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03-07-2013, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Basically this. The average 4th liner today is much better than the average 4th liner in the 1980s, but who cares about them, especially in this thread where we are talking about the 5th best player of all time? Guys like Gordie Howe, and Ray Bourque, and more recently Nicklas Lidstrom show that the elite talent can be successful 20 years after they got started if their bodies hold up.

Anyway, this is probably best saved for the "players of today vs players of yesterday" catch-all thread.
The bolded statement is part of where I'm making my point. While not true throughout history, for most of the past 45 years third-pair defense and fourth-line (and even third-line) forwards were well below "par" in ability. The primary driver of the scoring differential between the 1980s and now or the DPE is depth forwards and scoring from defensemen. If we can agree that depth forwards and defensemen are better nowadays, doesn't that lead to a conclusion that by extension, the top tier forwards are likely to be better players than their counterparts as well.

Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
This doesn't disprove his point at all.

If the league was magically getting better all the time then after 2 decades a Gordie Howe should not be capable of being top 5 in scoring and a Raymond Bourque should not be capable of being a 1st team all-star.

Obviously the existence of players like those two and even more recently Nik Lidstrom being a Norris threat at ~40 means that the players being bigger faster better crowd has some splaining to do.

(I'll save you the trouble, it isn't true except maybe at the average level.. and who cares about them?)
Here's some 'splainin' for you.

Ray Bourque is one of the four best defensemen of all-time. He was a first-team or second-team all-star seventeen straight times from the start of his career (nineteen total). Other guys who were near Bourque's age and among the top Norris vote-getters in the late-90s/early-00s: Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis. Outside of that group of HHOFers - all of whom are legendary for their staying power - the guys getting Norris votes in the late 90s/early 2000s were guys who played their primes in the 90s or after. Without Bourque and those four from 96-97 on, the Norris trophy and AS teams are affected as is bolded below (if you assume the order of finish in the voting would have stayed the same):

YearNorris winnerFinalists1st AS2nd AS
96-97LeetchKonstantinov, OzolinshLeetch/OzolinshKonstantinov/Lidstrom
97-98BlakeLidstrom, ProngerLidstrom/BlakePronger/Niedermayer
98-99LidstromPronger, DesjardinsLidstrom/ProngerDesjardins/Leetch
99-00ProngerLidstrom, BlakePronger/LidstromBlake/Desjardins
00-01LidstromBlake, LeetchLidstrom/BlakeLeetch/Gonchar
01-02LidstromBlake, GoncharLidstrom/BlakeGonchar/Pronger
02-03LidstromHatcher, GoncharLidstrom/GoncharHatcher/Blake

I took out all of those defensemen, and there's still barely a mention of Niedermayer, but nothing more than he already had.

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