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06-28-2009, 03:30 PM
  #9
seventieslord
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I completely get the whole "if you played in the O6 era, you couldn't be bad defensively" thing. There were so few spots and so many players who wanted them. If you weren't pulling your weight you were outta there. I've seen this argument used in the ATD a few times and I'm not the only one who disagrees with it. The argument may very well be true, but in all cases of player comparison I am more interested in how a player ranked in comparison to his peers. Besides, if you're the rocket, I have a feeling you can get away with being mediocre defensively.

Below is a breakdown of every forward who made the NHL first or second All-Star Team from 1947 through 1967. I picked those years because 1947 completely eliminates wartime players from the equation, and 1967 is the end of the O6 era.

I've put them into defensive "categories" and left Richard out. Keep in mind that I have never seen any of these players play, and this is based solely on what I have picked up in my endless reading and through participation in the ATD with 20-30 other great hockey minds.

If Richard wasn't that bad, who was he better than? Indicate which category he would belong in. If you disagree with any of the other assessments, feel free to say so if you really have to, but keep in mind this was done in earnest and could never be 100% accurate anyway.

AMONG THE BEST OF ALL-TIME

Stan Mikita
Dave Keon
Claude Provost

EXCELLENT DEFENSIVELY

Milt Schmidt
Woody Dumart
Ted Kennedy
Ken Mosdell
Henri Richard
Don Marshall

GREAT DEFENSIVELY

Elmer Lach
Sid Abel
Gordie Howe
Tony Leswick
Bert Olmstead
Dickie Moore
Dean Prentice
Norm Ullman
Bobby Rousseau

GOOD DEFENSIVELY/RESPONSIBLE/SAID TO HAVE A "TWO-WAY GAME"

Bobby Hull
Alex Delvecchio
Doug Bentley
Bud Poile
Ted Lindsay
Fleming MacKell
Ed Sandford
Jean Beliveau


AVERAGE/NOTHING IS WRITTEN OF IT

Bernie Geoffrion
Max Bentley
Buddy O'Connor
Gaye Stewart
Roy Conacher
Sid Smith
Danny Lewicki
Tod Sloan (he started in the below category and ended up in the above category, he averages out here)
Camille Henry
Andy Bathgate
Ken Wharram

KNOWN TO HAVE AN AVERSION TO BACKCHECKING OR NOT GIVE FULL EFFORT

Frank Mahovlich
Bobby Bauer
Ed Litzenberger
Real Chevrefils
Bronco Horvath

My concern is that considering you can find short one-line references to Richard all over the place that say "best from the blueline ever" or "purely an offensive player" or "although not as good a two-way player as...", I think the "average" category is the highest I can place him.

But in the "average" category we have many players whose defensive games are rarely, if ever, mentioned. In the absense of contemporary opinions, my best guess is that they were average.

In this thread we have heard some semi-positive quotes, some semi-negative stuff, and a quote from Beliveau who of course would never, ever, say anything negative about a teammate. But even in the presence of these semi-positive comments about the rocket's defensive ability, just how far can we place him? Due to his intensity and fire, does he get the "benefit of the doubt" above players in the "average" category, of whom little to nothing is written? Or is he closer to a player in the bottom category by virtue of the less than flattering remarks that also exist about his backchecking?

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