Greater redwing: Kelly or Fedorov
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12-04-2012, 03:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Originally Posted by
They matched up Fedorov with Lafleur and gave Sergei the edge. Bit of a stretch in my opinion, but this shows how highly regarded he was at the time.
I would disagree with that.
1) The Canadiens briefly tried Lafleur out at center and it was a massive failure. He was only successful on the RW, while Fedorov was successful wherever he played.
2) Lafleur's numbers have a huge jump while he is playing on a line with Steve Shutt. Shutt was a unanimous first-team all-star in 1977. Fedorov never had a regular linemate of even close to that kind of quality; the closest he had was probably Slava Kozlov. There's a correlation between Fedorov's numbers and Coffey's time in Detroit, but the same can be said of Gretzky in Edmonton or Lemieux in Pittsburgh.
3) Lafleur played his prime with three defensemen considered to be among the all-time best in their primes; Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, and Serge Savard. Fedorov had a post-prime Paul Coffey and a pre-prime Nicklas Lidstrom. Coffey was later replaced by an end-of-career Larry Murphy.
4) While Lafleur won the 1978 Hart trophy, Bryan Trottier scored only a handful fewer points while playing a much more physical game with far better defense, and can easily be argued as the better player that season. Fedorov played elite defense the moment he entered the league (he received the most first-place votes for the Selke in his second season, and finished second to Guy Carbonneau), and had a 100-point PPG four times, twice clearing the mark.
5) Lafleur and Shutt were centered by Jacques Lemaire, one of the league's top defensive forwards. Lafleur and Shutt themselves played limited defense, especially compared to their Montreal teammates. Fedorov was an elite defensive player from his first day in the league and it was the primary focus of his game throughout his career, despite his wide array of offensive tools.
Lafleur was a great RW, and a great player. But the argument that Fedorov is better is certainly plausible at minimum.
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