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08-11-2010, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Ohashi_Jouzu View Post
Upon scoring 50 goals in his first full season, Paul Kariya was widely referred to as "the Next Gretzky" by "a sizable majority" of the hockey world and seemed destined to overtake Selanne as top dog on that team (in terms of production, of course... Kariya's leadership and "intangibles" were always regarded more highly than Selanne, right or wrong, even at a young age). The very next year, despite 4 years of age/development difference between them, their production was quite similar. Fault the pundits for translating notions of potential unfairly and prematurely in his favour over Selanne, but that's how it was.

Kariya's big injury brought said comparisons back down with a huge reality check (especially with Selanne leading the league in goals that year, I believe), but even now I'm sure there are a LOT of people who will share the opinion that if you erase the concussion issues we are sitting here in agreement that Kariya should be considered the "better" player of the two. After all, he did start off his first 200 games or so at around a 1.3/1.4 PPG clip (whatever the actual number is, I'm pretty sure it compares quite favourably to whatever Selanne's was for his first 200 games).

It's all hypothetical garbage now, but at the time (up to, and including, the start of the '97/98 season, as brought up by Phil) I have a hard time believing that there was any widespread opinion that Selanne was (nor would be) the superior player of the two. I certainly never read anything of the sort in the sports section of either of the two major newspapers that came to my door every day at the time, nor heard any of it on Sportsdesk/whatever. North American bias? Perhaps. But how many Anaheim games were being televised in Europe/overseas at the time anyways, and who would know better?
A hockey preview magazine (I don't remember which) before the 1996-97 season had an article on who would be the next best forward, after Lemieux. Their candidates were Forsberg, Jagr, Lindros, and Kariya, and they ended up choosing Kariya. (IIRC their reasoning was Forsberg didn't score enough goals, Jagr benefitted from Lemieux, and Lindros was injury-prone.)

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