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12-06-2010, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I agree with you in part, but at some point, hockey basically began to resemble the modern game with very few differences.

29-30: forward pass allowed in all 3 zones (and around this time guys stopped playing the whole game; which meant no "loafing for large parts of it)

43-44: The introduction of the red line allowed for passes between zones.

Basically, every player who played hockey after 43-44 has been playing more or less the same game. Even the game from 29-30 until today is very similar.

I think that any successful player who played after 43-44 would be successful in today's game, if given time to adapt to the various smaller changes that have occurred since then. There are questions about guys who played between 29-30 and 43-44, but the game was mostly the same.

Especially the guys who played after 1955 or so, when the league talent pool recovered from WW2. In the old days, the game changed rapidly and you saw that a new generation completely replaced the old. The Cyclone Taylor/Newsy Lalonde/Joe Malone generation completely outclassed the previous generation on the ice. Then when Joe Malone retired, he talked about how different the game was with substitutions, rather than 60 minute players "loafing" to conserve energy.

Gordie Howe dominated the early 50s (when the talent may still have been thinned from WW2) and very few of the stars from the early 50s made much of an impact once the Jean Beliveau/Bobby Hull generation game around. But once those guys came around, you never again saw a generation gap, with a "better" generation taking over for an older one.

Sure the game is faster now. But so much of that has to do with better skate technology and the super-short shifts pioneered by Mike Keenan in the 1980s. I really don't see why a Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, or Bobby Hull couldn't adapt to these changes, when the basic nature of the game itself hasn't changed.
This post sums everything up nicely. The changes in hockey over the last few decades are generally extraneous with regard to how good players are. Players today may have superior fitness, take shorter shifts and have access to superior equipment but this does not prove that players today are inherently better than players from the past. Some people may wish to compare players from previous decades with players today in an absolute sense, as in pulling them out of a time machine and dropping them into the game today, but to me this approach is pointless as it gives the more modern players many advantages. The relative approach is far more interesting to me, and I would also say that it is far more fair, provided the competition is taken into account.

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