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02-15-2013, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by gary69 View Post
It shouldn't be forgotten that hockey is a team sport first and foremost, Gretzky was the best ever player in this regard (even later in his career when his goalscoring wasn't the same mostly because of injuries). Lemieux was probably "better" if one looks strictly individually, but that's not how you should really judge players in team sports.

As for Lemieux being overrated because of PP points instead of ES points, I wouldn't hold that against him. As you said, in a team sports, a viable and successful strategy is to force the opponent to draw penalties against your team and then capitalize on the power play. Obviously you'd want your best scorers to be on the ice during the PP. Any competent coach and player would try to achieve exactly this.

Another aspect of a team sports often overlooked by those who merely follow hockey (or mostly North American based sports), are the in-game strategies more prevalent in global sports like soccer.

The top teams in soccer often aim to outtire the skill lesser opponents and score the winnings goals towards the end of game. This is largely equivalent of looking to outscore your opponent on PP in hockey.

If those records exist, I'd like to see some analysis of how many penalties Lemieux's lines (or even Pittsburgh as a whole) drew on ES and then went on to capitalize on PP with Lemieux. Whatever the actual numbers, it was a shrewd strategy in a team sports, I'd say.

That is why I choose a one game sample size to make my argument. Mario was not a better NHLer than Wayne Gretzky, and it is impossible to make that case. Individually however, he could, and did achieve greater things on the rink. Mario was slightly worse than Wayne, for example in making his teammates better (however, very slightly, see Brown, Rob and Simpson, Quin, Dan)

Mario was the very best player, individually, to ever lace up a pair of skates. No question. He could and would do things noone else to every play the game could ever do.

Teams took bunches of Penalties against the big guy, and it was a successful strategy-the Pens powerplay was never about 30% and the Big Guy nailed his first six penalty shots and was well over 50% on prime scoring chances, (breakaways, two on ones).

There was an interview with the coach of the Wings? I think in the late 80's when asked how to stop Mario, replied "foul him."

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