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08-01-2014, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
What more do you need though? 20 years isn't enough?
The talent pool has continued to grow since people started playing hockey but obviously that growth hasn’t been totally consistent as it has had peaks and valleys. We know all players are affected by age, wear and tear, and injuries so they become less dominant later in their careers no matter who they are. That’s part of the reason why players become less dominant as they get older. Why couldn’t there be other factors as well though? It’s a lazy approach for someone to just throw their hands up and say a players age is the only reason why they aren’t exactly as dominant as they used to be when we know how much the league, and the sport of hockey, has changed and grown over time.

Now, increase it from 20 years to 60 years and you don’t think things could change a whole lot in this regard? Why wouldn’t it when, in front of our very eyes, we’ve seen the NHL go from a small 6 team league made up of nearly only Canadians to what we have now. That’s a lot of change right there. The real question that needs to be answered is why wouldn’t it be more difficult to be the top player or an all-star when the talent streams feeding the league have grown so much?

Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
It isn't a cliche at all. It shows you that a great player has, and would be great in any era. Your argument that a healthy Pronger and healthy Potvin likely grab a 1st team all-star is a little weak. Basically that means Bourque is a 2nd team all-star both years. Big difference.
I already acknowledged this in my post because I know Bourque was near elite for his whole 20 year career and that’s the point of the cliché remark, which I get. You’re focusing on this but not my main point which comes after:

“Again though, had he only faced Canadians like in the NHL of the 60’s, wouldn’t he fair even better instead of also having to face more streams of talent with the elite American defenders like Chelios, Leetch, Langway, and later the Swede Lidstrom? Of course he would. That’s my point here. If even an all-time elite defender like Bourque would inevitably suffer from facing a deeper talent pool with more talent streams then a guy like Horton, who never won a Norris, would suffer even more.”

Agree or disagree, and why?

Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
And if Horton is alive today he doesn't have any of the modern advantages? Look, this is where people get caught up in thinking the past players couldn't compete in today's game. All we have is the era they played in, that's it. Besides, how many defensemen in the game today could control the game the way Horton could? Or going further back, if you watch someone like Doug Harvey play the game, I mean actually play the game in live footage from game tapes, you don't think he'd still be racking up Norris trophies just because the talent pool is bigger?
I’m already past this. It’s not about modern advantages unless you see facing a larger talent pool with more developed talent streams (Europe, Russia, US, in the NHL) as somehow being an advantage. Of course you don’t, it’s a disadvantage for modern era players to have to face more competition for trophies, all-star nominations, and championships. It makes it harder for them to establish themselves as elite.

Again, you are using your “eye test” with completely different eras of hockey to tell me how well a player could control the pace of the game today - a much faster pace with more advanced players. Who knows how they’d adapt. I’d like to think someone like Horton would adapt fine but I don’t think he’d rank the same in terms of elite dmen today simply because he’d be competing with a much larger group. We don’t know how Doug Harvey would fair today either but I do know he wouldn’t only be competing with fellow Canadians for the Norris, and we know todays fellow Canadians come from a larger talent pool within Canada, so that should make it more difficult to win them. Doesn’t this make sense to you?

Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Corey Perry won a Rocket with 50 goals in 2011. I'm pretty sure Gretzky would do just fine. Remember one thing, even in the 1980s when Gretzky was leading the NHL in goals, he didn't skate end to end, go through a defenseman's legs and roof it top corner. He scored goals the way he always did. He was smart, he was deceptive, he used his teammates as decoys. He had an accurate shot. He never had a hard shot, not even in 1984. So why wouldn't he have done this in today's game? I don't think anyone can deny he leads the NHL in assists year after year, but for some reason people assume Gretzky wouldn't be able to cut it in the goal scoring department anymore. It makes no sense to me.
But I'll try and think on the level of the people critical of it. For starters, Lemieux looked pretty when he scored. He did it so many ways and he physically looked amazing out there. Ovechkin is another guy with lots of physical tools to score. Hard shot, a bullet for a wrist shot, blazing speed coming off the wing, big body, etc. I think most people think Lemieux and Ovechkin score goals in any era. Gretzky just relied on his instincts, his hockey sense. Remember, he was skinny and small in the 1980s too. But watch how he scored goals, even back then. He was in the right place at the right time. I think people have a hard time accepting this because there has never been a player close to the same style as Gretzky. I can't even think of someone he compares to style-wise. No one did what he did, and while his goal scoring didn't always look spectacular it has hurt him in modern times for some reason.

What has been mentioned on here often, is that Gretzky himself as early as 1986 focused more on playmaking. He still had 52 goals in a year that he had over two assists per game. Let that sit for a second. The next year he led the NHL in goals with 62 despite having 121 assists. Even in 1989 he led the NHL in assists while having 54 goals. Finally, someone (Lemieux) was comparable to him. It only took a decade. In 1991 he had 41 goals and 122 assists. A 41 goal scorer is good in any era. This after he's played in 12 NHL seasons. There have been 72 times when a player 30 or older have scored at least 40 goals in a season. Gretzky did it once. There have just been 9 times when a player scored 40 goals at 35 years or older. Those names are Bucyk (2), Selanne (2), Shanahan, Howe, Esposito, Messier and Alfredsson.

You see, goal scoring dries up with the best of them. Even Gretzky. Jagr didn't score a single goal in 22 playoff matches in 2013. But there is a noticeable factor with Gretzky as well. The hit he took from Suter in 1991. It is no secret that he lost a lot of quickness after that. He wasn't the same, he really wasn't. Watch him in the 1991 Canada Cup. He was as good as 1987 in my opinion. He was all over the place. This is the last that we ever saw of the Gretzky we all came to know. The odd time like the 1993 playoffs we'd see glimpses of him scoring at will, but he lost a lot after that.

And I think there is one final thing here. Esposito suffers from this syndrome as well as Gretzky. They scored so many goals for quite a while that when they dropped at the end of their careers it looked a lot worse because they had a longer ways to go than others. 70 goals down to 25 in the space of 10 years looks bad but it isn't. They weren't just leading the NHL in goals, they were demolishing the rest of the league. Even Gretzky had to come back to earth somehow.

But there is no doubt in my mind he scores more goals in a season than Ovechkin and Stamkos for quite a few years in today's game. If you don't believe me, ask Mike Bossy.
I didn’t say Gretzky wouldn’t “cut it as a goal scorer”, just that there’s a huge question mark as to if he’d be a natural goal scorer with today’s goalies and defensive styles or if he’d be more of a playmaker. He was really only a big goal scoring threat earlier in his career so it’s easy to question this.

Mike Bossy was scoring on the same goaltenders Gretzky was so how is asking him going to help? He was a great goal scorer in the 80’s but does that automatically mean he’d outscore today’s premier goal scorers?

Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
I think you are still forgetting though that while there was a smaller pool in the original 6, there was also 20% of the NHL teams there. Definitely didn't make it easy to make the NHL either. Besides, take a look at the all-star nods in the 1950s and 1960s. Look at them in the last 20 years. See a similarity? The best guys routinely were all-stars. Like today. Of course there was the odd player who had a spike year (Francois Beauchemin in 2013) but if you look at it, there are a handful of guys occupying those spots. They are the likes of Weber, Chara, Keith, Subban, Doughty, Suter, Lidstrom (before now), Letang got in there in 2013. Nothing against Kevin Bieksa, but you aren't seeing his caliber in there at all. So if you look at the 1950s, the same thing applies. Harvey and Kelly were in there a lot of course all the time. Or the 1970s even. A bit of variety, but it was always the same old guys at the top: Orr, Potvin, Robinson, Lapointe, Salming, Park, Savard. The fact of the matter is, there are more 3rd and 4th defenseman in the NHL today than ever before, but they aren't a threat to the Norris caliber defenseman in the game today. Just like Bobby Orr never had to worry about Keith Magnuson (solid of course but never elite) catching up with him.
That small talent pool was condensed during the O6 so it wouldn’t be easy from game to game. You already agreed earlier that the talent pool grew at a similar rate as the size of the NHL though so wouldn’t this mean there are more elite players competing for individual awards and accomplishments now due to the much larger talent pool? If not, then why not?

No matter what the size of the talent pool and/or league you’re probably going to have a certain group of elite players who separate themselves from the pack as you’ve shown. That’s not a big surprise. If there are more 3rd and 4th defenseman now then you have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t there be more 1st and 2nd defenseman as well? Of course there are, not only because there are more teams, resulting in more first pairing roster spots, but there is a larger talent pool as well, feeding that. Hypothetically, if there were 6 true # 1 defenseman back in the O6 and they were the only ones capable of winning the Norris, and there are 30 true # 1 defenseman now capable of winning the Norris, which group has more competition for the Norris?

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