Messier vs. Esposito
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11-26-2012, 05:09 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Originally Posted by
Czech Your Math
Espo was an all-time great and a dominant scorer. The question is how great he was and how great he would be in various, more typical environments... in what ways was he dominant and how dominant would he be in more typical environments... and why was he so dominant at that time. Let's just say that when someone basically says "Espo could have still been very good at 33-34, if he just had an excellent puck-moving d-man and a couple guys to dig pucks out of the corners to feed him in the slot," that it doesn't dispel my impression of a player who wasn't driving the bus and creating his dominance from scratch, so to speak.
My point about Clarke is that if he was about as good of a point producer as any competition Espo faced outside his own team, then that's historically weak competition. While I respect Clarke's all-around game, and of course Orr's as well, I doubt it's an accident that the most lopsided ESGF/GF data comes from those players during the early-mid 70s (which matches Espo's prime and was most likely largely influenced by the weak, diluted, over-expanded league with massive disparity).
I see a lot of HOFers too, but many/most of them were past their peak, and a few were on Espo's team. The loss of talent to the WHA wouldn't have been a big deal, except that it was already so diluted by continual over-expansion.
See I think he had dropped down a notch even by 1975. He was getting older and while still a great player you could see him slowing down. You watch him in the 1972 Canada/Russia series and he's the best player out there. You watch him in the 1976 Canada Cup and he's still a very good player but he had lost a step or two and this was a year after the Ranger trade. None of that at all has to do with Orr so in reality Esposito was doing this on his own.
Did going to the Rangers speed things up a bit? Yes it did. But that roster will do that to you. Esposito has talked in his book about how after an awful loss to the Kings all the Ranger players were yukking it up after the game shortly after he was traded there. He was upset at the loss and no one seemed to care. It was clear he was in a much different culture. That being said he was still good for 80 points up until his retirement at an advanced age.
How does he do in Boston without Orr? There is no doubt he is still the best forward in the game. I still don't see any evidence that he for sure loses even one of his Art Rosses. He scored 42 goals on an average team when he was 36 years old. You can do the math and ask yourself how he would have done when he was 28-32. I don't see how he isn't hitting 60 goals at couple of times. And remember, he was a power forward, a big awkward guy and everyone from Joe Thornton to Lecavalier have a hard time adjusting in the beginning of their careers. For all we know he was on the cusp of stardom either way. But I'll say again, a leech who needs charity doesn't annihilate the rest of the field (minus Orr) in the NHL. It's a simple case of when his play started to drop a bit as a Bruin he was still valuable on the market and Sinden got rid of him rather coldly.
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