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04-02-2013, 02:11 PM
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Sturm, the WCHL had definitely surpassed the PCHA by the time they merged. The two of them played an interlocking schedule for several years, and the WCHL usually won.

Check out this blog post by Iain Fyffe on Art Duncan's huge season:

But there's still something else to consider. In 1922/23 and 1923/24, the PCHA played an interlocking schedule with Canada's other western major league, the WCHL. In 1924, for example, Vancouver played 11 games against each of Victoria and Seattle, the other PCHA clubs, and two games against each of Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon of the WCHL. Although Vancouver was technically in the PCHA, they played 27% of their regular-season matches against WCHL clubs. For all intents and purposes, the PCHA and WCHL were two conferences of the same league, a league with an imbalanced schedule. And just as we don't give Henrik Sedin a 2012 scoring championship because he led the Western Conference in scoring, we shouldn't be looking at interlocking leagues as being separate.

This is especially important in this case, because it's clear that the WCHL was the higher-quality league in 1924. In the "inter-league" games, the WCHL teams had a combined 17-5-2 record. This means that Art Duncan had lesser competition to beat for the scoring championship of his league. If we combine the WCHL and PCHA scoring leader lists, we get the following:

(Iain includes a long table of the combined leaderboard)

Bill Cook of the Saskatoon Crescents led the WCHL/PCHA in goals, assists and points. He outscored Art Duncan by five goals and four assists, or nine points, almost 30% more than Duncan. Crediting Art Duncan with a scoring championship is silly; he technically led the PCHA in scoring, but the PCHA was not a self-contained league at the time. Duncan only wins the scoring title if you ignore two-thirds of the teams that he played against in 1924.

So while Art Duncan was certainly a defenceman when he scored 31 points in 1924, he should not be given credit for a scoring title. The PCHA and WCHL were separate leagues in name only; since they played against each other they were simply conferences of the same effective league. Bill Cook led this league in all offensive categories. Duncan's numbers were certainly very impressive, but Bobby Orr is alone in leading a major professional league in scoring from the blueline.
So by 1923-24, the WCHL was definitely better than the PCHA. I'm not sure what the record was in PCHA vs WCHL in 1922-23 and don't feel like calculating it myself. What do you think of Iain's method of treating them as two conferences of the same league for the two seasons they played an interlocking schedule and just combining their scoring tables?

Edit: We discussed this a bit during the HOH goalies project, but it appears that while the WCHL was composed of home-grown prairie talent, the PCHA mostly relied on outbidding the NHL for Eastern players. As the PCHA suffered financial problems, they stopped being able to steal easterners from the NHL.

Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 04-02-2013 at 02:30 PM.
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