Messier vs. Esposito
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12-12-2012, 04:26 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Originally Posted by
So because they put Esposito ahead they must have seen him play?
I don’t know why I’m even getting into this argument because social proofs in this type of debate are highly dubious, but…
- You only “suspect” these people voting saw Esposito play and don’t actually know,
- The number of “serious” members in this section voting for Messier is 20, with 17 voting for Espo; the majority of the rest are people I’ve never heard of – the usual bunch of random people who see the poll on the main board, jump in, vote, and leave. And if you think I’m cherrypicking when I say this, note that I very frequently tally up the votes by “serious” members in other polls in this section.
- The argument that people who have seen Esposito play would be more likely to put him higher is also highly dubious itself, because he was a fairly boring player, while Messier was infinitely more dynamic. He was much faster, more physical, and generally a lot more visible on the ice. On the other hand, Esposito’s gaudy offensive stats are exactly what the stats-based, “never seen him” crowd that you so deride in this section are in love with and are more likely to base decisions on. None of that is proof that Messier was better, of course, but it does suggest that claiming anyone who chooses Esposito was using the “eye test” as the basis for their selection is a claim that rests on rather shaky ground.
I guess I will assume as a moderator you are privy to votes? This I didn't know, but if this is true that by your count the "serious" voters have Messier ahead 20-17 then what's wrong with that? I've said it before on this thread that if someone would put Messier ahead of Esposito all-time then it isn't a bad thing. I'm fine with it, I just pick Esposito. I mean, we are talking about two all-time greats here and the numbers are more or less even. I'm fine with the poll results. To the ones who saw Esposito, it isn't his flash and dash and style that won you over as much as his effectiveness. People alive at the time might have more knowledge and less of a question mark regarding how revered he was at the time. This is what can help you in a debate, and there is no doubt that the two best players in the NHL for a number of years were Orr and Esposito.
This stems from a general lack of understanding about those numbers. You’re right that they don’t tell the whole story, but just because they don’t and never can tell the whole story doesn’t mean they should be thrown out. We are smart enough to know using all the other historical data at our disposal, that two superstar players who aren’t on the ice together that often relieve the pressure on eachother. So what does that mean for each of them? If they were alone on Boston, we can assume they always faced the best checkers the opposition had. What actually happened? The best checkers can’t play the combined 40 or so minutes that one or both of them was on the ice. So assumedly, they each sometimes got the best and sometimes got 2nd and 3rd-tier competition that was easier to dominate. Remove Espo and it gets harder for Orr. Remove Orr and it gets harder for Espo. None of that is rocket science.
But for your argument to hold up, we would have to believe that the “Espo relieving pressure on Orr” effect, when removed, would make a massive impact on Orr’s effectiveness, while the “Orr relieving pressure on Espo” effect, when removed, would barely change Espo’s effectiveness. There’s no reason to actually believe this. There is more than enough data showing that Orr on the ice without Espo (facing a wide range of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd tier players) greatly outperformed Espo on the ice without Orr (facing a wide range of 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier players). Not slightly, significantly. If you change the bracketed to “facing mostly top tier checkers” for both players that should not greatly change the relative difference between them, if at all.
I stand by my usual comment on this issue. Orr was the more dominant player, this is not a debate by any means to dismiss Orr. However, both players fed off each other and that helps each of them. Orr isn't an 80 point defenseman without Esposito and Esposito is still a 100+ point man without Orr. How the numbers would have fared over a full season nobody knows, but to have watched each of them they weren't the type that couldn't adjust either way. I mean in all honesty we do not know what Orr does in his career without Esposito. He has a small handful of games in Chicago and the 1976 Canada Cup with arguably the greatest team of all-time. I really don't like to speculate because I'd rather judge them on their own accomplishments.
“what if” scenarios don’t mean a lot when talking about the Bruins of this era, because if you replay that 8-year period a million times, I’m sure they usually win 3-5 cups, not just 2. They greatly underachieved.
To put it simply, with both Espo and Orr, they “should have” won probably 4 cups. With just Orr, they “should have” won 3-4. With just Espo, probably none. (and before you jump on me for that, remember, that stems from the fact that without Orr, this was a 1.1 GF:GA ratio team on average over that time) – but as history showed us, the actual results could be 1-2 cups above or below the “should have”, and what actually happened is just one of those million imaginary replays.
So in other words you could be absolutely right. 0 cups is probably the expectation without Orr, but it’s feasible they could overachieve and win 1-2, just like they improbably underachieved and won 2 with Orr, when they should have won 4.
I look at it this way. They won in 1970 and 1972. Here are their top scorers:
1970 - Esposito 27, Orr 20, Bucyk 19, McKenzie 17, Stanfield 16
1972 - Esposito 24, Orr 24, Bucyk 20, Hodge 17, McKenzie 17
Regardless of which superstar you want to take out you've got to make up a lot of points. In 1972 I don't think with one of them out of the lineup that the Bruins win. The Rangers were right at their peak in 1973 and it was a 6 game final as it was with both of them. We also saw how they did against the Rangers in 1973 without Esposito - not good. In 1970 they had a little bit of an easier run. They beat St. Louis regardless but how do they fare against Chicago? Esposito scored 13 goals in 1970. That's a lot of production to make up for. I don't know what happens to be honest, because you are trying to predict how the Bruins do by removing a dominant player who has a Smythe worthy run.
Without Orr the Bruins have a big hole on defense. Can their offensive core of Esposito, Bucyk, Hodge, McKenzie, Cashman, Stanfield win them a Cup? Probably along the way the Bruins win regardless. Without Esposito you've got Orr but then a big gaping hole at center. Maybe Bucyk is your best forward. Do you win with this offensive core and Orr? Probably, maybe not twice either. Both teams would have Cheevers too remember. But we also don't know how they fare in other years. Are they hungrier in 1971 and, say, 1974? Do they win then? Who knows? All I know is that it is significantly harder without either one of those two guns.
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