Brian Leetch or Al MacInnis?
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11-11-2012, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Originally Posted by
My mistake on the Norris. . .every time I post without checking my facts it bites me in the ass.
Personally, as a pure
defenseman, I put Leetch ahead of Shore, Kelly, Harvey, Pilote. If Orr did indeed revolutionize the position then, by definition, those guys weren't true rushing defensemen despite their impressive skills and accomplishments. Note that I'm not saying that Leetch is better than those guys; just that as a pure, puck-on-his-stick, winding-up-to-go-end-to-end blueliner, I consider him the best behind Orr and Coffey.
You have a good point with Niedermayer, but I still think if you're going to give credit to MacInnis for longevity over Leetch, you have to consider that he had a fellow HOF'er to rely on during his twilight years while Leetch was being asked to carry one of the league's worst bluelines (and, in fairness, Leetch completely flopped in that task).
if we're not going to count pre-orr puck carriers (and i don't disagree that comparing what shore, or even pilote, did against what leetch did is necessarily useful given the differences in what was possible in the game), then calling leetch the third best rushing defenseman of all time is really just saying third best rushing defenseman since expansion. which in and of itself is very impressive; but doesn't carry the same kind of weight as the somewhat misleading "of all time." (not that you used those words, but it seems that was the implication.)
as for pronger, between when pronger became an elite defenseman ('98 season) and when macinnis retired (for all intents and purposes '03), pronger missed 131 games. macinnis missed some games himself, and occasionally both were out of the lineup at the same time. macinnis and pronger played in 315 games together out of a possible 492 in those six years. even if we discount '03, when pronger missed almost the entire year, pronger and macinnis are playing an average of 62 games together in those four years when pronger was in his prime and macinnis was still in the league. so again, i'm not sure macinnis got quite the boost you say he did, particularly when you look at his icetime numbers between 35-39.
but i'd also add that pronger becomes pronger when macinnis is 34. leetch only played three seasons after the age of 33. so those years where, as you say, leetch "completely flopped" were actually from 29 on, years when macinnis' best defense teammates were: suter in his last calgary year, frank musil, trent yawney (29); musil, yawney, michel petit (30); steve duchesne, murray baron, 34 year old doug lidster, bill houlder (31); baron, 21 year old pronger, 36 year old jay wells (32); 22 year old pronger, igor kravchuk, marc bergevin (33); and then five years with prime pronger, but averaging 20 games lost between them a year. not saying pronger didn't help at all, but the defensemen listed above are all defensemen on macinnis' teams in those years who played close to a full year (65+ games, adjusted for the lockout year of course). after those guys, hardly a sterling bunch (and leetch had kasparaitis, older ulf samuelsson, schneider, malakhov, lefebvre, young kim johnsson, poti, and others. none of them were as good as prime pronger, obviously, but generally as good if not better d corps than macinnis had at the same ages between '93 and '97 or when pronger was out of the lineup '98 and after.
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