between 60-80 PIMs a year. But he’s not small – he’s fun sized.

To paraphrase a quote from my all-time favorite movie (The Big Lebowski), “ALL RIIIGHT, WAY TO GO, DANNYYY!”

John McKenzie
Great impact player and agitator, “Pie” does not get his due. #19 should never have been worn on Causeway Street by Joe Thornton or Tyler Seguin – Because it should have long since been retired.

Jason Pominville
Despite being a well-liked captain, the accolades that go to Sabres players in recent times usually go to Derek Roy (now of the Stars) and Thomas Vanek. Unjust. Pominville is a set up man of Adam Oates caliber and plays a gentlemanly (but not soft) game in a manner that should be much more appreciated.

Ryan Callahan
See that determination? The young man from Rochester, NY captaining his favorite team is a better leader by example than anyone in the game today. If he’s on the ice, you’re probably not going to score. Deal with it. Callahan has gained some recognition having won the NHL extra effort award three of the past four seasons, but most of his love comes exclusively from the Blueseaters at MSG. Shame. He must spend his off nights at the hotel watching “The Big Year” on HBO. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, he’s the Charlie Browniest.

Justin Williams
Perhaps Williams would get more acknowledgement had he not missed as much time as he has with injuries. Even then, he has the same combination of talent and guts that made Peter Forsberg a modern legend, but too often that goes unappreciated.

Igor Larionov
Sometimes the doors are simply opened too late, and those who deserve better pay a price for it. Igor may have been one of the best skaters of the past 40 years, but spending his most productive years in the Soviet league caused him to be one of the less well known Red Army players in North America. Even though Larionov was one of the few Soviets who made the move over to the NHL, there’s some stigma that causes his name to be less recognized than that of Kharlamov or Tretiak. But all 3 players made a tremendous impact, and that’s why each of them are in the Hall in Toronto.

Lastly, but perhaps most significantly…

Patrice Bergeron
Let’s break this down a bit:

The Frank J. Selke Trophy being nearly unanimously given to Bergy is definitely a sure sign of the tides beginning to turn somewhat. But even with his progress slowed by concussions and other injuries, he was more persistent and hard working than just about anyone else in the sport. He’s had great success internationally (being the newest member of the Triple Gold Club, having won the Stanley Cup, Olympic gold, and IIHF World Championship gold – and also being one of only a handful alongside the likes of Shanahan, Sakic, and Toews who’ve also won gold at the World U20s), often being part of a line with superstars such as Corey Perry and Sid the Kid. But how many hockey fans know facts such as that? But it proves a lot about him as a player and worker, and these credentials may just get him in the Hall one day.

Perhaps time will tell more about how much some of these players are worth to the game. Hindsight is always 20/20, and it’ll be more indicative of what they’ve offered. We shall see.


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