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12-19-2012, 09:47 PM
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1952-53 Toronto Maple Leafs

Originally Posted by ContrarianGoaltender View Post
I think Lumley probably had a poor season, yes. Putting up a .912 on the Leafs in 1952-53 is not very impressive, considering that it ranked 5th out of 6 starters while league average was .916. Rollins was at .918 in Chicago, Henry was at .918 in Boston, and it is highly doubtful either of them had better team defences than Toronto's. Lumley went from the worst team in the league to one of the best defensively, and yet his league average adjusted save percentage only went up by .006. I don't see any way to argue that Chicago had a huge negative impact on his save percentage while at the same time letting Lumley off the hook for his first season in Toronto.

Lumley's Toronto tenure is perhaps an example of how "boom-and-bust" goalies can sometimes perhaps be overrated by evaluation schemes that rely heavily on awards voting. Lumley had two First All-Star years surrounded by years where he finished 5th and 6th in save percentage. Despite the two impressive awards, if you look at those four years combined Lumley's results do not look like anything special compared to the other goalies with >75 GP:

1. Jacques Plante: 136 GP, .929
2. Terry Sawchuk: 266 GP, .924
3. Glenn Hall: 78 GP, .923
4. Gerry McNeil: 119 GP, .921
5. Harry Lumley: 267 GP, .918
6. Jim Henry: 166 GP, .914
7. Gump Worsley: 185 GP, .914
8. Al Rollins: 238 GP, .908

Factoring in team defence, is Lumley clearly better in terms of save percentage than any of those other goalies? Maybe Rollins, but still I don't think .010 is an unreasonable team effect gap between Toronto and Chicago, particularly with the way the Leafs apparently played defence under Clancy. Maybe McNeil, if you want to argue that Montreal's defence was even better than Toronto's. Lumley was certainly not as consistently good as the top three guys, and there's not much between Lumley and Henry or Worsley, even though both of them guys played on worse teams.

Lumley deserves credit for all those games played, and it isn't really all that embarrassing to finish behind guys like Plante, Sawchuk and Hall, but where's the evidence of separation between Lumley and Henry, McNeil, Rollins, etc., even during the peak of Lumley's career?

If instead of going .912-.923-.929-.905 Lumley went .918-.918-.918-.918 over the same number of games played, he would have contributed exactly as much to the Toronto Maple Leafs as he actually did in terms of goals prevented. If anything the consistent version of Lumley would have been more valuable to the team considering that they missed the playoffs by just 2 points in 1952-53 and would have allowed 12 fewer goals against with .918 goaltending, while finishing at least 10 points clear of the 5th place team in both of Lumley's big years.

However, consistent Lumley would have ranked 5-5-4-4 in save percentage instead of 5-2-1-6, and probably would have never been an All-Star or attracted much Hart Trophy attention. Take those things off his resume, and is he still up for voting at this point in the ranking? Maybe not, yet really he would have been every bit as good.

Obviously there are team effects from having different players and coaches so having the same numbers four years in a row is a little unrealistic even if the goalie performance was identical, but I really do think the All-Star + Hart voting = goalie value approach is very problematic once we get outside the top 20 and are looking at goalies who don't have piles of award recognition. I think that approach often rewards randomness, inconsistency and the luck of the draw in terms of team situation.

I was a quite a big Lumley skeptic on my original list, but I have moved him up some after this discussion. As someone pointed out earlier, all the goalies have some warts at this stage.
We are going to look at the 1952-53 Leafs in detail before reaching conclusions about Harry Lumley's allegedly poor season.

An in depth analysis shows that the 1962-53 Leafs were decimated at the key center position, their main advantage over the rest of the NHL teams between 1947 and 1952.

Ted Kennedy missed 27 games yet was second in team scoring, Max Bentley missed 34 games, while Rudy Migay missed 30 games.Two other forwards missed time - George Armstrong missed 18 games while Howie Meeker missed 45 games. Yet Harry Lumley played poorly.

The team finished fifth, 27-30-13 despite missing two HHOF centers for 61 games. No other NHL team suffered such devastating loses during the 1952-53 season. Remove Abel, Schmidt and Lach from their teams for half a season and the results and goalie performances suffer. Leafs were without Kennedy AND Bentley for half a season. Yet Harry Lumley played poorly.

Truth of the matter is that Harry Lumley had an excellent season given the team circumstances.

Healthy team the next two seasons saw an improvement in GA - 36 and SV%:


then Ted Kennedy retired:

Harry Lumley was excellent during his stay with the Maple Leafs once an in depth analysis of the team is completed.

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