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11-26-2009, 05:03 PM
  #10
Sturminator
I voted for Kodos
 
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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A few things about J.C. Tremblay:

- I've been a supporter of Tremblay's for a while, and seeing as he's perceived to be the weak point on this Rosebuds team, I suppose now is as good a time as any to say what I've got to say on his behalf. First things first, Tremblay's legacy and the WHA years:

J.C. Tremblay broke through late in the 64-65 season, carried it through to an excellent playoffs and went into the 65-66 season as one of the best defensemen in the league, ending up 4th in Norris voting. Over the next six seasons, Tremblay would place in the top-5 in Norris voting another 4 times, peaking at 2nd in 67-68, the year Bobby Orr won his first trophy. Other than the 69-70 season, in which J.C. missed 18 games to injury, he was considered one of the NHL's top 5 defensemen 5 out of 6 seasons at his peak - an impressive run of consistency in an era of stiff competition.

Tremblay's Norris voting record: 65-66 (4th), 66-67 (5th), 67-68 (2nd ), 70-71 (3rd), 71-72 (5th)

The players who beat Tremblay during those seasons: Bobby Orr (4 times), Pierre Pilote (2 times), Brad Park (2 times), Pat Stapleton (2 times), Tim Horton, Jacques Laperriere, Harry Howell and Bill White

After 7 seasons among the NHL's best and still at the top of his game, J.C. Tremblay jumped to the WHA. At this point, evaluating his career becomes a little bit harder. What do we make of his WHA career? We know he was very good in his first four seasons in the WHA, being named a 1st team all-star three times, once 2nd team, leading the league in assists twice and winning the Dennis A. Murphy award for best defenseman twice. But so what? How much should we credit Tremblay's WHA accomplishments?

I'm not normally one to look upon WHA players all that favorably. It was without a doubt a second rate league when compared to the NHL, and while there was certainly some nice talent in the league, there was very little depth. With a few exceptions, the performance of WHA players are very hard to evaluate against their NHL counterparts, but Tremblay is one of those exceptions. It is accepted as fact that J.C. carried over into the WHA the level of play which had defined his NHL career for the 7 previous seasons. He wasn't merely good in the WHA, for the first 4 seasons he was ridiculously dominant, which is exactly what you'd expect from a guy who was NHL top-5 good and still at his peak. If we're simply rating Tremblay against himself, three of his first four WHA seasons were up to his previous NHL standard: he won the best defenseman award and the assists crown in 72-73, won best defenseman again in 74-75 and won another assists crown to go along with a 1st team all-star berth in 75-76.

Add those accomplishments to his NHL resume, and suddenly you've got a guy who played 8 seasons of top-5 Norris level hockey in a tough era, and once lost winning the trophy only to Bobby Orr - a record of success that compares favorably to established lower-level ATD #1's like Brian Leetch, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, Borje Salming and Chris Pronger. When we factor in Tremblay's outstanding playoff record and his strangely underrated two-way play (which stems mostly from his softness and the misconception that it made him ineffective in his own end), there is a very good argument that he is, in fact, a top-32 all-time defenseman, and every bit deserving of his #1 role in Portland.

More to follow on Tremblay's playing style and postseason record...

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