Messier vs. Esposito
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11-25-2012, 11:37 AM
Czech Your Math
Join Date: Jan 2006
Originally Posted by
These are projections, which are a weak defense because you are basing it on assumptions but even then it still doesn't hurt Esposito at all. Where are these Art Rosses the guy wins? Heck, you've got him down to 1 Art Ross now without Orr? That's insane. Again, I'll ask a question that gets overlooked, but who steals these Art Rosses from him without Orr? Who is a better forward in the NHL at that time. No one at all and at times it isn't even close. I really don't know what you are looking at here.
He was generally the best scoring forward during most of his prime, but that doesn't mean he was every season. Also, one reason for that is that it was an historically weak period for scoring forwards. I mean, Ratelle and Clarke? I can see a lot of forwards winning multiple Rosses while playing with Orr & Co. in that league with that competition. That's the whole point.
It's sort of similar to Kurri only being outscored by linemate Gretzky, teammate Coffey (once) and Lemieux (once) from '85-'87. Does that mean Kurri would have won even one Ross, let alone 3, in most eras (without Gretzky/Lemieux type players)?
The difficulty is that Espo wasn't just playing on an above average team with a very good player in a league with a bit of disparity against slightly below average competition. He was often playing with Bobby Orr on a team that twice had the top 4 scorers in the league, when the NHL had massive disparity and was diluted by massive, repeated expansion (and by the WHA in his later prime), and with historically weak competition. It's numerous extreme factors occurring simultaneously. There's little data without most/all of those conditions:
- a very small sample of games of Espo w/o Orr in Boston
- a very small sample of international play
- 3 seasons where he played with Bobby Hull, yet didn't really stand out as a much better producer than Mohns & Wharram in their early 30s
- 5+ seasons with the Rangers when he wasn't even close to as productive, albeit at an advanced age with a weak team
- 3 years in Jrs./Minors that were very good, but not really suggestive of a future Ross winner
There's some data in Espo's favor, and of course his actual accomplishments under very atypical conditions, and there's plenty of data that's much less in his favor. A lot of it depends on interpretation, so I don't see it being close to absolutely settled anytime soon.
As far as actually seeing Espo play, when I had the necessary bandwidth to do so, I did watch a couple games (one was vs. Tor. and one was vs. Phil. in SCF). Again, too small a sample to tell much, but I certainly don't recall Espo doing much carrying of the puck, stickhandling or skating circles around guys. He didn't seem to be controlling the action/pace of the game, but controlled his area of the ice and capitalized on opportunities. If anything, it confirmed by impressions of his strengths and weaknesses, not contradicted them.
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