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02-25-2013, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by tazzy19 View Post
But that's just it. I would love to see a valid argument for Lemieux having a better prime than Gretzky, but so far I haven't seen one. If we are to give Lemieux the "what ifs" and pro rate his best seasons, then we must also do the same for Gretzky. And this is where the argument on the Lemieux side falls apart. Gretzky scored 153 points in 51 (consecutive) games in 83-84. Then he got injured. He had 3 PPG over those 51 games, and many experts thought he'd finish the year at around 240 points (my guess is he would have finished around 230 points, as it's harder to maintain that kind of production over 29 more games). But when he came back from his injury, his PPG average dipped substantially (by his standards), and he finished with "only" a 2.77 points per game average over the full season (74 games) -- which still would have given him 221 points in 80 games! But had Gretzky not been injured, he was on pace for a 240 point season (in 80 games) -- which obviously would have blown any pro rated Lemieux season out of the water. Now, what if Gretzky had not been injured in 1988 for 16 games when he blew Lemieux out of the water in PPG average? That would have given him easily another scoring title (pro rated 186 points to Lemieux's actual 168), and won him his 9th straight Hart Trophy (making it 10 straight the following year in LA). Speaking of LA, what if Gretzky had not been traded? And what if Coffey had not been traded either? Now it gets scary if it wasn't already scary enough....
I'm not saying Lemieux had a better prime than Gretzky. It is quite evident from the stats that he didn't. But if you don't think that Lemieux MAY have had a similar impact statistically if he swapped places with Wayne on those Oilers teams then we likely aren't watching the same Lemieux. Case in point: I for one think the 88-89 season was Lemieux's best, when he scored 199 points. 2nd leading scorer on that team? Rob Brown who scored over 26% of his career points that singular season playing with Lemieux. The 3rd leading scorer is admittedly the same Paul Coffey who was amazing with Gretz and co., but the rest are borderline plugs. Lemieux was at the top of his game and the rest of the roster is average to marginal at best. I'd imagine having a guy like Kurri on Lemieux's wing for a whole year might improve those totals to 200 points, at the least? Or maybe not.

The guy is the only forward (I don't think Howe is close. Its Gretzky/Lemieux....then Howe...then everyone else) who can even come close to sniffing Gretz's jockstrap in the discussion of greatest offensive player of all time. That's all. That doesn't mean he had a better prime though. Just that he might have been a better individual player during their respective primes, regardless of what the statistics say. And that's just my personal opinion. I might be wrong, but I think it is definitely possible.

Unfortunately we can never know for sure. We just have the fact that Gretzky is the Great One, and Lemieux will always be a what if. Would have loved to see a Cup Finals between their two teams...

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