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12-03-2012, 12:21 AM
Big Phil
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Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
I watched his whole career and I still can't figure out how he got all those assists. He was a shooter not a playmaker. Probably from banking shots off Bucyk's butt on the powerplay and Hodge driving home a lot of rebounds.

I do remember that Espo had a reputation of approaching the scorekeeper to make sure that he got credit for assists.
He led the NHL in assists three times. Did it in 1973. Not exactly Hodge's best year and Orr missed 15 games. If he banked 40 off them off Bucyk's butt on the powerplay where did the other 35 come from? I mean honestly, are we going up another notch to shortchange the guy?

Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
But seriously is Phil even in the top 50playmakers of all time?
Top 50? My goodness, he's at least there.

Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
I'm not saying that Phil was on the same tier as Simmer or Leach as players but rather talking about the relationship all 3 had to the stars they played with.

In all 3 cases there is a clear driver of the bus and a passenger who benefited, of course none of them took the advantage as great as Phil did but it also was in different times and circumstances for all 3 players.

Also you call Phil a rare talent, which may or may not be true but one of the most important measurements I take in a player is consistency and the length of that consistency (along with a host of other factors).

Phil's dramatic and late career arc, and the direct correlation to playing with Orr in his high peak, compared to the rest of his career is a huge red flag to his "greatness factor."

I'm not sure where he is going to place on my all time center list when we do that project but Bowman has him as his 17th best center (on albeit it a really weird list overall IMO) and while I don't agree with all of the guys ahead of him as a lock that range is where Phil fits for me as of right now.

The Moose is definitely ahead of Phil for me.
Well, Phil was a rare talent in the fact that he used his size, reach and hands to dominate. He had remarkably soft hands for a big man. Not to mention quick hands and a nice snap shot and quick release. The puck was off his stick as fast as Mike Bossy. So it is a rare talent because we've never really seen someone do this since. Todd Bertuzzi for a couple of years at a level below Esposito and that's about it. Brett Hull might be the best at this type of thing but he was less visible on the ice than Phil and less involved.

We can really nickel and dime a lot of things when it comes to a perfect storm. Beliveau himself walked into a great team with a ton of HHOFers entering their prime years. Lafleur is another one and if we want to really be harsh we can lump Orr into this pile. He walks into a Bruins team a year before a steal of a trade and plays with several HHOFers and falls into a somewhat weak age for defensemen (late 1960s to early 1970s). Now, why don't we give Orr the shaft on this the way we do Esposito. Simple. Because Orr's greatness is pretty universal over different eras. He's still winning those Norrises against a prime Bourque. Same with Esposito. It is evident to those that watched him that he was so far ahead of the 2nd best forward that it really didn't matter that there was a time when the elite forwards dropped a bit.

Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Again, you are compartmentalizing this into single seasons for some reason, and when you do that it makes it look like nickel and diming, but over the long haul it does look very clear that he produced less without Orr - which shouldn't surprise you at all! When you fight this idea so hard, it removes any semblance of impartiality.
For starters, this is a mere projection of how he does in a full season in his prime without Orr. We have enough sample sizes in certain seasons to see that he really could carry a team on his own. Averaging (what is it 106 points?) a season from 1967-'1976 in games without Orr is still the best player in the world because it includes 1968 which was a year where the Art Ross winner gets 87 points and 1976 when he was starting to be over the hill. Anyway, I can't convince you that it's not something that hurts him, you see it how you want and it is what it is. Esposito immediately was asked to have a bigger role in 1967-'68 and he thrived with a half season Orr. Plenty of players have been given that exact same treatment. You can find many all-time greats that took a few years before breaking out. Without Orr he's a 120 point man in his prime at least. Hard to argue that otherwise. The guy isn't losing anymore than 30 points without Orr in 1971.

Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
He deserves credit, but for players who played most/all of their career in the NHL, it's their NHL performance that really determines their value and ranking. That doesn't mean international play, and play in foreign/rival leagues (whether Europe or WHA) should be completely ignored, but it's like the icing on the cake. It rounds off the rough edges and may solidify the player's career into a prettier picture, but it's not the foundation for a career evaluation unless necessary. It definitely helps his case, just as it helps balance Selanne's more mediocre playoff production.

I admit it is getting a bit absurd when Espo is compared to players like Leach or Simmer (esp. there actual careers, not "what could have been"). Even if I gave him almost no credit for international play, discount his production substantially due to his team and era, etc. (basically never give him the benefit of the doubt), I think the lower bound would be somewhere around the level of players like Dionne, Stastny, Brett Hull, Selanne, etc. His solid playoff and international production helps put him above those players, while his durability & longevity gives him some ammunition against other players who may have been better.

There's just so much uncertainty as to his rightful place in the rankings, and people differ in their opinions and methods of evaluation. If Scotty Bowman ranks him as the 40th best Canadian hockey player, behind Gainey, Perreault, and Lemaire... then there's seems to be a rather wide range possible.
See, it is an example of how Esposito could do when he was "the man". 1972 is just something to bring up whenever he gets shortchanged. The greatest tournament ever played and he dominates it. It was 8 games sure, but it is just one of many examples of the glimpse of player he was on his own.

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