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07-31-2014, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
You are right. Here's my attempt at an educated guess (not more, not less) based on the available stats (yes, another argument based on stats and not on observation):

Gordie Howe's scoring dominance over his peers in his best six seasons (PPG). Howe vs the second best scorer. For the benefit of Howe I exclude his teammate Ted Lindsay whose scoring might have been inflated by Howe himself.

2. Maurice Richard 66/65 = 100 %
1. Gordie Howe 86/70 = 121.0 %

2. Elmer Lach 65/70 = 100 %
1. Gordie Howe 86/70 = 132.3 %

2. Maurice Richard 61/70 = 100 %
1. Gordie Howe 95/70 = 155.7 %

2. Maurice Richard 67/70 = 100 %
1. Gordie Howe 81/70 = 117.3 %

2. Jean Beliveau 84/69 = 100 %
1. Gordie Howe 89/70 = 104.4 %

2. Andy Bathgate 81/70 = 100 %
1. Gordie Howe 86/70 = 106.2 %

Now the same thing for Jágr, but excluding non-Canadians to look at Jágr vs the Canadian talent pool only. Also excluded: Ron Francis (teammate), Mario Lemieux (teammate and historic outlier).

2. Eric Lindros 115/73 = 100 %
1. Jaromír Jágr 149/82 = 115.3 %

2. Paul Kariya 99/69 = 100%
1. Jaromír Jágr 95/63 = 105.1 %

2. Wayne Gretzky 90/82 = 100 %
1. Jaromír Jágr 102/77 = 120.7 %

2. Joe Sakic 96/73 = 100 %
1. Jaromír Jágr 127/81 = 119.2 %

2. Joe Sakic 81/60 = 100 %
1. Jaromír Jágr 96/63 = 112.9 %

2. Joe Sakic 118/82 = 100 %
1. Jaromír Jágr 121/81 = 103.8 %

What this table does not factor in is the change within the Canadian talent pool. We're not able to quantify the size exactly, but if we go by numbers of birth in Canada for a start and assume the level of hockey participation throughout the Canadian population remained more or less on one level from the 1950s to the 1990s then the talent pool in Jágr's day is to the talent pool in Howe's day roughly as 4,105,000 (births 1961-1971) is to 2,415,000 (births 1921-1931) or 1.7 : 1. That's a significant difference. It's easy to see how someone who believes size of the talent pool matters could put Jágr on par with or a little above Howe in terms of scoring dominance based on those numbers, except for his outstanding 1952-1953 season. Mind you, we're only talking about offensive output, not overall game.
This is a very fair way to look at the strength of the "potential talent pool," but I don't agree with your conclusions.

You know, I am someone who strongly agrees that the quality of the talent pool is important, but all the numbers you posted show Howe's level of domination was much, much higher than Jagr's. They also show that the size of the potential talent pool is about 3 times larger today than it was in Howe's time (1.7 times as many Canadians, plus the European influx). I say "potential," because I'm not entirely convinced that nearly as much of the potential talent pool goes into hockey today as did back then, because there are far more options today. (Edit: By this, I mean that back then, if you were Canadian working class and wanted to escape from the farm or the mines, hockey was a very attractive option).

But assuming that the actual talent pool is about 3 times larger than it was back then, what does this mean for players at the top? It doesn't mean that players at the top were worse back then, it just makes it LESS LIKELY to get a transcendent player back then. Then look at real history - Only 1 of 4 transcendent players played before expansion - seems like about the ratio you would expect after taking into account the increasing talent pool.

A more minor point - When Mario Lemieux was helping out Jaromir Jagr (as the superior offensive player for most of their time together), is it really fair to remove him? I guess it's a tough question, since Lemieux was such an obvious outlier.

And again, you are ignoring the important fact that empirical evidence shows that it was not, in fact, easier to dominate like that pre-expansion. The empirical evidence? No other player in the half-century before expansion even came close to the offensive dominance Howe had over his peers. The idea that it was easier to dominate back then sounds attractive as a theory, but the reality of history is that Gordie Howe is the only one who did it.

Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 07-31-2014 at 01:24 PM.
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