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Greatest Offensive Defensemen

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Old
02-21-2006, 01:01 PM
  #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianscot
As most people realize, one of the fun things about stats is that they can be used to prove or discredit almost any stance.

For instance, during the years "81" - "87" :

Pts per game Team goals per game Pct. Involvement
Paul Coffey 1.39 5.17 .259

Ray Bourque 1.14 3.96 .288


So Coffey was awarded points in about 1/4 of the goals Edmonton scored, while Bourque was involved in a slightly higher percentage of Boston's.

Meanwhile Boston could only score about 3/4 of the goals per game that Edmonton did. (.766 goals per game difference), which demonstrates that Bourque had fewer overall chances to participate in goals per game, yet took advantage of a higher percentage of his opportunities.

What does any of this really mean? Mostly that Benjamin Disraeli was right. There are three kinds of lies --- lies, damned lies and statistics.

You can justify almost any stance depending upon the perspective utilized.
There is a difference between using statistics intelligently and using them foolishly. The stats you have presented here tell us nothing more than "this player is hitting .322 during night games on Wednesdays". They reveal little or nothing.

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Old
02-21-2006, 05:28 PM
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider
I don't know too much about Pat Egan, but it seems like he was one of the most dominant scoring defensemen of his time. Given his offensive talent, it's a bit odd that he was an all-star only once. Maybe he was a big defensive liability (think Housley: great scorer but weak defense... never won a Norris and was an all-star only once). He was traded a lot, so many some award-voters held this against him. I don't really know, I'm just speculating.
I looked into teams, teammates and league stats/success in general to get a better feeling what Pat Egan might have been like.

He started his career from 39/40 to 41/42 in apparently bad defensive teams with a negative goal difference every season and even on his 2nd All Star team selection year (41/42) Brooklyn was the worst team in the league.

And I suppose much of Egan's success that year might be because of his defensive teammate Tom Anderson, who won the Hart that year (on the worst team in the league no less!), was selected to the 1st All Star, and scored 13 (46%) more points than Egan.

Moving to Boston for the 43/44 season (Egan didn't play in the NHL during 42/43), Egan wasn't selected to post-season All Star teams even though he scored 43 points in 48 games. 3 other defenders with less points were selected ahead of him (Hart-winner Pratt being the one with more points). Even more tellingly, his defensive partner Dit Clapper was selected into the 2nd All Star team. Another teammate Herb Cain (LW) won the Art Ross and yet another Bill Cowley (C) was second on Hart-voting.

In 44/45 a team with Egan made the playoffs for the first time, this year Egan was matched or surpassed in production by teammate d-men Clapper and Crawford.
One defender with less points than Egan was selected to the 2nd All Star team.

In 1945/46 Egan reached the Stanley Cup final with Boston, apparently largely thanks to goalie Brimsek (second in Vezina) and teammate defender Crawford who was selected to the 1st Team All Star with less points than Egan. For the first time Egan's team had a positive goal difference during the regular season.

In 46/47, despite Boston being again in playoffs with a positive goal difference during regular season, all 4 d-men selected to the post-season All Star teams had less points than Egan. Teammate Schmidt (C) was second in Hart-voting.

47/48 Boston made playoffs, teammate goalie Brimsek was second in Hart-voting, and again 2 d-men with less/equal points than Egan were on All Star teams.

48/49 Now aged 31, it's again the usual story for Egan. Boston made the playoffs and he had more points than any defenceman selected to the 1st or 2nd All Star teams.

49/50 Egan moved to Rangers, who suprinsingly made the Stanley Cup finals despite being only 4th during regular season with a negative goal difference. Largely thanks to goalie Rayner apparently, since he won the Hart trophy that year.
Egan's (32 years old now) production started to fell, all 4 All Star d-men had more points, he still had most points among Rangers defenders, though.

1950/51 Egan last year in the NHL, long way off the best scoring d-men in the league, but second in scoring for the Rangers defenders. Rangers missed the playoffs.

All in all, Egan lead his team's d-men in scoring for six seasons. Since quite a few lower scoring d-men were selected to All Star teams before him, I would think there must have been flaws in his defensive game, maybe he was slow, not a good checker, took bad penalties. Obviously he had puck skills, as even the two penalty shots scored indicate.

I'm not sure who to compare him to, maybe in terms of overall importance to the game, Gary Suter, Eric Desjardins or perhaps Bryan Mccabe?

Here's a photo of Egan in Bruins uniform
http://www.beehivehockey.com/photo_pategan2b_p.htm

and in NY Americans':

http://www.beehivehockey.com/photo_pategan1_p.htm

Apparently he were both number 2 (previously Shore) and number 4 (Orr in the future) in Boston. Egan was also a color guy for a local Boston tv-station for the NHL games in the late 60's.

Does anybody have the book "The Game I'll Never Forget" by Chris McDonell, there seems to be a story by Egan as well. What does he say there?

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Old
02-21-2006, 05:46 PM
  #53
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Coffeys 8 best years !
GP 79 G 48 A 90 pts 138 = 1.75 PPG
GP 79 G 40 A 86 pts 126 = 1.59 PPG
GP 80 G 37 A 84 pts 121 = 1.51 PPG
GP 75 G 30 A 83 pts 113 = 1.51 PPG
GP 75 G 29 A 74 pts 103 = 1.37 PPG
GP 80 G 29 A 67 pts 96 = 1.20 PPG
GP 80 G 24 A 69 pts 93 = 1.16 PPG
GP 45 G 14 A 44 pts 58 = 1.29 PPG----> 34 years old MVP candidate

Bourque 8 best years ?
GP 78 G 31 A 65 pts 96 = 1.23 PPG
GP 78 G 23 A 72 pts 95 = 1.22 PPG
GP 76 G 21 A 73 pts 94 = 1.24 PPG
GP 72 G 20 A 71 pts 91 = 1.26 PPG
GP 73 G 20 A 66 pts 86 = 1.18 PPG
GP 76 G 19 A 65 pts 84 = 1.11 PPG
GP 65 G 22 A 51 pts 73 = 1.12 PPG
GP 78 G 17 A 64 pts 81 = 1.04 PPG

This is not an argument this is not even close, ... As reliable as Bourque was on both ends of the ice, Paul Coffey was light years ahead of Bourque in pure offensive output. Like I said and im pretty sure many agree only Bobby Orr dominated the offensive end at Coffey level and maybe slightly higher case closed.

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02-21-2006, 06:25 PM
  #54
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The method that I used (comparing an individuals points per game versus his teams goal scoring average) is very specific. It reflects how much an individual player directly contributes to his teams offensive output --- at least on the scorers sheet.

Ranking players on a 1-7 scale and then calling the results offensive dominance doesnt really say anything because it fails to consider the individual circumstances that each player performed in.

Player A : Averages 1 point per game on a team that scores 5 goals a game.

Player B: Averages .90 points per game on a team that scores 4 goals per game.

Under the 1-7 system, player A would be called the better scorer, when in fact, he doesnt contribute as much to his teams output.

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Old
02-21-2006, 08:11 PM
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary69
I looked into teams, teammates and league stats/success in general to get a better feeling what Pat Egan might have been like.

He started his career from 39/40 to 41/42 in apparently bad defensive teams with a negative goal difference every season and even on his 2nd All Star team selection year (41/42) Brooklyn was the worst team in the league.

And I suppose much of Egan's success that year might be because of his defensive teammate Tom Anderson, who won the Hart that year (on the worst team in the league no less!), was selected to the 1st All Star, and scored 13 (46%) more points than Egan.

Moving to Boston for the 43/44 season (Egan didn't play in the NHL during 42/43), Egan wasn't selected to post-season All Star teams even though he scored 43 points in 48 games. 3 other defenders with less points were selected ahead of him (Hart-winner Pratt being the one with more points). Even more tellingly, his defensive partner Dit Clapper was selected into the 2nd All Star team. Another teammate Herb Cain (LW) won the Art Ross and yet another Bill Cowley (C) was second on Hart-voting.

In 44/45 a team with Egan made the playoffs for the first time, this year Egan was matched or surpassed in production by teammate d-men Clapper and Crawford.
One defender with less points than Egan was selected to the 2nd All Star team.

In 1945/46 Egan reached the Stanley Cup final with Boston, apparently largely thanks to goalie Brimsek (second in Vezina) and teammate defender Crawford who was selected to the 1st Team All Star with less points than Egan. For the first time Egan's team had a positive goal difference during the regular season.

In 46/47, despite Boston being again in playoffs with a positive goal difference during regular season, all 4 d-men selected to the post-season All Star teams had less points than Egan. Teammate Schmidt (C) was second in Hart-voting.

47/48 Boston made playoffs, teammate goalie Brimsek was second in Hart-voting, and again 2 d-men with less/equal points than Egan were on All Star teams.

48/49 Now aged 31, it's again the usual story for Egan. Boston made the playoffs and he had more points than any defenceman selected to the 1st or 2nd All Star teams.

49/50 Egan moved to Rangers, who suprinsingly made the Stanley Cup finals despite being only 4th during regular season with a negative goal difference. Largely thanks to goalie Rayner apparently, since he won the Hart trophy that year.
Egan's (32 years old now) production started to fell, all 4 All Star d-men had more points, he still had most points among Rangers defenders, though.

1950/51 Egan last year in the NHL, long way off the best scoring d-men in the league, but second in scoring for the Rangers defenders. Rangers missed the playoffs.

All in all, Egan lead his team's d-men in scoring for six seasons. Since quite a few lower scoring d-men were selected to All Star teams before him, I would think there must have been flaws in his defensive game, maybe he was slow, not a good checker, took bad penalties. Obviously he had puck skills, as even the two penalty shots scored indicate.

I'm not sure who to compare him to, maybe in terms of overall importance to the game, Gary Suter, Eric Desjardins or perhaps Bryan Mccabe?

Here's a photo of Egan in Bruins uniform
http://www.beehivehockey.com/photo_pategan2b_p.htm

and in NY Americans':

http://www.beehivehockey.com/photo_pategan1_p.htm

Apparently he were both number 2 (previously Shore) and number 4 (Orr in the future) in Boston. Egan was also a color guy for a local Boston tv-station for the NHL games in the late 60's.

Does anybody have the book "The Game I'll Never Forget" by Chris McDonell, there seems to be a story by Egan as well. What does he say there?
Excellent post... nice job pulling all that information together. I agree with you, given his apparent offensive talent and his role on some good teams, it would have to be a lack of defense (or perhaps a reputation for being bad influence in the dressing room) that prevented him from getting any more awards and recognition. Maybe the Housley comparison is a decent one...

This makes me wonder about what we'll think about today's second- and third-tier players 40 or 50 years from now. I wonder how history will look at Housley, Blake, Pronger, Wilson, Niedermayer, etc. Hopefully more kindly than history has looked at Egan and others from his era.

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Old
02-21-2006, 09:09 PM
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning
Then there was John Tonelli who in `85 had 100 points in the tight-checking East then only had 51 pts when he was traded to the wide-open West.
His tough style of play was suited to the East. I think this is another thread above your head.

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Old
02-21-2006, 10:02 PM
  #57
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I don't think Hockey Outsider is suggesting that Coffey was better than Orr offensively. I think he quantified that in his opening statement. I think it's just looking at a way of interpolating the numbers. I'm sure he put a lot of work into this, and he's certainly getting some good discussion out of it.

Bobby Orr is, unequivocally, the best defenceman ever. Best offensively, most skilled, best skater, likely one of the best defensively ever, too. You name it, he had it.

I think Coffey is the second best ever. His combination of skating, passing, rushing the puck and smarts is surpassed only by Orr. Yes, he benefitted from playing on the dynamite Oilers in the 1980s, but he put up eye-popping numbers wherever he went. He would have scored 100 points playing for the 1980s Toronto Maple Leafs. To get a grasp of how good Coffey was offensively, watch him play during the 1995 lockout season. Scoring dropped below six goals per game that year for the first time in many years, but Coffey still scored at a 100-point clip. To me, that was his best season, and one of the best I've ever seen from a defenceman, because he played strong defensive hockey, too.

Bourque was a much better all-round defenceman, he's one of the top five defencemen of all-time. But he was a notch below Coffey in terms of offensive skills and flair. He'd be top five offensively. Great smarts and passing ability, and had one of the most accurate shots from the point ever.

Agree with Ogopogo about Harvey's offensive skills. He was a consistent 40-point defenceman in an era where defencemen focused on their defensive abilities.

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02-21-2006, 10:02 PM
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianscot
"Facts" are contingent upon the context in which they occur.

Coffey put up his major numbers while playing in the bandwagon, wide open Smythe, while his team was beating up on Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Los Angeles 8 times per year.

If we are going to use mere stats to support claims, then consider this:

Bourque --- 1612 games played, 1579 points, .979 points per game.

Coffey --- 1409 games played, 1531 points, 1.09 points per game.

If a difference of .30 points per game represents "dominance" (while playing the bulk of his career with superior offensive teammates in a more offensively oriented division), then the term has lost its zest.
You can't just look at the career totals completely out of context with reality.

Paul Coffey's numbers aren't as good over all because he didn't have the longevity that Bourque did. He played less games and fell into a major decline in the late 90s while Bourque stayed near the top of the game. Even as Coffey's talent and production dried up and he was reduced to a journeyman defenseman at the end of his career, he's still offensively better than Ray Bourque.

Coffey played 7 years with the Oilers where he had his best seasons, but he played another decade on other teams where he was still scoring over 100 points or was performing at or above the 1 PPG mark.

You make the argument that Coffey benefited from playing with good offensive players. Coffey was probably the second most explosive offensive presence on those Oiler teams behind Gretzky. He almost scored 50 goals from the blueline! He was a large reason why they scored all those points.

To say that Coffey was only good because he played on the Oilers is like saying Ron Francis was better than Wayne Gretzky, but Francis was stuck on the Whalers while Gretzky played on dynasties.

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Old
02-23-2006, 02:58 PM
  #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianscot
The method that I used (comparing an individuals points per game versus his teams goal scoring average) is very specific. It reflects how much an individual player directly contributes to his teams offensive output --- at least on the scorers sheet.

Ranking players on a 1-7 scale and then calling the results offensive dominance doesnt really say anything because it fails to consider the individual circumstances that each player performed in.

Player A : Averages 1 point per game on a team that scores 5 goals a game.

Player B: Averages .90 points per game on a team that scores 4 goals per game.

Under the 1-7 system, player A would be called the better scorer, when in fact, he doesnt contribute as much to his teams output.
To be honest, I think contributing to the team output is misleading and not very revealing of a player's true talent.

Again, it penalizes players on good teams. Of course a guy like Ovechkin is going to be a bigger part of his team's offense than a guy like Dany Heatley. Does that automatically mean Ovechkin is better? It might, it might not. It doesn't really tell us.

Ultimately, the number of goals or number of assists a player puts up is his measure. Teammates are not that important in the equation, if a guy puts up numbers, he is a good scorer, if he doesn't he is not.

Great scorers put up big numbers on any team, with any teammates at any time. What percentage of the team's offense you are is not really indicative of anything.

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02-23-2006, 04:16 PM
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chooch
His tough style of play was suited to the East. I think this is another thread above your head.
No mon ami chooch, just showing that your Denis Savard example doesn`t really prove anything. Fact is if Tonelli could get 100 points in the East, then he should`ve been able to get over 200 points in Calgary since you keep insisting that no teams out West played any defence.

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Old
02-23-2006, 06:30 PM
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chooch
excellent points. Anyone who thinks the East was as loose (or within 2%) as the West didnt see Denis Savard try a spin in the East.

Take a look at the lowest GAA list in the 80's - invariably the East dominates the top 5 in any year.

Peter Stastny's points being assaulted every night against Montreal/Isles/Boston/Philly are extremely impressive.

I guess the fact that the only true offensive powerhouse was in the other conference helped keep those Eastern netminders' gaag's down and allowed their artificially toned down stats to keep them in line for Vezina consideration. THat would doubtless be some solace to them as they played out their seasons knowing that winning the cup was almost certainly an impossibility.

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02-24-2006, 07:03 PM
  #62
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Those results are absolutely wrong.

It's the input information that makes the calculation wrong. I'm sure the plus/minus scores
were not considered and they should be. Orr had 4 seasons above +80 including one
at the all time record of +124.

There is no way any other defenseman, or player, was more dominant than Bobby Orr.

He was other worldly.

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02-24-2006, 07:19 PM
  #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bring Back Bucky
I guess the fact that the only true offensive powerhouse was in the other conference helped keep those Eastern netminders' gaag's down and allowed their artificially toned down stats to keep them in line for Vezina consideration. THat would doubtless be some solace to them as they played out their seasons knowing that winning the cup was almost certainly an impossibility.
Considering that NY and Mtl won 5 cups in the 80's and Edm and Cgy won 5, this must be another instance of burying your head in the sand while your wife, coach and agent/gm flip lucky loonies.

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02-24-2006, 08:19 PM
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chooch
Considering that NY and Mtl won 5 cups in the 80's and Edm and Cgy won 5, this must be another instance of burying your head in the sand while your wife, coach and agent/gm flip lucky loonies.

Surely cooch you must understand that New York only won two cups in the east vs west unbalanced schedule and Montreal only one during the Oilers time of power.

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Old
02-24-2006, 11:47 PM
  #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry4001
Those results are absolutely wrong.

It's the input information that makes the calculation wrong. I'm sure the plus/minus scores
were not considered and they should be. Orr had 4 seasons above +80 including one
at the all time record of +124.

There is no way any other defenseman, or player, was more dominant than Bobby Orr.

He was other worldly.
How does +/- help make your case for Orr? Please explain.

Thanks.

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02-25-2006, 12:02 PM
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning
Then there was John Tonelli who in `85 had 100 points in the tight-checking East then only had 51 pts when he was traded to the wide-open West.
Well, probably because he was somewhat slow and traded to a team for whom he was not having 1st line duty??!?!

As for Savard, probably because he was traded to an ultra-defensive minded team and that he was 30 when traded?!?!

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02-25-2006, 01:15 PM
  #67
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The plus and minus rating shows how dominant a player is when he
is on the ice. A minus point when a goal is scored against and a plus when
a goal is scored. With this stat, offence, and especially defence, is counted.

Seasons have 80 games and for four seasons Orr garanteed the puck
in the other net every time he stepped on the ice. He also has the highest single season rating ever. Nobody comes close, way, way, ahead.

As for longevity, hey, some players play for 10, 15, or 20 years. It shouldn't take away
how dominant one was. Coffey played way longer but a lot of those seasons are not great.

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02-25-2006, 02:09 PM
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry4001
The plus and minus rating shows how dominant a player is when he
is on the ice. A minus point when a goal is scored against and a plus when
a goal is scored. With this stat, offence, and especially defence, is counted.

Seasons have 80 games and for four seasons Orr garanteed the puck
in the other net every time he stepped on the ice. He also has the highest single season rating ever. Nobody comes close, way, way, ahead.

As for longevity, hey, some players play for 10, 15, or 20 years. It shouldn't take away
how dominant one was. Coffey played way longer but a lot of those seasons are not great.
Well a good plus minus rating could mean:

You play on a very good team
You play on a very good line
You play against your opponents non-checking line most often
You are great offensively


To be honest, there is really no single thing that +/- incates. It could be a reflection of how good the Bruins were or a whole host of other things.

I have tremendous respect for Orr but, I have never seen +/- reflect anything specific. IMO, it is a useless stat.

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