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08-16-2011, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
I don't think it was clearly inferior to the AHL. I believe they were considered roughly equal, but they fulfilled different roles. Seventieslord pointed out that more NHLers went through the NHL, and used that fact to infer that the AHL was better. Of course more NHLers went through the AHL, it had much closer ties to the NHL. The WHL was much more independent. It's not reflective of the quality of the leagues but of the circumstances.
Surely you can see how that is a tough sell, though. One was full of recognizable players who, just the year before or the year after, cracked an NHL roster when it was the toughest league to get into. One was full of players much more obscure by comparison.

Fielder played one AHL year before going to the WHL. In the AHL he went 22-61-83 in 62 games, leading the league in assists. The next season in the WHL he went 24-64-88 in 68 games, leading the league in assists. That speaks to the similarity of the leagues.
That helps.

Another of my players, Hugh Currie, played in both the AHL and WHL in his career in the same era. He scored better in the AHL than the WHL.
what does "scored better" mean though? I just want to make sure we're on the same page. Raw numbers wouldn't cut it for me because there could be differences in scoring levels between the leagues.

He's not playing against extremely high-level players here. The best 1,000 players aren't here. Isn't that quite similar to the situation he actually played under, where the very best players played in an insular 6-team NHL?
Relatively speaking though, I think what vecens is saying is legitimate. The O6 era is a different ballgame, but there are other O6 players here (and many remaining, too) who did play against the very best, for hundreds of games, and performed very well.


This is probably a good time for this conversation. Let's look at an "average" O6 season, like, 1963 or something. I realize the NHL was tough to crack and there were some defensemen good enough to make it (not necessarily good enough to star) in other leagues. I think if they were good enough to star, they'd find their way in, headcase or not. So how do we slot these players? My intuition, just based on the performance changes from league to league and the records of players clearly good enough for support O6 duty but caught in a numbers game like Larry Hillman and Al Arbour, says it goes something like this:

- NHL Norris winner (1)
- other NHL 1st AST member (1)
- NHL 2nd AST members (2)
- At least the next few top vote-getters in the NHL (5)
- Anyone not named above who made the NHL ASG on merit (not just by being on the champs) (2, perhaps?)
(a few Europeans, such as Ragulin, Ivanov, Suchy, maybe even Stoltz, might be in any of the above few tiers or the below few) (6 in total?)
- A handful of very good NHL regulars who've earned recognition in the past or soon will - guys of the Dollard St. Laurent/Moose Vasko variety (6)
- excellent NHL journeymen in their primes (Godfrey/Dewsbury types) (6)
- 1st AST members in the top minor leagues (4)
- 2nd AST members in the minor leagues (4)
(now would be a good time to consider slotting in WEC/Olympic all-stars and European league all-stars not already recognized above) (6?)
- average/below average NHL players not yet mentioned (just being there means something at this point) (5)
- top senior players, particularly those who had already proven or were soon to prove themseves at a higher level, second-tier european stars, second tier NA minor league stars (6 more of these would make 50)

this is not set in stone and obviously there is a lot of blurring between these tiers but this is how I think it shakes out in a rather simplified exercise. If you're a 1st AST member in a top minor league in the O6, ignoring blurring, it probably means you're about 25th-30th-best defenseman in the world at the time. That is not that bad, really (perhaps equivalent to being 55th-90th today, a good #2-3 defenseman), but if that's the highwater mark it's not a great career. (Al Arbour, for example, fell into those tiers more than a few times, but he also fell into tier 3 on two occasions and tier 6 a number of other times)

This topic is of great interest to me as I really struggled with determining when to introduce AHL all-stars into the mox going down as far as the A and B levels of the 2010 drafting cycle. I ultimately chose just one, Steve Kraftcheck, and maybe that was a big of a chicken pick because he did prove he could cut it in the NHL, at least for a short time.

What are your thoughts, Iain? Particularly, what do you think was the highest spot a guy like Hugh Currie or Fred Hucul ever occupied on hockey's great defenseman pecking order?

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