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08-09-2012, 11:19 PM
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I do believe for sure that the average joe in the NHL is "better" today because of training and coaching, I don't think there's many who would dispute that. However, to say that Gretzky would barely be a 100pt player in today's NHL is absurd. Gretzky and Lemieux are IMO the #1-2 offensive talents of all time. They'd be dominant in any league. No, neither player would put up 200+ points today with systems and defense being better, but the key thing is that they'd be far above everyone else.

I think if you dropped Crosby, Stamkos, or OV into the 80's, they'd excel too and be stars, but they wouldn't be Lemieux or Gretzky. If you dropped Gretzky and Lemieux into today's NHL, they'd probably go 1-2 in scoring by a fairly large margin. The way I see it is that Gretzky, Lemieux, and Orr are generational talents that have been unequaled. Just because Gretzky and Lemieux would likely outscore Crosby and Ovechkin doesn't mean that Crosby wouldn't be a good player in the 80's. I see Gretzky, Orr, and Lemieux as a step above the rest, all three are truly special talents and would be the best no matter the era.

Of course, I'm assuming that all the players would have similar levels of conditioning. To drop Crosby or Stamkos in the current shape they're in into the 80's NHL, they'd probably be at Gretzky and Lemieux's heels for points. If you brought Lemieux or Gretzky into the 2012 NHL with the conditioning they had back then, they'd probably still be 1-2 in scoring but it'd be much closer. To me, I liken Crosby and Ovechkin to being more at the Forsberg/Sakic talent level. Fantastic all-star players, but not quite at the absolutely mental level of Gretzky and (to a slightly lesser extent) Lemieux.

I think the important thing is to accept that there just hasn't been anyone as good as Gretzky or Lemieux since they retired. Crosby, OV, and Stamkos just aren't at the talent level that Gretzky and Lemieux are. That doesn't mean Crosby and OV suck and that the NHLers were way better 20-30 years ago, it just means that those two players were above and beyond. I think ultimately the best of the best will excel in any environment.

I don't think it's really fair to say that Max Pacioretty could go back to the 50's with the equipment and conditioning today and be dominant. Of course he could, but that comparison doesn't make sense. It's like saying that if the US military of today went back and fought in the Korean War with F-22's, aircraft carriers, and M1 Abrams tanks they would dominate. It's just a silly hypothetical thought exercise. If Max Pacioretty were born in the 60's and played in the 80's, he'd probably be a 1st/2nd line scoring forward and would put up solid numbers. If the 2011-12 Max Pacioretty time warped back into the 80's with his modern equipment, he'd probably outscore anyone not named Gretzky or Lemieux. But that really doesn't mean anything.

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