Why is Gretzky known as the best?
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10-21-2004, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Halfway between Nothing and Not Much Else
NYIsles does have a point in that in the early 80's in particular, it was far more common in the Campbell Conference for teams with losing records to qualify for the playoffs; although it did occasionally occur in the Wales as well. What we need to remember is that for that period some traditional powerhouses were nothing short of pitiful (Detroit, Toronto) while a large portion of the conference were expansion teams thus not as strong as a conference.
My problem with the argument lies in two places. One. Teams and players are often guilty of playing to the level of their opponent, whether up or down. So regardless of a team's record they can still be a dangerous force on the ice. Thus while it may look statistically like a mismatch, going through teams deemed weaker can be just as grueling as going through teams with better records.
Two. If going through weaker opposition made a team unworthy of the final they should nearly always lose. Doesn't happen. If a team slogging through tougher teams en route to the final tires them out, then they should nearly always lose. This doesn't happen either. The dynamic between any two teams is unique to that matchup regardless of the won-loss records.
In the end, no matter what competition he faced, regardless of the style or strategem any opponent used to stop him, Gretzky consistently was the instrument of his opponents' destruction. This was also true of Orr but longevity is the difference there. As for Bossy, while possibly the best pure scorer the league has seen, he was nevertheless one dimensional and defenses could stop him.
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