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04-27-2012, 03:53 PM
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Part of the issue with Blair Russell's playmaking is the same as Bowie's - there is reason to believe that nobody was a great playmaker back then, as the majority of goals were scored on individual rushes in the days of "parallel hockey." Cyclone Taylor appears to be the first player to make setting up his teammates a priority.

That said, SIHR did reconstruct assists based off newspaper reports and they tend to indicate that Alf Smith was way ahead of everyone else in assists, but it's unknown how much of that was good passing and how much was giving the puck to Frank McGee or Marty Walsh and letting them do the rest. Stats someone else compiled should that Russel Bowie led "the pack" as #2 among reconstructed assists, but he was definitely known as a goal scorer. (I just re-did the stats myself and they make it look much closer)

Russell Bowie and Blair Russel were long term teammates, so I really don't see how there would be a newspaper bias in favor of one or the other. These are the reconstructed assists for them when they were teammates. *We only have reconstructed assists for 1903, 1904, 1906, 1907 and 1908, so these are the seasons I'm using.

Russell Bowie: 22 assists in 44 games (0.5 APG)
Blair Russel: 18 assists in 36 games (0.5 APG)

Actually, they are exactly even on a per game basis, with Bowie maintaining it over more games. I don't know how others calculated their stats before that showed Bowie ahead, maybe they included seasons where assists weren't reconstructed for any player.

I highly suspect this still makes Rusell Bowie the better playmaker:
•Bowie didn't have the best goal scorer of the era (himself) to pass to
•Bowie had more longevity, both in terms of games played when assists were reconstructed, but also more productive seasons when they were not recorded.

They are definitely closer than I thought based off the stats I've seen presented elsewhere. Still, playmaking isn't what either man is remembered for. Bowie is anecdotally known for his goal scoring dominance and obsession with being an amateur and Blair Russel was anecdotally known for his defense and one big goal scoring season.

Oh just for fun, a comparison of their goal scoring when they played together (1900-1908):

Russell Bowie: 227 goals in 73 games ( 3.11 GPG)
Blair Russell: 106 goals in 69 games (1.54 GPG)

Bowie more than doubled his teammate's goal production (I'm sure that isn't surprising, just wanted to point it out).

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