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Ovechkin vs. Lindros as of Summer 2000

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Old
10-17-2012, 05:28 AM
  #101
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I'm not so sure about that. There was a fairly significant American talent pool early on, but it basically died out around World War 2 - you had Brimsek come back from the war, but really no knew American talent anymore. And while there were occasionally American NHLers afterwards, the league was 95%+ Canadian all the way through the 1970s and none of the Americans that were there were threats to any awards. There was a huge influx of American talent into the NHL after the Miracle on Ice.
Yes, obviously the ebb and flow of American talent needs to be looked at somewhat more granularly, and basically the talent pool wasn't there during the 06 and expansion eras, most likely because American kids lost interest in hockey from the 1930's through the mid-1950's for whatever reason, likely a combination of the depression, the war and the growth of other high-level professional sports in America (which would take longer in Canada) during this period. The early years had a number of big American talents. Hobey Baker, Si Griffis, Moose Goheen, Billy Burch, Taffy Abel, Frank Brimsek and Cecil Dillon come to mind immediately (I'm sure I missed a few), but then there is a lull. This is true of western european participation in the NHL, as well, which was a good deal higher during the pre-war period than is commonly believed. It is not the case that pre-war hockey was strictly Canadian or even strictly north american. Europeans have been in the NHL basically the whole time, but didn't start producing big stars until I guess the 1960's.

At any rate, I think the Miracle on Ice is something of a red herring here. Going by the birthdates of the Americans who would later become stars is probably the better method, and it looks like the next big generation of Americans were all born starting in the mid-late 1950's - guys like Mark Howe, Joe Mullen, Chris Chelios, Pat Lafontaine, Brian Leetch, etc. It appears that hockey took hold in the U.S. again once the 06 era got properly rolling along after what were some down years (as you know, NHL hockey in the 1940's wasn't all that great even outside of the war years).

The Miracle on Ice is kind of a milestone, but American hockey had taken off already by that point. Here is an excellent graphical representation of NHL players by nationality over the years:

http://www.quanthockey.com/TS/TS_Pla...ionalities.php

The rise in American NHL participation from mid-teens in the 1980's and 1990's to what is now almost a quarter of the league is interesting, although I'm not at all certain that the quality is actually higher than it was twenty years ago. I mean, Quick, Thomas and Ryan are great goalies, but among the skaters it looks like a lot more "good" players, but fewer great ones.

The bulge and then steady shrinking of European players in the NHL is also nice and clear in this graph, though obviously the NHL gets the cream of the talent (with rare exceptions like Radulov). It's also hard to know just how to measure the value of the European talent that was stuck behind the Iron Curtain. We got to see the Soviets perform very well in the short series format, but what would their careers as individuals have looked like in the NHL? I tend to think they would have looked more human, though obviously guys like Kharlamov, Vasiliev and Mikhailov would have been stars in any league and in any era. Similarly, the Czechs produced some excellent talent in this era, but we'll never know precisely how good guys like Martinec and Suchy really were, and even Nedomansky only came over past his prime.

The chart above looks like an indictment of 06 hockey more than anything else, though this is also maybe a distortion because "tradition" tells us (for what its worth, and I think it has some merit) that the 06 era was something of a golden age for Canadian talent, so again the quality of the talent pool may well be out of proportion to its actual size during much of the 06 era. As you well know, the 1940's and the 1970's are the most questionable periods in NHL history. Ack...it's so hard to discuss such a macro topic in this format. There is so much conflicting information to weigh, and all conclusions end up being highly provisional. Ah well...no one ever said it was supposed to be easy.

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10-17-2012, 06:26 AM
  #102
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This is true of western european participation in the NHL, as well, which was a good deal higher during the pre-war period than is commonly believed... Europeans have been in the NHL basically the whole time, but didn't start producing big stars until I guess the 1960's.
Unless you're thinking of the likes of Al Pudas, Pentti Lund, Gus Forslund, Val Hoffinger, Johnny Gottselig, Sweeney Schriner etc - who are as European as Stan Mikita or Joe Sakic - I don't know what you're talking about.

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10-17-2012, 08:04 AM
  #103
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Unless you're thinking of the likes of Al Pudas, Pentti Lund, Gus Forslund, Val Hoffinger, Johnny Gottselig, Sweeney Schriner etc - who are as European as Stan Mikita or Joe Sakic - I don't know what you're talking about.
Those are the guys captured in the graph, yeah. These players were obviously not trained in Europe, but they are first generation immigrants who came from nations which already had early domestic hockey leagues up and running (I know Sweden and Finland set up leagues in the 1920's and the USSR in the 1930's - not sure about Czechoslovakia), but weren't playing hockey at the same level as Canada at the time. They may have already been exposed to hockey as children, though it's impossible to know. This is more of a historical curiosity than anything else. I do find it interesting because those are quite high participation rates for first-generation immigrants, though obviously Canada's population was growing rapidly in the first decades of the 20th century, largely driven by immigration.

But yes, for the purposes of this discussion, they are as Canadian as Mikita. Sakic was actually born in Burnaby, so technically he is a second generation immigrant, though obviously the distinction between he and Mikita is really just a matter of few years difference in when the parents immigrated. At any rate, if we fudge the definition of "European" a bit, Sweeney Shriner probably counts as the first European to star in the NHL. I can't think of any earlier first generation immigrants who were really stars.

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10-17-2012, 08:46 AM
  #104
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not sure about Czechoslovakia
1930s. Hockey tradition in Bohemia even goes back to the pre-WW1 days.

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They may have already been exposed to hockey as children, though it's impossible to know.
You can erase 4 out of the 6 guys already. Pudas, Gottselig, Schriner and Forslund all moved to Canada just months after their birth. No way they were exposed to hockey before. That leaves us with just 2 guys who might have been or might not have been exposed to hockey back in Europe: Hoffinger (I don't know how old he was) and Lund (6 years old).

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At any rate, if we fudge the definition of "European" a bit, Sweeney Shriner probably counts as the first European to star in the NHL. I can't think of any earlier first generation immigrants who were really stars.
Why fudge the definition? Yes, European immigration played a huge role in the increase of Canadian population and therefore also influenced the talent pool, but it's one thing to immigrate & become Canadian & afterwards learn hockey. It's another thing however to come to North America as a hockey player with the purpose of playing hockey like Sven Tumba Johansson, Ulf Sterner, Juha Widing etc.

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10-17-2012, 03:25 PM
  #105
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I'm just going to have to say no to this. Measuring a defenseman's value by the number of points he scores misses the point, as scoring is not a defenseman's primary role on a hockey team, rare cases notwithstanding. Yes, I think the composite ratings of the hockey writers over a twenty year period are considerably more valuable in measuring the contributions of European defensemen than are their raw points totals. I completely missed the fact that you were looking at point totals when you started your analysis because I just assume that no one would consider points the best measure of the value of defensemen. We obviously look at this problem from very different perspectives. I think yours is badly misguided, at least in the context of this statistical discussion, but I'll just leave it at that.
We'll have to agree to disagree then. I don't pretend points are the best, and certainly not the only way to evaluate defensemen, but they are the best and only way that I consider objective. The biased opinions of a bunch of sportswriters are not what I would term objective, statistical evidence. The "true" number of non-Canadian top tier D-men is very likely between the floor (% non-Canadian d-men in NHL... ~25%?) and the ceiling (% non-Canadian d-men in top X in points amongst d-men... 40-60%?). Unfortunately, this is a very large range. However, using Norris/AS voting doesn't really solve anything IMO.

If the question is "how much did non-Canadian talent affect Norris/AS voting over the past 15-25 years?" then Norris/AS voting would be useful. However, to measure the impact of non-Canadian d-men on the "top tier" (say top 20-60 d-men in the NHL), then such voting is not objective and does not have the depth of information necessary to estimate such impact.

This thread relates to Ovechkin and Lindros, and in the case of forwards, points is a much better indicator of value. It's clear that since Lindros entered the league, non-Canadian talent has made a huge impact amongst top tier forwards. Therefore, since that time, a forward ranking top Y in a category is not directly comparable to a forward ranking top Y before that time. It's more accurate that a forward ranking in the top "Y/2" (or 50% of Y) before the early-mid 90s is roughly comparable to a forward ranking Y since. For instance, an 8th place finish in points in recent years is more comparable to a 4th place finish before the '90s than it would be to another 8th place finish IMO.

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10-18-2012, 12:20 PM
  #106
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This comparison is kinda becoming a joke. You can tout Ovechkin's career playoff numbers all you want, but he is the best player on what has become a notorious playoff underachiever. He has had maybe a handful of series where he has played for the stretch of games nearly as well as he plays during the regular season. The reality is that Washington has not had a significant playoff run, and Ovechkin has never been head and shoulders above the team during their playoff performances.

I'm not sure I can contribute to this discussion since I have not seen Lindros play, but he had a run to the stanley cup finals. As I said in my post, Ovechkin's playoff career has been a disapointment for how good he is, no matter what the statistics look like. I was rooting for him during those years (08-10) because he was such a great player. But it became clear that, other than in a couple of series, he was not going to be a great playoff performer.
I admit that Bossy probably isn't the best comparison for Ovechkin, due to the gap in playoff results. Perhaps a better comparison might be Stastny: Ovechkin has the better peak, not much shorter prime, and not dissimilar playoff performance/results. Ovy's the much better goal scorer, and his adjusted plus-minus is superior as well.

The last HoH top 100 had Stastny at #73, so even if he's slipped some since then, Stastny should still be top 100, which would seem to make it all but impossible for Ovechkin not to be a near-consensus top 100 player at this point (or very soon).

I think Lindros is in that borderline area, where some would have him top 100 and many would not. It's apparent what a polarizing player he was, as I would guess quite a few would have him well inside the top 100, while others (including the HHOF apparently) would not have him even close to the top 100.

The difference, in large part due to Ovechkin's durability and Lindros' frequent injuries, is that Ovechkin was the (or one of the top 2-3) best forward in the game for 3-4 years, including 3 consecutive years, while Lindros may have been the best forward only during (and perhaps because of) a shortened season and was one of the top 3-5 forwards for a few years, and a top 3 forward when healthy for 5+ seasons, but his injuries prevented him from ever really being the best for even a full 82 game season.

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10-18-2012, 05:32 PM
  #107
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We'll have to agree to disagree then. I don't pretend points are the best, and certainly not the only way to evaluate defensemen, but they are the best and only way that I consider objective. The biased opinions of a bunch of sportswriters are not what I would term objective, statistical evidence. The "true" number of non-Canadian top tier D-men is very likely between the floor (% non-Canadian d-men in NHL... ~25%?) and the ceiling (% non-Canadian d-men in top X in points amongst d-men... 40-60%?). Unfortunately, this is a very large range. However, using Norris/AS voting doesn't really solve anything IMO.

If the question is "how much did non-Canadian talent affect Norris/AS voting over the past 15-25 years?" then Norris/AS voting would be useful. However, to measure the impact of non-Canadian d-men on the "top tier" (say top 20-60 d-men in the NHL), then such voting is not objective and does not have the depth of information necessary to estimate such impact.
Brutal line of reasoning. There's plenty of defensive-minded defensemen who are "top-tier" without finishing in the top 10 or 20 in scoring.

We know how perilous judging defenders we see by points is so it's pretty mind-boggling you'd attempt to it justify this way.

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10-18-2012, 07:44 PM
  #108
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I think some people undervalue the fact that Eric Lindros changed the game; from 1995-1998 he was the toast of the NHL, the player who likely would have gone first overall any of those 4 years if the NHL had a draft of it's own players. Around that time, everyone wanted their Eric Lindros, far more emphasis was placed on size with teams hoping they could draft a big player and teach him to play. Now it wasn't a positive influence, hockey got better once teams realigned and came to the logic "instead of draft a big guy and hope he can learn to play, why not draft a guy who can already play hockey" but that's not Lindros' fault

Doesn't seem like there was a race to get the next ovechkin.


You could argue that attitude was a problem but after leaving Quebec, his only feud was with Bobby Clarke (and is anyone overly shocked?) Ovechkin chased out Boudreau and Hunter and there's been plenty of clips showing him skating through the motions on shifts and giving up. Nobody questions Lindros work ethic. And the caps had a quarter of their roster russian at one point, not saying that was because of Ovi but it was obvious they made a comfy situation for him.

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10-18-2012, 10:31 PM
  #109
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Brutal line of reasoning. There's plenty of defensive-minded defensemen who are "top-tier" without finishing in the top 10 or 20 in scoring.

We know how perilous judging defenders we see by points is so it's pretty mind-boggling you'd attempt to it justify this way.
It's the ideal metric, but at least it's objective, unlike the votes of a bunch of hacks that might see half the league for one or two games per season. The problem with Norris/AS voting, is not just that the qualifications of the voters are in question, but also that there is little depth in the results.

Another metric would be to use the leaders in ice time amongst d-men (top 2-3 per team), but this is only useful as far back as the data goes (late 90s?). It also would be predicated on the assumption that defensive talent is spread evenly amongst teams, which is obviously not the case.

There is no easy solution. Norris/AS voting could be of some use for determining the top 5-6 d-men in the NHL... one could also measure the overall representation of non-Canadian d-men in the NHL (using a minimum number of games each season)... but that leaves a huge range in between, and any method for estimating this is going to be far from perfect in the case of d-men IMO.

Again, I'm not sure just how important this is to the Ovechkin vs. Lindros question, except in determining just how much greater the defensive quality of the league was/is compared to previous eras. It's apparent to me that the defensive quality improved substantially, given that:

A) scoring declined substantially from the time Lindros entered the league, and has never recovered to pre-'94 levels

B) the influx in overseas/US talent was disproportionately composed of top tier scoring forwards, at least in the earlier stages of the exodus

One would have expected league scoring to increase, but instead it decreased. This may have been due more to defensive coaching/systems, changes in goalie equipment and technique, and lack of rules enforcement, as opposed to an increase in defensive (goalie/d-men) talent (since there was a proportionally larger influx of offensively talented forwards than defensive players).

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10-18-2012, 11:50 PM
  #110
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
It's the ideal metric, but at least it's objective, unlike the votes of a bunch of hacks that might see half the league for one or two games per season. The problem with Norris/AS voting, is not just that the qualifications of the voters are in question, but also that there is little depth in the results.

Another metric would be to use the leaders in ice time amongst d-men (top 2-3 per team), but this is only useful as far back as the data goes (late 90s?). It also would be predicated on the assumption that defensive talent is spread evenly amongst teams, which is obviously not the case.

There is no easy solution. Norris/AS voting could be of some use for determining the top 5-6 d-men in the NHL... one could also measure the overall representation of non-Canadian d-men in the NHL (using a minimum number of games each season)... but that leaves a huge range in between, and any method for estimating this is going to be far from perfect in the case of d-men IMO.

Again, I'm not sure just how important this is to the Ovechkin vs. Lindros question, except in determining just how much greater the defensive quality of the league was/is compared to previous eras. It's apparent to me that the defensive quality improved substantially, given that:

A) scoring declined substantially from the time Lindros entered the league, and has never recovered to pre-'94 levels

B) the influx in overseas/US talent was disproportionately composed of top tier scoring forwards, at least in the earlier stages of the exodus

One would have expected league scoring to increase, but instead it decreased. This may have been due more to defensive coaching/systems, changes in goalie equipment and technique, and lack of rules enforcement, as opposed to an increase in defensive (goalie/d-men) talent (since there was a proportionally larger influx of offensively talented forwards than defensive players).
If you are interested in looking at factors leading to the dip in league scoring I would guess you are on the right path pursuing the role of European defenders. I think their presence could be another potential item added to your list of explaining why scoring dropped.

My issue is determining that on the basis of which defenseman scored in the top 10-20 on any given year, while doing a decent job of capturing most impact defenders, doesn't seem to be the most effective method (especially when your pursuit is to account for "substantially improved defensive quality"). We're looking for all the "top-tier" defenders right?

Whether it's North Americans or Europeans, you are punishing certain players. Ulf Samuelsson was certainly a meaningful European defender, but he would be overlooked in this analysis. He was 6th in All-star voting in '87 while finishing 42nd in scoring among defensemen. Surely there'd be no meaningful way to capture his importance that year with his point totals.

I understand your reservations with going the All-star or TOI routes, but I think their limitations are lesser than simply counting their points as if they're all scoring forwards.


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10-19-2012, 10:28 AM
  #111
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I understand your reservations with going the All-star or TOI routes, but I think their limitations are lesser than simply counting their points as if they're all scoring forwards.
I think I have to agree with this.

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10-19-2012, 01:25 PM
  #112
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Originally Posted by Bring Back Scuderi View Post
If you are interested in looking at factors leading to the dip in league scoring I would guess you are on the right path pursuing the role of European defenders. I think their presence could be another potential item added to your list of explaining why scoring dropped.

My issue is determining that on the basis of which defenseman scored in the top 10-20 on any given year, while doing a decent job of capturing most impact defenders, doesn't seem to be the most effective method (especially when your pursuit is to account for "substantially improved defensive quality"). We're looking for all the "top-tier" defenders right?

Whether it's North Americans or Europeans, you are punishing certain players. Ulf Samuelsson was certainly a meaningful European defender, but he would be overlooked in this analysis. He was 6th in All-star voting in '87 while finishing 42nd in scoring among defensemen. Surely there'd be no meaningful way to capture his importance that year with his point totals.

I understand your reservations with going the All-star or TOI routes, but I think their limitations are lesser than simply counting their points as if they're all scoring forwards.
I agree that points is far from perfect. I also believe that Norris/AS voting likely penalizes certain players, but that it's "acceptable" to most, because they rely on these votes for their own evaluations.

TOI is probably the fairest, most objective way to determine the % of the top tier defenders which were non-Canadian. Again, it has limitations too, as defensive talent is not spread equally amongst teams, and the the data does not go back all the way to when players from overseas began integrating into the NHL en masse. It would then have to be extrapolated back, using other measures (% total d-men & % in top X in points among d-men). That would be worthwhile for something like estimating the total hockey talent pool over time, but I'm not going to spend that time for the purposes of this thread.

It was posited by another poster that 1/3 of NHL talent is European. It's my contention that over the past ~15-20 years non-Canadian talent likely is and has been 40-60% of the top tiers of NHL talent, although it may vary outside that range by position. I know it's about half for the top 2N (N= number of teams) scorers and, more recently, for games played by goalies.

This has been useful in deciding how to approach finding a metric for what % of the top tiers of d-men have been non-Canadian over time.

I think we can all agree that Lindros and Ovechkin faced a much more competitive landscape, particularly in terms of their contemporary forwards, with whom they competed for post-season awards and placements in various statistical categories. I'm more confident that this number is in the ~40-60 range, so don't see the need to define it more thoroughly for d-men for the purposes of this thread. Again, my main point was that neither the % of all d-men, nor the % of top X in Norris voting are likely to be the best metrics of the % of top tiers of d-men that are non-Canadian. You are free to disagree with this and I will not be presenting further evidence in this thread to support this assertion. That will be left for another day and another thread.

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10-19-2012, 09:09 PM
  #113
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I agree that points is far from perfect. I also believe that Norris/AS voting likely penalizes certain players, but that it's "acceptable" to most, because they rely on these votes for their own evaluations.
Not to be rude, but this doesn't mean anything.

"I agree that all Norris/AS voting is far from perfect. I also believe that points likely penalizes certain players, but it's "acceptable" to most, because they rely on these points for their own evaluations."

You're right, if it wasn't for the hard work of the PHWA nobody would understand how valuable Ulf Samuelsson was

Is this truly your position regarding award voting? You've gotten way ahead of yourself if you honestly believe that's why all-star voting is used. It really isn't the controversial point you're perpetuating.

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TOI is probably the fairest, most objective way to determine the % of the top tier defenders which were non-Canadian. Again, it has limitations too, as defensive talent is not spread equally amongst teams, and the the data does not go back all the way to when players from overseas began integrating into the NHL en masse. It would then have to be extrapolated back, using other measures (% total d-men & % in top X in points among d-men). That would be worthwhile for something like estimating the total hockey talent pool over time, but I'm not going to spend that time for the purposes of this thread.
Fair enough, but this would make your position much more compelling as you said.

Quote:
It was posited by another poster that 1/3 of NHL talent is European. It's my contention that over the past ~15-20 years non-Canadian talent likely is and has been 40-60% of the top tiers of NHL talent, although it may vary outside that range by position. I know it's about half for the top 2N (N= number of teams) scorers and, more recently, for games played by goalies.

This has been useful in deciding how to approach finding a metric for what % of the top tiers of d-men have been non-Canadian over time.
It's useful in deciding how many of the top scoring defenseman are non-Canadian. It ignores impact defensive-defenders regardless of ethnicity, which while incomplete is at least consistent.

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I think we can all agree that Lindros and Ovechkin faced a much more competitive landscape, particularly in terms of their contemporary forwards, with whom they competed for post-season awards and placements in various statistical categories. I'm more confident that this number is in the ~40-60 range, so don't see the need to define it more thoroughly for d-men for the purposes of this thread. Again, my main point was that neither the % of all d-men, nor the % of top X in Norris voting are likely to be the best metrics of the % of top tiers of d-men that are non-Canadian. You are free to disagree with this and I will not be presenting further evidence in this thread to support this assertion. That will be left for another day and another thread.
I agree totally that neither alone is the best judge. Personally, I use as much info as I can. I just don't think relying solely on a more ineffective metric does a very compelling job of making that point (again especially when we're looking at defensive quality).

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10-19-2012, 09:52 PM
  #114
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Is this truly your position regarding award voting? You've gotten way ahead of yourself if you honestly believe that's why all-star voting is used. It really isn't the controversial point you're perpetuating.
Yes, it's truly my belief that objective evidence is much preferable to a tally of some votes by some sportswriters. Such votes are potentially biased in many ways: hometown favoritism, personal history between writer and player, how much the writer sees the player currently and how much he did in the past, etc. You are free to use whatever evidence you wish, but I would prefer not to use votes as the primary basis of who the top X% of players are, esp. when the voting has relatively little depth to it. Many seem to recognize how flawed the THN lists can be, but often won't admit that annual voting for awards isn't necessarily by much (it at all) better quality participants.

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Fair enough, but this would make your position much more compelling as you said.
Sorry I brought it up, since it has minimal relevance to the topic of this thread IMO. I was simply trying to illustrate that 25-33% seemed low as an estimate of how many of the better d-men were non-Canadian in recent years.

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I agree totally that neither alone is the best judge. Personally, I use as much info as I can. I just don't think relying solely on a more ineffective metric does a very compelling job of making that point (again especially when we're looking at defensive quality).
I agree that it's better to use more info, but the voting info is flawed IMO and has very little depth to it, while the TOI is not compiled in a readily available user-friendly format, so would require manual compilation of such info. I'm not motivated to do such manual compilation at this time, and certainly not when it's such a tangential issue in relation to the topic of this thread.

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10-20-2012, 01:42 AM
  #115
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TOI is probably the fairest, most objective way to determine the % of the top tier defenders which were non-Canadian.
OK, now I agree with this.

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