Messier vs. Esposito
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11-21-2012, 04:17 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
My username is based on Phil Esposito..........so at the risk of being bias, well, I still go with Esposito by a little bit.
Look, for some reason time hasn't been kind to Esposito on these boards. I don't know why, the same goes for Coffey. Esposito did a ton of things in his career that get overlooked or not appreciated enough. In 1972 you had Orr, Esposito and Hull as the best players in the NHL. Take away Orr and Hull and the best player in the NHL is Esposito for sure by a noticeable degree. Without those two superstars he carries Canada on his back in the 1972 Series against Russia under immense pressure. No disrespect to Paul Henderson but Esposito was the central figure on that team and provided a clutch performance that has rarely been seen.
Here's the question could Messier have done that if Gretzky and Lemieux didn't play in the 1987 Canada Cup?
That's just part of the equation. Esposito was a dominant offensive threat. He was THE elite goal scorer in the NHL for quite some time and led the NHL in goals 6 times in a row and in points 4 times in a row. He won a Hart over Orr in 1974. He was just as good as Messier in his Cup wins. Personally I don't see Messier having a huge edge in the postseason either.
As far as an all around player you give the edge to Messier but the offensive edge is Esposito and it is a dominant advantage. Another thing people forget is that Esposito could control the pace of a game rather well. Everyone always thinks Orr was what made him what he was but that isn't true at all and is more of a lazy way to look at it.
Lastly, while 1975 is considered the last true elite season for Esposito the truth is he still had some 80 point seasons left in him with the Rangers. Not to mention he was still very good in the 1976 Canada Cup which people forget.
If I am basing it on their careers I take Esposito. This isn't to disregard Messier at all. He is one of the best players to lace up a pair of skates and his greatness goes beyond the scoreboard as well but it isn't as if Esposito was all style and no substance either. As we saw in 1972, he could lead.
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