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NOTE: Posted this in another thread, but copied it here as it actually seems more relevant to this thread.
It's impossible to have an exactly level field to compare between seasons, but when people compare the pre(WHA merger) NHL to the past ~30+ seasons, there's quite a difference. Think of an NHL with no Gretzky/Lemieux/Jagr level of top player, and no players from the US or overseas (this is essentially how it was most years before WHA merger). Which players could have won a Ross... or even two?
Dionne wins it outright in '80, and '81 as well (second in '85)
Bossy wins in '82... and wins in '86 as Coffey drops down (second in '81, '83 & '84... may have won in '84 as Goulet doesn't have Stastny)
Stastny wins in '83 (second in '84 & '86, as Coffey drops down)
Savard wins in '83 & '88 (second in '86)
Goulet wins in '84... but does he w/o Stastny?
Hawerchuk wins in '85 (second in '88)
Kurri drops of 10, 10 and 2 points w/o Gretzky from '85'87 each drop him from the actual/hypothetical top two
Messier wins in '87 w/o Gretzky?... wins in '90... second in '92
Gilmour if Messier doesn't win in '87, then he does (second in '94)
Yzerman wins in '89 (second in '90 & '93)
Hull wins in '91 & '92
Recchi wins in '00
Lafontaine wins in '93
Oates wins in '93 & '94, second in '91
Fedorov wins in '94
Jagr actually wins in '95, '98, '99, '00 & '01 and wins in '96... '97 is first or second, depends on how he does w/o Lemieux and how Kariya does w/o Selanne (second in '02 & '06... not sure what to do about lost '05 season)
Lindros wins in '95 (second in '96 as Francis drops down)
Sakic wins in '96 & '01 (second in '95, '99, '04 & '02 as Bertuzzi drops down)
Selanne wins in '97 & '99 (second in '98)
Kariya wins in '97 & '99 and second in '00, all w/o Selanne?
LeClair if Kariya doesn't win in '97 w/o Selanne, then he does... wins in '98
Forsberg wins in '98 and actually won in '03... (second in '96 & '99... if Kariya doesn't win in '99 w/o Selanne, then he does)
Bure wins in '98 & '00
Palffy wins in '98
Iginla actually won in '02 & wins in '08
Naslund wins in '03 (actually second in '02)
Thornton wins in '03 and actually won in '06 (actually second in '07, second in '08)
St. Louis actually won in '04 & wins in '11
Crosby actually won in '07, wins in '09 & '10
Ovechkin actually won in '08, wins in '09 & '10 (second in '06)
Malkin wins in '08 and actually won in '09 & '12
H.Sedin actually won in '10
D.Sedin actually won in '11
Stamkos wins in '12 (2nd in '10)
1st2nd place finishes in hypothetical multiverse (includes Lafleur, who would also have finished second in '80):
Gretzky 160 or 151 (13 in a row)... depends on Kariya w/o Selanne in '97
Lemieux 80
Jagr 82 to 63??? tough to pinpoint
Ovechkin 31
Lafleur 31
Malkin 30
Crosby 30
Sakic 24
Bossy 32 or 23?
Forsberg 31 or 22?
Messier 21 or 12?
Dionne 23
Thornton 22
Selanne 21
Savard 21
Kariya 21 or lower??? tough one
St. Louis 20
Iginla 20
Br.Hull 20
Bure 20
Oates 21
LeClair 20 or 11?
Recchi 11
Yzerman 12
Stastny 12
Lindros 11
Stamkos 11
Naslund 11
Hawerchuk 11
H.Sedin 10
D.Sedin 10
Fedorov 10
Lafontaine 10
Palffy 10
Goulet 10 or 01?
Gilmour 11 or 02
So what stands out:
 Gretzky just continues to extend his dominance, winning 13 in a row from '80'92 and 14/15, with a total of 15 or 16. Simply amazing.
 Lemieux wins 4 in a row, 6/8 and 8/12.
 Jagr at the very least would have been first or second in 8 consecutive seasons and potentially winning 7 in a row if he won in '97 (if not, was due to missing 19 games). Injury cost him a battle to the wire in '02 (missed 13 games), he lost the '05 lockout season (when he and Thornton should have been the two favorites) and he had a two point loss in '06 when Thornton had two extra games available due to trade. So one could argue for him deserving 7, 8 or even 9 Rosses, or just having 5 or 6 (with all 4 runnerups being to potential multiple winners: Kariya, Sakic, Iginla and Thornton... only 5 if take away '01 Ross due to Lemieux's presence for half season, and seems rather unfair to deduct a Ross in this type of scenario, as he was never second fiddle that year).
 The postlockout triumvirate of Crosby/Malkin/Ovechkin is impressive, as they are the only other players besides the "big 3" who would have definitely won 3 times each. Crosby's major injuries have prevented him from separating from the pack.
 Sakic's 6 top two finishes are only surpassed by the big 3. He also has a decent argument for potentially a 3rd or even 4th. In '95, he was 8 points behind Lindros after 48 games, but as we know Lindros had trouble staying healthy for a full season, so who knows how that ends up. In '99, he was 5 points behind Kariya, who actually played on the same line as Selanne (unlike Sakic & Forsberg).
 Three other players, Bossy, Messier and Forsberg, had potential to win 3 times.
 Players who could have finished top two at least 3 times since WHA merger: Dionne, Gretzky, Bossy, Savard, Stastny... Lemieux, Messier, Yzerman, Oates... Jagr, Sakic, Forsberg, Selanne, Kariya... Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Thornton.
 Players who could have won at least twice: Gretzky, Bossy, Dionne, Savard... Lemieux, Messier, Hull, Oates, Recchi... Jagr, Forsberg, Sakic, Selanne, Bure, Kariya, LeClair... Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Thornton, Iginla, St. Louis.
 There's always overlap between eras, but particularly difficult are the mid80s to midlate 90s. It starts with Gretzky & Lemieux in the league together in the mid80s, then as they become less consistent factors due to age/injury, the US/overseas talent really becomes strong during the 90s. With Jagr being a force from '95'02, Lemieux still on top '93, '96 & '97, and Gretzky still good in '94, '97 & '98, on top of the otherwise normal competition, the 90s were no picnic.
Last edited by Czech Your Math: 05252013 at 11:57 AM.
Reason: Hull = Canadian
