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Quality of NHL Hockey in 1994-95

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08-12-2012, 12:48 AM
  #1
Ziggy Stardust
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Quality of NHL Hockey in 1994-95

Since I have access to the NHL Vault, I was curious to watch some hockey from the shortened 1994-95 season. As many of you know, the league scheduled a 48-game season that started on January 20, 1995. The regular season came to an end on May 3rd, with the playoffs concluding on June 24.

So the game I decided to watch was from an early part of the season with the Kings visiting the Oilers on February 25, 1995. At that time, I was 13. Watching the game now as a mature adult, I have to say, the quality of hockey was very bad.

The months of no hockey and a shortened training camp led to many injuries and slow starts for many players, and this game was reflective of that. To my surprise, Kent Nilsson was playing for the Oilers (didn't realize he made a short lived attempt at a comeback at 38).

And my oh my how the mighty had fallen. Gretzky was starting to age as he was already in his mid 30s by then. The Kings were two seasons removed from their Cup Finals appearance in '93 and this team was just bad, on paper and on the ice. The Oilers weren't much better as well.

There really wasn't much parity in the NHL at this time. Only 13 clubs finished with a record that was above .500 with the other half of the league finishing below a .500 winning percentage. Should also add that the amount of clutching and grabbing going on made it really tough to sit through a game. It killed all momentum and speed as there wasn't much offensive flow or creativity going on in hockey during this time period. I think the lockout and the subsequent shortened season was the precursor to the dead puck era.


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08-12-2012, 03:18 AM
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the4thlinegrinder
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Interesting... I can't speak to the quality of the NHL product in 1995 as that was around the time I was learning to walk (and, in turn, skate ), but I do have a question as to the length of the season. Being that the playoffs started on May 6, could it have been possible that, without the high number of short series (3 sweeps in the semis and one 5 game series, with the Final being another sweep) that the playoffs could have bled into July? A 7 game series in the semis and the Final going 6 or 7 would have added another week at least, does anyone know how that would have affected free agency (it seems the draft was pushed back considerably)? I can just imagine all those people who think the season is too long now must have hated it ending in late June and dreaded the thought of the Cup being awarded in July

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08-12-2012, 04:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
So the game I decided to watch was from an early part of the season with the Kings visiting the Oilers on February 25, 1995. At that time, I was 13. Watching the game now as a mature adult, I have to say, the quality of hockey was very bad.
The Kings & Oilers were both below average that year, so given the other circumstances, I'd expect some bad hockey. The game needed more Ziggy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
The months of no hockey and a shortened training camp led to many injuries and slow starts for many players, and this game was reflective of that. To my surprise, Kent Nilsson was playing for the Oilers (didn't realize he made a short lived attempt at a comeback at 38).
There were quite a few great players in that game, but most of them weren't in their primes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
And my oh my how the mighty had fallen. Gretzky was starting to age as he was already in his mid 30s by then. The Kings were two seasons removed from their Cup Finals appearance in '93 and this team was just bad, on paper and on the ice. The Oilers weren't much better as well.
King were a borderline playoff team, but that was Gretzky's worst season, apart from his last in '99, or perhaps '93 when he was injured much of the year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
There really wasn't much parity in the NHL at this time. Only 13 clubs finished with a record that was above .500 with the other half of the league finishing below a .500 winning percentage.
There was less parity then than now, but the evidence you provide supports the exact opposite position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
Should also add that the amount of clutching and grabbing going on made it really tough to sit through a game. It killed all momentum and speed as there wasn't much offensive flow or creativity going on in hockey during this time period. I think the lockout and the subsequent shortened season was the precursor to the dead puck era.
Now you've gotten to the heart of the matter. Indeed that was the beginning of the clutch and grab era, with a short respite for much of the '96 season, before it further devolved to the point of absurdity and boredom. It's a shame, because there was plenty of talent back then, particularly at forward. I mean, when two bad teams have Gretzky, Kurri, Tocchet, Blake, Arnott, Weight, Nilsson, etc. between them, it's not exactly a league devoid of skill.

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08-12-2012, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
There really wasn't much parity in the NHL at this time. Only 13 clubs finished with a record that was above .500 with the other half of the league finishing below a .500 winning percentage.
In other words, a league that ended each game with one team winning and the other team not (and occasionally, both teams tying) ended with half of he teams having more wins than losses? Amazing coincidence there.

More teams with inflated records is not what parity is, and I wish that those responsible for setting up the current system would stop insulting its fans ability to do basic math.

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08-12-2012, 02:51 PM
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Ziggy Stardust
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Originally Posted by Johnny Engine View Post
In other words, a league that ended each game with one team winning and the other team not (and occasionally, both teams tying) ended with half of he teams having more wins than losses? Amazing coincidence there.

More teams with inflated records is not what parity is, and I wish that those responsible for setting up the current system would stop insulting its fans ability to do basic math.
In 1992-93, 16 of the leagues 24 teams finished with a record above .500. In 1993-94, 15 of 26 teams were above .500 (remember, they introduced two new expansions teams that season in Anaheim and Florida, and the Panthers were near .500).

So much for your theory. The quality of hockey during the lockout season was terrible. Go revisit the games from that season and see for yourself. So many players showed up out of shape and relied on clutching and grabbing. The sport was in much better shape prior to the lockout. Not that it didn't have its fair amount of infractions and obstructions happening, but there was a drop off in entertainment when the league resumed play in '95.


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08-12-2012, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
In 1992-93, 16 of the leagues 24 teams finished with a record above .500. In 1993-94, 15 of 26 teams were above .500 (remember, they introduced two new expansions teams that season in Anaheim and Florida, and the Panthers were near .500).

So much for your theory. The quality of hockey during the lockout season was terrible. Go revisit the games from that season and see for yourself. So many players showed up out of shape and relied on clutching and grabbing. The sport was in much better shape prior to the lockout. Not that it didn't have its fair amount of infractions and obstructions happening, but there was a drop off in entertainment when the league resumed play in '95.
I remember the drop-off in quality and speed of play from that season just fine, but .500 records has nothing to do with it.

If there are a lot of +.500 teams in the league, that means that the losses that those teams are not getting, are being sucked up by bad teams. In 1993, the Lightning, Sharks and Senators finished a combined 44-195-13, which means they finished 151 games below .500 between them. That also means that the other 23 teams finished a combined 151 games above .500. No surprise that 16 of them had +.500 records. That's not parity.

For an opposite example, the 1996 Detroit Red Wings finished 49 games above .500, and by some amazing coincidence, only 2 other teams in the Western conference finished +.500, because many of their losses translated into wins for the Detroit Red Wings! That's not parity.

16 teams finished +.500 in 1993 isn't parity. 3 Teams in 1996's Western conference isn't parity. An equal number of both suggests parity.

Also, the "parity" in 1994-95 mostly arose from top and bottom teams not separating themselves over the short season. It had nothing to do with quality of hockey. Sort of like how, on the first day of the regular season, each team has either one loss or one win, and things spread out from there.

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08-12-2012, 03:34 PM
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Canadiens1958
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1994-95 Rosters

Basic isssues were that the 1994 NHL Entry Draft selections out of junior did not go to the training camp and did not make the rosters. Also the minor league eligible players who played in the minors did not have much of a shot at making the NHL teams post lockout roster.

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08-12-2012, 04:01 PM
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This place needs more Johnny Engine.

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08-12-2012, 04:05 PM
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I had a suspicion about this year.

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08-12-2012, 04:43 PM
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Ziggy Stardust
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Not that I'm against expansion, but I do believe the league expanded too quickly by introducing five new teams in a span of three years (San Jose in 91, Ottawa and Tampa Bay in 92, Anaheim and Florida in 93). That may have skewed the number of teams that finished below .500, but Florida and San Jose quickly transformed into contenders shortly after they debuted.

A number of players who probably had no business of being in the NHL became regulars as a result of these new teams creating 100 new opportunities for players. For the most part, the goaltending talent on those expansion clubs were well below average, but then again, I found good goaltending to be very sparse during the 90s expansion era up until the mid-late 90s.

The influx of sub .500 clubs wasn't a result of the league's point distribution system for wins-losses-ties. The league went from having 21 teams to 26 in a short amount of time and teams that lacked skill relied on a stifling defensive system in order to win games because they couldn't match up talent-for-talent. This led to a lot of boring hockey which I believe started with this particular shortened season.

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08-14-2012, 09:05 PM
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Big Phil
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To the OP, 1994-'95 was not a memorable season at all. Not just because of the shortened season, but also because of the players that season. Mario sat out all year. Gretzky showed the first signs of really slowing down. The aura of the Canadiens was starting to get wiped out as they missed the postseason. Roy had a bad year too. The NHL was almost in a transition period of time. The stars that would show up later in the decade weren't all hitting their peak yet. Lindros broke out as did Jagr but Kariya and Forsberg were rookies. Messier was older as well and less effective. It was also the first of the great old stadiums to go. Chicago was in the United Center by now replacing the classic Chicago Stadium. This was Boston's last year in the Garden as well.

Then the postseason was one of the worst in NHL history. The dreaded trap bored us all to death. Jersey winning the Cup in 1995 was a blow to the game of hockey as was the awful officiating in the Quebec/NYR series. Not really a memorable NHL year. A sweep in the final too.

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08-14-2012, 09:17 PM
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vadim sharifijanov
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Basic isssues were that the 1994 NHL Entry Draft selections out of junior did not go to the training camp and did not make the rosters. Also the minor league eligible players who played in the minors did not have much of a shot at making the NHL teams post lockout roster.
can you clarify what you mean here? either i'm reading you wrong or what you're saying isn't true.

friesen, wiemer, brett lindros, matt johnson-- all '94 picks from the CHL who played significant games that season. smyth, bonsignore, storr, richard park, wayne primeau, curtis brown, tavis hansen-- '94 picks from the CHL who played in a few games.

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08-15-2012, 05:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
To the OP, 1994-'95 was not a memorable season at all. Not just because of the shortened season, but also because of the players that season. Mario sat out all year. Gretzky showed the first signs of really slowing down. The aura of the Canadiens was starting to get wiped out as they missed the postseason. Roy had a bad year too. The NHL was almost in a transition period of time. The stars that would show up later in the decade weren't all hitting their peak yet. Lindros broke out as did Jagr but Kariya and Forsberg were rookies. Messier was older as well and less effective. It was also the first of the great old stadiums to go. Chicago was in the United Center by now replacing the classic Chicago Stadium. This was Boston's last year in the Garden as well.

Then the postseason was one of the worst in NHL history. The dreaded trap bored us all to death. Jersey winning the Cup in 1995 was a blow to the game of hockey as was the awful officiating in the Quebec/NYR series. Not really a memorable NHL year. A sweep in the final too.
Well the '95 playoffs were actually higher scoring than '94 and not too far off from '93. It was odd because it wasn't particularly exciting hockey despite that and despite the first round featuring four 7 game series and not a sweep to be seen (but four sweeps in 7 remaining series did follow). Just a lot of blowouts (Rangers beat Nords 8-3, Caps beat Pens 6-2 twice in a row before getting shellacked 7-1 themselves, Devils beat Bruins 5-0, Blues beat the Canucks 8-2 in game 6 of their series, Flames beat San Jose 9-2 and 5-0, Detroit demolishes San Jose in what I like to call the double straight sets series: 6-0, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2). Scoring dropped after the 1st round big time as it normally does though and we got to see Jersey trap its way to Cup glory but Detroit had allowed just as few goals and scored at a similar pace. The perception was that they did it by being fast, entertaining and effective.

Jersey don't forget scored 5 in the two home wins. Their 67 goals in 20 games would look brilliant if we saw it today. Hell the Kings romped 16-4 but only scored at a 2.5 goal per game pace. Is today's hockey much better? Not a ton IMO. Less sloppy but even more robotic). I've seen most of these on NHL Network Classic Series episodes and few of the series were that exciting. Even the highly offensive Flames-Sharks series lacked much excitement outside of games 1-2 and 7. Some of 1994's series were classics and arguably the only 1995 series that could come close to that would be the Leafs-Hawks which went to 7. Pens-Caps was another Washington 3-1 series collapse yet it wasn't a thrilling series, just one full of mediocre goaltending all around and Jagr making it look easy. Flames-Sharks was too wide open, sloppy and too many one-sided games to be considered classic. Irbe was brutal (doing his special delivery giveaway goals and then flipping out in game 5 with a helmet headbutt to Sheldon Kennedy that got him ejected and Kennedy busted up real nicely. Wade Flaherty got a chance as a result).

It was in fact the highest scoring 7 game series in NHL history plus the Flames somehow lost it despite outscoring San Jose 35-26 and setting a new NHL record with 6 shorthanded goals in one series (the Sharks hold the NHL post-season record for most shorties allowed in one playoff year with 11 and they did this in only 10 games somehow. That speaks to the sloppiness). Well it had to do with Trevor Kidd being awful but he wasn't alone since many goalies had to iron out the kinks and many were in what would normally be mid-season form for the playoffs and not clutch form. For example, Ron Hextall gave up a GWG slapper from just inside the blue line down the wing from Claude Lemieux and Garth Snow was not much of an improvement. Ed Belfour fell apart with many stinkers in the Western Final including an OT whiff in game 3 that buried the Haws for good.

Kirk McLean and Curtis Joseph didn't even look too hot plus Quebec was doomed with a Fiset-Thibault duo and we saw just why Jim Carey "Net Detective" would someday be labelled a fluke. Hasek had done commendable work but it wasn't enough since Philly bested Buffalo in every facet. Potvin did ok in a first round exit too. It was a crappy display outside of Brodeur and Vernon but even Vernon looked lost in games 3-4 of the Cup Final. But overall 1995 paled next to even 1992 when there were sweeps abound. At the end, it was a disappointment, featuring all the Canadian and most of the original six clubs gone by the 3rd round. Also it lacked the star power seen in 1994 (Messier, Leetch, Richter vs. Linden, Bure, McLean), 1993 (Gretzky, Robitaille, Blake vs. Roy, Muller, Damphousse) or especially 1992 (Lemieux, Jagr, Stevens, Barrasso, Francis, Tocchet vs. Roenick, Chelios, Larmer, Belfour). Looking back, 1995 was the lamest playoff year since 1977 (which was simply a Canadiens cakewalk without any upset stories along the way).


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08-15-2012, 06:32 AM
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Not mentioned in the rundown above, but I remember Vancouver - Chicago being an entertaining series, despite the sweep. 3 overtime games, which has to burn badly.

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08-15-2012, 07:30 AM
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Unless your a Devils fan, the most exciting things about that season was the Legion of Doom line uniting, the emergence of Jagr as an offensive force, the Wings and the Nords.

That season was probably the worst NHL hockey I've ever seen over a course of a season and playoffs.

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08-15-2012, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
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Unless your a Devils fan, the most exciting things about that season was the Legion of Doom line uniting, the emergence of Jagr as an offensive force, the Wings and the Nords.

That season was probably the worst NHL hockey I've ever seen over a course of a season and playoffs.
Still a lot better than the (let's hope it's the) last lockout season in '04-05.

But yes, you basically summed it up. The Nords' young stars and Jagr's Pens battling it out, while the Legion of Doom threw its weight around, and the Wings tore it up in the west.

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08-15-2012, 08:37 AM
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Comparables

Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
can you clarify what you mean here? either i'm reading you wrong or what you're saying isn't true.

friesen, wiemer, brett lindros, matt johnson-- all '94 picks from the CHL who played significant games that season. smyth, bonsignore, storr, richard park, wayne primeau, curtis brown, tavis hansen-- '94 picks from the CHL who played in a few games.
Compared to 1993 picks when 6 were regular contributors. Matt Johnson 1G in 14 games, plus 14 OHL games basically wasted a season. Then you have two on expansion teams and one in a weak organization. Best 1994 pick stayed in junior - Jovanovski.

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08-16-2012, 06:58 PM
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Wasn't the 95 season the first year of the NHL on fox?

I still can't believe Detroit lost that year in the finals. One of the biggest shockers in NHL history.

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08-17-2012, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 90s Hockey fan View Post
Wasn't the 95 season the first year of the NHL on fox?

I still can't believe Detroit lost that year in the finals. One of the biggest shockers in NHL history.
Curse you, your laser puck, and your stupid animated robots, FOX!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlRCGR10uBg

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12-08-2012, 03:22 PM
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Ziggy Stardust
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Felt that this is a relevant topic to bump up considering that we may be seeing a similarly scheduled season should the NHL season start in January.

I just hope the quality of hockey is considerably better than what we witnessed in 94-95 with so many players coming to camp out of playing shape. Typically coaches tend to believe that players get their skating legs and into game shape around a month or so after the start of the season.

In addition to that, does anyone recall when the NHL trade deadline was scheduled in 94-95? I'm thinking if they play between early January and late April, that they may just schedule the deadline at the mid-way point to give players and teams enough time to make adjustments.

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12-08-2012, 04:47 PM
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Quality were poor in '95 I think. Players were kinda slow and tardy. After about a 30ish games it started to fire up and the playoffs were pretty good. I still put an asterix on that season tho.

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12-09-2012, 03:34 AM
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The quality of hockey between lockouts (94-2004) was crap. Huge goalie equipment, stifling defensive strategies and 2-1 games put people to sleep. It was a truly dark time for the NHL.

Sadly, NHL hockey has moved back in that direction the last couple of years.

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12-09-2012, 04:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
In addition to that, does anyone recall when the NHL trade deadline was scheduled in 94-95?
It was, indeed, pushed back ~2 weeks. April 7th (instead of ~3 weeks into March like "normal").

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