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01-23-2013, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
If you remove Gretzky then Oates would lead the league in assists five times. I highly doubt that Thornton can lead twice more.
First of all, that's not true. Oates only lost one assist title (1991) to Gretzky. Remove Gretzky and Oates would have led in assists four times: 1991, 1993, 2001 and 2002.

Secondly, in 2001 and 2002 Oates was 38 and 39 years old. Thornton is 33. So it's a bit premature to say you "highly doubt" that Thornton could tie and then surpass Oates on that front. After all, he's leading in assists right now

Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
in all fairness, oates produced the same results whether he was playing with hull, neely, or dmitri kvartalnov.
The difference being that Oates actually did get to play with Hull and Neely. Who's Thornton's equivalent to those players? Marleau and Samsonov?

I mean, is Marleau really THAT good a scorer that he would be considered a huge advantage? Outside his career with Thornton he never topped 28 goals. Oates played with at least three guys on three different teams who topped 50 goals before they played with him.

itdoesn't take anything away from thornton's mvp year, which was amazing, but the degree to which he beat the field in assists... his competition was spezza and marc savard and brad richards, plus an older jagr taking on an uncharacteristic goal scoring role. seems like oates also could have lapped the field in thornton's two 90 assist years.
Since we're looking at prime vs prime, here are the 6-year periods where each player had his best production:

Playmaking centers during Oates' prime, 1990-96:

Mario Lemieux301 394 1.31
Wayne Gretzky479 5711.19
Adam Oates 500 533 1.07
Mark Messier482 423 0.88
Ron Francis 518 4480.86
Craig Janney 482 4050.84

Playmaking centers during Thornton's prime, 2003-10:

Joe Thornton5605000.89
Sidney Crosby3713230.87
Marc Savard4733580.76
Henrik Sedin5643940.70
Pavel Datsyuk5363700.69
Brad Richards5363640.68

Nobody's holding it against Oates that he couldn't keep up with Gretzky and Lemieux, and we should give similar (but perhaps slightly lesser) consideration to Thornton with Crosby. If you ignore the generational-player element, there's a 15-18% drop from both Oates and Thornton to the next-best setup man of the generation. From a bird's eye view, it's still pretty close.

Another thing to bear in mind: Thornton missed the 2005 season due to lockout, then came back and led the league in assists 3 years in a row and won the Hart. We can reasonably assume that he would have put some more distance between himself and the pack in 2005.

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