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Leading Off

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Photographic Memories

On the eve of the NHL season, SI asked some of hockey's biggest stars to pay tribute, in their own words and handwriting, to players from the past (and present) who mean the most to them

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PHOTOGRAPH BY VICTORIA WILL FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist on Dominik Hasek He was just so dominating when he was on top of his game. Never seen a goalie make so many highlight saves.

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DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HASEK, YZERMAN); PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS BY SI PREMEDIA

Flyers center Claude Giroux on Steve Yzerman He was a great Leader and great player offensively and defensively. His determination was fun to watch. He knew how to get the job done. He would play with passion. He would play hurt and work hard at all times.

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DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (FORSBERG)

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron and Peter Forsberg

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GREGORY BULL/AP (CROSBY)

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby

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DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (YZERMAN)

Stars center Tyler Seguin on Steve Yzerman This is a photo of Steve Yzerman. He was my favorite player growing up as a kid. His style of playing, with being a centerman like myself, his speed & skill & ofcourse leadership were the main reasons I idolized his so much.

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DAVID E. KLUTHO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (GRETZKY)

Kings winger Justin Williams on Wayne Gretzky How can you not be inspired and in awe of the greatest player ever to play the game. His skill set was before his time and it's an honor to wear the same jersey as him in Los Angeles. Loved watching him play when I was younger and have plenty of memories watching him score goals and celebrate Stanley Cups.

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DENIS BRODEUR/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (LAFONTAINE)

Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Pat LaFontaine

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JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES (MODANO)

Islanders center John Tavares and Mike Modano

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DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (LIDSTROM)

Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall and Nicklas Lidstrom

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RON FREHM/AP (MESSIER)

Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty and Mark Messier