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-   -   Will we ever see a better player than Gretzky? Will we know it? (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=1357111)

SnowblindNYR 02-21-2013 11:14 PM

Will we ever see a better player than Gretzky? Will we know it?
 
I'm not 100% sure what forum to put this in. This is more of a look in the future than a look at the past, however it involves Gretzky and I figured I'd put it here. Plus this board has the best discussion, I won't get answers such as "No /end thread".

Anyway, this question is two-fold. First will we see a better player than Gretzky ever? Second, if we do, would we know it?

Reason I ask this is because a huge part of his legacy is how he tore apart the record books. Another part is the fact that he was part of the Oilers dynasty. However, even though he was leaps and bounds better than anyone in his era, you still have to realize that Gretzky's numbers and records are a bit inflated by the era he played in. You won't see those numbers in today's NHL. So what does someone have to do to surpass him? Does he have to have a certain percentage lead over his closest competitor? Because unless someone plays a ridiculously long time at a ridiculous high level, I don't see anyone touching Gretzky's records. For a little perspective, if we look at his regular season point total of 2,857, if a player were to start at 18 and finish at 45, he'd need to average about 106 points per season. Even THEN, people will more likely just call him a compiler (an all time great compiler, but not in Gretzky's class). Also, let's not forget that Gretzky played with some of the best players in the NHL. With the cap, we won't see teams like that ever again. So it seems that unless there's some sort of change in the NHL (I can't foresee a significant one unless they do something ridiculous like make the nets bigger), no one is touching those numbers. And we can't use math to say that certain seasons were as good as Gretzky's. I remember someone doing that with Stamkos' season last year, taking into account how high scoring the league was and got practically laughed at.

Furthermore, a reason Gretzky is so revered is that he won 4 cups on a dynasty team that may be the best known dynasty in the NHL. Going back to the cap, it'll be very difficult for a player to win 4 cups total over his career, much less in a dynasty.

So if someone DOES come along as good as Gretzky will the lower numbers and cups obscure his accomplishments?

To borrow one example from another sport. Wilt Chamberlain dominated his day in a different era. He had seasons no one could dream of in a different era. He had 50 points per game one season. He had a 100 point game. He dominated the boards, had 11 seasons of 20+ boards (in a row). However, in came Jordan and he's now considered the best ever. Granted he does have more career points than Wilt, but that's in 3 more seasons. People were able to discount the era and not hold it against Michael that it was impossible in his era to average 50 points a game in one season. One difference though is that basketball is much more conducive to dynasties than the NHL today. Michael's 6 in 8 years is probably the biggest factor in being called GOAT. Most likely we won't see an NHL player be part of a legit dynasty anymore if the cap doesn't disappear.

Wrath 02-21-2013 11:47 PM

As long as hockey stays alive and is a top professional sport, I definitely think so. Was about to bring up the Michael Jordan example but you already did.

Wilt had the stat domination in NBA but there are multiple players considered better than him (MJ, Magic, arguably the likes of Bird/Kareem/Russell). Similarly there could be some player who was so dynamic even in a salary cap league with higher overall talent (due to internationalization, better youth hockey training, etc.) and so clutch in the playoffs that they could make the big 4 a big 5.

Kresnik 02-21-2013 11:49 PM

Yes, many, and more to come, players with better vision, more talent etc but i doubt anyone will ever be considered better then Gretzky, i really don't think so.

Gunnin54 02-21-2013 11:50 PM

Gretzky changed the nhl.and sport forever. He did things people though could never be done. Even if someone breaks those records they still won't get the recognition gretzky did.

Noldo 02-21-2013 11:52 PM

Even if Gretzky's raw totals might be a bit inflated due to era, his domination over his peers, some of which, as OP noted, were alltime greats themselves, makes Gretzky truly and utterly outstanding. If we believe, as I do, that Gretzky truly was that much better than his peers, a player that is equally talented should be able to dominate the field similarly also in this age.

TAnnala 02-22-2013 12:19 AM

Well, for one, we would have to look at Gretzky's accomplishments in a different light.

Gretzky led the league in assists 16 times, consecutive 12 times.
He finished in the top-10 for 19 times.
Probably not as competitive league as today's, so maybe the same kind of dominance is not required.

Lets call him, The PlayerX!

I would say that PlayerX leading the league in assists for 5-8 times and finishing in the top-10 for another 5-8 times combined for 10-16 times. But there would have to be few times when he leads the league in a ridiculous amount.

Let's say that the second place for assists is 80. The rest of the top-10 goes down bit by bit so that the 10th place has 65. I would want the PlayerX to have 3-5 finishes with over 100 assists. Then he would need to be in the running for the assists lead for another 10ish times.

Ok, so that covers the playmaking for me.

Gretzky finished 1st in points for whopping 11 times. He was top-5 for 16 times.

PlayerX, i would settle for being the top-5 for 10-14 times, but he would need to win the Art Ross for at-least 7 times and 3 of those would need to be by ridiculous margin.
If the 2nd place finish is 100-points i would need the PlayerX to won three times by at-least 60-point margin.

Of course, if the PlayerX never wins the goal-scoring race he would have to have more top-5/10 finishes. Since Gretzky led the league in goals for 5-times and was top-10 for 9 times.
But if he manages to put few Rocket's together in the way i would consider the PlayerX to be in the same conversation as Gretzky.

Rhiessan71 02-22-2013 01:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kresnik (Post 60228517)
Yes, many, and more to come, players with better vision, more talent etc

MANY more to come?
More talented, sure. We have already seen many players more purely talented, faster and stronger than Gretz.
Vision though....don't make me laugh!
The best we have seen since is Mario and even his vision paled greatly in comparison to Wayne's.
There's not a player in the league today with even a 1/4 of Gretzky's vision.

Eisen 02-22-2013 01:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnowblindNYR (Post 60225931)
I'm not 100% sure what forum to put this in. This is more of a look in the future than a look at the past, however it involves Gretzky and I figured I'd put it here. Plus this board has the best discussion, I won't get answers such as "No /end thread".

Anyway, this question is two-fold. First will we see a better player than Gretzky ever? Second, if we do, would we know it?

Reason I ask this is because a huge part of his legacy is how he tore apart the record books. Another part is the fact that he was part of the Oilers dynasty. However, even though he was leaps and bounds better than anyone in his era, you still have to realize that Gretzky's numbers and records are a bit inflated by the era he played in. You won't see those numbers in today's NHL. So what does someone have to do to surpass him? Does he have to have a certain percentage lead over his closest competitor? Because unless someone plays a ridiculously long time at a ridiculous high level, I don't see anyone touching Gretzky's records. For a little perspective, if we look at his regular season point total of 2,857, if a player were to start at 18 and finish at 45, he'd need to average about 106 points per season. Even THEN, people will more likely just call him a compiler (an all time great compiler, but not in Gretzky's class). Also, let's not forget that Gretzky played with some of the best players in the NHL. With the cap, we won't see teams like that ever again. So it seems that unless there's some sort of change in the NHL (I can't foresee a significant one unless they do something ridiculous like make the nets bigger), no one is touching those numbers. And we can't use math to say that certain seasons were as good as Gretzky's. I remember someone doing that with Stamkos' season last year, taking into account how high scoring the league was and got practically laughed at.

Furthermore, a reason Gretzky is so revered is that he won 4 cups on a dynasty team that may be the best known dynasty in the NHL. Going back to the cap, it'll be very difficult for a player to win 4 cups total over his career, much less in a dynasty.

So if someone DOES come along as good as Gretzky will the lower numbers and cups obscure his accomplishments?

To borrow one example from another sport. Wilt Chamberlain dominated his day in a different era. He had seasons no one could dream of in a different era. He had 50 points per game one season. He had a 100 point game. He dominated the boards, had 11 seasons of 20+ boards (in a row). However, in came Jordan and he's now considered the best ever. Granted he does have more career points than Wilt, but that's in 3 more seasons. People were able to discount the era and not hold it against Michael that it was impossible in his era to average 50 points a game in one season. One difference though is that basketball is much more conducive to dynasties than the NHL today. Michael's 6 in 8 years is probably the biggest factor in being called GOAT. Most likely we won't see an NHL player be part of a legit dynasty anymore if the cap doesn't disappear.

tl;dr
we will know it.

alko 02-22-2013 02:52 AM

IMO, with a little bit sarcasm, the generation, that remember Gretzky to play, must die.
Then it should come some really really good player, that will be dominant (more than Crosby now :D ) for lets say 10 seasons and the next generation could promote him to the first place.

BraveCanadian 02-22-2013 06:38 AM

Gretzky was so far ahead of the curve it is very unlikely we will see anyone better. Especially if you restrict it to offensive play.

Even if you adjust his totals for average league scoring he blows everyone away. No one playing today is even close.

A player like Gretzky is a once in a blue moon winning the lottery type of event.

It is even very remote we'll see a better all around player.. but there is a better chance of that because Gretzky wasn't physical and didn't always play traditional defense.

It is too bad for those of you out there who didn't get to witness two true generational talents at their best back to back with Wayne and Mario.

JackSlater 02-22-2013 07:55 AM

I would say it is almost certain that there will be a better player. Gretzky is great, but there have been players who are at least near him in Orr, Howe and Lemieux. It's only been 14 years since Gretzky retired, so it's not particularly surprising yet that we haven't seen anyone near him since.

I do think the odds of seeing another Gretzky level player arise from similar circumstances is quite low. That kind of fanatical dedication to practice seems far less likely today, in my opinion. Physical freaks like Orr, Lemieux and Howe seem more likely.

As far as recognition goes, I think it would be tricky for a slightly superior player to be recognized as such. It wouldn't be necessary to match Gretzky's raw numbers due to era changes, but some people would cling to that as the criteria. That's only for a forward as well. A defenceman would probably have to lead the league in scoring while being elite defensively (Orr) to get legitimate Gretzky consideration. I can't even guess what a goaltender would have to do.

TheDevilMadeMe 02-22-2013 07:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JackSlater (Post 60237883)
I would say it is almost certain that there will be a better player. Gretzky is great, but there have been players who are at least near him in Orr, Howe and Lemieux. It's only been 14 years since Gretzky retired, so it's not particularly surprising yet that we haven't seen anyone near him since.

I do think the odds of seeing another Gretzky level player arise from similar circumstances is quite low. That kind of fanatical dedication to practice seems far less likely today, in my opinion. Physical freaks like Orr, Lemieux and Howe seem more likely.

As far as recognition goes, I think it would be tricky for a slightly superior player to be recognized as such. It wouldn't be necessary to match Gretzky's raw numbers due to era changes, but some people would cling to that as the criteria. That's only for a forward as well. A defenceman would probably have to lead the league in scoring while being elite defensively (Orr) to get legitimate Gretzky consideration. I can't even guess what a goaltender would have to do.

Hasek's per-game ability with Brodeur's consistency and durability + Roy's playoff record.

Seriously. We're talking a goalie with something like 10 Vezinas and at least 2 Conn Smythes if we want to compare him to Gretzky.

ot92s 02-22-2013 08:48 AM

well, somebody....anybody, has to first be talented enough and have the vision to even attempt to play his passing game. his game is still futuristic. nobody even attemps to play as he did.

I really don't think people remember how good this guy's saucer passing was.

someone will crack the code though. i bet it won't be any kid coming out of some hockey factory though. it will be some kid learning the fundamentals on youtube, some rinkrat skating night and day or some kid on a pond in russia or toronto.

by the way, i sat about 4 rows back from the glass at the tampa / bruins game last night and in a league where teddy purcell and david krejci are catching defenders by surprise....gretz would make their brains melt....

revolverjgw 02-22-2013 11:20 AM

It's going to be VERY hard to gauge, so many things have changed. I know Crosby isn't as good as Gretzky (it's closer than a lot of people want to admit :sarcasm:), but even if he WAS, he's handcuffed by parity... he's not lining up next to Stamkos and Erik Karlsson every shift (Malkin is his Messier, and he'll have to make do with that, and even THAT might actually hurt his stats), he plays a more refined defensive game, he doesn't have as many weak franchises to beat up on, and he's had to compete with Russians and more elite Euros. I guarantee Gretzky's relative dominance would take a BIG hit if prime Ovechkin and Malkin were in 1984. Outscoring Michel Goulet by 30 goals is one thing, doing that to '08 Ovechkin would be another thing entirely.

There's no chance of anybody dominating statistically like Gretzky did, so we're left with things like extremely subjective era comparisons and "intangible" contributions like defensive ability that can't be measured or recorded in the record books. If/when somebody better than Gretzky comes along, he's got his work cut out for him to actually be recognized as such.

Crease 02-22-2013 11:30 AM

I can't imagine anyone dominating his peers the way Gretzky did. Sure, if you build a time machine and drop Crosby or Malkin as is into the early 80's, they're going to stand out. But what made Gretzky special was how much better he was than everyone else despite everyone else having access to the same training and knowledge that he did.

JackSlater 02-22-2013 11:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 60237937)
Hasek's per-game ability with Brodeur's consistency and durability + Roy's playoff record.

Seriously. We're talking a goalie with something like 10 Vezinas and at least 2 Conn Smythes if we want to compare him to Gretzky.

As crazy as that first part is, you're right. Several Hart trophies would be necessary as well.

Beef Invictus 02-22-2013 11:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 60237937)
Hasek's per-game ability with Brodeur's consistency and durability + Roy's playoff record.

Seriously. We're talking a goalie with something like 10 Vezinas and at least 2 Conn Smythes if we want to compare him to Gretzky.

It's hilarious because it's true.

Darth Yoda 02-22-2013 11:45 AM

If Crosby can ever get back to that average that he had in 2010/11, with as many goals, he will be held by me to be in Gertrudz league at least.

Slats432 02-22-2013 11:47 AM

Growing up in the early 70s, I feel fortunate to have watched a lot of greats in their prime....Lafleur, Bossy, Yzerman, Forsberg, Sakic, etc etc...

There are many players that were better than Gretzky in specific disciplines. Skating, Shooting etc....but the one thing if you could bottle and keep are a few different things that may be hard to replicate.

1. Someone said that they measured his peripheral vision...actually I found an HF Link that talks about heightened motor response to visual stimulus as well as peripheral. That would be God given talent. http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh....php?t=1048509

2. Secondly, his awareness, timing, and creativity were an echelon above other players. Things like being the first one in the building to count the number of players when it was too many on the ice. Being one of the first players to come over the blueline and circle and wait for help, being a player willing to just park behind the net and use it as an obstacle. He may have been one of the first players to try to dive to sell a penalty....I don't remember many doing it before him.

3. Supporting cast. He would have been a Hall of Famer and probably the greatest of all time regardless....but he had a great team and coach to help him get there.

None of these things will be easily replicated. I see flickers of Gretzky in Crosby, but really no one else.

jigglysquishy 02-22-2013 12:06 PM

Gretzky regularly won the Art Ross by over 30%. He hit 50% four times. Only Howe topped 30% besides Gretzky.

Crosby's monster year (132 point pace) would only be 27% better than second best (Henrik Sedin). To hit the 50% that Gretzky regularly hit Crosby would have needed 156 points.

That's my barometer for Gretzky offensive production.

Wrath 02-22-2013 12:11 PM

If we're talking about "on-pace" or pro rated seasons, we should give Gretzky a 227 point season in 83-84, right?

I think Crosby still has to improve by a considerable margin to even be knocking on the door of top 10 all time, much less the big 4.

BenchBrawl 02-22-2013 12:17 PM

No doubt someone better or equal will come along in the next 50 years.

This is a poor era at the top , don't worry , a freak of nature will come.

The parity argument is just a poor excuse to justify the lack of any true legend at the top of the NHL hierarchy right now.

jigglysquishy 02-22-2013 12:19 PM

Crosby is far, far away from knocking on the top 10, let alone the top 4.

Jagr was 23rd on our last top players list. And we all know Crosby is a considerable step down from Jagr.

If Crosby wins the Art Ross this year and next (bringing him to three in total) he'd have a good chance at making the top 25.

Luigi Lemieux 02-22-2013 12:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jigglysquishy (Post 60249395)
Gretzky regularly won the Art Ross by over 30%. He hit 50% four times. Only Howe topped 30% besides Gretzky.

Crosby's monster year (132 point pace) would only be 27% better than second best (Henrik Sedin). To hit the 50% that Gretzky regularly hit Crosby would have needed 156 points.

That's my barometer for Gretzky offensive production.

My only problem with the relative dominance comparison to 2nd place is, how do we know there aren't simply more great players around now compared to 1984? Wouldn't comparing his point totals to the league average for goals per game be a better way? I'm sure Gretzky comes out ahead either way, but from a point of statistical analysis comparing to just 2nd place seems fairly pointless.

BraveCanadian 02-22-2013 12:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Luigi Lemieux (Post 60250599)
My only problem with the relative dominance comparison to 2nd place is, how do we know there aren't simply more great players around now compared to 1984? Wouldn't comparing his point totals to the league average for goals per game be a better way? I'm sure Gretzky comes out ahead either way, but from a point of statistical analysis comparing to just 2nd place seems fairly pointless.

Adjusting for league average scoring just makes it harder on Crosby:

Gretzky hit 170 adjusted and over 150 6 times in total.

There is no way to reasonably downgrade Gretzky enough to put anyone currently playing in the same conversation.


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