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Morenz, Lalonde, and Taylor: Comparison

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04-04-2009, 03:49 PM
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Kyle McMahon
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Morenz, Lalonde, and Taylor: Comparison

As I'm sure some of you have seen, I've been debating the merits of Howie Morenz, Newsy Lalonde, and Cyclone Taylor in the ATD 11 thread. I am of the belief that all three of these players can be considered pretty much equivalent on an all-time ranking. As I promised Champagne Wishes, here is a fairly detailed analysis of their respectie careers. Keep in mind that I'm not arguing that any player is better than the others. I've tried to break this down into some smaller categories.

Scoring/Peak Value:

Newsy Lalonde

Lalonde had a long and dominant career as one of the games top scorers. To summarize, from 1907-08 until 1922-23, his finishes were as follows in the league scoring race: (Assists were poorly tracked for the most part, so this is essentially a rank in goal-scoring finishes as well.)

1,1,1,6,1,5,8,-,1,4,4,1,2,1,-,1. That encompasses five different leagues, the OPHL, NHA, PCHA, NHL, and WCHL. In it's rawest form, that's eight scoring titles, though of course some considerations have to be made.

Lets consider OPHL results (the first two on the list) top-10 finishes, as opposed to outright scoring titles. It was clearly the second-best league in existence, but Lalonde did immediately lead the NHA in scoring after that league was formed, so I think it's safe to say that at worst he'd have made tenth on the ECAHA (top Canadian league) scoring chart in those two years. That gives Lalonde 13 top-10 finishes in scoring, and excludes his 8th place finish in 1914, as it's likely that he probably doesn't make the top-10 if the leagues were consolidated. I can't find IHL (this was a legitimate major pro league) scoring stats, but Lalonde was a 2nd team all-star in that league in 1906-07, so he probably has another borderline top-10 finish.

Seventieslord did some great research recently (see his "consistency in scoring" thread), and he credits Lalonde with ten top-10 finishes (and this excludes the IHL and two OPHL seasons), so we've basically come to similar conclusions. Overall, Lalonde can seemingly be credited with no less than five top-three finishes, and potentially seven.

Cyclone Taylor

Taylor's offensive dominance is more difficult to quantify. His first foray into major league hockey was in the IHL. He was originally tried as a forward, but he was too fast for his linemates to keep up with, so he was moved back to defense. In 29 games with Portage Lakes, Taylor scored 29 goals and 36 points. In his first and abbreviated season, he made the first all-star team as a cover point, and was named the league's top scorer, though clearly this must have been on a goals-per-game basis and not overall total. Next season he was again considered the star of the league. The IHL folded after 1906-07, and Taylor spent the next four years in the ECHA/NHA, where he was considered a league star, and was routinely one of the league's top-scoring and most dynamic defense players.

In 1912-13, Taylor left for Vancouver of the PCHA, where he remianed for the rest of his career. He played rover and center in this league. Taylor was an exceptional playmaker in an era that either didn't record assists, or gave them out quite sparingly. He was a five-time assist leader in the PCHA, and twice led the league in goals. This made him a five-time scoring champion out west, made all the more impressive by the fact that he was nearly 30 years old by the time he reached Vancouver. An injury in 1916-17 likely cost him six consecutive PCHA scoring crowns. Though the talent was split between the PCHA and NHA/NHL during this time, at worst Taylor should get credit with five finishes no lower than third.

When you factor in that he would have likely been a Norris candidate in six of his pre-PCHA campaigns, I believe this puts him on the same level as Lalonde, and the two are in a class of their own as the best of all-time up to 1926 consolidation.

Howie Morenz

Morenz convieniently spent his whole career in the NHL, so we're a lot more familiar with his body of work.

Morenz had ten consecutive top-10 points finishes to begin his career. He won two scoring titles, both of them post-1926, and has three third place finishes as well. He had no top-three finishes in his three seasons prior to consolidation, so there is no guess work involved when evaluating Morenz. Therefore, he unquestionably has five seasons in the top-three, putting him on par with Taylor and Lalonde.

Morenz was the NHL's leading goal scorer once, with seven other top-five finishes (two are questionable as they came pre-26). In terms of assists, he is again a one-time leader and boasts four other top-five finishes, all of them post-26.

As a whole, Lalonde appears to be the best goal scorer of the bunch, Taylor the best set-up man, while Morenz excelled at both but not quite to the same extent of the other two. In terms of MVP-calibre/peak offensive contributions, it essentially seems to be a wash for all three players.

Outside their peak years:

Taylor might have the strongest case in his favour. From 1905-1912 he was the game's greatest rushing defenseman, and has drawn comparisons to Paul Coffey in that regard.

Lalonde can claim the best longevity of the three. He was clearly an elite player from 1906-1923, and still a more than capable for a couple of years after that, as he took a back seat on his Saskatoon club to help the development of the Cook brothers, Bill and Bun.

Outside of his ten-year run, Morenz did little else of value in an all-time context, and should probably rank third in the group in this category. He was moved to Chicago and then New York, and finally back to Montreal during his last four seasons. He was still a a good player, but his scoring touch was gone.

Overall play/Intagibles:

Morenz probably makes up for his relative lack of longevity in this category. He was considered a strong back-checker, and despite his small stature, he wasn't afraid of throwing big bodychecks into much larger players. Many of Morez's contemporaries will attest to his excellent all-around abilities.

Lalonde was a leader and an intimidator. Perhaps similar to Messier several decades later, few were willing to mess with him over fear of retribution. The downside to this is that Newsy was undisciplined at times, and could hurt his team with too many penalties.

Taylor doesn't really receive any bonus points, good or bad, for intangibles. He seems to have been a clean and efficient performer and well-liked by his teammates. I can't recall seeing much mention of his defensive play while at forward (or even defense for that matter); it seems his primary role was always as an offensive producer. With such great speed, one can speculate that he was probably a merely competant backchecker and penalty killer.

Playoffs:

Playoffs were quite a bit different in the days of Morenz, and especially Lalonde and Taylor. Sample sizes are small, and outside factors can play a big role. But all three of these players won Cups and had spectacular final-series performaces. It is likely each would have won a Conn Smythe had the award existed back then.

Taylor was huge in 1915 and 1918, scoring 17 goals in eight final series games in total, winning the Cup in 1915.

Lalonde led the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup in 1916, and had an eye-popping 17 goals in the 1919 playoffs before the final series was cancelled due to flu epidemic. His NHL record of 17 tallies stood for nearly 60 years before being passed by Reggie Leach in 1976.

Morenz had eight goals in eight final series games during the East vs West era early in his career. He would win two Cups later on, and though the numbers don't look impressive at a glance, they are indeed amongst the best of his era; an era where playoff scoring was incredibly low.

Contemporary Opinions/Historical Quotes:

On Lalonde:

Quote:
The Trail of the Stanley Cup:

"Scored more goals than any other player of his era (416 g in 313 gp, 27 g in 29 playoff gp). He was frequently reffered to in both the east and west as the greatest player in the game. He had a fiery temper and was an outstanding leader."

"More has been written about this athlete, both in praise and abuse, than possibly any other."

"All the bad men of the time, Joe Hall, Ken Randall, Cully Wilson, SPrague Cleghorn, and others carried marks of their tangles with Lalonde."

"A born leader, he was almost always the captain or playing manager of his team."
On Taylor:

Quote:
The Trail of the Stanley Cup:

"Was regarded as a speedy rushing defender in the east. (Played rover and center upon moving west) He was a great goal scorer and inspirational leader. He was named many times to western all-star teams.

"When the O'Briens decided to pack the Renfrew team in the newly formed NHA, their plans wo win the Cup were predicated on securing Taylor from Ottawa. Altough Renfrew never got anywhere in their quest for the Cup, they put on a good show and Taylor was the star."

"Great players like Smokey Harris, Frank Nighbor, Mickey Mackay, Barney Stanley, and Gordon Roberts appeared on the Vancouver forward lines, but Mackay was the only one who seriously challenged Taylor."
Upon his arrival in Houghton/Portage Lakes in 1906 the local newspaper stated:

Quote:
"Taylor is one of the fastest and most effective, if not the very best player that western Canada has ever produced."
(I guess Ontario was considered Western Canada in those days.)

And also:
Quote:
"Taylor is a whirlwind, and has a superior on not any of the league teams."
The likes of Lalonde and several other Hall of Famers played in this league.

Legendary Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner claimed Taylor "was as fine of an athlete as he has ever seen".

On Morenz:

Quote:
The Trail of the Stanley Cup:

"There have been players in the NHL who were faster skaters than Morenz for intermittent bursts, but for sustained or continuous speedy play, the Stratford Streak had no peer."

"He was an aggressive player, and for some years his opponents found they could bait him into chippy penalties."

"He was spectacular in the playoffs (1930) as the Canadiens won the Cup by defeating the powerful Bruins who had lost only five games all season."
Quote:
"(Morenz) had a heart that was unsurpassed in athletic history and no one ever came close to him in the colour department. After you watched Howie you wanted to see him often, and as much as I liked to play hockey, I often thought I would have counted it a full evening had I been able to sit in the stands and watch the Morenz maneuvers. Such an inclination never occurred to me about other stars."
- Eddie Shore

Quote:
"He was the best. He could stop on a dime and leave you nine cents change. He was in a class by himself. And when he couldn't skate around you, he'd go right over you."
The last two courtesy of Champagne Wishes, who has posted several more on Morenz in the ATD 11 thread.

---
While history tends to view Morenz as a step above, a more in-depth examination leaves me with my same initial impression that the three players discussed were each other's equals. Everyone's thoughts and opinions on the three are encouraged.

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04-04-2009, 04:04 PM
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Nalyd Psycho
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I agree. I tend to view the top centers like this:

Tier 1:
Gretzky & Lemieux
Tier 2:
Beliveau & Mikita
Tier 3:
Clarke, Lalonde & Morenz

Taylor suffers from the same problem as Red Kelly in that his value at one position is less than the value of his career, because he was able to be a true two position star. (Dit Clapper is probably the only other player to get such consideration.)

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04-04-2009, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nalyd Psycho View Post
I agree. I tend to view the top centers like this:

Tier 1:
Gretzky & Lemieux
Tier 2:
Beliveau & Mikita
Tier 3:
Clarke, Lalonde & Morenz

Taylor suffers from the same problem as Red Kelly in that his value at one position is less than the value of his career, because he was able to be a true two position star. (Dit Clapper is probably the only other player to get such consideration.)
What makes Bobby Clarke better than Joe Sakic or Mark Messier? Two of his hart trophies were really Bobby Orr's. Messier and Sakic were better in the playoffs than Clarke and they have him beat on durability.

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04-05-2009, 03:21 AM
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His defensive play is unreal.

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04-05-2009, 04:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nalyd Psycho View Post
His defensive play is absolutely unreal.
I think there has been a thread about Clarke's unmatched (almost) unrivaled defensive numbers not so long ago. By the way Nalyd , how does the 4th tier of centers look like?

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04-05-2009, 07:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle McMahon View Post
While history tends to view Morenz as a step above, a more in-depth examination leaves me with my same initial impression that the three players discussed were each other's equals. Everyone's thoughts and opinions on the three are encouraged.
I'm inclined to give much more weight to the opinions of contemporaries who saw the players than to the conclusions of those who are relegated to juggling and comparing numbers from the distant past.

You might want to consider that a Canadian Press poll conducted in 1950 selected Howie Morenz as hockey player of the half-century. That was long enough ago that many of those polled undoubtedly saw all three players. Furthermore, the vote was lop-sided in favour of Morenz; he was the runaway winner. And the vote was for hockey player of the half-century, not NHL player of the half-century.

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04-05-2009, 08:38 AM
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That poll keeps haunting us, getting in the way of reasonable objective discussion, doesn't it, Kyle?

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04-05-2009, 10:28 AM
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There's still just too many unknowns about this poll for me to treat it as concrete evidence.

Peter9, you state that "many of those polled undoubtedly saw all three players". I'd suggest that some of them did, but consider:

-Lalonde and Taylor's prime years were circa 1915. To have a clear and reliable memory to go by, you'd probably have needed to be 50 years old in 1950 when the poll was conducted.

-There was no television or highlights in the era of all three players, so if you didn't see them live in person, you didn't see them.

-Taylor played out in Vancouver for many years, so many out east would have only seen him during that period if they happened to be at a Stanley Cup game when Vancouver travelled to the east.

-Based on Morenz playing in a consolidated league, in the east, and playing into the 1930's with 40+ game schedules, I would agree that everyone who voted on that poll surely saw him play live.

It doesn't appear that there was any sort of secondary voting or group discussion in CP poll. Simply list your top player and add up the votes. Morenz was still pretty fresh in everyone's mind then, and the "buzz on the street" would have certainly agreed with his selection. But as I showed above, you would actually have needed to fit a somewhat specific set of conditions to have seen enough live play of all three to base your conclusion on that.

In that poll, Morenz was far ahead of his contemporary Eddie Shore. But today, Shore is almost unanimously regarded as the superior player. If you are using the CP poll as your #1 argument on why Morenz is clearly better than Lalonde and Taylor, I think you have to reconsider your ranking of Eddie Shore as well. I don't believe many people do.

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04-05-2009, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Jungosi View Post
I think there has been a thread about Clarke's unmatched (almost) unrivaled defensive numbers not so long ago. By the way Nalyd , how does the 4th tier of centers look like?
It was that thread that bumped him up in my opinion.

Tier 4 is a bit less clear to me and would require more research into the topic than I can currently spare.

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04-05-2009, 02:38 PM
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A Few Points

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle McMahon View Post
There's still just too many unknowns about this poll for me to treat it as concrete evidence.

Peter9, you state that "many of those polled undoubtedly saw all three players". I'd suggest that some of them did, but consider:

-Lalonde and Taylor's prime years were circa 1915. To have a clear and reliable memory to go by, you'd probably have needed to be 50 years old in 1950 when the poll was conducted.

-There was no television or highlights in the era of all three players, so if you didn't see them live in person, you didn't see them.

-Taylor played out in Vancouver for many years, so many out east would have only seen him during that period if they happened to be at a Stanley Cup game when Vancouver travelled to the east.

-Based on Morenz playing in a consolidated league, in the east, and playing into the 1930's with 40+ game schedules, I would agree that everyone who voted on that poll surely saw him play live.

It doesn't appear that there was any sort of secondary voting or group discussion in CP poll. Simply list your top player and add up the votes. Morenz was still pretty fresh in everyone's mind then, and the "buzz on the street" would have certainly agreed with his selection. But as I showed above, you would actually have needed to fit a somewhat specific set of conditions to have seen enough live play of all three to base your conclusion on that.

In that poll, Morenz was far ahead of his contemporary Eddie Shore. But today, Shore is almost unanimously regarded as the superior player. If you are using the CP poll as your #1 argument on why Morenz is clearly better than Lalonde and Taylor, I think you have to reconsider your ranking of Eddie Shore as well. I don't believe many people do.

Contemporaries of the three players were around and many of them were hockey vagabonds who moved from league to league. The same is true for reporters who may have started out west then drifted to Toronto or into radio. The Patricks, Art Ross, and others contributed to the discussion regularly whereas today such discussions about present day players rarely includes the players.

Today Eddie Shore is viewed in the context of Doug Harvey, Bobby Orr and the impact that d-men, especially Bobby Orr had on the game. In his day and into the 1960's Eddie Shore was viewed as a talented oddity. When Bobby Orr came along people who saw Shore, Harvey and to a lesser extent Kelly, play started to have another perspective. The ranking reflects some forward bias.

The Taylor vs Lalonde part of the question is basically pre NHL, playing in leagues that did not feature the best players. The era of the rover, restrictions on goalies and rules being tinkered with as the game grew. Morenz spent virtually all his career in the post 1926 NHL which featured the best players of the era. Some of the archaic rules were still around - restricted forward passing, no blueline, etc. As such he should be compared to players who played at thesame time, under similar conditions.

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04-05-2009, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Nalyd Psycho View Post
It was that thread that bumped him up in my opinion.

Tier 4 is a bit less clear to me and would require more research into the topic than I can currently spare.
The group of Sakic, Yzerman, Schmidt and Apps, basically.

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04-05-2009, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Contemporaries of the three players were around and many of them were hockey vagabonds who moved from league to league. The same is true for reporters who may have started out west then drifted to Toronto or into radio. The Patricks, Art Ross, and others contributed to the discussion regularly whereas today such discussions about present day players rarely includes the players.
I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying that the voters in that poll would have had their opinions influenced by the likes of Ross and the Patricks, who would have been familiar with all three players?

Quote:
Today Eddie Shore is viewed in the context of Doug Harvey, Bobby Orr and the impact that d-men, especially Bobby Orr had on the game. In his day and into the 1960's Eddie Shore was viewed as a talented oddity. When Bobby Orr came along people who saw Shore, Harvey and to a lesser extent Kelly, play started to have another perspective. The ranking reflects some forward bias.
Interesting. A forward bias did exist in the sense that almost all the great players of hockey's early days were forwards, so it makes sense that they would dominate the top of the list of greatest players in the 50's and 60's. But it puzzles me that Shore won four Hart Trophies in the 30's. Seemingly his status as an all-time great was recognized during the course of his career.

Quote:
The Taylor vs Lalonde part of the question is basically pre NHL, playing in leagues that did not feature the best players. The era of the rover, restrictions on goalies and rules being tinkered with as the game grew. Morenz spent virtually all his career in the post 1926 NHL which featured the best players of the era. Some of the archaic rules were still around - restricted forward passing, no blueline, etc. As such he should be compared to players who played at thesame time, under similar conditions.
So should we just disregard Lalonde and Taylor since it is harder to compare them to all those who came after them?

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04-05-2009, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle McMahon View Post
There's still just too many unknowns about this poll for me to treat it as concrete evidence.

Peter9, you state that "many of those polled undoubtedly saw all three players". I'd suggest that some of them did, but consider:

-Lalonde and Taylor's prime years were circa 1915. To have a clear and reliable memory to go by, you'd probably have needed to be 50 years old in 1950 when the poll was conducted.

-There was no television or highlights in the era of all three players, so if you didn't see them live in person, you didn't see them.

-Taylor played out in Vancouver for many years, so many out east would have only seen him during that period if they happened to be at a Stanley Cup game when Vancouver travelled to the east.

-Based on Morenz playing in a consolidated league, in the east, and playing into the 1930's with 40+ game schedules, I would agree that everyone who voted on that poll surely saw him play live.

It doesn't appear that there was any sort of secondary voting or group discussion in CP poll. Simply list your top player and add up the votes. Morenz was still pretty fresh in everyone's mind then, and the "buzz on the street" would have certainly agreed with his selection. But as I showed above, you would actually have needed to fit a somewhat specific set of conditions to have seen enough live play of all three to base your conclusion on that.

In that poll, Morenz was far ahead of his contemporary Eddie Shore. But today, Shore is almost unanimously regarded as the superior player. If you are using the CP poll as your #1 argument on why Morenz is clearly better than Lalonde and Taylor, I think you have to reconsider your ranking of Eddie Shore as well. I don't believe many people do.
There is also one more important thing to consider. Morenz started his career just as Lalonde and Taylor were finishing theirs. With the rate at which hockey was developing from 1900-1930, it's almost certain that he was just plain physically a better player than them. He was probably faster, more agile, and a better stickhandler, shooter, passer, and checker. By 1950, analysis of the history of hockey wasn't the art form people like us have made it today. The people voting in that poll probably voted based on pure hockey skill with zero regard for dominance relative to peers and that kind of stuff. We at the HOH forum and in the ATDs attempt to make comparisons in this way more often than not, which is probably why objective arrived-at conclusions will vary so greatly from a subjective list from 1950 with such unclear criteria.

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04-05-2009, 04:02 PM
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There is also one more important thing to consider. Morenz started his career just as Lalonde and Taylor were finishing theirs. With the rate at which hockey was developing from 1900-1930, it's almost certain that he was just plain physically a better player than them. He was probably faster, more agile, and a better stickhandler, shooter, passer, and checker. By 1950, analysis of the history of hockey wasn't the art form people like us have made it today. The people voting in that poll probably voted based on pure hockey skill with zero regard for dominance relative to peers and that kind of stuff. We at the HOH forum and in the ATDs attempt to make comparisons in this way more often than not, which is probably why objective arrived-at conclusions will vary so greatly from a subjective list from 1950 with such unclear criteria.
Very true, something I hadn't really thought of. The same way somebody strictly watching highlight films today would probably conclude that Ovechkin is vastly superior to a Gordie Howe or Rocket Richard.

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04-05-2009, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Kyle McMahon View Post
I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying that the voters in that poll would have had their opinions influenced by the likes of Ross and the Patricks, who would have been familiar with all three players?



Interesting. A forward bias did exist in the sense that almost all the great players of hockey's early days were forwards, so it makes sense that they would dominate the top of the list of greatest players in the 50's and 60's. But it puzzles me that Shore won four Hart Trophies in the 30's. Seemingly his status as an all-time great was recognized during the course of his career.



So should we just disregard Lalonde and Taylor since it is harder to compare them to all those who came after them?
Opinions of contemporaries who played against or with certain players or coached during an era carry more weight then the opinions of those who came generations later. The opinions of contemporaries are formed on an as it's happening basis. Voters in polls are influenced by the available data at any given time.

Forward bias. In the early days of hockey the best players were made forwards. Defence was rather simplistic in terms of demands and strategy. That the Norris Trophy was introduced long after the Hart illustrates this view. The Hart in the early days reflected more the perception of the most valuable player for a season as opposed to the best. The value of Eddie Shore to the Bruins was recognized even though he was not the scoring leader.

Never claimed that Lalonde and Taylor should be disregarded. Simply compare them within a context. The impact they had on their era, on the game as it was played at that time. I tend to draw the line when people try to compare situations when no direct competition existed.


Last edited by Canadiens1958: 04-06-2009 at 05:51 AM. Reason: typo
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04-06-2009, 03:04 AM
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I've only said "you might want to consider" the 1950 poll; I've not said it's conclusive. It's a piece of evidence and as such has its strengths and weaknesses. But it certainly is entitled to as much weight as snippets from Trail of the Stanley Cup since it reflects a much broader consensus among people who followed hockey for their living.

To contend, as someone else did, that the poll keeps getting in the way of reasonable objective discussion, is self-delusion, in my view. Apparently he wants the poll disregarded altogether, although it is one of the best pieces of evidence we have of how contemporaries ranked Morenz alongside other players.

If you think your methodology provides an objective basis for reliably measuring greatness, you're kidding yourself. I've noted before on this board that I think comparisons of players from different eras are ultimately doomed, although I greatly enjoy reading the discussions, particularly those about old-timers. Yes, it's quite true that the people who participated in the poll had not developed the methodology you use. They had more sense than to try to reduce players to objective numbers.

By the time the poll was taken, Morenz had been dead for 13 years, but almost two decades had passed since the last of the seasons that warranted his consideration as a great player. The voters apparently were not unduly influenced in favor of more recent players. Maurice Richard was all the rage when the poll was taken; he got only a very few votes.

In any event, I believe that in terms of impact on the history of hockey or contributions to the game--one of the measures I would use for greatness--Howie Morenz is far ahead of both Taylor and Lalonde, and I think that is in part what the poll reflects. He was considered the Babe Ruth of hockey and at the time had done more than any other player to popularize the game, particularly in the USA (something some of you may not consider a contribution). People went to watch Morenz the same way they went to football games to watch Pele or Alfredo di Stefano, basketball games to watch Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, hockey games to watch Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky.


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04-06-2009, 01:24 PM
  #17
seventieslord
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Peter, you're not really backing this up with anything. You're just saying Morenz is the Babe Ruth of hockey. Great, but that doesn't just prove dominance and importance in and of itself. Kyle showed how often, season by season, each player was among the greatest in the game. It shows that Lalonde, Taylor, and Morenz dominated their eras to an almost identical degree. You're brushing it off as meaningless and basically calling it a joke. Put some balls behind it and prove it. A 1950 poll and a comparison to Babe Ruth doesn't cut it.

As I said, it's very likely that the players were judged with eyesight comparisons as hockey hadn't, in 1950, developed a rich history and tradition. Statistics were very few and far between, and eyesight comparisons were probably the only way of comparison known to 90% of people. It probably never entered people's minds to consider Morenz' dominance in the 1920s versus Taylor and Lalonde's dominance in the 1910s. Morenz was almost certainly a better player but that is a foolhardy way to judge players nowadays, knowing what we know now about the development of the game throughout the decades, thanks to coaching, nutrition, equipment, etc. Otherwise we would just say 90% of players today are better than 90% of players from the 80s, because we know that to be true from watching video. We are more interested in analyzing who dominated their peers the most - it would be quite boring otherwise.

As for "People went to watch Morenz the same way they went to football games to watch Pele or Alfredo di Stefano, basketball games to watch Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, hockey games to watch Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky." - the same can be said for Cyclone Taylor - he is certainly hockey's first celebrity. And Lalonde was so good and so dirty, that he was unpopular everwhere he played*. Fans showed up in hopes that their team would goon him up. He was a seat filler too, don't kid yourself.


*not with his own teams, with the opposing fans.


Last edited by seventieslord: 04-06-2009 at 06:20 PM.
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04-06-2009, 04:50 PM
  #18
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apparently the same poll that had morenz as the consensus best player ever, also had an allan cup team, the '27 toronto varsity grads, and the silver 7 as the greatest team ever.

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04-06-2009, 04:52 PM
  #19
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The strong result by Morenz in the Canadian Press poll is a good indicator for him, but I don't think it can be called conclusive. In 1950, historical statistics and records weren't widely available, and especially not for the pre-NHL years. Hockey was still a young sport and had very little sense of history, compared to the general reverence for the Original Six era that would develop decades later. Although Taylor and Lalonde's playing days were only about 30 years in the past, that was a far bigger difference than 30 years would be now.

Baseball was similar in the early 20th century. The first Hall of Fame vote in 1936 was overwhelmingly biased towards players from the "modern era" of post-1900, despite the fact that that the National League had been playing since 1876. This was because few statistics were available for those days and it was seen as an inferior era. In fact, the BBHOF voting had to create a separate category for 19th century players so they could get some respect. I see Lalonde, Taylor, and the stars of pre-1926 hockey as a similar situation, in that they often didn't get as much respect from the game and fans of the next generation as they did from later historians and researchers.

There's always a huge generational aspect to these "greatest player" debates also. There's a generation who watched Bobby Orr play and generally consider him to be the best ever, and the next generation watched Wayne Gretzky and calls him the best. It's likely that Morenz benefited a great deal from that also.

Combine the fact that most voters in the poll wouldn't have seen Taylor and Lalonde play and the fact that hockey didn't have a strong sense of history, and it's not surprising at all that the poll was heavily slanted towards Morenz.

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04-06-2009, 06:07 PM
  #20
Kyle McMahon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter9 View Post
I've only said "you might want to consider" the 1950 poll; I've not said it's conclusive. It's a piece of evidence and as such has its strengths and weaknesses. But it certainly is entitled to as much weight as snippets from Trail of the Stanley Cup since it reflects a much broader consensus among people who followed hockey for their living.

To contend, as someone else did, that the poll keeps getting in the way of reasonable objective discussion, is self-delusion, in my view. Apparently he wants the poll disregarded altogether, although it is one of the best pieces of evidence we have of how contemporaries ranked Morenz alongside other players.
The Trail of the Stanley Cup was an unbiased, historical documentation of Stanley Cup hockey. It was compiled by an author who spent countless hours over the course of many years sifting through old newspaper archives in different libraries. It presents the contemporary opinion as it was year by year. The poll presents the opinion of 1950, which is definitely not a contemporary opinion as it relates to the players in question. 1950, as you stated, was a full two decades beyond the prime years of Morenz, and well over 30 years beyond the best days of Lalonde. Would you consider my opinion of Bobby Orr today to be a "contemporary opinion"?

Quote:
If you think your methodology provides an objective basis for reliably measuring greatness, you're kidding yourself. I've noted before on this board that I think comparisons of players from different eras are ultimately doomed, although I greatly enjoy reading the discussions, particularly those about old-timers. Yes, it's quite true that the people who participated in the poll had not developed the methodology you use. They had more sense than to try to reduce players to objective numbers.
I have not merely reduced the three players to a set of numbers. Written accounts of the players during the course of their careers played an important role as well. I have almost certainly used a broader base of evidence to make my determinations than those who voted in the poll, though I am not claiming that makes my opinion any more valid.

Quote:
By the time the poll was taken, Morenz had been dead for 13 years, but almost two decades had passed since the last of the seasons that warranted his consideration as a great player. The voters apparently were not unduly influenced in favor of more recent players. Maurice Richard was all the rage when the poll was taken; he got only a very few votes.
If anything, Richard getting any votes period demonstartes a modern bias. He'd only completed at most seven full seasons in a war-diluted era (this was probably not considered at the time). His claim to the greatest of all-time at that point is weak compared to many of those who came before him. This goes back to the point that seventies made of the voters simply using an eyeball test, and not taking into account the developments the game had made over the first half of the century.

Quote:
In any event, I believe that in terms of impact on the history of hockey or contributions to the game--one of the measures I would use for greatness--Howie Morenz is far ahead of both Taylor and Lalonde, and I think that is in part what the poll reflects. He was considered the Babe Ruth of hockey and at the time had done more than any other player to popularize the game, particularly in the USA (something some of you may not consider a contribution). People went to watch Morenz the same way they went to football games to watch Pele or Alfredo di Stefano, basketball games to watch Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, hockey games to watch Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky.
As seventies states, Morenz is just one of many players the fans have "come out to see" over the course of hockey history. The fans came out to see Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb long before the Babe rose to stardom as well.

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Old
04-08-2009, 10:57 PM
  #21
BM67
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There was a comparison of Lalonde with Frank Nighbor over in the ATD that made me put this together.

Mickey MacKay vs. Frank Nighbor offensively

Here are their career totals
PlayerSeasonsGPGAPtsGPGAPts
Mickey MacKay1539424211135350181230
Frank Nighbor1843825712538241161935

Nighbor played 2 years before MacKay's career started, MacKay didn't play major league hockey during the 19-20 season, they both retired after the 29-30 NHL season.

Here are the years they played in the same league
PlayerSeasonsGPGAPtsGPGAPts
Mickey MacKay5164773010714426
Frank Nighbor5168402262115712

They both played together with Vancouver in 14-15, and were both in the NHL for their last 4 years. MacKay out pointed Nighbor in all 5 years.

Here are the adjusted career numbers for the regular season
PlayerSeasonsGPGAPts
Mickey MacKay1511184895701059
Frank Nighbor1813004486251073

I used a slight variation of the Ideal Points method from the Hockey Compendium.
I gave Nighbor his career average of 37 assists (16 year average, not including the 29-30 season where he did not record an assist) for the 12-13 NHA season where assists were not awarded.

Here are the adjusted numbers for the years they played in the same league
PlayerSeasonsGPGAPts
Mickey MacKay5354164162326
Frank Nighbor536180132212

Here are the Vs#2 numbers
PlayerTGHGH3GCAGTAHAH3ACAATPHPH3PCAP
Mickey MacKay NHL1.6932750.6071431.5957140.4231.1136710.5333330.9523810.2781.6740440.6111111.5288830.419
Mickey MacKay PCHA6.7319461.3752.8750.7487.1479871.22.8153850.7946.83730212.9285710.76
Mickey MacKay WCHL1.561011.1739131.561010.7810.8076920.50.8076920.4041.44444411.4444440.722
Mickey MacKay Total9.9862311.3753.1739130.6669.069351.22.8153850.6059.9557912.9285710.664
Frank Nighbor NHL5.0519680.8636362.1251630.3898.073811.0833332.8714290.6216.56330712.6163040.505
Frank Nighbor PCHA1.3750.9583331.3750.6881.0909090.6363641.0909090.5451.1656890.6818181.1656890.583
Frank Nighbor NHA2.40102611.760.81.511.50.752.3675561.0408161.7265310.789
Frank Nighbor Total8.82799412.7183330.4910.6647191.0833332.8714290.59210.0965521.0408162.6163040.561


Last edited by BM67: 04-10-2009 at 01:25 PM.
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Old
04-10-2009, 02:14 PM
  #22
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Here are their career totals*
PlayerSeasonsGPGAPtsGPGAPts
Frank Boucher1867021729651368212243
Bill Cook1559131719150850151126
Cy Denneny15370281893704320828
Frank Foyston16361240793194637744
Duke Keats10256184962808235
Newsy Lalonde18298365824472828432
Mickey MacKay1539424211135350181230
Joe Malone16275345594041220222
Howie Morenz1455027120147247211233
Frank Nighbor1843825712538241161935
Nels Stewart1565032419151554151328
Fred Taylor141801991043031918422

Nighbor played 2 years before MacKay's career started, MacKay didn't play major league hockey during the 19-20 season, they both retired after the 29-30 NHL season.
Taylor's stats cover his years in the ECAHA/ECHA (2), NHA (2) and PCHA (10). For his years in the ECAHA/ECHA and NHA he was playing defense and assists were not awarded.
Lalonde's stats cover his NHA (7), PCHA (1), NHL (6) and WCHL/WHL (4) years only, 09-27.
Malone played in the ECHA (1), NHA (7), NHL(7), as well as splitting the 09-10 season between the CHA and OPHL. That last is not included in the adjusted stats table below.
Duke Keats played in the NHA (2), spent 4 years out of pro hockey, then played in the WCHL/WHL (5) and NHL (3).
Bill Cook spent 5 years in the military during WWI and beyond, then spent 2 years in senior hockey before turning pro in the WCHL/WHL (4) and the NHL(11).
Frank Boucher played in the NHL (14), the PCHA (2), and WCHL/WHL (2).
Cy Denneny played in the NHA (3) and NHL (12).
Frank Foyston played in the NHA (3 and 1 game in a 4th), PCHA (9), WCHL/WHL (2) and the NHL (2).

*Some of the numbers from Hockey Reference don't match some other sources, and Taylor and Lalonde both played before the period covered here.

Here are the adjusted career numbers for the regular season
PlayerSeasonsGPGAPts
Frank Boucher1813454319391370
Bill Cook1511736456771322
Cy Denneny151077499405904
Frank Foyston161168457438895
Duke Keats10685350531881
Newsy Lalonde1811335985421140
Mickey MacKay1511184895701059
Joe Malone151042504380884
Howie Morenz1410665426261168
Frank Nighbor1813004486251073
Nels Stewart1511696555071162
Fred Taylor138133857171102

I used a slight variation of the Ideal Points method from the Hockey Compendium.
I gave Nighbor his career average of 37 assists (16 year average, not including the 29-30 season where he did not record an assist) for the 12-13 NHA season where assists were not awarded.
I don't have the numbers to include Taylor's 07-08 ECAHA season, and I gave him his average of 60 assists (9 year average, not including the 22-23 season where he did not record an assist) for the 3 ECHA/NHA seasons where assists were not awarded.
I gave Lalonde his average of 34 assists (12 year average, not including the 25-26 and 26-27 seasons where he did not record an assist) for the 4 NHA/PCHA seasons where assists were not awarded.
I gave Malone his average of 29 assists (9 year average, not including the 22-23 and 23-24 seasons where he did not record an assist) for the 4 NHA/ECHA seasons where assists were not awarded. As mentioned above his 09-10 season was left out.
I gave Foyston his career average of 27 assists for the 12-13 NHA season where assists were not awarded

Here are the Vs#2 numbers
PlayerTGHGH3GCAGTAHAH3ACAATPHPH3PCAP
Frank Boucher NHL5.6542690.8214291.9317650.40410.381121.161293.2279570.7429.42136112.7939880.673
Frank Boucher PCHA1.1071430.7142861.1071430.5541.3055560.751.3055560.6531.2142860.7142861.2142860.607
Frank Boucher WCHL1.1795230.6956521.1795230.591.53846211.5384620.7691.4595960.8484851.4595960.73
Frank Boucher Total7.9409350.8214291.9317650.44113.225141.161293.2279570.73512.0952412.7939880.672
Bill Cook NHL8.0908051.323.0370370.7365.3146620.9677421.945520.4838.2265281.1363642.9713640.748
Bill Cook WCHL3.4597681.1818183.138340.86541.166667314.0440651.2222223.368391.011
Bill Cook Total11.5505731.323.2765220.779.3146621.16666730.62112.270591.2222223.368390.818
Cy Denneny NHL9.046821.3753.2333330.7546.78730212.40.5669.1017141.0434783.0434780.758
Cy Denneny NHA1.2331710.961.2331710.4110.40.40.40.1333331.0462380.81.0462380.349
Cy Denneny Total10.279991.3753.2333330.6857.18730212.40.47910.147951.0434783.0434780.677
Frank Foyston NHL0.650.40.650.3250.476190.3333330.476190.2380.6474360.4166670.6474360.324
Frank Foyston PCHA7.2157451.1304353.1304350.8024.5194020.7058821.9222220.5026.77937712.8533650.753
Frank Foyston NHA1.1545910.5161291.1545910.2891.15384611.1538460.3851.2612780.6470591.2612780.315
Frank Foyston WCHL0.4544180.260870.4544180.2270.6474360.4166670.6474360.3240.5833330.3333330.5833330.292
Frank Foyston Total9.4747541.1304353.1304350.5926.79687312.0135740.4539.27142312.8533650.579
Duke Keats NHL1.140.641.140.381.3142860.7142861.3142860.4381.3165340.6666671.3165340.439
Duke Keats NHA1.2458540.881.2458540.62310.710.51.1959180.8285711.1959180.598
Duke Keats WCHL4.5140891.1481482.8689270.9035.25480823.81251.0515.3536841.6666673.5784311.071
Duke Keats Total6.8999431.1481482.8689270.697.56909423.81250.7577.8661361.6666673.5784310.787
Newsy Lalonde NHL3.899812.9705880.653.5253971.1111112.4682540.5884.2290051.1428573.2178570.705
Newsy Lalonde NHA5.0821291.2258061.9630110.7261.9846150.6251.60.4964.9957151.2258061.9214970.714
Newsy Lalonde PCHA1.0384621.0384621.0384621.038    1.0384621.0384621.0384621.038
Newsy Lalonde WCHL1.87381.0714291.87380.4681.5833330.8333331.5833330.3961.9313970.9189191.9313970.483
Newsy Lalonde Total11.894191.2258062.9705880.6617.0933451.1111112.4682540.50712.1945791.2258063.2178570.677
Mickey MacKay NHL1.6932750.6071431.5957140.4231.1136710.5333330.9523810.2781.6740440.6111111.5288830.419
Mickey MacKay PCHA6.7319461.3752.8750.7487.1479871.22.8153850.7946.83730212.9285710.76
Mickey MacKay WCHL1.561011.1739131.561010.7810.8076920.50.8076920.4041.44444411.4444440.722
Mickey MacKay Total9.9862311.3753.1739130.6669.069351.22.8153850.6059.9557912.9285710.664
Joe Malone OML1.1439180.5555561.1439180.381    1.1439180.5555561.1439180.381
Joe Malone NHL4.2338481.2222222.6517770.6052.4793650.7142861.8571430.3544.1794081.0652172.7850890.597
Joe Malone NHA5.4691191.1025642.6545350.7812.9369212.650.7335.5551371.1395352.7571820.794
Joe Malone Total10.8468851.2222223.2222220.6785.41628512.650.49210.8784631.1395353.1830130.68
Howie Morenz9.739781.17857130.6968.9025161.2857142.4190480.63611.267841.3076923.1276160.805
Frank Nighbor NHL5.0519680.8636362.1251630.3898.073811.0833332.8714290.6216.56330712.6163040.505
Frank Nighbor PCHA1.3750.9583331.3750.6881.0909090.6363641.0909090.5451.1656890.6818181.1656890.583
Frank Nighbor NHA2.40102611.760.81.511.50.752.3675561.0408161.7265310.789
Frank Nighbor Total8.82799412.7183330.4910.6647191.0833332.8714290.59210.0965521.0408162.6163040.561
Nels Stewart11.985841.2142862.9155050.7997.6072360.6666671.7958330.50711.797741.1666672.7588920.787
Fred Taylor ECHA0.6317730.3214290.6317730.316    0.6317730.3214290.6317730.316
Fred Taylor NHA0.6975810.3750.6975810.349    0.6975810.3750.6975810.349
Fred Taylor PCHA7.1862791.63.0238330.7199.2764481.9090914.2727270.9288.0081341.343753.3745420.801
Fred Taylor Total8.5156331.63.0238330.6089.2764481.9090914.2727270.9289.3374881.343753.3745420.667

OML is "other major leagues" for Malone's years in the ECHA, CHA and OPHL.


Last edited by BM67: 04-16-2009 at 05:34 PM.
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Old
09-08-2015, 06:27 PM
  #23
tinyzombies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Contemporaries of the three players were around and many of them were hockey vagabonds who moved from league to league. The same is true for reporters who may have started out west then drifted to Toronto or into radio. The Patricks, Art Ross, and others contributed to the discussion regularly whereas today such discussions about present day players rarely includes the players.

Today Eddie Shore is viewed in the context of Doug Harvey, Bobby Orr and the impact that d-men, especially Bobby Orr had on the game. In his day and into the 1960's Eddie Shore was viewed as a talented oddity. When Bobby Orr came along people who saw Shore, Harvey and to a lesser extent Kelly, play started to have another perspective. The ranking reflects some forward bias.

The Taylor vs Lalonde part of the question is basically pre NHL, playing in leagues that did not feature the best players. The era of the rover, restrictions on goalies and rules being tinkered with as the game grew. Morenz spent virtually all his career in the post 1926 NHL which featured the best players of the era. Some of the archaic rules were still around - restricted forward passing, no blueline, etc. As such he should be compared to players who played at thesame time, under similar conditions.
Silly question but do we have boxscores from back then and didnt players play the entire game? Did they track shots?

Also, the fact that those guys played the entire game has to weigh in considering how tough play was. That Morenz could maintain top speed for a full game is pretty incredible judging from the style of play in the 1925 video of the Habs on YouTube, and the 30s stuff as well that is up there.


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09-09-2015, 01:47 AM
  #24
tarheelhockey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyzombies View Post
Silly question but do we have boxscores from back then
Yes, they were common.

Quote:
and didnt players play the entire game?
These sorts of players usually did. Not everyone. A lot of players just weren't physically capable of maintaining strong play for all 60 minutes. But for guys like these, taking them off the ice for a break meant putting a mediocre sub at center ice for them. That might be enough to break open a game.

Quote:
Did they track shots?
Not often enough for it to be useful in this sort of analysis.

Your point is well taken that endurance was indeed a big factor for both individuals and teams. It was more soccer-like in terms of how physical conditioning could impact a game when the final period rolled around. A better-conditioned player could skate his counterpart into the ice.

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Old
09-09-2015, 09:14 AM
  #25
tony d
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3 of the early greats, you wouldn't lose with either player but Morenz, Taylor, Lalonde is how I'd rank them.

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