Marcel Dionne - Playoff Legacy
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05-02-2008, 08:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Firstly, let me say thank you to Hockey Outsider for actually taking the time and effort to research this unbiasedly. A very interesting read.
Just a few more points about Dionne:
Not that it excuses any lack of production from Dionne, but the Kings as a team didn't perform well. For example, Butch Goring had only 18 points in 30 playoff games as a King- a big drop from his regular season rate. Then he's traded to the Islanders and becomes a playoff legend. Did he magically become a better player, or was he [the same player on a better team?
The biggest upset of the Kings in their playoff history actually occurred the year before Dionne arrived when 105 pt L.A. lost in the first round to 78 pt Leafs. This would tend to suggest that the teams playoff struggles weren't solely due to Dionne.
The teams L.A. were losing to were strong ones. In `76 and `77 it was the Bruins, one of the top clubs in league (in `77 Boston needed 6 games to beat L.A, but swept the Flyers in the semis). In `78 it was Roger Neilson's Leafs, who used that same tough style to shock the Islanders in the next round. In `79 it was the Rangers who went on to beat Philly and the Isles to make it to the Final. In `80 it was the Cup winning Islanders. The Ranger team who upset L.A. in `81 also beat the #2 overall St. Louis Blues. So while you can certainly argue that the Kings weren't pulling off any upsets, they weren't exactly losing series they were favoured to win often.
Dionne could be a strong defensive player, but wasn't consistent enough at it. A couple of interesting stats somewhat related to his defensive play: in `75 with Detroit he led the NHL with 10 shorthanded goals, but only 30 PP goals were scored against Detroit when he was on the ice. That's a much better ratio than most of the top SHG scorers of the era had. Secondly, the +/- of the Triple Crown line during their prime years was exceptional compared to the rest of the team. In '80 all 3 of them were over +35 despite the Kings finishing 6 games under .500.
In the Gary Mason book "Oldtimers", Dionne says that the key missing part that the Kings never had was a puck-moving defenceman. While Lafleur had Robinson, Ratelle had Park, Trottier had Potvin and Sittler had Salming, Dionne had Gary Sargaent or Doug Halward. He talked about how the passes more often hit the back of his skates instead of his stick, and that it forced the forwards to move slower which hindered their effectiveness. He said he couldn't believe how much easier it was for him at World Championships with better blueliners starting the rush. He also makes the very interesting observation in that same book that he always felt he would've been a more effective player as a second-line centre due to his small height.
I can just imagine the outcry on the main board here if Dionne was playing today "He's too small." "He's too fat." But the phrases you hear most repeatedly in articles about Dionne's style of play usually talk about how it was impossible to knock him off the puck. He was able to use his low centre of gravity to his advantage.
Originally Posted by
One thing I do find interesting and it maybe lends credence to the whole "underperformer" label is Dionne's international play. Just looking at the stats, they aren't very impressive.
You're seeing something I'm not, because those international statistics actually look pretty good. He won the award as Best Forward at the `78 Worlds.
I think the fact that he was always willing to play for Canada over there says a lot about his character.
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