Messier vs. Esposito
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11-23-2012, 05:19 PM
Czech Your Math
Join Date: Jan 2006
Originally Posted by
1969 - Esposito 126, Hull 109
1971 - Esposito 152, Hull 96
1972 - Esposito 133, Ratelle 109 (63 games)
1973 - Esposito 130, Clarke 104 (Orr misses 15 games)
1974 - Esposito 145, Clarke 87
1975 - Orr 135, Esposito 127, Dionne 121
Now, those Art Rosses tell a lot. Perhaps a healthy Ratelle combined with an Orr-less Esposito force him to lose that one. Perhaps. 1969 is another one that has "potential" in losing it to Hull. Then again, Esposito nearly won the Art Ross a year earlier
with a sophomore Orr.
Other than that, he wins as clear as day in 1971, 1973 and 1974 at the bare minimum. No way does Esposito surrender 56 points without Orr in 1971 and 58 in 1974. Just not possible.
I think he wins at least 2... maybe he wins 4, I can't say with certainty. Either way, he's still on a stacked Bruins team (even w/o Orr) in a weak/diluted league, and look at his competition: an early 30s Hull past his peak (and playing a bit more constrained?), an injured early 30s Ratelle, and Clarke. This wasn't just weak, I'd say it was historically weak. You'd have to go back to the early-mid 50s or perhaps the '02-'04 & '11-'12 seasons (although there was a lot of high end depth and opportunity in the latter two periods) to find competition that was nearly this weak IMO.
Originally Posted by
Alright, we see by 1975 he is slowly starting to drop a bit and age will do that to you. In the beginning of the 1975-'76 season he had 16 points in 12 games before the Bruins ship him to the Rangers. Over a full season that's 107 points had he maintained that pace. It is very early so it could have gone either way but I hardly doubt even if Esposito is a Bruin that whole year with a healthy Orr that he is getting a 61 goal 127 point season like in 1975. He was starting to fall, the Ranger trade just sped it up and he still had 83 points.
Look, the pieces fit in well with Esposito. He is old post-Orr and young pre-Orr. He never wins an Art Ross without Orr but he was a power forward and everyone knows just how difficult a bigger guy can adjust to the game. The evidence shows that not only was he winning these Art Rosses but he was spanking the competition in the process.
His '75 season and beginning of '76 with Boston aren't that far out of line with, for example, his '73 season. Sure, he had likely peaked and age was likely causing him to become slightly less productive, but many of his teammates (Hodge, Cashman, Bucyk, etc.) were becoming substantially less productive with age too.
I don't think the pieces fit neatly at all with Espo. I know players often started their careers later in the O6, but he was 22-25 in the '65-'67 seasons, and I don't see how he really separated himself from fellow Chicago forwards Wharram and Mohns. If Espo may have been a bit on the young side then, those two were definitely on the old side then, being in their early-mid 30s. It's not that his production increased in Boston... it went through the roof and stayed there for basically his complete tenure with the Bruins. Then he was traded to the Rangers and he didn't gradually decline with age, rather he immediately had a huge drop off and basically stayed around that level for his remaining full seasons in NY. His career curve has to be one of the most puzzling of any elite forward with a fairly long career. It wasn't so much of an arc, as a steady line at one level in Chicago, a discontinuous gap to a much a higher level in Boston which then was relatively steady from '69-75, and another very large gap lower upon reaching NY, where it was again steady back near his pre-Bruins level.
What's difficult is that there's evidence on both sides, but in many cases (OHA-Jrs., international play, games in Boston w/o Orr) the sample sizes are too small and/or mostly irrelevant to reach much of a conclusion. When combined with his extremely strange career "curve" (including a rather late peak), his mostly disadvantageous adjusted plus-minus data, historically weak competition, the Bruins being an offensive juggernaut with Orr, and a dynamic but diluted league full of disparity between teams, it makes fitting all the pieces together much more complex than for almost any other elite forward IMO. I respect your view, and hope you can understand mine as well, but I don't mean to mislead anyone to believing that that the puzzle is simple. I don't post such an unusual amount regarding Espo because I want to bash him or dislike him, but because it's such a tangled web that I find difficult to completely unravel, and I suspect many others may have the same difficulty.
Last edited by Czech Your Math: 11-23-2012 at
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