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05-07-2012, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Psycho Papa Joe View Post
I remember as a kid, pre-Gretzky that Howe was considered the best forward ever and Hull was 2nd with Richard 3rd by most hockey people. The memories of those players was a lot fresher back then so I'm wondering if the elevation of Beliveau into that group might be revisionist. Basically has he risen up the rankings because of the classy gentleman he developed into post-retirement.
Right on. In my opinion, revisionism without any substance is becoming the norm in this forum.

I have Hull as the 5th best player with Beliveau, Shore, Harvey, Richard being in a grouping a step or 2 below. Using the eye test and the goal scoring criterion, Hull is way ahead. In some of the other aspects of their game, Beliveau is closer and there may be arguments to rank Beliveau slightly ahead but I don’t see it.

Here are some of the arguments that have been made in favor of Beliveau in this thread.

Cup Counting. Meaningless. Cups are won by teams not individuals. Playoff performance is what matters. Playoff PPG for Hull & Beliveau is virtually identical. Also it usually ignored that Hull won a few WHA cups.

Beliveau made his teammates better. Hull didn’t. This is far fetched. IMO it is the opposite. You could argue that Beliveau’s teammates made him better. It had to help him to step into the NHL as a mature player and immediately be teamed up with star players like Geoffrion, Moore, Olmstead etc. Meanwhile, Hull was playing on a lines with the likes of Murray Balfour, Red Hay, Chico Maki, Anders Hedberg, Ulf Nilsson. All of whom had the best years of their careers playing on a line with Hull. I would also argue that Hull made Espo a better player. Espo had a difficult time making the Hawks and was floundering until they put him on the Hull line in his first full season. Guess what, Espo finished top 10 in scoring.

Playmaking. Pretty close, IMO. It is a question of focus. Hull focused on goal scoring which makes sense since he was the best goal scorer that ever laced them up. Beliveau focused more on assists which also makes sense when you have someone like Geoffrion on your wing. An interesting comparison is to look at the 15 years they played in the NHl at the same time. In 7 of those years Beliveau came out on top in assists. Seven times, Hull had the most assists. The other year they tied. I know there are extenuating circumstances here--difference in age, injuries, Hull coming in as a teenager etc. However, the point is, Beliveau is usually considered the better playmaker but he certainly didn’t blow Hull away in this area. I will let Beliveau have the last word here. This is from his autoboigraphy. “Having started his career as a centre, he (Hull) was an excellent playmaker, apt to put a beautiful pass on a linemates stick at the very moment when an opposition winger and 2 defensemen converged on him.”

Checking. Both were decent checkers but I would give the edge to Hull. Hull killed penalties regularly in his prime. I don’t remember Beliveau ever doing so which allowed him to focus more on offense. Montreal was a deeper team so they didn’t need to depend on their superstars to kill penalties. Both were physical players but Hull gave more punishing bodychecks. In the 76 Canada cup, Hull took Salming’s game away by dishing out punishing but clean bodychecks. Also, Hull was regularly matched up against Howe in the playoffs.

Here is a clip from the 76 Canada cup that illustrates Hull's all round play. Hull back checks and knocks the player off the puck. He then leads the rush back up ice and lays a perfect pass on Perreault's stick who scores. Note that Hull was 37 at the time which gives every indication that he still would have been one of the best in the NHL at that age.

Last edited by pappyline: 05-07-2012 at 08:07 AM.
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