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12-07-2010, 04:04 PM
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After reading this thread, I think the best arguments have been ones centred around players who straddle eras (Jagr, Bourque, etc).

I figured the best thing to do would be to identify players who a) played more than one meaningful season in the 1980s, b) played throughout the dead-puck inter-lockout period, and c) played parts of at least two meaningful seasons after the most recent lockout.

I restricted my search to scoring forwards and defensemen who stayed in that role consistently throughout their careers -- defensive players sometimes have outlier seasons that they were used on the powerplay that skew the stability of their season-to-season numbers, and certain players (Chelios) saw their roles change considerably.

6 players fit my analysis: Brendan Shanahan, Scott Mellanby, Pierre Turgeon, Mathieu Schneider, Gary Roberts, and Joe Nieuwendyk. All of these players played between 6 and 9 seasons in the high flying pre-lockout era, 9 to 10 seasons in the dead puck era (roberts missed 96-97 with injury), and 2 to 5 seasons in the post-lockout era.

I created a matrix for each player, that shows their point per game average for all three eras (pre-lockout I, Dead-Puck Era, and post-lockout II), and also their adjusted point per game average that's normalized to 1987 (no specific reason for that year, I just picked one).

It gives you a sense of how these players performed in each era. The null hypothesis is that as the game changed out of the high-flying 80's/early 90s, players of a previous era would be outclassed by the faster/stronger/more talented players of a new era. Therefore, both their raw points per game and adjusted points per game should decrease noticeably with time, as they're outclassed by modern progeny.

The Results

Brendan Shanahan

Scoring Era P/G Adj P/G
Pre-Lockout I 0.93 0.97
Dead Puck Era 0.89 1.18
Post Lockout II 0.79 0.98

Scott Mellanby

Scoring Era P/G Adj P/G
Pre-Lockout I 0.58 0.60
Dead Puck Era 0.61 0.81
Post Lockout II 0.49 0.61

Pierre Turgeon

Scoring Era P/G Adj P/G
Pre-Lockout I 1.17 1.21
Dead Puck Era 0.95 1.25
Post Lockout II 0.67 0.80

Mathieu Schneider

Scoring Era P/G Adj P/G
Pre-Lockout I 0.54 0.58
Dead Puck Era 0.56 0.75
Post Lockout II 0.64 0.80

Gary Roberts

Scoring Era P/G Adj P/G
Pre-Lockout I 0.85 0.88
Dead Puck Era 0.71 0.96
Post Lockout II 0.53 0.66

Joe Nieuwendyk

Scoring Era P/G Adj P/G
Pre-Lockout I 1.07 1.10
Dead Puck Era 0.77 1.03
Post Lockout II 0.80 0.96


In two out of 6 cases, raw dead puck points per game are higher than pre-lockout. In 5 out of 6 cases, adjusted dead puck points per game are higher than pre-lockout. In three out of 6 cases, their adjusted post-lockout points per game (in seasons no earlier than age 36) are higher than their barn-burning pre-lockout youths.

Using these 6 barometers, I think people should start accepting the fact that we generally over-value the present. Players who were good in the 80s were good in the 90s and were good in the 2000s ... their performance did not discernibly decrease at all. If the game evolved in that time, these players proved that they could evolve right along with it, and keep their level of play relatively consistent.

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