What do you think of when you hear the term ‘power forward’? What does it take to be truly classified as a ‘power forward’? Size, strength, skill, toughness, and speed are a few qualities that come to mind. These guys are not just snipers. They make you pay the price on the boards, wear you down in the corners, have no issues about dropping the gloves, and are simply monsters in front of the net.
I’ve been an Avalanche follower since their first days in Denver, and have seen my fair share of power forwards come through town. Adam Deadmarsh, Matthew Barnaby (for 13 games anyway), Shjon Podein, Chris Gratton (another 13 gamer), and Claude Lemieux are a few that come to mind. Some even consider Peter Forsberg as a power forward, and I have a hard time finding a reason to disagree.
But today, the Av’s have Chris Stewart. This kid has it all – speed, strength, size, skill, toughness, and a knack for being around the puck when it counts. In only his second professional season, Stewart has already become one of the NHL’s top power forwards. I have no qualms about comparing him to the likes of Joe Thornton, Corey Perry, Mike Richards or Ryan Getzlaf. Stewart is good, and at 23 years old, he will only get better.
“Stewie” is currently pacing the team with 11 goals, 13 assists and 31 penalty minutes. He is never afraid to mix-it-up down low and he seems to have that ‘hockey sense’ that you hear the great players talk about.
Who do you think was the greatest power forward of all time? Who was your favorite? Mark Messier? Cam Neely? A healthy Eric Lindros? Maybe Keith Primeau? Let’s hear it!!!
(I know most of you are thinking, “What about Gordie Howe?” – and I couldn’t agree more – but he played in an era before ‘power forward’ was even a hockey term. We must remember that the term was actually introduced to describe Cam Neely’s playing style.)