Messier vs. Esposito
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12-14-2012, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Originally Posted by
Czech Your Math
That's a really interesting question, Phil, for more reasons than one. It doesn't seem like Bucyk's production jumped until '71, which coincides with what was by far Orr's best ES data.
I'd put Espo ~40th-50th before I'd put him in the top 10... or even top 20. I could see putting him somewhere between 20 & 50... so maybe 30-40 is a likely range. Yes, he was an all-time great, but there's just too many questions, and I don't see the answers as mostly favoring Espo.
I don't put Esposito as a top 10 player either (you are talking about players and not centers I presume). I put him in that neat little crop of centers such as Mikita, Messier, Trottier, Clarke, Yzerman, Schmidt, Sakic, etc. He is middle of the pack with them in my opinion.
I don't know why Bucyk's numbers jumped so high starting in 1971. But everyone on the Bruins got a jump that they had never seen before. Hodge, Espo, Orr, Bucyk, etc. This was one of the most offensive teams ever assembled. Maybe the new expansion that year helped pad a few totals but I think they were all just coming together at that time. Bucyk did jump to a point a game guy again once Esposito arrived if that means anything. That 116 point year in 1971 was just his spike year I guess. But again I'll say just because I am making a case for Esposito it doesn't mean I don't realize the monumental impact that Orr made as well.
Originally Posted by
The secondary "major factor" can still be a very minor factor in comparison to an even bigger factor.
Well, except it wasn't. You know enough about hockey history right? Well, when people talk about the Red Wings teams they mention Howe and Lindsay right? The #1 man was Howe, but then again that isn't exactly a knock on Lindsay. Or Gretzky and Messier or Gretzky and Kurri get lumped together with the Oilers. Gretzky was still #1 but are we trying to say the other Oiler superstars weren't integral as well? It is the same with Boston. Those Bruins team were all about Orr and Esposito. I think every historian will recognize this. Everyone who played around then thought so too. I mean we are talking about a guy who was very compatable with Orr in Hart voting. 1974 is an example. I think Orr could have won it too, but Esposito wasn't just a passenger. He led the NHL in points with 145 to Orr's 122 and in goals with 68. Here's the kicker, 50 of them were at even strength. Esposito's plus/minus was phenomenal that year at +51. All these things I am sure were taken into effect.
Esposito wins the Pearson award in 1971. Orr won the Hart. I mean, no doubt give the full advantage to Orr over those years and why shouldn't we, but even in the voting history it should show you that the NHL didn't agree with the assesment that you are giving Esposito, and they did this right after they witnessed that particular season too. So I think you need to give the guy a lot more credit, in my opinion.
He was projecting to be a 100 point player who still managed to post a negative +/-. There's "doing just fine" and then there's "compiling points while being poor defensively".
To be fair, the man was -1 after 12 games in 1975-'76 on Boston. Maybe he's +10 for that matter, who knows, but it is very clear this was the beginning of Esposito's decline with or without Orr. Even in 5-on-5 play you could start seeing that a bit in 1974-'75. The man was starting to age like every other mortal before him. You can't put up gaudy numbers forever.
Funny, someone who watched him regularly didn't seem to be so visually impressed (and neither am I from what I've seen), so apparently it is not that hard to say that.
Have you ever told anyone how old you actually are? You talk like you're 60 and were an adult who was able to watch hockey with a critical eye throughout Espo's prime but I highly doubt that.
Well I saw him and yes I use my eyes to my advantage as well. As far as being visually impressed he wasn't Guy Lafleur. Esposito wasn't without skill but he did things more subtle. So yeah, you aren't going to talk about him flying down the wing with his mane of hair but that's hardly the issue here. He was a dominant force on the ice and that was a given when you watched him. I remember the Espo/Orr combo vividly in the 1970s, no one who saw them wouldn't.
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