Round 2, Vote 2 (HFNYR Top Centers)
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05-24-2013, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Originally Posted by
O'Connor was pretty much a given for the top 10 when this project started. Gretzky not. So do we have O'Connor too high? Or Gretzky too low?
Don't know that I would agree with that first sentence. He wasn't top-10 on my list until the last round of voting. And I'm starting to think I over-corrected in the last round of voting for ranking him so low on our original top 20 vote (I had him at 17).
With both him, and Gretzky, you’re looking at very small times with the Rangers – and players who spent the majority of their careers with other teams. So I’m not sure it is fair to ding Gretzky for that and not ding O’Connor for the same thing.
If you’re looking at regular season performance, I think it is pretty even. O’Connor has one extra season, but Gretzky performed better (albeit only slightly better in my mind). That said, O’Connor had one of his best seasons of his career while with the Rangers – Gretzky, not so much. This isn’t to say Gretzky’s seasons here were bad – they were pretty damn good; but certainly far below the sky-high Gretzky seasons of years past.
The thing that separates the two players in my mind – as you may have figured out with my comments above about the 96-97 playoff run – is their playoff performance. O’Connor certainly was a big part of the team that lost in game 7 of the finals, but I’m not so sure he had quite as big of an impact as Gretzky did.
In the 96-97 playoffs, Gretzky scored or got an assist on 20 of 36 total goals the Rangers scored. That means he was involved in
of the Rangers goals scored in those playoffs. That is pretty amazing. By comparison, in the 49-50 playoffs, O’Connor was involved in 6 of 32 goals scored. A similar amount of total goals scored by the team, and he was involved in just 18.5 % of them. It was still a solid playoff performance, but not nearly as dominant.
The one thing I think O’Connor does have over Gretzky – just anecdotally from reading up on him – is the leadership factor. O’Connor came in, was made a captain, and by all accounts helped to turn the team around from some pretty poor seasons. Yea, Gretz wore the A for some of his time here, but the heart and soul of that team was still certainly Mess, Leetch, Richter. And even after Mess left, they chose Leetch over Gretzky for the ‘C’. On one hand, his time with the Rangers was the first time in Gretzky’s career that he wasn’t named the captain of a team – and that might say something… but on the other I’m not sure you can draw too much from that – as it is certainly a compliment to Leetch and Messier. But interesting none the less.
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