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07-20-2009, 02:07 PM
Leafs Forever
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
It is very hard to properly evaluate defensemen who retired before the start of the 1928-29 season. Two rule changes made after the 1928-29 season drastically changed the game.

The forward pass rule allowed unlimited forward passing in the offensive zone, previously not allowed.The forward pass increased the speed of the game.

Also an anti-defense rule that forced all but the goalie and two teammates zone players to clear the defensive zone once the puck went into the neutral or offensive changed defensive tactics and opened up the game. Prior to this rule change teams would get a lead and stack the defensive zone with players rarely venturing out.

Defensemen like Eddie Shore who played during both eras are easy to compare to post 1929-30 era defensemen. Those like Sprague Cleghorn whose career ended before 1929-30 are very difficult to compare because no evidence exists to show how they would have adapted to the rule changes.
The same could be said that Eddie Shore wouldn't be able to handle to today's rule changes, or a lot of defencemen wouldn't be able to adapt to the rule changes of another era. The rules have changed a countless number of times, so it's unfair to say one defencemen is worse just because he didn't play under certain rules.

My rules for comparing players across era's is how much they dominated their competition. Sure, perhaps Cleghorn benefitted from the rules that were soon changed, but if that's the case, so would every single defencemen he played against and played with, meaning he was still on a level playing field for the defencemen of his era. Fact is, Cleghorn was able to dominate and was by far the #1 defencemen of his era, making him worthy of being mentioned amongst these names. He was also a complete player; always in defencemen leaderboards for scoring, but great defensively and very tough.

5 retro norrises (and a case could be made he deserved 1-2 more), 2 time hart runner-up, named to Coleman's 1893-1926 all-star team, and he'd probably have ALOT of all-star selections if one did an early all-star project. I'll have to see about digging up some of his scoring records.

Last edited by Leafs Forever: 07-20-2009 at 02:12 PM.
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