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08-11-2009, 02:29 PM
Dark Shadows
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Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
Here's my post from the last vote. I feel strongly that Trottier was better than Bossy and deserves to be ranked higher.

Hereís my case for why Bryan Trottier is better than Mike Bossy. My opinion is mostly based on watching hours of videos of both of them (their best years were a bit before my time) but Iíll try to keep the arguments as objective as possible.

Offense. Bossy is generally remembered as the better scorer because he hit the magic 50-goal mark so many times. However, Trottierís offense is greatly underrated and Bossyís advantage in goal-scoring is nearly offset by Trottierís advantage in playmaking. These two players had fantastic chemistry and excellent, complementary skillsets, so itís a stretch to say that either player was clearly better than the offensively.

Statistically, Bossy outscored Trottier by an average of just 9.1 points per year (9%) during their ten years together (playing virtually the same number of games in total). Bossyís advantage is very small and, I will show later, that Trottierís advantages in other areas more than make up for this. Trottierís numbers took a serious nosedive in 1985 (scoring just 59 points); excluding that fluke year, Bossyís advantage is just 3 points per year. (Itís worth noting that during Trottierís fluke year, Bossyís scoring dropped to its lowest level in six years). In the playoffs, the difference is even smaller. During their ten years together, Bossy averaged 16 points per playoff year while Trottier averaged 15.1 pts, a small 6% advantage.
I can understand how they look similar. Heaven knows that Bossy was the guy running that Offense up front though.

It should be noted that Trottier's fluke "Off" year, was a result of his injury, and that they were not playing together for most of that year. Bossy's linemates that year were Sutter and Tonelli, and he for the most part, elevated them quite well and gave them career years.
Bossy's scoring did not miss a beat without Trottier, unless anyone think s 2-3 goals and a point or two is missing a beat. His points and goals totals barely changed at all, and his +/- did not suffer either.

I have always felt that Bossy had an advantage offensively greater than Trottier's defensive advantage.

Defense. Trottier is a vastly superior defensive player. Even during his offensive prime, Trottier was frequently used on the penalty kill, threw big hits, and was assigned to shut cover opponentsí top players. Trottier placed in the top ten in Selke voting four times (1981, 1984, 1986, 1988) and finished as high as second in voting (1984; runner-up to Doug Jarvis).

I generally donít like plus/minus, but itís pretty useful here because both players were linemates for an entire decade. Looking at the ten years they played together, Trottier was +422 and Bossy was +381, despite the fact that 1) Trottier generally played more of a defensive role and 2) Bossy outscored Trottier by about 90 points in total. Again, plus/minus is generally limited but since weíre comparing two players from the same team and era, itís a pretty good indicator of who was more valuable to the Islanders.
I would not say "Vastly" superior myself. Having watched both many many times, I still think Bossy is an underrated defensive player.

He was never a liability as some might claim, nor was he the last guy back. He was always in position, responsible and reliable.

Trottier does get bonus points for more PK time in this category.

Hart voting. Thereís no doubt whatsoever that Trottier was considered the better player while both were in the league together. Trottier won 1 Hart trophy; he was runner-up twice (to Gretzky and Lafleur); and he finished third once (to Gretkzy/Langway). In contrast, Bossy was only in the top three once, and he finished behind Trottier that year! Trottier has more top three appearances (4-1) and more top five appearances (5-2). He would have won two Harts if not for Gretzky.

During their ten years together, Trottier earned a total of 493 pts in Hart voting versus just 86 for Bossy. Trottier was clearly regarded as the more valuable player at the time.
This is the part I hate. Hart voting does indeed go to Trottier. It should be noted however, that Bossy was always in the voters Doghouse. He was the guy coming into the league vocally demeaning the league for its violence and fighting and his lack of a physical game, advocating that the league should ban fighting. He was labeled as "Soft" early on, and the label stuck with him, even though he was anything but soft. He would take any amount of punishment, go into any corner or stand anywhere and take crosschecks repeatedly to get a goal.

Trottier by contrast, was always hitting everything in sight and being more "noticeable" in his style. But for my money, Bossy was always right there with Trottier, even if the voters were a bit biased against him.

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