By: Will Burchfield

If Wayne Gretzky were to assemble an all-time starting lineup, he’d leave himself on the bench. But two former Red Wings would take the ice.

One of them might surprise you.

Gretzky, currently in Toronto for the Wold Cup of Hockey, said on Tuesday that both Gordie Howe and Paul Coffey would crack his lineup.

Howe is an obvious choice. In fact, Gretzky is on record as calling him the greatest hockey player ever. The 23-time All-Star and six-time MVP racked up 801 goals over a 26-year NHL career. He also won four Stanley Cups. Perhaps most famously, he inspired the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick,” the combination of a goal, an assist and a fight all in the same game. Mr. Hockey was as mean as he was talented.

Check out Howe’s top five moments here.

Coffey is the selection that might leave some fans scratching their heads. (Or tearing out their hair.) Despite a marvelous career that saw the smooth-skating defenseman win three Norris Trophies and four Stanley Cups, Coffey is remembered in Detroit for his own goal in Game 1 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals. It blew the game (no it didn’t), cost the Wings the series (no it didn’t) and earned Coffey a ticket out of town (okay, maybe.)

In sizing up Gretzky’s lineup as a whole, it’s clear some Edmonton bias came into play. We can forgive it in the case of Coffey and Mark Messier, two all-time greats no matter who you ask. As for Grant Fuhr? Gretzky would be better off pulling the goalie and hopping over the boards himself.


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