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Calder Trophy - importance

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06-16-2010, 07:44 PM
  #1
Hockey Outsider
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Calder Trophy - importance

Hi everyone. I wanted to expand a topic that was recently brought up in the Alfredsson vs Sittler thread.

I was wondering how much significant (if any) you place on the Calder trophy in judging a player's legacy.

Arguments that the Calder is worth considering:

- Calder winners are above-average players. I have quickly counted 29 current or probable Hall of Fame players who won the Calder (Dryden, Hall, Sawchuk, Brodeur, Belfour, T. Esposito, Worsley, Brimsek, Orr, Bourque, Potvin, Leetch, Lemieux, Trottier, Bossy, Geoffrion, Apps, Ovechkin, Stastny, Keon, Mahovlich, Makarov, Forsberg, Bure, Selanne, Perreault, Hawerchuk, Robitaille, Laprade). That was a quick count, and I may have missed a few. Thus, roughly one in three Calder winners goes on to have a Hall of Fame calibre career. (The counter-argument to this is that each of those players, without exception, almost certainly would have earned a spot in the Hall of Fame, even without a great rookie season).

- Hockey sense. I've heard many people argue that in order to be successful in the NHL, rookies need to have exceptional hockey sense (which allows them to compete with more experienced athletes). Thus, a Calder trophy can be taken as a proxy for good hockey sense. (The counter-argument, of course, is that many non-Calder winners have exceptional hockey sense. Also, some recent Calder winners (Samsonov, Raycroft) don't seem to be inordinately intelligent players.

Arguments that the Calder is not worth considering:

- Slow starts. Some of the greatest players of all-time (Howe, Hull, Harvey, etc) had slow starts to their career. In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter that it took them a few years to get acclimated to the NHL?

- Illogical eligibility rules. The NHL's rules for determining who's eligible for the Calder are contradictory. I still find it absurd that the NHL completely discounts Gretzky's accomplishments in the WHA - yet uses his time in that league to rule him ineligible for the Calder. Either his professional experience should fully count, or it shouldn't count as all. Meanwhile, a 31 year old Sergei Makarov, with a decade of high-level professional experience, was eligible for (and won) the Calder ten years after Gretzky was denied.

- Age. There's no question that even one year can make a significant impact in a player's development early in their career. One could argue that Gordie Howe, in the long run, gained a lot of valuable experience playing in the NHL at age 18 - but he had little chance of winning the Calder at that age. (Only three players ever won the Calder at 18 - Orr, Hawerchuk and Barrasso). There have been numerous rookies who won the Calder at age 25 (or older!), having the benefit of several years of additional training, conditioning and development. Comparing a 25 year old rookie to an 18 year old rookie is not fair or meaningful.

- Unnecessary focus. Ultimately, a rookie season is just one year out of a player's career. It doesn't make sense to place undue focus on the first year of a player's career. We should consider all of a player's seasons. It's not logical to look only at, say, the eighth year of a player's career and give an award based on that.

- Rookie classes. A player winning the Calder is highly dependent on who else is in his rookie class. Chris Chelios had a very good rookie season but went up against Mario Lemieux; Barrett Jackman also had a very good rookie season but went up against Henrik Zetterberg. Does it tell us anything meaningful that Jackman has a Calder but Chelios doesn't? Obviously Chelios had a far better career - but I'd even argue that Chelios had an equally good rookie season. He just didn't win the Calder because he had the misfortune of being a rookie the same year as le Magnifique.

Conclusion

Overall, I think the Calder trophy has minimal value in judging a player's legacy, for the reasons listed above. As a general rule, I never use winning (not winning) the Calder as an argument for (against) a player. What are your thoughts?

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06-16-2010, 08:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
Hi everyone. I wanted to expand a topic that was recently brought up in the Alfredsson vs Sittler thread.

I was wondering how much significant (if any) you place on the Calder trophy in judging a player's legacy.

Arguments that the Calder is worth considering:

- Calder winners are above-average players. I have quickly counted 29 current or probable Hall of Fame players who won the Calder (Dryden, Hall, Sawchuk, Brodeur, Belfour, T. Esposito, Worsley, Brimsek, Orr, Bourque, Potvin, Leetch, Lemieux, Trottier, Bossy, Geoffrion, Apps, Ovechkin, Stastny, Keon, Mahovlich, Makarov, Forsberg, Bure, Selanne, Perreault, Hawerchuk, Robitaille, Laprade). That was a quick count, and I may have missed a few. Thus, roughly one in three Calder winners goes on to have a Hall of Fame calibre career. (The counter-argument to this is that each of those players, without exception, almost certainly would have earned a spot in the Hall of Fame, even without a great rookie season).

- Hockey sense. I've heard many people argue that in order to be successful in the NHL, rookies need to have exceptional hockey sense (which allows them to compete with more experienced athletes). Thus, a Calder trophy can be taken as a proxy for good hockey sense. (The counter-argument, of course, is that many non-Calder winners have exceptional hockey sense. Also, some recent Calder winners (Samsonov, Raycroft) don't seem to be inordinately intelligent players.

Arguments that the Calder is not worth considering:

- Slow starts. Some of the greatest players of all-time (Howe, Hull, Harvey, etc) had slow starts to their career. In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter that it took them a few years to get acclimated to the NHL?

- Illogical eligibility rules. The NHL's rules for determining who's eligible for the Calder are contradictory. I still find it absurd that the NHL completely discounts Gretzky's accomplishments in the WHA - yet uses his time in that league to rule him ineligible for the Calder. Either his professional experience should fully count, or it shouldn't count as all. Meanwhile, a 31 year old Sergei Makarov, with a decade of high-level professional experience, was eligible for (and won) the Calder ten years after Gretzky was denied.

- Age. There's no question that even one year can make a significant impact in a player's development early in their career. One could argue that Gordie Howe, in the long run, gained a lot of valuable experience playing in the NHL at age 18 - but he had little chance of winning the Calder at that age. (Only three players ever won the Calder at 18 - Orr, Hawerchuk and Barrasso). There have been numerous rookies who won the Calder at age 25 (or older!), having the benefit of several years of additional training, conditioning and development. Comparing a 25 year old rookie to an 18 year old rookie is not fair or meaningful.

- Unnecessary focus. Ultimately, a rookie season is just one year out of a player's career. It doesn't make sense to place undue focus on the first year of a player's career. We should consider all of a player's seasons. It's not logical to look only at, say, the eighth year of a player's career and give an award based on that.

- Rookie classes. A player winning the Calder is highly dependent on who else is in his rookie class. Chris Chelios had a very good rookie season but went up against Mario Lemieux; Barrett Jackman also had a very good rookie season but went up against Henrik Zetterberg. Does it tell us anything meaningful that Jackman has a Calder but Chelios doesn't? Obviously Chelios had a far better career - but I'd even argue that Chelios had an equally good rookie season. He just didn't win the Calder because he had the misfortune of being a rookie the same year as le Magnifique.

Conclusion

Overall, I think the Calder trophy has minimal value in judging a player's legacy, for the reasons listed above. As a general rule, I never use winning (not winning) the Calder as an argument for (against) a player. What are your thoughts?
I agree. It is certainly an notable achievement in it's own right, but is not something I look at in judging career value. (the award itself)

Gordie Howe was not the best rookie the year he started, at 18, nor was he the best of the players that retired after his final year, at age 51; those years were certainly part of a great career, very noteworthy for what they were, but the rest of his career certainly overwhelms those two years in the grand scheme of things.


Last edited by Crosbyfan: 06-16-2010 at 08:20 PM.
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06-16-2010, 08:24 PM
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Its all relative to who you are comparing. If you are comparing two players who had equal careers but one started out great and conitued great while the other started slow and then developed into an equal player as the first. I would conclude that the first player who won calder or had a calderish season is the better player. However in a Lemieux vs. Gretzky debate calder trophy would be rendered meaningless.

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06-16-2010, 09:12 PM
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Calder Counterpoint

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
Hi everyone. I wanted to expand a topic that was recently brought up in the Alfredsson vs Sittler thread.

I was wondering how much significant (if any) you place on the Calder trophy in judging a player's legacy.

Arguments that the Calder is worth considering:

- Calder winners are above-average players. I have quickly counted 29 current or probable Hall of Fame players who won the Calder (Dryden, Hall, Sawchuk, Brodeur, Belfour, T. Esposito, Worsley, Brimsek, Orr, Bourque, Potvin, Leetch, Lemieux, Trottier, Bossy, Geoffrion, Apps, Ovechkin, Stastny, Keon, Mahovlich, Makarov, Forsberg, Bure, Selanne, Perreault, Hawerchuk, Robitaille, Laprade). That was a quick count, and I may have missed a few. Thus, roughly one in three Calder winners goes on to have a Hall of Fame calibre career. (The counter-argument to this is that each of those players, without exception, almost certainly would have earned a spot in the Hall of Fame, even without a great rookie season).

- Hockey sense. I've heard many people argue that in order to be successful in the NHL, rookies need to have exceptional hockey sense (which allows them to compete with more experienced athletes). Thus, a Calder trophy can be taken as a proxy for good hockey sense. (The counter-argument, of course, is that many non-Calder winners have exceptional hockey sense. Also, some recent Calder winners (Samsonov, Raycroft) don't seem to be inordinately intelligent players.

Arguments that the Calder is not worth considering:

- Slow starts. Some of the greatest players of all-time (Howe, Hull, Harvey, etc) had slow starts to their career. In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter that it took them a few years to get acclimated to the NHL?

- Illogical eligibility rules. The NHL's rules for determining who's eligible for the Calder are contradictory. I still find it absurd that the NHL completely discounts Gretzky's accomplishments in the WHA - yet uses his time in that league to rule him ineligible for the Calder. Either his professional experience should fully count, or it shouldn't count as all. Meanwhile, a 31 year old Sergei Makarov, with a decade of high-level professional experience, was eligible for (and won) the Calder ten years after Gretzky was denied.

- Age. There's no question that even one year can make a significant impact in a player's development early in their career. One could argue that Gordie Howe, in the long run, gained a lot of valuable experience playing in the NHL at age 18 - but he had little chance of winning the Calder at that age. (Only three players ever won the Calder at 18 - Orr, Hawerchuk and Barrasso). There have been numerous rookies who won the Calder at age 25 (or older!), having the benefit of several years of additional training, conditioning and development. Comparing a 25 year old rookie to an 18 year old rookie is not fair or meaningful.

- Unnecessary focus. Ultimately, a rookie season is just one year out of a player's career. It doesn't make sense to place undue focus on the first year of a player's career. We should consider all of a player's seasons. It's not logical to look only at, say, the eighth year of a player's career and give an award based on that.

- Rookie classes. A player winning the Calder is highly dependent on who else is in his rookie class. Chris Chelios had a very good rookie season but went up against Mario Lemieux; Barrett Jackman also had a very good rookie season but went up against Henrik Zetterberg. Does it tell us anything meaningful that Jackman has a Calder but Chelios doesn't? Obviously Chelios had a far better career - but I'd even argue that Chelios had an equally good rookie season. He just didn't win the Calder because he had the misfortune of being a rookie the same year as le Magnifique.

Conclusion

Overall, I think the Calder trophy has minimal value in judging a player's legacy, for the reasons listed above. As a general rule, I never use winning (not winning) the Calder as an argument for (against) a player. What are your thoughts?
The Calder is a very interesting yet often misunderstood award. Since 1937 the Calder Trophy has been awarded to the NHL's best rookie.

Two ways of interpreting the link between the Calder and a HHOF career. Globally with projections like HO resulting in slightly more than 1/3 of the Calder winners being seen as HHOFers or dropping the last twenty years until careers are over and showing a result where app 45% of the winners make the HHOF. Question of presenting data to favour a point of view.

The Calder Trophy is a very valuable indicator about an important NHL dynamic - how a rookie player with no or very limited NHL experience integrates a team. How such a player becomes a reliable and contributing member to a team and how quickly he does it.How the ego is checked at the door and how quickly the player becomes a teammate during his first season.

Also it is not a stand alone award, rather it is supported by an All-Rookie Team since 1982-83:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/awar...ll_rookie.html

Anyone so inclined can easily create retro All-Rookie Teams.

What happens to a player's career beyond his first season is a distinct issue. Still the Calder combined with the All-Rookie Team allows the interested observer to chart the progress of the player towards or away from a HHOF career.

Looking at some of the issues raised.

Hockey Sense. Any player that makes the NHL has a high level of hockey sense. The Calder recognizes this from the standpoint of how the hockey sense is applied to integrating the team. Post rookie season performance reflects how the hockey sense is refined and improved.

Slow Starts. So what. Players who start slowly show a greater capacity to learn and develop. Yes Hull finished behind Mahovlich in the Calder. The career curve shows greater development for Hull. Same analysis holds in other instances.

Illogical eligibility rules. to be expected since the rules reflect the changing nature of the game and provenance of new players.

Age. Fair or meaningful. Comparing an 18 year old to a 25 year old.
Definitely fair since they are playing on the same ice surface while competing for other awards - Norris, AS, etc. Meaningful also since it raises important questions about development - the three 18 year old winners had short careers relatively speaking, - cost / benefit of playing in the NHL at 18.

Unnecessary Focus. Puzzled by this one as the 8th year analogy does not help at all. Basically a horrific start eliminates the post rookie years since there is no past performance to fall back on.Players who have a horrific first year or few games are not invited back - end of NHL career.The Calder recognizes the importance and difficulty of the rookie season.At the end of the career the HHOF recognizes how the player progressed beyond the rookie season regardless of whether he won the Calder or not. Two bookends.

Rookie Class. Winning is dependent on who the competing rookies are. Two edged sword here. True for most awards or honours that people value highly - the old refrain well no AS Team nominations shouldn't count for player X because he was the third best center in the NHL behind Gretzky and Lemieux. Cannot have it both ways. Barret Jackman did beat Jay Bouwmeester who was drafted much higher, interesting omen about Bouwmeester's career to date. Conversely look at arguably the best rookie class in history - 1955-56. Glenn Hall - Calder, Henri Richard, Norm Ullman, John Bucyk, Dick Duff. Track the career paths and the impact on hockey - emergence of LWers and you see the value of the trophy.

Conclusion.
The Calder Trophy has a few flaws. One it is not a statistically friendly trophy. Those that like to paper discussions with statistics cannot throw out the usual well so and so in the 1980's had a 2/3/3/7/9 string of Calder votes while so and so in the 1950's only had a 3/3/4/8/9 string so the player from the 1980's must be better.
Also the Calder requires a lot of work on an individual basis. digging thru stats to see the impact or certain rookies-Keon being a prime example, looking at various factors to gauge progress, etc.

In closing the Calder Trophy is a valuable tool in understanding a player's career. Like any tool it's value is limited by the ability of the user to handle it properly.

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06-16-2010, 09:19 PM
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Calder is completely unimportant. The NHL proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt with the Calder fiascos of 1980 and 1990.

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06-16-2010, 10:15 PM
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I really couldn't care less about this trophy. It has no weight whatsoever with me when evaluating a player. Extremely small amount of eligible players and extreme disparity in the quality of these players from year to year.

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06-16-2010, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrx View Post
Its all relative to who you are comparing. If you are comparing two players who had equal careers but one started out great and conitued great while the other started slow and then developed into an equal player as the first. I would conclude that the first player who won calder or had a calderish season is the better player. However in a Lemieux vs. Gretzky debate calder trophy would be rendered meaningless.
if all things are equal, then what difference does it make if one guy had a better rookie season than the other? if the careers are more or less equal, the second guy made up the disparity in their first seasons somewhere along the way.

put it this way: most will say that sakic and yzerman are very close. neither won the calder, but yzerman finished a close second to a vezina-winning year by barrasso. in most years, that's a calder trophy. in fact, i think yzerman was even named the hockey news rookie of the year. sakic, on the other hand, didn't become an impact player until his second season, when he became the first player to ever score 100 points on a last place team. when comparing these two guys, what significance does yzerman's superior rookie season have?

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06-16-2010, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle McMahon View Post
I really couldn't care less about this trophy. It has no weight whatsoever with me when evaluating a player. Extremely small amount of eligible players and extreme disparity in the quality of these players from year to year.
Same here.

It's a nice trophy to get for the guy who gets it. But I don't care about it at all when a player's career is over.

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06-17-2010, 12:21 AM
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Once Ovechkin and Crosby have retired, I'm sure the deciding factor in who had the better career will not be the fact that Ovechkin was the better of the two as a rookie.

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06-17-2010, 04:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
if all things are equal, then what difference does it make if one guy had a better rookie season than the other? if the careers are more or less equal, the second guy made up the disparity in their first seasons somewhere along the way.

put it this way: most will say that sakic and yzerman are very close. neither won the calder, but yzerman finished a close second to a vezina-winning year by barrasso. in most years, that's a calder trophy. in fact, i think yzerman was even named the hockey news rookie of the year. sakic, on the other hand, didn't become an impact player until his second season, when he became the first player to ever score 100 points on a last place team. when comparing these two guys, what significance does yzerman's superior rookie season have?
Well look at it this way. One guy finishes 10 seasons with 50 points and the other has 10, 23, 30 and then 50 points. Who is the better player? The guy that makes an impact right away or the guy who starts slow and then makes an equal impact?

The Sakic - Yzerman comparison was kind of stupid as Sakic was the front runner for the Calder until he got injured.

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06-18-2010, 11:12 AM
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To add to the list of reasons to not consider the Calder important in a player's legacy:

Games played threshold for eligibility. Like any trophy, you need to play at least 3/4 of a season to get serious consideration for it. But once you've played 25 games then this is considered your rookie season, like it or not. So a player who plays extremely well for 30 games has zero shot at the award and loses their eligibility the next season.

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06-18-2010, 07:39 PM
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The Calder:

Very important nod to The young up and coming Stars & the game `s future..

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06-18-2010, 08:33 PM
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If a guy is on the borderline, it's a nice little feather in his cap that adds a bit of star quality.

But generally, no, it's not a very important award when looking at HHOF merit, for a lot of reasons.

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06-18-2010, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrx View Post
The Sakic - Yzerman comparison was kind of stupid as Sakic was the front runner for the Calder until he got injured.
Sakic was a contender, but I don't think he was ever ahead of Leetch in the minds of voters. At the start of the year everyone thought it would be Sean Burke, then when he slumped it was Leetch and Granato as the front-runners for the first half of the season before Leetch pulled away in the second half (despite a shameless partisan push by Don Cherry for Trevor Linden).

Sakic was producing and had a fine year, but he wasn't carrying his team the way Leetch did.

Quote:
Well look at it this way. One guy finishes 10 seasons with 50 points and the other has 10, 23, 30 and then 50 points. Who is the better player? The guy that makes an impact right away or the guy who starts slow and then makes an equal impact?
Obviously the first one, but it depends on their age. If Player A is starting at 23 or 24 while Player B is starting at 19 or 20 then they'd be equal in that example at age 24.


Last edited by reckoning: 06-18-2010 at 09:02 PM.
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06-18-2010, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryan87 View Post
Once Ovechkin and Crosby have retired, I'm sure the deciding factor in who had the better career will not be the fact that Ovechkin was the better of the two as a rookie.
For the record, Crosby at 18 was better than Ovechkin at 18.

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06-18-2010, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
if all things are equal, then what difference does it make if one guy had a better rookie season than the other? if the careers are more or less equal, the second guy made up the disparity in their first seasons somewhere along the way.
That's actually a good point, if you compare Player A and Player B:

Player A:

SEASON GP G A PTS
1 82 20 20 40
2 82 0 0 0

Player B:

SEASON GP G A PTS
1 82 0 0 0
2 82 20 20 40

The 2 players would be realistically perfect equals, but one would have an NHL trophy and one wouldn't. But the 2 players would still be equal.

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06-19-2010, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
That's actually a good point, if you compare Player A and Player B:

Player A:

SEASON GP G A PTS
1 82 20 20 40
2 82 0 0 0

Player B:

SEASON GP G A PTS
1 82 0 0 0
2 82 20 20 40

The 2 players would be realistically perfect equals, but one would have an NHL trophy and one wouldn't. But the 2 players would still be equal.
[QUOTE=SidGenoMario;26359175]That's actually a good point, if you compare Player A and Player B:

Player A:

SEASON GP G A PTS
1 82 20 20 40
2 82 20 20 40
3 82 20 20 40
4 82 20 20 40

Player B:

SEASON GP G A PTS
1 82 0 0 0
2 82 20 20 40
3 82 20 20 40
4 82 20 20 40

both players start as 20 year olds. How is better?

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06-19-2010, 06:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning View Post
Sakic was a contender, but I don't think he was ever ahead of Leetch in the minds of voters. At the start of the year everyone thought it would be Sean Burke, then when he slumped it was Leetch and Granato as the front-runners for the first half of the season before Leetch pulled away in the second half (despite a shameless partisan push by Don Cherry for Trevor Linden).

Sakic was producing and had a fine year, but he wasn't carrying his team the way Leetch did.
If remember correctly he was a front runner until the injury but I agree that leetch was "better".

Quote:
Obviously the first one, but it depends on their age. If Player A is starting at 23 or 24 while Player B is starting at 19 or 20 then they'd be equal in that example at age 24.
What if player A starts at 23 and retires at 40 while still producing high numbers and Player B retires at 35 with those bad first year numbers? All I'm saying is that Calder could be important if know how to use it in context.

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06-20-2010, 01:26 AM
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[QUOTE=jkrx;26361127]
Quote:
Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
That's actually a good point, if you compare Player A and Player B:

Player A:

SEASON GP G A PTS
1 82 20 20 40
2 82 20 20 40
3 82 20 20 40
4 82 20 20 40

Player B:

SEASON GP G A PTS
1 82 0 0 0
2 82 20 20 40
3 82 20 20 40
4 82 20 20 40

both players start as 20 year olds. How is better?

That's nothing to do with what I posted. I posted 2 players with identical point totals and PPG averages. The only difference was one player got a trophy and the other didn't. So the trophy was completely arbitrary.

In your example, of course player A is better, but not necessarily because his rookie season was better, just because his 4 seasons were better than the other player's 4 seasons. It really is irrelevant which player had the better rookie season. If 2 players end up with equal statistical resumes, then that means the player with the worse rookie season made up for it somewhere along the road, but yet, the better rookie will have an extra trophy in his trophy case. It's an irrelevant trophy. You might as well have a trophy for the best 7th year player in the league. We could have a 12th season trophy as well, just for kicks.

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