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07-11-2011, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
Oh sure, but I suspect the era is over-discounted due to the uncertainty. There's little difference between hockey in 1890 and (Montreal) hockey in, say, 1905. Except that some players were likely paid under the table in 1905, though they still had to be part of the club.
You don't think that's big?

Players getting paid meant that winning was now considered very important, and a premium was placed on players who would help a club do so. This also meant there was incentive for many more people to try to play hockey to cash in. Hence, much greater talent pool, even by 1905.

Violence was getting big in hockey, a symptom of wanting to win at all costs, with money and glory on the line. There's an important distinction between that, and leisurely hockey where an undetermined amount of effort was exerted.

In 1905 we had Russell Bowie and Frank McGee and Jack Marshall and Herb Jordan and both Patricks and Moose Johnson and Blair Russel and Ernie Russell and Alf Smith and Harvey Pulford and Rat Westwick and Dickie Boon. These players benefit from greater familiarity today, but the gap in talent between them and Paton's contemporaries is easy to overstate due to this greater familiarity.
I hate to just default to HHOF to demonstrate greatness because I often see great incongruity between who is in and who isn't (Is there any way Billy Gilmour can honestly be argued better than Eddie oatman?) but the HHOF committee had every opportunity to induct players of that earlier generation and they didn't... not even one.

Allan Cameron, Jack Campbell, Dolly Swift, Desse Brown and Weldy Young are not nearly as recognizable today as the above-mentioned players. But I don't take that as evidence that they were not nearly as good.
Ever notice how almost no one from that 1900s generation lasted very long into the 1910s? We've come to the conclusion that the 1910s generation was much stronger. The same thing can be said for the 1900s versus the 1880s/1890s.

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