Round 2, Vote 2 (HFNYR Top NYR Defensemen)
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06-28-2013, 12:34 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Originally Posted by
I look at the votes for AST's and other awards in the early days of the NHL with a good amount of skepticism. Case in point: Coulter is 3rd in AST voting in 39-40. That season Pratt and Heller were a defensive pair and they were only on the ice for 17 goals against in 48 regular season games. That Ranger team gave up 77 goals against, which means that the other defensive pair of Coulter and Patrick were on the ice for 60 goals! I'm going to go out on a short limb and say that Heller and Pratt were better defensively than Coulter, that season. Heller and Pratt each provided more offense than Coulter - both in the regular season and the playoffs - in that 39-40 season. So how does Coulter finish ahead of Heller and Pratt in AST voting?
Pratt is lauded as a leader and winner, winning 15 Championships over 26 seasons in hockey (not all NHL, obviously). Guys who are
successful don't win that many Championships by having their teammates carry them.
I've found articles that indicate that at the very end of games, the Rangers were switch up the pairings and put Coulter with Heller, to form a super shut-down pair to close out a lead. Seems like those two were more highly thought of defensively than their partners.
I may or may not dig up links before you guys vote.
For what it's worth, the Patrick - Coulter, Pratt - Heller unit was considered one of the best defenses in the league defensively. Edit, no direct links to articles (getting lazy in my old age), but here's something I previously posted in the ATD:
Originally Posted by
I think I can help a little bit with Ott Heller here, since I've been reading a lot about the late 30s Rangers, as I have several members of the team on mine.
Basically these were their defense pairings:
Muzz Patrick - Art Coulter
Babe Pratt - Ott Heller
When this group of 4 was together, it was considered the best group of shutdown defensemen in the league and the key to the continuing success of the Rangers after the Bread Line retired.
For the last shift of a game, the Rangers would put Ott Heller with Art Coulter to really shut things down, and this pair was considered especially difficult to score on.
My theory as to why Ott Heller received so little All-Star consideration? Eddie Shore owned one of the First-Team spots when this group was in their prime, and Earl Seibert was a permanent fixture on one of the other spots. So there were only 2 spots available for everyone else in the league. And when one of the nods went to a Ranger, it went to Art Coulter, as he was better than Heller.
Basically, Heller never had a shot at getting one of the four All-Star nods as the second best defenseman on his team in an extremely tough era for competition in general. I don't think it's necessarily a coincidence that Heller's one 2nd Team nod was the season after Coulter stopped getting his nods.
Not sure how this affects Heller vs. Neilson vs. Reise, but I think Heller had it particularly tough to get All-Star recognition during his prime.
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