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07-07-2013, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Well, no not really. There was nothing "normal" about Wayne Gretzky. Those subtleties to which you allude are glaring at ice-level whereas from the stands or if watching on TV difficult to read, pick-up on. He was deceptive, impossible to read as a defender and as a goalie in particular as he was either unbelievably patient with the puck or he'd release it with a pass or on the net at a speed that was quite incredible, and deadly accurate. Normally you could tell what a player was going to do by the lie of the puck on their stick and position yourself accordingly, moving out to challenge if they had it cradled on the forehand with little time to release, or of ragging it in front back & forth from forehand to backhand about try a deke, so youd back in with them, either try for the pokecheck or back in and at the moment they release with a flick or backhander fall into a semi Butterfly as direction, where that pucks headed not always easy to determine. Gretzkys patience in that regard, forcing the goalie to make the first move & exposing open mesh beyond anything Ive ever seen, all the while dodging checks, be they physical or stick on stick.

He could play Keep-Away in a phone booth and win. Drew defenders into double coverage, making mistakes, leaving others uncovered & wide open. Opponents, goalies panicked. Playing it from behind the net like that as well the way he did leaves the goalie completely susceptible, as you cant move out from hugging the posts for fear of a wraparound, yet if he manages a clear pass out to the slot, and what you tried to do was stop that with your stick, your in way to deep to cover the angle. To compensate, goaltenders starting to rely heavily on the Butterfly, falling into it when the puck was being played behind the net in anticipation of a quick pass out front, too late to move out & cut down the angle so just make yourself as big as possible to cover as much net as possible, hope it hits you, that you or one of your defenceman can then control a rebound.

As for Lemieux, different situation. You have no idea how big & how fast these guys actually are until your right there on the ice with them. Watching it from the comfort of a seat, TV, forget it. Doesnt do it justice, and Lemieux, with his size & reach, deceptive speed, quick hands, that type of player playing up-front who a generation or 2 earlier wouldve been brought up a Defenceman, rather intimidating to be facing. Like a high-speed locomotive comin right at ya. All of your senses wide-awake. Sort of a cross between Jean Beliveau & Frank Mahovlich. Much more proto-typical a player than Gretzky who was a total outlier, Freak Show. Almost like Wayne was forever 14 out there playing Tournament Hockey, shinny almost, whereas Lemieux was all grow'd up & supersized at that, playing a more temporal, almost conservative game. The difference between the two being that Gretzky saw the ice in a more abstract & surrealistic way than Lemieux did, with more joie de vivre' if you will. Those two playing together, incredible.
Wow, this might be the best thing I've ever read on Gretzky/Lemieux. Thanks for that "ice-level" insight, something that sports writers never really have the ability to uncover. You are right, I never really saw those subtleties as for more than they seemed -- mere "subtleties". Your last line is spot on. Game 2 of the 1987 Canada Cup might be the best example of "chemistry" I've ever seen in one hockey game. Both players had the ability to make time stand still, or better put -- to make 1 second seem like an eternity. Mario did this more often than Wayne, I think. With Wayne, time was more elastic: Yes, he could slow it down as needed, but he could also speed it up, and then stretch it. The space and geometry of a hockey arena made the game ever so malleable to him, it seemed. The play would find him, the puck would find him. Things just found him.... Someone once observed, to paraphrase: "Like a tennis racquet has a sweet spot, there is a sweet spot in time. And when the time is right, Gretzky goes to that spot."

Last edited by tazzy19: 07-07-2013 at 03:08 PM.
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