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11-23-2012, 11:57 AM
  #278
ContrarianGoaltender
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
Which is why they often talk about Tretiak (72 Summit, 74 Summit, 75-76 Super Series etc etc) and not about Holeček (played in one game against WHA Team Canada in 1974 and in one game against Winnipeg in 1975). So the circumstance you mention actually works in Tretiak's favour.
Yes, it worked in Tretiak's favour in terms of North American recognition that he played more against Canadian internationals, I agree with that. He also played far better against Canadian internationals than Holecek did. It's tough to handle that, because we don't really want to penalize Holecek too much because of lack of opportunity, but at the same time you absolutely have to credit Tretiak for what he did as well, and a Canada Cup MVP and a string of elite performances against NHLers is something that Holecek simply doesn't have on his resume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
I thought that was a given. If you want to compare the top Soviet goalie and the top Czechoslovak goalie, you compare their performance at the one stage where they meet head to head.
I disagree. I think each goalie should be judged on the entirety of their careers, international and domestic, relative to the situations they played in. Otherwise we're vulnerable to making incorrect conclusions from small sample sizes.

And head-to-head results certainly aren't everything. Take the example of John Vanbiesbrouck and Mike Richter. If you compare their performances on the same team in New York and internationally for the U.S. national team, Richter easily beats Vanbiesbrouck. That's a much better point of comparison than even head-to-head international results as well as a much larger sample size, but I still rate Vanbiesbrouck as having clearly had the better career overall. Similarly, even if you accept that Holecek outplayed Tretiak in the mid-'70s it's still pretty easy to make the same type of case for Tretiak having the better career when you factor in how highly rated he was from 1979 to 1984.

And that's comparing two guys who are close to the same age. Holecek was 8 years older than Tretiak, and Tretiak had just turned 26 when Holecek won his last WC best goalie award in 1978. Tiny Thompson, Roy Worters and Ed Belfour were all in only their second season as an NHL starter at the age of 26, and Bill Durnan and Johnny Bower weren't even in the league yet. Sure seems like a lot of lower-ranked goalies were outplaying those guys as well in their early twenties, and yet here they all are being considered for the spots in the top 15 all time. Not to mention Holecek himself, who at the age of 26 had zero domestic league recognition and all of 2 games played at world championships.

North American exposure may have favoured Tretiak, but the age factor was definitely on Holecek's side when it comes to world championship awards in the 1970s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
He won the World Championship awards over Tretiak - that's enough for European observers to consider him better.
Sure, and for the reasons discussed above I think that's putting too much significance on a few award votes. Maybe Holecek was better, but it shouldn't be only because of world championship performance, particularly subjectively rated world championship performances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
It's not like Holeček didn't do well in the Czechoslovak League MVP voting. And in another thread TDMM asked whether Tretiak was overrated in the Soviet League MVP voting because he simply looked outstanding compared to the other Soviet League goalies who were nothing to rave about.
That's a legitimate question, and all that should be taken into account. I think it might very well be true that Tretiak's earlier MVP awards were in large part aided by weak quality of competition. On the other hand, Tretiak's case is really strong enough even without those MVPs, as he was named the Russian athlete of the century, he was the first Russian voted into the HHOF, and there are lots of sources that suggest he was considered the best Russian player around that time period (New York Times in 1988: "Of all the Soviet players before glasnost, Tretiak would have been the most pursued by N.H.L. teams.") I find it hard to explain all that away merely by the level of domestic goalie competition Tretiak was competing against.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
Fair enough. If you're the best goalie of a short tournament once, then no. But if you are the best goalie of a short tournament* time and time again, you have a case. *Not just any short tournament, the World Championship: see below.
I agree that multiple awards is better evidence, but just to correct that statement, Holecek was voted as the best goalie of a short tournament time and time again. Does that mean he performed the best? Probably. Does it mean he was the best goalie overall? Maybe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
Patrick Roy was ranked first in this project mainly because of his playoff resume. What are the playoffs other than a short tournament compared to the regular season? If you go by the 82 game NHL season, Martin Brodeur is at least Roy's equal.
Strongly disagree with that last sentence.

Career regular season GVT:
Patrick Roy 431.1
Martin Brodeur 304.7

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
For starters I take directorate awards AND all-star team nominations into account. Holeček won gold in 1972, 1976 and 1977. In 1972 he received the directorate award and in 1976 both the directorate award and the media vote. That he didn't win anything in 1977 is not a surprise when you consider that he lost his position to Dzurilla during the tournament (Holeček played 200 minutes, Dzurilla 400).
As for the Tretiak leg: Why should they have voted for him all of the time the Soviets won when he simply wasn't the best goalie? If your theory was right you'd except Tretiak would have been honoured in the years the Soviets failed to win gold, but no, he wasn't.
Fair point on Holecek in the gold medal winning years. As for Tretiak, no, I don't think it is likely that he would have been named the best goalie if the Soviets lost. When the best team in the tournament also has the best goalie, they become overwhelmingly likely to win the gold medal. If Tretiak did get robbed of any best goalie awards they probably would have been in the years that he won but didn't get credit for playing on the best team, rather than in the years that he lost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
A 20 game stretch that happens to be the most decisive in the perception of the involved players, coaches and observers. That's what everybody worked and aimed for: top performance at the international stage. If everybody is supposed to deliver at that stage more than anything else, then you cannot dismiss this period as random, and if one player is delivering more than the other in that crucial period, then you have to give him credit.

There is hardly any other evidence for or against Holeček outside of that anyway, so we have to stick with what we got.
I'm not dismissing it as random. It definitely counts. The question is whether it is significant enough to make up for the rest of the story, particularly with regard to the balance of Tretiak's career. Because there is piles of evidence for Vladislav Tretiak as an all-time great:

Rejean Houle, 1974: "[Tretiak] is one of the best goalies I've ever been up against."

Bob Pulford, 1976: "The Soviets are a good team and they capitalized on their opportunities. I don't think they are as good as Canada but they have Vladislav Tretiak and you never know."

Scotty Bowman, 1979: "He's the kind of goalie who's good on everything. He's especially good on the angles."

Sam Pollock, 1981: "He ranks with the great goaltenders of all time."

Serge Savard, 1983: "I think he's the best goaltender in the world."

1976:
Quote:
"Tretiak, considered among the best goalies in the world, played his normal game, making 38 saves, many of them from point-blank range."
1979:
Quote:
"The goaltending of Vladislav Tretiak - who some observers insist is the best goalie in the world - is also beyond question."
1980:
Quote:
"But Friday, his 55-foot shot in the first period signaled the beginning of the end for goalie Vladislav Tretiak - the most famous and respected goalie in the world."
1983:
Quote:
"The most conspicuous part of that defense has been the goaltending of first-year Bruin and fourth-year NHLer Pete Peeters, the hottest netminder west of the U.S.S.R.'s Vladislav Tretiak."
1983:
Quote:
"[Tretiak] is still, at 31, the best goaltender not only in the U.S.S.R. but also in the world, and when he retires, an era will end."
1984:
Quote:
"The veteran goalie is acknowledged as one of the greatest players at the position in history."
Many of those are higher praise than Holecek ever got outside of one comment by Bobby Hull. Given all of that, I just don't see why a few world championship best goalie awards won by a much older goalie over a younger one are the decisive evidence in the debate. It just seems like a way of framing the debate that ends up slanting it in Holecek's favour. Being widely considered the best in the world from 1979 to 1984 by both North American and European observers should surpass being considered the best in Europe from 1973 to 1978, shouldn't it (if that was even actually the case)?

If Holecek was on Tretiak's level then he should easily go #1 this round, and I don't see the support for that relative to the other candidates. I still have Esposito fairly comfortably ahead of Holecek, for one.

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