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04-02-2013, 10:15 AM
I voted for Kodos
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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Originally Posted by Dreakmur View Post
The only problem I see with the system is the assumption that the leagues were exactly equal. I believe they were close, but the NHL was stronger. That strength, in my opinion, came from depth and not top-end talent. I think that is proven in 1927, when the incoming Western players rule the offensive leaderboards. Since only the best players from each league are going to be involved in the top end here, I don't see much impact of the lack of depth in the West.
I meant to respond to this earlier. A couple of points:

- the consolidated western leagues in 1924-25 and 1925-26 were probably just as strong and deep as the NHL (maybe even a tick stronger), and split the Stanley Cup 1-1 with NHL teams over those two playoffs. Bill Cook and Frank Boucher were beginning to peak by that point, Frank Frederickson was still in his prime, and there was generally a lot of offensive talent out west.

- the same is not true of the WCHL from 1921-22 through 1923-24, which was still just a prairie league and had not yet integrated PCHA stars like Frederickson, Boucher, MacKay, etc.

- the "non-integrated" WCHL was probably the shallowest of the three north american leagues at the time. Its leaderboards are full of unfamiliar names (like Art Gagne, Harry Oliver, Rabbit McVeigh and Ty Arbour) - players who would fade into obscurity or mediocrity as the leagues consolidated and there were fewer openings and thus more competition for scoring roles in professional hockey.

- top talents in shallow leagues often end up getting a bigger slice of the pie in terms of scoring than do the same players in deeper leagues. This is likely due to a number of factors: weaker goaltending and defense allows stars more time and space to operate; stars are given a greater proportion of scoring opportunities, etc. You can see pretty clearly in the chart below the effect of expansion on the "slice of the scoring pie" enjoyed by star players in the NHL:

- the dotted line is teams in the league
- the blue line is VsX scoring/goals-per-game (our "slice of the pie" statistic)

The single biggest permanent jump in our "slice-of-the-pie" stat happens simultaneous to the 1967-68 expansion. It seems clear that expansion led to a thinning of talent across the league, and that with less intra-team competition for scoring opportunities and probably less pressure from specialized checking units, the stars of the league were able to score a larger share of the goals league-wide. This should really not surprise us, as it makes a lot of sense.

So I am somewhat skeptical of the scoring exploits of early WCHL stars - mainly Keats, Hay and Simpson, particularly as they could not reproduce their high-scoring exploits with any consistency once the leagues got thicker with talent. All three of the leagues were thin by the standards of the post-consolidation NHL, but the early WCHL especially so, and I believe the league's paucity of talent inflated the scoring (relative to the league and in general) of the few good scorers who were playing on the prairies at the time.

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