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Top 10 All-time Defensemen

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Old
07-20-2009, 02:30 PM
  #51
Canadiens1958
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Sprague Cleghorn

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Originally Posted by Leafs Forever View Post
The same could be said that Eddie Shore wouldn't be able to handle to today's rule changes, or a lot of defencemen wouldn't be able to adapt to the rule changes of another era. The rules have changed a countless number of times, so it's unfair to say one defencemen is worse just because he didn't play under certain rules.

My rules for comparing players across era's is how much they dominated their competition. Sure, perhaps Cleghorn benefitted from the rules that were soon changed, but if that's the case, so would every single defencemen he played against and played with, meaning he was still on a level playing field for the defencemen of his era. Fact is, Cleghorn was able to dominate and was by far the #1 defencemen of his era, making him worthy of being mentioned amongst these names. He was also a complete player; always in defencemen leaderboards for scoring, but great defensively and very tough.

5 retro norrises (and a case could be made he deserved 1-2 more), 2 time hart runner-up, named to Coleman's 1893-1926 all-star team, and he'd probably have ALOT of all-star selections if one did an early all-star project. I'll have to see about digging up some of his scoring records.
Sprague Cleghorn's scoring records follow:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...cleghsp01.html

First glance numbers are somewhat impressive for the era but you have to ask why no one kept him around very long.NHL days 4 teams within 10 seasons.

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Old
07-20-2009, 02:32 PM
  #52
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To further my arguement that Cleghorn should at least be top-15; I present his scoring records-

Scoring - 6th(1915), 8th(1922)
Assists 3rd(1919), 9th(1920), 9th(1925)
Scoring for Defensemen - 5th(1911), 3rd(1912), 2nd(1913), 1st(1914), 1st(1915), 3rd(1916), 2nd(1917), 2nd(1919), 1st(1920), 2nd(1922), 4th(1923), 4th(1924), 5th(1925)
Goals for Defensemen - 4th(1919), 2nd(1920), 2nd(1922), 3rd(1923), 3rd(1924), 5th(1925)

Play-off Scoring 8th(1919), 1st(1925)
Play-off Goals 7th(1919), 2nd(1925), 8th(1927)
Play-off Assists 9th(1919),
Play-off Scoring for Defensemen 2nd(1919), 1st(1925), 3rd(1927)

Stanley Cup Scorers - 4th(1921), 4th(1924)
Stanley Cup Scorers for Defensemen - 4th(1920), 1st(1921), 1st(1924)

Hart Voting - 2nd(1924), 2nd(1926)

I believe that is all within his own league..but he always played in one of, if not THE, top league.

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Old
07-20-2009, 02:35 PM
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Sprague Cleghorn's scoring records follow:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...cleghsp01.html

First glance numbers are somewhat impressive for the era but you have to ask why no one kept him around very long.NHL days 4 teams within 10 seasons.
Things were different back then; a number of reasons I suppose, but I don't really think that detracts from his legacy as clearly he was the best defenceman of his day.

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07-20-2009, 02:46 PM
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leafs Forever View Post
To further my arguement that Cleghorn should at least be top-15; I present his scoring records-

Scoring - 6th(1915), 8th(1922)
Assists 3rd(1919), 9th(1920), 9th(1925)
Scoring for Defensemen - 5th(1911), 3rd(1912), 2nd(1913), 1st(1914), 1st(1915), 3rd(1916), 2nd(1917), 2nd(1919), 1st(1920), 2nd(1922), 4th(1923), 4th(1924), 5th(1925)
Goals for Defensemen - 4th(1919), 2nd(1920), 2nd(1922), 3rd(1923), 3rd(1924), 5th(1925)

Play-off Scoring 8th(1919), 1st(1925)
Play-off Goals 7th(1919), 2nd(1925), 8th(1927)
Play-off Assists 9th(1919),
Play-off Scoring for Defensemen 2nd(1919), 1st(1925), 3rd(1927)

Stanley Cup Scorers - 4th(1921), 4th(1924)
Stanley Cup Scorers for Defensemen - 4th(1920), 1st(1921), 1st(1924)

Hart Voting - 2nd(1924), 2nd(1926)

I believe that is all within his own league..but he always played in one of, if not THE, top league.
Yeah, that's a big reason that most don't have him as high as you do. At the time he played, there were two competing hockey leagues of more or less equal strength, so top finishes in one league have to be taken with a little grain of salt.

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Old
07-20-2009, 03:00 PM
  #55
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NHA/NHL plus PCHA and WCHL

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Yeah, that's a big reason that most don't have him as high as you do. At the time he played, there were two competing hockey leagues of more or less equal strength, so top finishes in one league have to be taken with a little grain of salt.
Three leagues for awhile plus the rover was used out west ( PCHA 7 man hockey).

The "contemporaries" comparisons may hold but there are too many differences in the rules, those listed previously, goalies must stand rule until circa 1920, the short schedule favoured an aggressive style that would wear down someone playing the same way over 40 to 80 games.

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07-20-2009, 03:15 PM
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Yeah, that's a big reason that most don't have him as high as you do. At the time he played, there were two competing hockey leagues of more or less equal strength, so top finishes in one league have to be taken with a little grain of salt.
I doubt they would have too big an impact on his scoring records considering where he placed often times. There is a reason why he is considered the best of his era despite their being multiple leagues.

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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Three leagues for awhile plus the rover was used out west ( PCHA 7 man hockey).

The "contemporaries" comparisons may hold but there are too many differences in the rules, those listed previously, goalies must stand rule until circa 1920, the short schedule favoured an aggressive style that would wear down someone playing the same way over 40 to 80 games.
I don't know how good the third league was; the PCHA was pretty good, but I'm not so sure about the the third.

And like I said, it's not fair to say he's worse because he played under different rules. I believe Eddie Shore didn't play 80 games either, and his style of play would likely have in the penalty box most of the time if he were playing today; does that mean he's worse than today's defencemen? No; because he was so dominant. Is Brodeur the best goalie ever because he has the most wins? No, it's unfair considering he got to play in a lengthened schedule. I think it's rather short-sighted to try and bring a player down; it's not his fault that he was born back then. Besides, who's to say he wouldn't have found a way to adapt? What if he actually found a way to be better under certain rules?

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Old
07-20-2009, 03:59 PM
  #57
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Three Leagues

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Originally Posted by Leafs Forever View Post
I doubt they would have too big an impact on his scoring records considering where he placed often times. There is a reason why he is considered the best of his era despite their being multiple leagues.



I don't know how good the third league was; the PCHA was pretty good, but I'm not so sure about the the third.

And like I said, it's not fair to say he's worse because he played under different rules. I believe Eddie Shore didn't play 80 games either, and his style of play would likely have in the penalty box most of the time if he were playing today; does that mean he's worse than today's defencemen? No; because he was so dominant. Is Brodeur the best goalie ever because he has the most wins? No, it's unfair considering he got to play in a lengthened schedule. I think it's rather short-sighted to try and bring a player down; it's not his fault that he was born back then. Besides, who's to say he wouldn't have found a way to adapt? What if he actually found a way to be better under certain rules?
All three leagues competed for the Stanley Cup and the finals were very competitive. The Stanley Cup winner would be decided amongst the three league champions. In 1924 it was Victoria(PCHA) vs Montreal(NHL) - winner, then Calgary(WCHL) vs Montreal(NHL)-winner.

When the two western leagues folded and players were absorbed into the expanded NHL after the 1925-26 season. The two best defensemen during the 1926-27 NHL season were Herb Gardiner(Hart) and Eddie Shore,Both WCHL, the Vezina was won by George Hainsworth(WCHL), Top two scorers were from the WCHL and six out of the top 10.


Last edited by Canadiens1958: 07-20-2009 at 04:01 PM. Reason: typo/wording
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Old
07-20-2009, 04:07 PM
  #58
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Comparisons

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Originally Posted by Leafs Forever View Post
I doubt they would have too big an impact on his scoring records considering where he placed often times. There is a reason why he is considered the best of his era despite their being multiple leagues.



I don't know how good the third league was; the PCHA was pretty good, but I'm not so sure about the the third.

And like I said, it's not fair to say he's worse because he played under different rules. I believe Eddie Shore didn't play 80 games either, and his style of play would likely have in the penalty box most of the time if he were playing today; does that mean he's worse than today's defencemen? No; because he was so dominant. Is Brodeur the best goalie ever because he has the most wins? No, it's unfair considering he got to play in a lengthened schedule. I think it's rather short-sighted to try and bring a player down; it's not his fault that he was born back then. Besides, who's to say he wouldn't have found a way to adapt? What if he actually found a way to be better under certain rules?
Comparisons. First no one has made the claim that a player was better or worse, just explanations why some are careful about comparisons that go beyond contemporaries.

As for extrapolations few are willing to assume that the best 100M time extrapolates to the best 1500M time or vice versa.


Last edited by Canadiens1958: 07-20-2009 at 05:47 PM. Reason: typo
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Old
07-20-2009, 05:15 PM
  #59
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some people think even comparing/analyzing eddie shore is hard and near impossible and he played in the modern era, so therefore analyzing cleghorn is near impossible with the immense changes in ht egames, although his stats do conclude that he was quite dominate when he played

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07-20-2009, 06:12 PM
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Sprague Cleghorn's scoring records follow:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...cleghsp01.html

First glance numbers are somewhat impressive for the era but you have to ask why no one kept him around very long.NHL days 4 teams within 10 seasons.
Player movement was a fair bit different back in those days. There were no rules governing free agency for the most part. Players were routinely sold for cash as well, and the league could reassign players to a struggling team in order to strengthen them. Cleghorn playing for four different NHL teams was really nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, all three of those factors I listed apply to Cleghorn. As well, Sprague could be quite a loose cannon (even his own manager suspended him for his violent behavior against an opponent one time), so that needs to be considered too.

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Old
07-20-2009, 06:46 PM
  #61
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Originally Posted by poise View Post
I'm not really putting a great emphasis on the awards and trophy voting and you know my preference for the Offensive game. Again, Eddie Shore is enigmatic in that I haven't seen him play at all, and many accounts of him have also not seen him play. The media on him is scarce is well, but from what I have read on him is that he was like a Denis Potvin type Player. I also have read quite a few accounts on Earl Seibert being almost at Shore's level. While there's no doubt in my mind that Shore is the best Defensemen of his era, I believe that he was not the best Player of his time (Howie Morenz, Frank Boucher, and Bill Cook for starters). Of course, the best information I have on it is a few newspaper articles along with stats and awards voting (which almost certainly were held to different standards than those of today) so the opinion is tenuous.

As for the other Defensemen, I'm fairly happy with Coffey's placement because I've seen enough of most of them (except for Doug Harvey and Red Kelly and Bobby Orr but their is still a ton more information about those two). I'm firmly convinced that Coffey was a better Player than Nick Lidstrom or Chris Chelios. Denis Potvin was a close one, I believe I once compared them and gave my reasons why I would take Coffey. Vyacheslav Fetisov though, is the one I recently changed my mind on (I used to slot him before Coffey because I had the impression that Fetisov had a better longevity than Coffey which upon closer examination I'm not as convinced of).

Again, to me, Coffey's play from 1983-1986 is second only to Orr among Defensemen (and not a distant second). Coffey has a great case to be considered as the second best Player behind Gretzky throughout that span and their are several attestations to that (I personally would consider him third after Jari Kurri).

Just some reading on how Coffey was regarded at the time:
Just because something is in print doesn't make it true.

From the first article:

"As an offensive defenseman, the 23-year-old Coffey can be compared to only one man in National Hockey League history -- Bobby Orr."

"But we have to remember one thing," Sather points out. "Orr was 20 years old when he came into the league. Paul is only 23, and he has been in the league for five years."


Orr came into the league at 18, won his first Norris at 19 and at 23 (his 6th season) had 2 Harts & 2 Conn Smythe Trophies.

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07-20-2009, 08:48 PM
  #62
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lidstrom may have better longevity than coffey but he just doesnt dominate games nearly the same way...a similar case can be said for the chelios arguement...however, potvin>coffey

the only thing we cant argue about is that bobby orr is number one because that is merely undisputed...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SLB3DujcTg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SLB3DujcTg

1 orr
2 shore
3 harvey
4 bourque
5 potvin
6 coffey
7 lidstrom
8 kelly
9 robinson
10 fetisov


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Old
07-20-2009, 09:02 PM
  #63
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I've seen one person rank Shore over Orr..but that's all.

Anyways, I get the Coffey was great offensively and could dominate games, but he rather one-dimensional from what I've read and heard.

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07-20-2009, 09:24 PM
  #64
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thats the problem with coffey, is that he was soemwhat one-dimensional, however he was so proficient at this offensive game....that is why i will never rate coffey over potvin who had it all...

orr
shore
harvey
bourque
potvin
coffey
lidstrom
kelly
robinson
fetisov

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Old
07-20-2009, 09:33 PM
  #65
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But that's why I wouldn't have had him over Kelly, Lidstrom, Festiov, or Robinson. Kelly was amazing offensively as well and had some crazy finishes ahead of the 2nd guy in defencemen scoring, but he was also good defensively from what I've heard. Lidstrom is an outstanding two-way force and is undoubtedly the best defenceman of his era. Festiov drew comparisons to Bourque and was also able to play both ways. "Big Bird" was also able to get it done on both sides of the puck.

To me, Coffey is probably in that tier just outside the top-10.

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07-20-2009, 09:34 PM
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidewayzLEAFS View Post
lidstrom may have better longevity than coffey but he just doesnt dominate games nearly the same way...a similar case can be said for the chelios arguement...however, potvin>coffey

the only thing we cant argue about is that bobby orr is number one because that is merely undisputed...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SLB3DujcTg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SLB3DujcTg

1 orr
2 shore
3 harvey
4 bourque
5 potvin
6 coffey
7 lidstrom
8 kelly
9 robinson
10 fetisov

Lidstrom might not be as flashy as Coffey but he can dominate games to a much greater degree than Coffey. Coffey was only dominant when his team had the puck, he was average defensively. Lidstrom was so good defensively and so good in transition that he subtlely dominanted games - and he did all this while pointing up more points than any dman of his era. Lidstrom is/was THE perfect dman to run Detroit's puck possession system. Basically, Lidstrom was almost as good defensively as Coffey was offensively, but Lidstrom was a lot better offensively than Coffey was defensively.

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07-20-2009, 09:42 PM
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
Just because something is in print doesn't make it true.

From the first article:

"As an offensive defenseman, the 23-year-old Coffey can be compared to only one man in National Hockey League history -- Bobby Orr."

"But we have to remember one thing," Sather points out. "Orr was 20 years old when he came into the league. Paul is only 23, and he has been in the league for five years."


Orr came into the league at 18, won his first Norris at 19 and at 23 (his 6th season) had 2 Harts & 2 Conn Smythe Trophies.
Well I think that's a given, and the point of those articles was to give a general impression on how highly Coffey was regarded (which I think many people forget).

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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Lidstrom might not be as flashy as Coffey but he can dominate games to a much greater degree than Coffey. Coffey was only dominant when his team had the puck, he was average defensively. Lidstrom was so good defensively and so good in transition that he subtlely dominanted games - and he did all this while pointing up more points than any dman of his era. Lidstrom is/was THE perfect dman to run Detroit's puck possession system. Basically, Lidstrom was almost as good defensively as Coffey was offensively, but Lidstrom was a lot better offensively than Coffey was defensively.
Have to disagree with this. Even noting that Nick Lidstrom will dominate games in a much more subtle way and on the Defensive end of things, when Coffey was in control of games, he would outshine even Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman, and Fedorov. Four players he played with when they were at or near (Yzerman) their best who all controlled the pace of the game more than Lidstrom did.

Coffey's role in Edmonton's offense was especially incredible. Not many Defenseman can have the luxury choosing either to set up plays with great passing or simply carry it in themselves. Coffey was probably the best at both those things in the League at the time (and one of the best ever).


Last edited by poise: 07-20-2009 at 09:47 PM.
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Old
07-21-2009, 07:37 AM
  #68
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As most of the lists look fairly solid, the only thing I wanted to comment on is Paul Coffey. I have a real hard time ranking the guy because of the style Edmonton played. Coffey was exceptionally skilled offensively, and was an absolute pleasure to watch. But you can almost half-jokingly and half-seriously ask if you can even label the guy a defenseman. Because quite honestly, the only time I consistently remember him anywhere near being in position was during a faceoff. My memory is a guy who looked a hell of a lot more like a forward who hung Fuhr out to dry on constant odd man rushes. I don't say this as a knock: Fuhr was good enough to do it, and if he had an off night, Edmonton was capable of scoring 7 goals. So Coffey playing "fourth forward" simply made Edmonton that much more lethal.

It's hard to imagine whether Coffey, during his prime, would have excelled at the defensive aspect of the game because he honestly didn't need to based on the offensive blitz style that Edmonton played, their quality of goaltending, and the sheer fact that, as a team, Edmonton was simply going to outscore you.

The guy is very, very hard to rank. And a lot of that has to do with Edmonton having a relatively unique style of play and an ability to score a ludicrous amount of goals. You can argue on the one hand he wasn't superb defensively. You can just as easily argue that his offensive game made Edmonton so dangerous in the opposition's end that his style made the Oilers far more dangerous and outweighed his need to focus on the defensive end.

I suppose you'd almost have to assume the role of the Oilers' coach and ask yourself: do I want this guy to cover his own end better or do I give him a green light and essentially say, attack the hell out of them and make them stop us? The latter was more the Oilers' approach and it worked with lethal efficiency. As such, Coffey's need to be a defensive dynamo is a direct catch-22 against a system that worked brutally well and won Cups.

Coffey was not exceptional defensively. But it's hard to exploit that when Coffey and his teammates constantly have you on your heels and running ragged in your own end. And if you did exploit it, you still had to beat Fuhr. Ultimately, it's somewhat difficult to hold his defensive game against him when his offensive game worked so perfectly with the team's style, made them much harder to stop, and, above all, led to wins.

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07-21-2009, 08:06 AM
  #69
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Have to disagree with this. Even noting that Nick Lidstrom will dominate games in a much more subtle way and on the Defensive end of things, when Coffey was in control of games, he would outshine even Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman, and Fedorov. Four players he played with when they were at or near (Yzerman) their best who all controlled the pace of the game more than Lidstrom did.

Coffey's role in Edmonton's offense was especially incredible. Not many Defenseman can have the luxury choosing either to set up plays with great passing or simply carry it in themselves. Coffey was probably the best at both those things in the League at the time (and one of the best ever).
Yes, "outshine"... but that is not remotely close to outperforming or being more effective. For 15 years, Lidstrom has been the pivot of Detroit's game. It's subtle, and frankly his play is not going to "outshine" a dish rag but everything in Detroit goes through Lidstrom.

Play after play for the opposing team simply fizzles into nothing with Lidstrom on the backend, and Lidstrom then controls the pace of the offense.

Lidstrom has passed Potvin. You can argue Potvin's peak was better (though the idea Potvin had 5 better seasons than Lidstrom's best is ridiculous), but Lidstrom is still a Norris contender and considered the best defenseman in the league at a time when Potvin was retired for a couple years after being only half the player he was in his prime.

At some point, 6 Norris trophies, a Conn Smythe and 9 1st Team All Star selections has to get you ahead of 3 Norrises and 5 1st Team selections.

Each player has 4 Cups, but Lidstrom remained a centerpiece on almost a completely different Cup winning team, over ten years apart.

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07-21-2009, 09:21 AM
  #70
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Does Larry Murphy warrant any consideration? 4 Cups and a long successful career?

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07-21-2009, 09:27 AM
  #71
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Does Larry Murphy warrant any consideration? 4 Cups and a long successful career?
No. He was rarely top 5 among defensemen in the league in his prime.

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07-21-2009, 09:47 AM
  #72
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I have a clear-cut top 5

1. Orr
2. Harvey
3. Shore
4. Bourque
5. Potvin

6. Kelley
7. Lidstrom
8. Fetisov
9. Park
10. Robinson

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07-21-2009, 12:00 PM
  #73
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i agree with your top 5 however, i would place shore over harvey..thats its and the next five are good too however, i would try to place coffey at least at 10 if not higher...

and i believe the arguemnt between coffey and lidstrom is valid and close but there is no way that lidsstrom is better than potvin who had a stellar career and played at the smae time as many other elite defensemen (coffey, bourque, chelios, robinson, etc.)

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07-21-2009, 12:31 PM
  #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RabbinsDuck View Post
Yes, "outshine"... but that is not remotely close to outperforming or being more effective. For 15 years, Lidstrom has been the pivot of Detroit's game. It's subtle, and frankly his play is not going to "outshine" a dish rag but everything in Detroit goes through Lidstrom.

Play after play for the opposing team simply fizzles into nothing with Lidstrom on the backend, and Lidstrom then controls the pace of the offense.
Well, when I used to word outshine, I implied it to mean outperform, because well I think Coffey did outperform Lidstrom. Even simply considering their time in Detroit, Coffey outperformed Lidstrom.

It's also very interesting to note how much Lidstrom learned by playing with Coffey). His slumping 1992-1993 Season was turned around by the arrival of Coffey, and by 1995-1996 he was playing in All Star games beside Coffey. When Coffey was booted (and before people bring it up, Scotty Bowman had a point of kicking out players he didn't like, despite how good Defensively they were (Sean Burr?)) Lidstrom assumed the role as Detroit's (and soon the League's) number one Defenseman for a good long while.

I'll also disagree with the sentiment that Lidstrom has been Detroit's best Player for the past 15 years. From 1994-1996 I'd say it was Sergei Fedorov (and Coffey - 1995). From 1996-2000, it was Steve Yzerman (it was Yzerman who used to disagree when named the team's best Player at that time, but I would disagree with him there).

The last decade you have a good case, but I feel that too much has been ignored of other Detroit Players. Yzerman when he was playing until 2002 could still be called the best Red Wing, Fedorov had a good case too. Fedorov's 2003 season was magnificent and some called it worthy of Hart consideration. Recently, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have been instrumental to Detroit's success, at least as much so as Lidstrom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ExtremeHockeyFan
As most of the lists look fairly solid, the only thing I wanted to comment on is Paul Coffey. I have a real hard time ranking the guy because of the style Edmonton played. Coffey was exceptionally skilled offensively, and was an absolute pleasure to watch. But you can almost half-jokingly and half-seriously ask if you can even label the guy a defenseman. Because quite honestly, the only time I consistently remember him anywhere near being in position was during a faceoff. My memory is a guy who looked a hell of a lot more like a forward who hung Fuhr out to dry on constant odd man rushes. I don't say this as a knock: Fuhr was good enough to do it, and if he had an off night, Edmonton was capable of scoring 7 goals. So Coffey playing "fourth forward" simply made Edmonton that much more lethal.

It's hard to imagine whether Coffey, during his prime, would have excelled at the defensive aspect of the game because he honestly didn't need to based on the offensive blitz style that Edmonton played, their quality of goaltending, and the sheer fact that, as a team, Edmonton was simply going to outscore you.

The guy is very, very hard to rank. And a lot of that has to do with Edmonton having a relatively unique style of play and an ability to score a ludicrous amount of goals. You can argue on the one hand he wasn't superb defensively. You can just as easily argue that his offensive game made Edmonton so dangerous in the opposition's end that his style made the Oilers far more dangerous and outweighed his need to focus on the defensive end.

I suppose you'd almost have to assume the role of the Oilers' coach and ask yourself: do I want this guy to cover his own end better or do I give him a green light and essentially say, attack the hell out of them and make them stop us? The latter was more the Oilers' approach and it worked with lethal efficiency. As such, Coffey's need to be a defensive dynamo is a direct catch-22 against a system that worked brutally well and won Cups.

Coffey was not exceptional defensively. But it's hard to exploit that when Coffey and his teammates constantly have you on your heels and running ragged in your own end. And if you did exploit it, you still had to beat Fuhr. Ultimately, it's somewhat difficult to hold his defensive game against him when his offensive game worked so perfectly with the team's style, made them much harder to stop, and, above all, led to wins.
This is a very interesting point, and there may be an answer. The 1986-1987 Season which saw Coffey sit part of the year due to back injury and holdout, also saw him play his best Defense. He would say that he simply did not have the confidence in his state to play the Offensive style he used to. Rather, he focused his skills on Defense, and did a great job. His skating ability would now be used in a less demanding fashion to cover a smaller area, he made short and safe passes out, and he used his intelligence and creativity to break up many plays.

This actually fit in well with the Oilers too, who had matured a bit and weren't exactly the absolute run and gun team they were when they were younger. Coffey's evolution worked nicely with the evolution of the team.

Not surprisingly, despite this act of reinventing himself to help his team in the way he could best, he was harshly criticized for his significant drop in production.

After all, in the last three seasons Coffey was second only to the Great Gretzky in scoring (tied third with Mike Bossy in points per game after Jari Kurri). He was outscoring perhaps the greatest group of elite Offensive talent the league had ever seen.

Coffey would later point out that this would be the Catch-22 situation he was in as you mentioned:

"I'm kind of in a Catch-22 situation because of the way I play the game," said Coffey, a three-time winner of the Norris Trophy, which goes to the league's top defenseman. "It's almost like if I stay back, taking care of my own end, do the little things, take two or three steps and move the puck, get off the ice, they'll say, `Wow, what's he doing? How come he's not scoring points? How come he's not getting involved in the play?' That's my style. That's the way I play. That's the way most teams want me to play."

"I can't do a thing about that. It kind of makes me laugh." (Coffey Ready to Join Wayne's World - St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 10, 1995)

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07-21-2009, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidewayzLEAFS View Post
i agree with your top 5 however, i would place shore over harvey..thats its and the next five are good too however, i would try to place coffey at least at 10 if not higher...

and i believe the arguemnt between coffey and lidstrom is valid and close but there is no way that lidsstrom is better than potvin who had a stellar career and played at the smae time as many other elite defensemen (coffey, bourque, chelios, robinson, etc.)
Potvin basically had 6 years where he could be considered the best defenseman in the league (top 3 in Norris voting): 75, 76, 77, 78, 79 and 81.

The "competition" argument does not work for Potvin, like it would for Bourque or Chelios, because Potvin was no longer a legitimate threat for the Norris once those guys came around in the 80s. It wasn't just the Hall of Famers beating him out in the 80s, it was Wilson, Hartsburg, Carlysle, Engblom, Becke, Howe, Marsh, Lowe, Larson, Babych, Marois, Green, Samuelsson, Ramsey, Patrick, McCrimmon -- you name it, beating Potvin in Norris voting.

Lidstrom has been in the argument for top defenseman in the NHL for 11 seasons now - and unlike Potvin, who missed large chunks of seasons due to injury, Lidstrom has been a consummate iron-man, unfortunately missing an entire season in his prime due to the lockout. Defensemen are not much good to their teams when they are not playing. Lidstrom is still a Norris contender after 17 seasons -- when Potvin pretty much dropped out of it after only 8 seasons.

Potvin was a better scorer while Lidstrom was a better passer.
Potvin played more physical, but Lidstrom losses nothing on him defensively because of his positioning.

Ultimately, Potvin's best seasons were not that much better than Lidstrom's but Lidstrom has been an elite defender for TWICE as long as Potvin.

A Conn Smythe is just the cherry on top.

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