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08-10-2012, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
I don't really feel like searching for other examples at the moment, so I'll stick with what I already know:

"Jagr began skating at the age of four, and soon became consumed by hockey. As a child, he played on three different teams, usually against older players to improve his skills. When he reached the age of eight, he was playing in multiple games on weekends after practicing for hours daily."

"Jaromir started skating around the age of three. He learned to shoot in his backyard, playing street hockey with his dad. He often took 500 shots a day. At age six, he was on three different teams, which meant he got triple the ice team of other kids. His stickhandling and shooting skills were superb, but he was just an average skater. When he heard that the country’s top players improved their speed by doing squats, he started doing 1,000 a day. Within a year he was the fastest player on his team.

By the age of 12, Jaromir was one of the best young players in the country. He began his junior hockey career playing against boys five and six years older."

It's a combination of talent, practice, training, work ethic and the mental aspect. Maybe other countries have been more systematic than Canada in the past. I think most of the best players have a large amount of most/all of those elements. I don't like the increased focus on systems, and that may stifle creativity to some degree. However, the best will usually find a way to be the best.
I didn't know the details about Jagr but I'm not surprised. With the skill he has, it had to be developed somewhere.

Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
Okay, that seems possible. However, the pre-1925 period still includes a lot of players who were supposedly "under-represented" and that's what I was addressing and (admittedly) speculating about.
Everyone draws their line in a different place. I definitely have room for players from 1910-1925 in my top 100, if at a bit of a discount. Before that I don't see top level hockey as a competitive enough endeavor as compared to other sports and careers. Others probably disagree.

Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
I think you may be very right. However, that would influence the type of hockey played and the skills of each individual player, not the total player pool. I find it strange to penalize players who are dominating a much larger player pool (last 50 years) in comparison to a much smaller player pool (before that), because life is so busy for most now or because Canada has decided to follow the Soviet systematic approach. The player pool has still grown by leaps and bounds and the better players have plenty of training, physical skill and instruction. Personally, I'm not going to assume that players that drank and smoked large amounts would be the best today. If they weren't maximizing their ability then, how do we know they would now? Maybe some of them were able to dominate against lesser competition, but would they still be able to dominate today? It's difficult to say, but I'd give the edge to players who dominated against a deeper player pool which was generally closer to maximizing their abilities. There are proably players who are partying a lot and not as good as they could be. Maybe they could have been better in past eras when a lot more players led that lifestyle, but I'm not going to give those players extra credit for that either. The best strive to be the best and usually find a way to do so.
Re drinking, smoking, partying, etc, I don't know but suspect that the partying lifestyle was probably at a high point in the 1970s when society and professional hockey were both rapidly changing. I imagine players were probably better conditioned in earlier eras (although many would still drink and smoke.)

For the rest, I don't mean to say that unstructured hours on the pond are the only factor. Training by a good coach is also very important. Structured training and unstructured play have different strengths when it comes to developing hockey players. The best results come when both are present, IMO. And I would agree that coaching has become more consistently good across the board in the last decade, at least in Canada. There are different ways for players to maximize their skill. I don't think that the combination of those factors have continuously increased since the beginning of hockey.

In the end the test is how players perform on the ice. I'm just throwing out some theories as to why, say, the quality of Canadian players dropped so much going from the 1980s drafts to the 1990s drafts (and it's not just the increased competition from Europeans - the 80s Canadians were still matching or beating the 1990s Canadians when the latter we're in their prime.)

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