Many former Hockey East stars have gone on to win Hobey Baker awards, Olympic gold medals, Stanley Cup titles and some have even been elected into the Hall of Fame.
While the Hockey East has produced plenty of these unbelievable hockey stars, only a handful stand out as being the best of the best the conference has ever seen.
University of Maine linemates, Jim Montgomery and Paul Kariya got the conversation going back in 1993 when the pair led the Black Bears to both the school and conference’s first ever national championship.
Montgomery capped off his senior season with the title, adding to an already stellar career that landed him atop Maine’s all-time scorers list with 301 points (103 goals and 198 assists). The three-time Hockey East All-Star was also honored as the tournament MVP during the team’s championship season.
Kariya won the championship during his only season playing college hockey. The eventual fourth overall selection in that year’s NHL draft, Kariya was recognized with both the Hockey East rookie of the year and player of the year honors. He also became the only freshman ever to win the Hobey Baker award, as the nation’s best player.
Boston University forward Chris Drury was the next great player to take over the Hockey East conference. Drury, an eventual Calder trophy winner (1999) and Stanley Cup champion in the NHL, led BU to its fourth national title in 1995 and was a back-to-back Hockey East player of the year winner in 1997 and 1998. Drury was also recognized as a Hobey Baker winner during his senior season in 1998, after finishing as the runner-up just a year earlier.
Jason Krog is the lone representative on this list never to win a national championship, but title or not, his four-year career at the University of New Hampshire doesn’t lack prestige. Krog finished off his four-years at UNH with 238 career points (94 goals, 144 assists) in 152 games and was named the Hobey Baker winner during his senior season in 1999.
Finally, Boston College’s Brian Gionta rounds out the list of candidates as the most recent Hockey East player on the list. Gionta appeared in three national championship games, including a crushing loss to Michigan in front of the home Boston crowd during his freshman year in 1997. Gionta felt the ache of defeat again his junior year after losing to North Dakota in the finals before finally tasting sweet victory his senior season with BC’s first-ever national title. The current Montreal Canadiens forward was named an NCAA all-American three-times at BC and won Hockey East player of the year honors during his senior year in 2001.
All five players had incredible careers while in college and were recognized for their incredible skill sets both within the Hockey East and nationally. Each makes a very compelling case to be the best ever in the Hockey East, but only one can be recognized with the honor.
Photo courtesy of Paul F. McGrath