View Single Post
02-01-2011, 12:15 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 12,280
vCash: 500
Syl Apps Sr., C

Originally Posted by XXXX XXXXXX
Apps is one of the best players I have ever seen and that covers a lot of hockey. I send two men out to haunt him every time he's on the ice and still he gets away.
Originally Posted by XXXX XXXXX
(Apps) goes by players today faster than (Cyclone) Taylor (Howie) Morenz went by me.
Originally Posted by "XXXX XXXXXX"
For my money, Apps is as good now as Morenz. Howie was a brilliant individualist and when he got going, (was) hard to stop, but Apps is just as shifty. Where Howie used to circle his nets to gain speed, Apps breaks like a flash whenever he picks up a pass and is a good shot from either side.
"Syl had said he was going to get the first guy that started dirty work. They've been going after (him) too long. Just because he stuck to clean play they thought they could get away with anything"- XXXX XXXXX, after Apps dropped the gloves with XXXXXXX "XXXXX" XXXXXXX

Syl Apps vs. Yzerman/Messier/Clarke

While longevity is a key factor in the ATD, peak is, ultimately, where we judge the majority of a player's worth. After all, which matters to you more when considering who would win in a hypothetical match-up between two stars- whether Player A scored 35 points at age 40, or whether he had 135 at age 25? When compared at their peak, Syl Apps looks very, very good against three players that are consistently drafted ahead of him- Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier and Bobby Clarke.






Comments: Yzerman is the perfect example of a player whose longevity is often cited as a plus- which it is. But Yzerman was an unusual player for a Top 50 of all-time; he began his career as a relatively one-dimensional offensive superstar, and evolved later into a two-way presence. But as this study shows, even at his very best one-way peak, Yzerman was only clearly a better goal-scorer than Apps- who both was a better playmaker and a better overall point producer.




Comments: Obviously, there are other factors in play that lead to Messier cracking the top 30. But as the following quotes will indicate, Apps was both noted for his exemplary leadership and had no trouble leading his teams to Stanley Cups. So how do they stack up in regular season peak production? Very closely. Apps was clearly the better goal-scorer, and while Messier has more 5th place finishes, they're about equal in terms of 2nd and 3rds- Messier one fewer second place and one more third in each category.




Perhaps the most surprising discovery in this study was the amazing similarity offensively between Apps and Bobby Clarke. Both led the league in assists twice, and both were 2nd in points at least twice. Clarke won two Stanley Cups, Apps three. So why does Clarke continually go so much higher? Defensive play is the major reason- while Clarke is generally considered the best "two-way" player in the history of the game, is that really worth 20+ spots in the ATD? If it can be proven that Apps was at least above-average defensively, should the difference not be 10 or even 5 spots in an overall context?


As said, intangibles are what push players like Messier, Yzerman and Clarke above Apps- two of them due to incredible leadership, and in Clarke's case, defense. Leadership is the easiest area to make a case for Apps:

"He was an inspirational leader who had the talent of setting his teammates on fire with his own all-out play"- Regina Leader-Post, 1949

"Inspired by the return of their mighty captain, Syl Apps, Toronto over- whelmed the Boston Bruins, 7 to 2, at Maple Leaf Gardens"- New York Times

''He represents what pro athletes should be. He was the Jean Beliveau of English Canada.'' - Former Leaf Jim Dorey

"His leadership skills were never more evident than when he led the Leafs back from a three-game-to-none deficit against Detroit."- Top 100 Maple Leafs of All-Time

"Syl's great play-making and leadership wasn't the only things the Leafs lacked."- Ottawa Citizen

(credit to EagleBelfour for many of the above)

Of course, the proof is in the pudding; Apps was captain in Toronto for three Stanley Cups, including the aforementioned comeback from three games down.

Defensively is another matter. No in the ATD has yet to produce much evidence that he was as effective or diligent in his end as he was in the other, this despite being perhaps the fastest skater in hockey and its most intelligent. In addition, due to the fact he took fewer penalties than most any other player, Apps would have been available during most every PK.

I figured the best source for research would be the most obvious- The Globe and Mail. As a Toronto paper, their write-ups of Leafs games were often the longest and most detailed.

Before the archive seemingly crashed for the day, I did find this:

Originally Posted by Globe and Mail
With XXXXXXX and Apps absent, they have had no consistently good powerplay of their own, nor have they maintained a better than middling defense against enemy powerplays.
When asked about Bobby Orr's infamous flying goal, Apps was able to perfectly elucidate the defensive miscues that led up to it, and there are numerous G&M references about him stealing pucks from opposing players or jumping on give-aways. It makes me wonder; was Apps a better version of a modern-day Russian center? Without ice-time- or even shorthanded goals- it's impossible to know. However, that modern player I'm referring to is currently 11th on his team in SH TOI despite being generally known as a two-way ace. Would Apps have had less in T.O.? I doubt it- it's never been said that he was bad defensively. If anyone has a source that says otherwise, I'd love to see it. Hopefully we can clear that up this ATD.

hfboardsuser is offline   Reply With Quote