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10-29-2012, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Sentinel View Post
I could never understand this "all or nothing," take-to-the-absurd approach. Of course there should be players from the past eras! And it's possible that there was equal number of geniuses from each decade that stood head and shoulders above their peers (possibly more in the expansion era). But it doesn't mean every era must be represented equally.
It's really simple. From an objective standpoint, excluding all era considerations, the best hockey players are almost entirely from the past 20-30 years. They're bigger, faster, stronger, and more mechanically skilled than their predecessors. They are optimized hockey-playing robots that would blow even the best Original Six teams completely out of the building. That's really not a revelation to anybody.

Don't even get me started on goalies.

So if you are going to make a list of the "objectively best" players ever, it's going to be REALLY short on guys who played prior to the modern era. You might squeeze a Howe or Orr in there if you're feeling generous, but a 170-pound guy like Mikhailov or a 1960s-trained goalie like Tretiak? Forget it. They'd be lucky to even be IN the current NHL let alone dominating it.

I'm sure you agree that such players should be recognized, so we open up the door a bit and say, "Tretiak might not be objectively as good a goalie as Lundqvist, but he was one of the best of his time and deserves to be on our list". Ok, well, Ken Dryden played at the same time and was just as good, so he belongs too. And nobody who saw Sawchuk, Plante and Hall seems to believe that Dryden was on a higher level than those guys, so we have to throw them in there too, right?

And so on and so forth. At what point do we arbitrarily decide that this process cuts off? Whatever year we pick, it will simply be a reflection of our modern bias about what era "matters most" in hockey history, which is contrary to the point of an all time list. So instead of shooting for a list of objectively best players, we instead assemble a list of the greatest players, with a clearly stated objective of including all eras.

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