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11-26-2012, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by danincanada View Post
Neely had a great season and playoff that year too, leading the team in scoring for both, so you're exaggerating how much better Bourque was than his next best teammate and his lock on the Conn Smythe IF they had won. Huge IF, of course.
You're right, I exaggerated. There would have been a vote. And you're right, as a leading scorer Neely would have been in the conversation.

Context for Neely leading the team in scoring:

1st round vs Hartford (7 games) - 4-6-10
2nd round vs Montreal (5 games) - 3-2-5
3rd round vs Washington (4 games) - 5-4-9
4th round vs Edmonton (5 games) - 0-4-4

Zoom in on that Finals performance...

Neely in the Finals - 5gp, 0-4-4
Bourque in the Finals - 5gp, 3-2-5

When you consider which of these guys is the winger and which is the defenseman, it becomes pretty obvious which one would have taken home the hardware. Scoring a bunch of points in a sweep over the sub-.500 Caps isn't equal to scoring a bunch of points over the Oilers in the Final.

In terms of individual performance Lidstrom's '02 and '90 are very comparable.
I'm sorry, but no they aren't. They're not even all that close.

In 1990, Bourque lost the closest Hart vote ever, 20 years after the last defenseman won it. He SWEPT the Norris ballot 63-0-0. Oddly his all-star ballot was 62-1-0, go figure.

In 2002, Lidstrom did not receive a single Hart vote, 2 years after the last defenseman won it. He won the Norris with a 29-20-7-2-1 ballot over his teammate, Chelios, who had 28-10-13-4-4. That's a virtual dead heat in #1 and top-3 votes, compared to a 40-year-old on his own team. He had a bigger lead in AS voting, but Rob Blake still managed 25 1st place votes. Not "very comparable" to a clean sweep in either category, let alone a near-miss on the Hart.

On the team front, Bourque played on a team that had one (1) other Hall of Famer, and a weak one at that in Neely. Neely was 1st in points with 92, Bourque was 2nd with 84, and nobody else on the team scored over 62. In that role, Bourque led the team to a President's Trophy and then a Finals run where, again, he was the Smythe favorite for his team.

In 2002, Lidstrom played on a team with four current Hall of Famers, three more who will surely be inducted in the near future, and yet two more who have strong cases in the long-term. A total of 7-9 Hall of Fame teammates on that roster. The Wings won the President's Trophy, and then rolled over an easy Finals opponent -- and I feel no shame in saying that, considering everyone was shocked when the Hurricanes won a single game -- with Lidstrom winning the Smythe.

Recap: Bourque played on a significantly less talented team, and was far less dispensable to his team, yet achieved similar team results up until the point that his Smythe-worthy performance was simply not enough to singlehandedly win the Finals. For that, Bourque received significantly more individual recognition, coming within a hair of winning the Hart which would have made threads like this one nonexistent. So while certain elements of those seasons are comparable, as a whole they are clearly of two distinct classes.

In terms of legacy, Lidstrom's is greater because he DID win a Cup and Conn Smythe. I think that's a general theme with the comparison of these two players. Lidstrom did win and we hear reasons why Bourque didn't win with assumptions that he would have given the same opportuntiy as Lidstrom. They are only assumptions of course.
Bottom line here is that you hold team results higher than individual performance. Which is fine, and you're welcome to that opinion. It's the same thing that had people pumping up Niedermayer and Messier when they retired.

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