Calgary, AB - As part of the Western Hockey League’s 50th Season celebrations, a panel of historians selected the top 125 players in WHL history this past September. From this list, WHL fans voted at Top50.whl.ca to select the Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time. This week, the fan and panel voting results revealed the following placements:
#11 – Ray Ferraro (Portland Winter Hawks and Brandon Wheat Kings)
#10– Cam Neely (Portland Winter Hawks)
#9 – Grant Fuhr (Victoria Cougars)
#11 Ray Ferraro (Portland Winter Hawks & Brandon Wheat Kings, 1982-84)
Ferraro was a prolific scorer in the WHL from 1982 to 1984 and is the only player in League history to record more than 100 goals in a season. As an 18-year-old rookie on the Winter Hawks, Ferraro lit the lamp 41 times and had 90 points in just 50 regular season games. He was one of six 40-goal scorers on the high octane offence of the Winter Hawks. Ferraro followed the regular season with 24 points (14g-10a) in the WHL Playoffs to guide Portland to the League final. The Winter Hawks were unable to defend their WHL title but Portland hoisted the Memorial Cup as a result of a host team being introduced to the format for the first time.
The Brandon Wheat Kings acquired Ferraro the following season. It proved to be a great trade as Ferraro earned numerous accolades after an historic campaign. Ferraro was named the WHL’s Most Valuable Player, the WHL’s Top Scorer as well as a WHL Eastern Conference First Team All-Star in 1983-84. The sniper set a WHL single season record with 108 goals, while his 192 points that season ranks fourth all-time. This sensational campaign was highlighted by Ferraro potting a WHL-record 15 hat tricks including a record-tying seven-goal performance on January 5, 1984.
Throughout his WHL career, Ferraro collected 282 points (149g-133a) in 122 regular season games and 52 points (27g-25a) in 25 postseason outings. Despite being a fifth round selection in the 1982 NHL Draft by the Hartford Whalers, Ferraro had a long NHL career that spanned 18 seasons.
Ferraro also played for the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Atlanta Thrashers and St. Louis Blues. When Ferraro retired in 2002, he had compiled 898 points (408g-490a) in 1258 regular season games and amassed 43 playoff points (21g-22a) in 68 contests. The Trail, BC product was also a member of Team Canada’s silver medal-winning teams at the 1989 and 1996 IIHF World Championships.
#10 Cam Neely (Portland Winter Hawks, 1982-84)
Neely was a member of the Portland Winter Hawks from 1982 to 1984 where he accumulated 146 points (64g-82a) in 91 career regular season games and 20 points (9g-11a) in 14 playoff contests. During his rookie season, Neely buried 56 goals and had 120 points in 72 regular season games. He finished 13th in the scoring race as well as third in scoring among freshman. The powerhouse Winter Hawks found the back of the net 495 times that season and also boasted seven 100-point scorers. The native of Comox, BC then tallied 20 points in the postseason, but Portland was unable to repeat as League champions. The Winter Hawks still had a shot at the national championship since Portland was hosting the Memorial Cup. In the final game of the event, Neely’s hat trick propelled the Winter Hawks to a Memorial Cup victory.
The Vancouver Canucks were impressed by Neely and selected the power forward in the first round, ninth overall, of the 1983 NHL Draft. Neely recorded 26 points in only 19 games with the Winter Hawks during the 1983-84 season before the Canucks called up Neely for the remainder of the year. His NHL career lasted 13 years which included 10 seasons with the Boston Bruins where Neely blossomed into a franchise legend.
In 1993-94, Neely received the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. When Neely hung up his skates in 1996, he had collected 694 points (395g-299a) in 726 regular season games and netted 89 postseason points (57g-32a) in 93 outings. For all his accomplishments throughout his decorated hockey career, Neely was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2005 class. The 50-year-old returned to the Bruins organization after his playing career ended and has served as the President of the Boston Bruins for the past six seasons. Neely finally lifted the Stanley Cup in 2011 after losing twice in the Stanley Cup Final as a player.
#9 Grant Fuhr (Victoria Cougars, 1979-81)
Fuhr spent two seasons as a member of the Victoria Cougars from 1979 to 1981. In 1979-80, Fuhr was named the WHL’s Rookie of the Year after recording 30 wins in 43 regular season appearances. The WHL First Team All-Star then helped the Cougars advance all the way to the League final.
The Cougars dominated the League in 1980-81 as Victoria picked up 60 wins and are still the only WHL Club ever to hit the impressive mark. Fuhr posted 48 of those victories between the pipes for the Cougars which is tied for second-most all-time for wins in a season. His tremendous campaign, which also included a League-best 2.78 goals-against average, earned Fuhr the WHL Goaltender of the Year award and a WHL First Team All-Star nod for the second year in a row. In the playoffs, the Cougars had to overcome adversity facing a 3-1 series deficit in the WHL Final. Fuhr and the Cougars rallied to win the WHL Championship in seven games as Fuhr outdueled Mike Vernon and the Calgary Wranglers.
Over his WHL career, Fuhr posted 78 victories and six shutouts in 102 regular season appearances. In 23 postseason contests, the netminder recorded 17 wins including one shutout. Following his success in Victoria, the Edmonton Oilers selected Fuhr in the first round, eighth overall, of the 1981 NHL Draft.
The Oilers were a dynasty in the 1980s as Fuhr backstopped Edmonton to five Stanley Cups over a seven-year span from 1984 to 1990. Over 19 seasons in the NHL, the Spruce Grove, AB native registered 403 wins in 868 regular season games and collected 92 victories in 150 postseason appearances. For career wins in NHL history, he ranks tenth and third all-time respectively. Fuhr also received the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s Best Goalie in 1987-88 and the William M. Jennings Trophy in 1993-94.
On the international stage, Fuhr was a member of Team Canada’s championship teams at the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cups and also won a silver medal at the 1989 IIHF World Championship. For all his accomplishments throughout his illustrious hockey career, Fuhr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2003 class.
WHL Top 50 Players of All-Time (as of April 21st)
#9 - Grant Fuhr (Victoria Cougars, 1979-81)
#10 - Cam Neely (Portland Winter Hawks, 1982-84)
#11 - Ray Ferraro (Portland Winter Hawks and Brandon Wheat Kings, 1982-84)
#12 - Bernie Federko (Saskatoon Blades, 1973-76)
#13 - Shea Weber (Kelowna Rockets, 2002-05)
#14 - Brian Propp (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1976-79)
#15 - Wendel Clark (Saskatoon Blades, 1983-85)
#16 - Jordan Eberle (Regina Pats, 2006-10)
#17 - Theoren Fleury (Moose Jaw Warriors, 1984-88)
#18 - Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1974-78)
#19 - Dale Derkatch (Regina Pats, 1981-85)
#20 - Trevor Linden (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1986-88)
#21 - Rob Brown (Kamloops Junior Oilers/Blazers, 1983-87)
#22 - Brad McCrimmon (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1976-79)
#23 - Mark Recchi (New Westminster Bruins and Kamloops Blazers, 1985-88)
#24 - Clark Gillies (Regina Pats, 1971-74)
#25 - Ryan Getzlaf (Calgary Hitmen, 2001-05)
#26 - Barry Beck (New Westminster Bruins, 1974-77)
#27 - Dan Hodgson (Prince Albert Raiders, 1982-85)
#28 - Ray Allison (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1975-79)
#29 - Reggie Leach (Flin Flon Bombers, 1967-70)
#30 - Doug Wickenheiser (Regina Pats, 1977-80)
#31 - Mike Vernon (Calgary Wranglers, 1980-83)
#32 - Dennis Sobchuk (Regina Pats, 1971-74)
#33 - Jamie Benn (Kelowna Rockets, 2007-09)
#34 - Patrick Marleau (Seattle Thunderbirds, 1995-97)
#35 - Ron Chipperfield (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1970-74)
#36 - Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver Giants, 2008-12)
#37 - Shane Doan (Kamloops Blazers, 1992-95)
#38 - Brad Moran (Calgary Hitmen, 1995-2000)
#39 - Tom Lysiak (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1970-73)
#40 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels, 2009-11)
#41 - Marian Hossa (Portland Winter Hawks, 1997-98)
#42 - John Davidson (Calgary Centennials, 1971-73)
#43 - Sam Reinhart (Kootenay ICE, 2011-15)
#44 - Brent Sutter (Lethbridge Broncos, 1980-82)
#45 - Pavel Brendl (Calgary Hitmen, 1998-2001)
#46 - Cliff Ronning (New Westminster Bruins, 1983-85)
#47 - Duncan Keith (Kelowna Rockets, 2002-03)
#48 - Darcy Tucker (Kamloops Blazers, 1991-95)
#49 - Ray Whitney (Spokane Chiefs, 1988-91)
#50 - Stu Barnes (New Westminster Bruins and Tri-City Americans, 1987-90)