View Single Post
07-11-2011, 11:03 AM
Student Of The Game
seventieslord's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Regina, SK
Country: Canada
Posts: 31,048
vCash: 500
Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
If you think there was no violence in the game in the 1890s, you need to read some game reports from the era. Writers were decrying the violence in the game almost from day one. The idea that 1890s hockey was a genteel, gentlemanly pursuit is a false one. That might have been the stated ideal by many writers, but it was only really referenced with respect to how the game failed to meet those standards.

This is an unfair characterization of the game in that era. Players who loafed and didn't put in a full effort were derided in the papers. Sport was taken very seriously at that time, in a way that is not done today.
Some examples would be nice. My impression thus far is that hockey was more about the activity, the competition, and going out and playing a game with "the boys" of the club.

Where are you drawing that line? Mike Grant? His career started the year after Paton retired. Graham Drinkwater? He played against Paton in 1893. Dan Bain? His first action was in 1894. Are you saying that 1893 was worlds apart from 1888?

Harvey Pulford? Harry Trihey? Dickie Boon? These are all pre-pro players. The game in 1900, when Trihey dominated, was much closer to the game of 1890 than it was to the game of 1910.
There's no "line", it would be impossible to draw one. Obviously careers are going to overlap here and there. That your best examples are a player whose career overlapped one season with paton's, and another who "almost" did, says a lot.

I would not call those players Paton's contemporaries.

Maybe the problem lies with the idea that only the Stanley Cup matters, an idea perpetuated by Trail of the Stanley Cup, which pretends that hockey began in 1893. This is why we have to reference a decent-but-full-of-holes book like Ultimate Hockey, because so little attention has been paid to the game before 1893.

Besides that, if previous selection committees looked anything like the current one, there's no reason to think they have any real understanding of this era. There are a few journalists but no real historians. Mostly it's the boy's club, hockey executives who may or may not know anything about the game from before their day.
I think they've shown many times before that they don't know squat about the game from before their day. But when the HHOF selections were initially made, it was generally done with first hand knowledge of the players. Anyway, that's another story. You're right that we've been bred to believe that only Stanley Cup hockey matters and I don't want to just spout that line. But at the same time, there was more structrure than ever before once the cup came around, there was "something to play for", something that could truly signify who was the best, and, to my knowledge, it played a part in the competition of the game eventually ramping up to new levels (see: violence, money)

Has this been studied systematically? Spefically, has the fact that amateur athletes retire earlier than professional ones been taken into consideration? When you're not getting paid to play, you tend to retire when work and family life start putting more demands on your time. Russell Bowie retired before hitting age 30, and he certainly had no trouble keeping up with the pros in 07 and 08. Amateur players simply retired earlier; playing at age 37, as Paton did, is quite rare for the era.
My criticism is certainly not of Paton particularly.

That is a good point; it has not been studied systematically. You're free to do so. You could be onto something, but at the same time, look at the players whose careers petered out really fast in the 1909-1911 region. Money and amateurism don't appear to have been factors there. Many of the players I am thinking of, were either paid, or paid under the table, or went from the latter to the former.

Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
Players getting paid was a reflection of how important winning was already considered; it did not create that importance. Some men, if not paid, might decide they want to spend more time with their wife and kids rather than getting whacked in the shins by some defenceman's stick.
You make it sound like a switch was just flipped right at the start of hockey. I certainly don't think the switch was flipped in some magical 190x season, either. The importance of winning developed over time, and the integration of money and the separation of players and management, developed over time.

And the 1920s is stronger than the 1910s, and the 1930s is stronger than the 1920s, and so on. That reduces the ATD to picking the best post-expansion players available, and making sure you have some token early players to meet the requirements. I don't think that's the intent here?
No, absolutely not.

But, it does make for important discussion.

Paton was probably the best goalie of the 1880s. But given competition levels, how impressive is that? We certainly don't think it's the same as being Benedict, Plante, Dryden, or Roy, the bests of their respective eras (and, we're much more sure that they were the best, than we are about Paton) .

-It's about as impressive as being the Xth-best goalie of the 1910s
-It's about as impressive as being the Yth-best goalie of the 1930s
-It's about as impressive as being the Zth-best goalie of the 1950s.

Determining X, Y, and Z is the fun and interesting part, IMO. Are they 2, 3, and 4? Well then you have a steal. They could also be 10, 15, and 20. Yeah, I realize the true answer is probably well in the middle and your X, Y, and Z are likely a couple notches lower than mine. But anyone will tell you I've given the oldies plenty of props in my day.

Last edited by seventieslord: 07-11-2011 at 11:10 AM.
seventieslord is offline