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12-10-2004, 10:07 AM
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there was a great post on the subject of the talent pool a while back on hockeytraderumors, which is what really got me interested in the topic...

Goalies - Through a combination of equipment and general athletic ability are MUCH improved in depth compared to days gone by. This isn't even debatable.


They are bigger, stronger, and faster than they ever were previously in the league. That alone means that the purely physical talent of the league is much higher than it was in the 80's and back. Those guys would have great amounts of trouble dealing with the modern players in the corners and in front of the net. In the 80's and back the soviet block was closed... There were some players who managed to get over, but nothing like now.

So the most dominant international hockey country in the world during those time periods was sending no one to play in the NHL... That alone increases the depth pool immensely. Sergei Federov, the best two-way player in the league over the last 10 years, doesn't play in the NHL if this is 1985. Teams are much more open to European players now than they were then, lineups are covered with players from across the pond, whereas 15 years ago it was just a few here and there (Flyers long being considered anti non-NA players).

Goons are no longer a major element in this league. Look at the Flyers, the "Broadstreet Bullies." Our "goons" last year were Brashear and Fedoruk. Brashear was getting third-line and sometimes second-line minutes -- as much as that drove me nutz -- and Fedoruk is a competent hockey player. That wasn't the case 15 years ago, you had guys like Tony Twist who brought nothing to the table into the mid 90's. Their removal from the game has raised the bottom half of the rosters immeasurably. Our fourth line in the playoffs was what, Somik/Sharp/flavor of the game? Somik and Sharp are both skating players with some skill who aren't going to bang so much, but play solid positional defense with some flare up the ice.

I don't have the time... but go down the rosters in the league right now and look at the 4th liners, then compare that to the guys that were playing in the 80's. These guys are better, hands down.

So think about it.

American's have gotten better at hockey as a nation. Europeans are playing much more. Russians are actually IN the league. The Canadian % of players has DROPPED since the 70's and 80's, which is really the most important figure. If the talent pool was weakening, then % should probably stay about the same. That isn't the case. Canadian players that traditionally would have been making the NHL on a % basis per team has gone down, and other nations have risen as their hockey talent base has improved.

They are better all-around, there are less players that can be taken advantage of on the ice. A major major part of the loss of scoring in the league.

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