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Langway vs. Coffey '83, '84

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01-13-2006, 02:32 PM
  #1
Big Phil
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Langway vs. Coffey '83, '84

In '83 Rod Langway won the Norris Trophy with 32 points. Paul Coffey that year had 96 points. The next year Langway won the Norris again with 33 points. Coffey had 126 points. Coffey then won the next two Norris Trophies. But my question to everyone is: was the result of Langway winning the Norris due to his outstanding defensive presence despite lack of offense or was it due to Coffey's sometimes mediocre defense. Or was it a combination of both.

Personally I think Langway was a very great defensive defenseman who was actually runner up to Gretzky in the Hart Trophy voting in '83 I believe. And despite his offense he could be my defenseman anyday of the week. Now Coffey has always been criticized for his defense. he was average defensively IMO. he wouldnt throw a hard check so much but he's always be in position and had the speed to backcheck any time he led the rush.

But how did a huge point differential like that result in Langway winning the Norris? Do oyu think Langway was that GOOd defensively or Coffey that BAD defensively?

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01-13-2006, 03:12 PM
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Rod Langway was very, very, good defensively. He was also a leader and a great presence on the ice.

It's no accident that the Caps became contenders once Langway and Engblom came down from Montreal. (Acquiring Stevens in the 82 draft was umm, a minor help too).

His Norris trophies, however, always seemed to be an obvious effort to refute the notion that they simply handed out the Norris trophy to the highest scoring defenseman.

Neither Langway or Coffey were the best all around defenseman in the league during those seasons, Ray Bourque was.

Bourque was just as valuable to the Bruin's as Langway was to Washington during those two years and he also put up great offensive totals, despite really only having Rick Middleton and Barry Pederson as comparable talents on his own team.

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01-13-2006, 03:33 PM
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Very good question. Obviously, the only thing Coffey and Langway have in common is they were called defensemen. My take is the criteria used were focused much heavier on defensive skills rather than point totals. Langway was in a different league compared to Coffey in that regard.
As another poster mentioned, the best d-man of that period was Bourque, who was the perfect combination of the two. Stevens was close too, but moreso after 1984.

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01-13-2006, 05:33 PM
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Well Coffey was one of the best skaters of the league, could QB the pp like there's no tomorrow, he had one of the best outlet passes in the league and was offensively very very gifted. He was also an adequate defender in his own right. Langway, from what I've heard and from the VERY little I've seen, was like the PREMIERE defender, he played the defensive game so well and could shut out anybody because he was such a technically perfect adherent of the game. But those 33 points sure are laughable though considering the era he played in.

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01-14-2006, 09:33 AM
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To make up for a 93 point difference, Langway should have had to not allow a goal against all year to be better than Coffey.

Give me Mark Howe and Scott Stevens, two that never won the Norris over Langway and his two anyday of the week.

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01-14-2006, 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Flyers Fan
To make up for a 93 point difference, Langway should have had to not allow a goal against all year to be better than Coffey.
In 1983, Coffey was on the ice for 98 ES goals-against in 80 games. Langway was on the ice for 100 ES goals-against in 80 games.

In 1984, Coffey was on the ice for 107 ES goals-against in 80 games. Langway was on the ice for 80 ES goals-against in 80 games.

At first glance, it appears impossible to say that Langway was the better overall player. In those two years, he was on the ice for 25 fewer goals, but was outscored by 157 pts! However, there are other factors to consider:

- Penalty-killing. Langway was an excellent penalty-killer while Coffey wasn't. This gives Langway an advantage. How many points is an excellent penalty-killer worth?

- Opposition. Langway played close to 30 minutes per night against the other team's best offensive players, while Coffey generally played the opposition's best defensive players. This inflated the number of goals scored against Langway and understated the number of goals scored against Coffey. So Langway was better than the numbers indicate (but it's impossible to say how much better)

- Ice time. Ice time wasn't tracked back then, but I'm fairly sure they both played around 28-30 minutes per game, so this isn't a major factor in the comparison.

- Teammates. In 1983 the Capitals were a better defensive team, by 32 goals. In 1984, the Capitals were a better team by 88 goals. Obviously the Capitals were a better defensive team than Edmonton. On one hand, you can give credit to Langway since he was the key player in the Capitals' excellent defense. On the other hand, you can credit Coffey for putting up relatively good defensive numbers on such a bad defensive team.

Overall I'd find it hard to give Langway the Norris in '83 or '84. He was on the ice for approximately the same number of goals as Coffey and was outscored by 75 pts per year. The "subjective" factors don't give him a strong enough boost to overcome his deficit in scoring.

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01-15-2006, 11:26 AM
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1982-83
NORRIS: (58-61-54)
1. Rod Langway, Wsh 180 (24-16-12)
2. Mark Howe, Phi 155 (13-24-18)
3. Ray Bourque, Bos 139 (19-11-11)
4. Doug Wilson, Chi 29 (2-4-7)
5. Paul Coffey, Edm 24 (0-6-6)

1983-84
NORRIS: Rod Langway 227 (37-11-9); Paul Coffey 126 (12-18-12); Ray Bourque 120 (9-20-15); Denis Potvin 66 (4-9-19); Phil Housley 4 (0-1-1); Charlie Huddy 3 (0-1-0); Mike O’Connell 3 (0-1-0); Scott Stevens 3 (0-1-0); Barry Beck 2 (0-0-2); Mario Marois 1 (0-0-1); Mark Howe 1 (0-0-1); Mike Ramsey 1 (0-0-1); Ken Morrow 1 (0-0-1)

team - year - off - ppgf - def - ppga
edm - 82-83 - 338 - 86 - 226 - 89
was - 82-83 - 231 - 75 - 230 - 53
edm - 83-84 - 365 - 81 - 237 - 77
was - 83-84 - 231 - 77 - 187 - 39

player - year - off - ppgf - def - ppga
Coffey - 82-83 - 150 - 69 - 98 - 19
Langway 82-83 - 100 - 7 - 100 - 35
Coffey - 83-84 - 159 - 71 - 107 - 21
Langway 83-84 - 94 - 18 - 80 - 26

player - year - off% - ppgf% - def% - ppga%
Coffey - 82-83 - 44.4 - 80.2 - 43.4 - 21.3
Langway 82-83 - 43.3 - 9.3 - 43.5 - 66.0
Coffey - 83-84 - 43.6 - 87.7 - 45.1 - 27.3
Langway 83-84 - 40.7 - 23.4 - 42.8 - 66.7

Coffey's 96 points gave him points in 22.6% of Edmonton's goals in 82-83. His 126 points is 28.3% for 83-84. Langway had 32 points for 10.5% in 82-83 and 33 points for 10.7% in 83-84.

The main thing factoring in Langway's Norris wins is the huge improvement in Washington's record upon his arrival. Before 82-83 the Caps had never made the playoffs in their 8 year history. In 81-82 they had a 26-41-13 record and had 338 GA. In 82-83 they made the playoffs with a 39-25-16 record and 283 GA. That's a 29 point and 55 GA improvement. Add in that Montreal dropped by 11 points and 63 GA after he left, and a legend is born.

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01-15-2006, 11:44 AM
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Most people know that Paul Coffey should be retired with at least a minimum 5 norris trophies not 3. There is not 1 defenseman in NHL history who finished with over 125 points in a season and had a +- of over + 60 not to win. It was pretty much highway robery at that time. You look at the amount of defeseman since then to win the norris trophies strictly based on their offesive ability its laughable. Coffey was actually decent defending his zone to. He didnt defend using physical tactics but a blend of finesse and skating rarely seen in any defenseman since Orr

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01-15-2006, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider
Overall I'd find it hard to give Langway the Norris in '83 or '84. He was on the ice for approximately the same number of goals as Coffey and was outscored by 75 pts per year. The "subjective" factors don't give him a strong enough boost to overcome his deficit in scoring.
Outstanding analysis. The main question is how do you judge a players contributions. The starting point is how much success your team has, the whole point is winning the game. But if you`re going to have more success if your teammates are better. The best method I`ve seen is Bill James Win Shares system for baseball. He gives each team 3 shares for every game they win and then divies up the shares based on how much each player contributed. The guy with the most shares in the league is the best player. This way the primary goal of winning is rewarded, but it`s still possible to do well if you`re agreat player on a lousy team (i.e. A-Rod with Texas.)

How do you apply it to hockey, where the numbers aren`t as black-and-white as baseball? There`s several systems out there from Iian Fyffe, Alan Ryder as well as the on your site. I`ve tried my own but a weakness with math and spreadsheet knowledge made me give up, but if we take the general logic behind the Win Shares system, we can see that Langway was far better than his stats would indicate.

For example the `84 season:

Washington did very well with 101 points- 5th overall. They finished 11th offensively, but 1st defensively. So obviously the majority of Washington`s success was due to their defence. Their goalies were Pat Riggin and Al Jensen; capable but not spectacular. Neither were in the top 5 in save %. However, the Caps defence gave up less shots than any other team.

So we have a team that was very successful, primarily due to it`s defence whose success was due more to its players than its goalies. But which players get the credit? Here`s where Langway comes in.

The best starting point is which players were on the ice the most- most ice-time estimates would give Langway close to 28 min. That gets even better when you consider that he didn`t play much on the power-play, so that icetime lead at evenstrength and shorthanded becomes even larger. Washington had the top penalty-killing % that year, Langway led the team in PK ice time. He led the team in ES ice time, and as his point totals show it wasn`t because of his offence so it had to be because of his defence.

All this points to the fact that Langway was the top contributor on one of the best teams that season. As for Coffey, he contributed a lot of offence an even better team who`s success was due to its` offence. But was he Edmonton`s top offensive contributor?
Gretzky 87 goals, 118 assists, 205 pts.
Coffey 40 goals, 86 assists, 126 pts.
No he wasn`t.

There`s been lots of other defencemen who had similar years to Langways that were never Norris candidates. Why him? Before his Norris wins the last two winners were Doug Wilson and Randy Carlyle; good but hardly great defencemen who only won because of high point totals. It was the era of 8-5 games and contrary to current belief it wasn`t great hockey; a lot of it was ridiculously sloppy. Anyways, there was a lot of complaining that defensive play wasn`t being recognized in the Norris voting so it was accepted that barring a miraculous Orr-like offensive season, the next Norris would go to the top defensive defenceman, who happened to be Langway. When the Caps became a top team the following year for the reasons previously listed, it was logical that Langway would repeat.

Not trying to take anything away from Langway but those very same seasons wouldn`t have been recognized by Norris voters five years earlier, and without those Norris trophies, considering he had no lengthy playoff run in his prime, he wouldn`t get in the Hall.

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01-15-2006, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning
It was the era of 8-5 games and contrary to current belief it wasn`t great hockey; a lot of it was ridiculously sloppy. Anyways, there was a lot of complaining that defensive play wasn`t being recognized in the Norris voting so it was accepted that barring a miraculous Orr-like offensive season, the next Norris would go to the top defensive defenceman, who happened to be Langway. When the Caps became a top team the following year for the reasons previously listed, it was logical that Langway would repeat.

Not trying to take anything away from Langway but those very same seasons wouldn`t have been recognized by Norris voters five years earlier, and without those Norris trophies, considering he had no lengthy playoff run in his prime, he wouldn`t get in the Hall.
You hit the nail on the head - when your team wins 8-5 should your defenceman win the Norris? I watched Langway at the Forum even in 79 when he was a bit player and before games when he'd skate backwards alone warming up. There was was no one in the league even then that could match his skating, size, hitting and hands. When he learnt to play (from Larry) he was the best defender in the league outside of Bourque.

To me its a travesty that Bourque didnt win 10 Norris Trophies in era of 80-95. Coffey (listed at 6' 200lbs!) was actually like a junior defenceman compared to Ray Bourque.

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01-16-2006, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning
Outstanding analysis. The main question is how do you judge a players contributions. The starting point is how much success your team has, the whole point is winning the game. But if you`re going to have more success if your teammates are better. The best method I`ve seen is Bill James Win Shares system for baseball. He gives each team 3 shares for every game they win and then divies up the shares based on how much each player contributed. The guy with the most shares in the league is the best player. This way the primary goal of winning is rewarded, but it`s still possible to do well if you`re agreat player on a lousy team (i.e. A-Rod with Texas.)

How do you apply it to hockey, where the numbers aren`t as black-and-white as baseball? There`s several systems out there from Iian Fyffe, Alan Ryder as well as the on your site. I`ve tried my own but a weakness with math and spreadsheet knowledge made me give up, but if we take the general logic behind the Win Shares system, we can see that Langway was far better than his stats would indicate.

For example the `84 season:

Washington did very well with 101 points- 5th overall. They finished 11th offensively, but 1st defensively. So obviously the majority of Washington`s success was due to their defence. Their goalies were Pat Riggin and Al Jensen; capable but not spectacular. Neither were in the top 5 in save %. However, the Caps defence gave up less shots than any other team.

So we have a team that was very successful, primarily due to it`s defence whose success was due more to its players than its goalies. But which players get the credit? Here`s where Langway comes in.

The best starting point is which players were on the ice the most- most ice-time estimates would give Langway close to 28 min. That gets even better when you consider that he didn`t play much on the power-play, so that icetime lead at evenstrength and shorthanded becomes even larger. Washington had the top penalty-killing % that year, Langway led the team in PK ice time. He led the team in ES ice time, and as his point totals show it wasn`t because of his offence so it had to be because of his defence.

All this points to the fact that Langway was the top contributor on one of the best teams that season. As for Coffey, he contributed a lot of offence an even better team who`s success was due to its` offence. But was he Edmonton`s top offensive contributor?
Gretzky 87 goals, 118 assists, 205 pts.
Coffey 40 goals, 86 assists, 126 pts.
No he wasn`t.
This is a great point. I agree that one of the best features in James's system is that it rewards players' performances to the extent it helps their team win. I also agree that defense (ie defensive play, not goaltending) was the driving force behind the Cap's success so Langway was better than the numbers indicate. I still don't know if all of this enough to make my vote for Langway over Coffey but at least analysis like this takes us in the right direction. (Perhaps a more balanced player like Bourque or Howe deserved consideration those years as well).

Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning
There`s been lots of other defencemen who had similar years to Langways that were never Norris candidates. Why him? Before his Norris wins the last two winners were Doug Wilson and Randy Carlyle; good but hardly great defencemen who only won because of high point totals. It was the era of 8-5 games and contrary to current belief it wasn`t great hockey; a lot of it was ridiculously sloppy. Anyways, there was a lot of complaining that defensive play wasn`t being recognized in the Norris voting so it was accepted that barring a miraculous Orr-like offensive season, the next Norris would go to the top defensive defenceman, who happened to be Langway. When the Caps became a top team the following year for the reasons previously listed, it was logical that Langway would repeat.

Not trying to take anything away from Langway but those very same seasons wouldn`t have been recognized by Norris voters five years earlier, and without those Norris trophies, considering he had no lengthy playoff run in his prime, he wouldn`t get in the Hall.
Good point. The criteria voters look for with the awards definitely changes over time (especially the Selke). Langway was fortunate to play when the writers all wanted to pick a defense-first blueliner. Maybe if they voted defense-first a couple of years later, Brad McCrimmon would have won a Norris. (Maybe that's an extreme example, but I'd take him over Carlyle, who won it strictly on offense).

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01-21-2006, 08:55 PM
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Paul Coffey was a better player then Rod Langway its ludicrous to suggest they belong in the same league. Langway had 1 thing on Paul Coffey and that was physical play. Langway was a better physical player no doubt in a tougher conference for scoring goals, but in every other aspect of hockey he wasnt on Paul Coffeys level, this is not a debate its a fact. Put that Washington Capital team in the western conference those 2 seasons and im sure langway wouldnt look as good having gretzky bearing down on him. You have to put everything in context, if you want to use "what ifs" then do you really beleive Langway would look half as decent as Coffey on those Oiler teams playing a wide open run and gun type of hockey? as for saying Coffey looked liked a junior player in front of Bourque in the eighties?...... what were you watching ? table tennis during that era?? tell me your are joking me right?!

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01-22-2006, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by soulok
as for saying Coffey looked liked a junior player in front of Bourque in the eighties?...... what were you watching ? table tennis during that era?? tell me your are joking me right?!
Youre right - I meant in the nineties as well.

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01-22-2006, 07:54 PM
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In the nineties I give the edge to Bourque based on his all around ability, but the eighties belonged to Coffey and Potvin, Bourque in my opinion was 3rd. A great defenseman, but not as well suited to the wide open hockey of the eighties as good as Coffey. Only Orr can match Coffeys offensive game, other then Orr, no one is close.

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01-22-2006, 10:08 PM
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I have to ask, where did you find the voting results for the Norris?. Is there a good online site with voting results for all the NHL Trophys?.

I'd be curious to see how the voters voted for the HART and some other awards.
Looking around I've found very little voting results period.

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01-22-2006, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozzie
I have to ask, where did you find the voting results for the Norris?. Is there a good online site with voting results for all the NHL Trophys?.

I'd be curious to see how the voters voted for the HART and some other awards.
Looking around I've found very little voting results period.
Right here in this forum: http://www.hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=145895

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01-23-2006, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider
In 1983, Coffey was on the ice for 98 ES goals-against in 80 games. Langway was on the ice for 100 ES goals-against in 80 games.

In 1984, Coffey was on the ice for 107 ES goals-against in 80 games. Langway was on the ice for 80 ES goals-against in 80 games.

At first glance, it appears impossible to say that Langway was the better overall player. In those two years, he was on the ice for 25 fewer goals, but was outscored by 157 pts! However, there are other factors to consider:

- Penalty-killing. Langway was an excellent penalty-killer while Coffey wasn't. This gives Langway an advantage. How many points is an excellent penalty-killer worth?

- Opposition. Langway played close to 30 minutes per night against the other team's best offensive players, while Coffey generally played the opposition's best defensive players. This inflated the number of goals scored against Langway and understated the number of goals scored against Coffey. So Langway was better than the numbers indicate (but it's impossible to say how much better)

- Ice time. Ice time wasn't tracked back then, but I'm fairly sure they both played around 28-30 minutes per game, so this isn't a major factor in the comparison.

- Teammates. In 1983 the Capitals were a better defensive team, by 32 goals. In 1984, the Capitals were a better team by 88 goals. Obviously the Capitals were a better defensive team than Edmonton. On one hand, you can give credit to Langway since he was the key player in the Capitals' excellent defense. On the other hand, you can credit Coffey for putting up relatively good defensive numbers on such a bad defensive team.

Overall I'd find it hard to give Langway the Norris in '83 or '84. He was on the ice for approximately the same number of goals as Coffey and was outscored by 75 pts per year. The "subjective" factors don't give him a strong enough boost to overcome his deficit in scoring.
Great post, Outsider. I love reading your stuff, you definitely understand the game and the shortcomings of statistics very well.


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01-25-2006, 09:11 AM
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Coffee didnt win those Norris trophies b/c he was basically a forward in defensemans clothing.

He played on a dominant edmonton team that had 3 or 4 of the best forwards in the world and a world class goaltender that could cover up for his shortcomings.

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