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11-11-2009, 05:58 PM
Leafs Forever
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Originally Posted by God Bless Canada View Post
And you're right: the talent was split. And that's where you get into the tough part for evaluating talent - how will guys adjust to playing against the best ever, when they never played against the best in the world on a nightly basis. And it was a completely different game back then. We talked about how now it's a different game than 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago. The rules in the game really haven't changed much. The last major rule change, IMO, that had a visible impact on how the game was changed on a shift-by-shift basis was when they allowed players to pass the puck across their own blue-line back in 44. Since then, the approach has changed many times, and the rule changes have been minor or mild.

We saw the best team from the western leagues play the best team from the NHL/NHA. To my knowledge, there wasn't an all-star game between the two leagues, or a series between the best players from the PCHA/WCHL vs. the best from the NHA/NHL. At least we had that with Summit in 72. We saw the best in the USSR vs. the best in the NHL. And it changed everyone's perceptions.

For the record, if the WHA ever played the NHL in an all-star game, or a Summit-esque series, I think the WHA would have beat the NHL. Not because the WHA was better. But for the guys in the WHA, it would have meant the world to them. To the NHL guys, it would have been an exhibition.
But they were playing against the best in the world on a nightly basis. Most teams certainly had talent, and considering there weren't that many teams back then, certainly featured some of the best in the world at the time.

Relating the few number of teams, when they met for the cup, the teams facing off were likely loaded with talent, and would likely compete with, or beat, a team made up of the stars of the rest of their league. And in those matches, we know each team would give 100%- it was the cup on the line.

It didn't mean that much to the NHLers by the looks of things at first, but that soon changed. I think they could dig deep for motivation and win, with the big talent difference.

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