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11-06-2007, 05:13 AM
I voted for Kodos
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I've done some more research into the postseason all-star teams of the 30's after the controversy around Red Horner's lack of selections and what I've found is interesting, to say the least. Sadly, we don't have the actual all-star voting for the 30's, so I've been forced to juxtapose all-star selections with statistics in my analysis, but I think the results are interesting, all the same.

I'll add before I begin with the number-crunching that numbers are obviously not everything. I have no quantifiable yardstick for determining a player's defensive contributions (though I will try to take what is known anecdotally about a player's defensive play into account when discussing my findings), so if you think that torpedoes the whole project, so be it. Also, many all-star selections over the years are head-scratchers, and I'm not going to delve deep into every single statistical discrepancy. Player X scoring five more points than player Y but losing in the all-star voting to player Y isn't an important event to me, but there are some apparent anomalies in 30's all-star voting that I think can be brought to light by looking at the relevant statistics. Ok, here goes.

- Dit Clapper: 30-31 - 2nd team all-star right wing

Charlie Conacher killed Clapper in goals in 30-31 and beat him in assists, going 31-12-43. What on earth was Clapper doing so well that it made up for Conacher scoring almost 50% more points?

- Bill Cook: 33-34 - 2nd team all-star right wing

This one is pretty glaring. 33-34 was a real down year for Cook, who only put up as many points as the top-scoring right wing on his own team (Cecil Dillon) had assists. Eh? Larry Aurie also had a great season in 33-34, going 16-19-35 and putting up 3-7-10 in 9 playoff games as a kicker. Both Dillon and Aurie were known as strong checkers, so it's hard to see what Bill Cook had over them given the rather wide discrepancy in points (not to mention linemates).

- Aurel Joliat: 34-35 - 2nd team all-star left wing

Again, what the hell? 34-35 marks the beginning of Joliat's decline as a scorer. Although we know that Aurel was valuable to his team and played a tough all-around game, he got statistically smoked by a number of other left wings in 34-35, all of whom played pretty darned complete games, themselves. Syd Howe led all left wings in scoring (and was 2nd in the league) with 22-25-47, in spite of playing the first three-quarters of the season on a sinking ship in St. Louis. Howe also put up a gaudy 8-12-20 in 14 games after coming to Detroit in a late-season trade. I don't care if Aurel Joliat caught pucks with his teeth, Howe scored 62% more points than Joliat.

Herbie Lewis also had a fantastic season in 34-35, going 16-27-43 and, like Howe, presumably providing the same high level of defensive play that he displayed throughout his career.

Finally, Paul Thompson (another strong defensive left winger) put up 16-23-39. I haven't even checked outside of the top-10 lists to see if any other left wingers beat Joliat in 34-35, though I don't think it much matters.

Joliat's 5th place finish in Hart voting in 34-35 raises some interesting questions. It's kind of a mystery to me what went on with him that season.

- XXX: 36-37 2nd team all-star center

Simply put, Syl Apps smoked XXX in every way imaginable in 36-37. It's not even close.

It looks very much to me like the powers that be in the NHL started off the all-star selections in a manner that a former soldier like myself would probably describe as "deeply grabasstic". There are some throbbingly obvious "career value" or "sorry we shafted you last year" makeup picks given out with the 2nd team slots.

Chapman, for example, was very good in 35-36 (4th in points), but got probably rightly stiffed for an all-star nod in favor of Hooley Smith and Bill Toms. Apps was in his first year in the league in 36-37 and clearly didn't get the respect of what appear to have been an outrageously stodgy group of NHL voters in the 1930s. Chapman got the 2nd team nod as a makeup for the previous season in spite of being clearly inferior to Apps.

Clapper was huge in 29-30, but there was no all-star team that year, and was almost certainly given a makeup award over Charlie Conacher in 30-31. Bill Cook's award in 33-34 looks pretty clearly like a "career value" award given out of respect for the fact that Cook played half of his career before the advent of all-star teams and thus was deserving of a bit more love, in spite of the fact that he wasn't even the best right wing on his team that season.

Joliat is a more interesting case because of the Hart voting. It's really hard to say what went on with him that season, but at any rate, Joliat winning the all-star pick over Syd Howe (or any of the three players mentioned) is actually the most glaring statistical anomaly of them all. The somewhat dodgy looking distribution of all-star selections among 30's defensemen and the obviously broken distribution among the forwards are mutually reinforcing pieces of information.

I am left with a picture of a league that had little clue what it was doing with its all-star picks in the first decade of the institution's existence. There is a very clear bias against younger players (which has existed in all eras, but this one is more extreme) and against picking two players at the same position on the same team (the defensemen, Howe and Lewis in Detroit, Dillon and Cook in New York - again, vote-splitting has always existed, but this seems an extreme case). Older players were given awards they didn't deserve at the time and several of the picks look almost as if they were made at the beginning of the season rather than the end. The fact that one of the leading scorers but least admired men of the decade (Nels Stewart) was completely shafted from the all-star teams also calls into question to what extent the award was a popularity contest (although one could ask the same question today, I suppose).

At any rate, the all-star team selections seem to clean up considerably at the end of the decade (right around the same time Shore and Clapper were named to the team together) and there's nothing conclusive in my little number-crunching exercize, but I think it's interesting data, all the same. I apologize for using the names of potential minor-league draftees, but I put a lot of work into this research and I think it's an important enough point to make that it shouldn't be partially obscured by the dreaded XXX.

Last edited by Sturminator; 11-07-2007 at 12:44 AM..
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