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Messier vs. Esposito

View Poll Results: Esposito vs. Messier
Messier 62 51.24%
Esposito 59 48.76%
Voters: 121. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
11-21-2012, 03:20 PM
  #1
Fred Taylor
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Messier vs. Esposito

Who do you consider the better player all-time? Mark or Phil?

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11-21-2012, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Fred Taylor View Post
Who do you consider the better player all-time? Mark or Phil?
Phil

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Old
11-21-2012, 03:30 PM
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thom
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The hockey news in 1999 made a list with some of the most knowledgeable people including Scotty Bowman and Howie Meeker and had Messier ahead of Esposito.I would rank them close but give messier a tiny edge

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11-21-2012, 04:17 PM
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Big Phil
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My username is based on Phil Esposito..........so at the risk of being bias, well, I still go with Esposito by a little bit.

Look, for some reason time hasn't been kind to Esposito on these boards. I don't know why, the same goes for Coffey. Esposito did a ton of things in his career that get overlooked or not appreciated enough. In 1972 you had Orr, Esposito and Hull as the best players in the NHL. Take away Orr and Hull and the best player in the NHL is Esposito for sure by a noticeable degree. Without those two superstars he carries Canada on his back in the 1972 Series against Russia under immense pressure. No disrespect to Paul Henderson but Esposito was the central figure on that team and provided a clutch performance that has rarely been seen.

Here's the question could Messier have done that if Gretzky and Lemieux didn't play in the 1987 Canada Cup?

That's just part of the equation. Esposito was a dominant offensive threat. He was THE elite goal scorer in the NHL for quite some time and led the NHL in goals 6 times in a row and in points 4 times in a row. He won a Hart over Orr in 1974. He was just as good as Messier in his Cup wins. Personally I don't see Messier having a huge edge in the postseason either.

As far as an all around player you give the edge to Messier but the offensive edge is Esposito and it is a dominant advantage. Another thing people forget is that Esposito could control the pace of a game rather well. Everyone always thinks Orr was what made him what he was but that isn't true at all and is more of a lazy way to look at it.

Lastly, while 1975 is considered the last true elite season for Esposito the truth is he still had some 80 point seasons left in him with the Rangers. Not to mention he was still very good in the 1976 Canada Cup which people forget.

If I am basing it on their careers I take Esposito. This isn't to disregard Messier at all. He is one of the best players to lace up a pair of skates and his greatness goes beyond the scoreboard as well but it isn't as if Esposito was all style and no substance either. As we saw in 1972, he could lead.

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11-21-2012, 05:07 PM
  #5
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Esposito, easily.

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11-21-2012, 05:22 PM
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seventieslord
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In 1972 you had Orr, Esposito and Hull as the best players in the NHL. Take away Orr and Hull and the best player in the NHL is Esposito for sure by a noticeable degree.
Really, is he?

Considering he was noticeably a much better player when Orr played with him, that is far from open-and-shut.

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11-21-2012, 07:03 PM
  #7
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Really, is he?... Considering he was noticeably a much better player when Orr played with him, that is far from open-and-shut.
... ya, this is controversial. Right off the bat Im going to throw out pre-Boston with Chicago and post Bruins with the Rangers, an act that in and of itself would give the nod to Messier. Though he doesnt have the same gaudy numbers in his prime & peak, theres really no question in my mind that Messier was the more intrinsically valuable performer & leader in both Edmonton & New York.

Im not going to bash Phil, he wore his heart on his sleeve, but really, Messier was a far more intelligent (and nastier) player & leader. Both had incredible supporting casts, however, that Mark was able to enervate & elevate every single player on the Rangers post Edmonton and break on through really eclipses to my way of thinking what Espo accomplished throughout his career. Stylistically, there really is no comparison. Entirely different types mentally & in terms of play.

And to your post BigPhil, as much as I respect Esposito, fact is, had I been selecting Team Canada in 72, I would not have drawn his card from the deck of the then roughly 360+ players I had to choose from. Indeed, there are numerous players from that squad who wouldnt have been invited to my Camp, including the selection of Goaltenders. In many ways, his sweaty diatribe in upbraiding the fans in Vancouver after another loss was simply illustrative of the mistakes Sinden & Ferguson (with Eaglesons overarching influence) had made, were making in terms of player selection. Slow on the uptake behind the bench, won the dealeo by a whisker, a frankly no-name Born Again Christian the Hero.

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Old
11-21-2012, 07:45 PM
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As an Oilers fan, I am comfortable saying Espo by a wide margin.

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11-21-2012, 10:15 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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Interesting that both these guys fed off of the greatness of the top 2 players in NHL history. And you could throw Hull (number 7? in the top 100) in there for the early part of Espo's career. Espo was definitely the more offensively gifted. He just had a knack for touching the puck at the right time. However, Messier became elite in my mind when he led the Rangers to a SC. For that he ekes by Espo. Which makes me wonder about Messier's ranking in the top 100. Is he too high (no. 12)? I think so.

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11-21-2012, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
Messier became elite in my mind when he led the Rangers to a SC.
I'm amazed at how often I read this, considering his years on the Oilers (especially the playoffs), his two Hart/Lindsay wins which came earlier, and the fact that he never made a post season all-star squad after '92.

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11-21-2012, 10:33 PM
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DisgruntledGoat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
My username is based on Phil Esposito..........so at the risk of being bias, well, I still go with Esposito by a little bit.

Look, for some reason time hasn't been kind to Esposito on these boards. I don't know why, the same goes for Coffey.
I would argue that time hasn't been kind to Messier, either. One of the most consistently underappreciated players on this board, at least.

But, I agree with pretty much everything else you said. Orr helped, sure, but no one is good enough to gift you the kind of scoring heights that Espo reached.

Messier, Espo and Lafleur are an interesting trio for me. I rank them all very closely. Around the ten spot all-time. Its an interesting conversation.

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11-21-2012, 10:36 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
Interesting that both these guys fed off of the greatness of the top 2 players in NHL history. And you could throw Hull (number 7? in the top 100) in there for the early part of Espo's career. Espo was definitely the more offensively gifted. He just had a knack for touching the puck at the right time. However, Messier became elite in my mind when he led the Rangers to a SC. For that he ekes by Espo. Which makes me wonder about Messier's ranking in the top 100. Is he too high (no. 12)? I think so.
Esposito's stats fell off without Bobby Orr. But Mark Messier's stats didn't really go up until 1986-87, right before Gretzky left, and they stayed up. Makes sense since once Messier was moved to C, he rarely shared ice time with Gretzky. I also remember reading that he received limited PP time until around 1986-87.

Either way, both of Messier's Hart Trophies and his runner-up finish came without Gretzky.

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11-21-2012, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Really, is he?

Considering he was noticeably a much better player when Orr played with him, that is far from open-and-shut.
This is the big question with Phil IMO and why I'm taking the Moose ahead of him here but it's pretty close.

The top 50 Centers of all time is going to be extremely interesting.

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Old
11-22-2012, 12:29 AM
  #14
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When we did the recent top 10 lists I had Messier in my top 5 and Esposito didn't crack the top 10. I guess that answers that.

I find Messier to be vastly underrated on HF.

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11-22-2012, 01:24 AM
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Long Duk Dong
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Messier isn't even close to Esposito to the level where it's almost insulting.

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11-22-2012, 01:27 AM
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Count me among those who find Esposito underated. Especially on HFboards.

Few players have reached such offensive heights. Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe... That's about it. I feel Big Phil is too often seen as a leecher to Orr. Fact is he has proven himself outside of his ''Bruins'' context. He led the Canada crew throught the Summit Series, led the Rangers onto the Stanley Cup finals and was a driving force for the Hawks in the late 60's. Add to that a good 6-7 years of absolute dominance and you're left with career for the memories. Both him and Messier would have a significantly less impressive career ''number-wise'' without 99 and 4, so this point is pretty much moot.

At this point, I personally think a debate between Esposito/Mikita/Morenz would be more appropriate than Esposito/Messier. Let's look at things this way: A healthy Coffey is only second to a healthy Orr while talking about offensive d-men. Despite this, the higher #11 got into the scoring list is 2nd. That is playing much of his PP with a prime Gretzky and Coffey. Otherwise, he's been surpassed by teamates or more offensive players like Savard, Hawerchuk, Stastny... . Over this point it's fairly debatable who was a more complete player, depending on what you value the most. Personally, I feel Messier's leadership has been blown out of proportion from what I remember of him. On the other hand, Esposito often seems swept under the ''Orr'' carpet. Honestly I don't see how Esposito would be ranked behind Lafleur or Mikita, as much as I adore the laters. I sense a lot of hazy revisionism into HFboards 2009 rankings.

Sorry for my english level. Peace.


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11-22-2012, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Long Duk Dong View Post
Messier isn't even close to Esposito to the level where it's almost insulting.
I don't see how anybody not named Gretzky or Orr is that far above Messier to the point where it's "almost insulting"

The only player in the history of the game with more points than Mark Messier is Wayne Gretzky. How many levels above Messier could there really be? You talk as if Esposito is five times the player. I really don't think there's even that much room above Messier.

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11-22-2012, 01:39 AM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Originally Posted by Long Duk Dong View Post
Messier isn't even close to Esposito to the level where it's almost insulting.
Peak offense in the regular season is Esposito, not close.

Messier makes ground with overall game, then more with the playoffs, then more with longevity as an elite player.

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11-22-2012, 03:02 AM
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Killion
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I don't see how anybody not named Gretzky or Orr is that far above Messier to the point where it's "almost insulting"...
... Frankly I find it an odd, bizarre comparison. I love Phil Esposito. One of the games great characters. Total Goal Suck. Regular Bon-Vivant. But to compare or elevate Mr.HairClub For Men above Messier? Not happenin. Doesnt even compute. Compare him to Mike Bossy. Much better premise. And I live in Vancouver. Were supposed to hate Mark Messier. Dont get it I guess.

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11-22-2012, 04:29 AM
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... Frankly I find it an odd, bizarre comparison. I love Phil Esposito. One of the games great characters. Total Goal Suck. Regular Bon-Vivant. But to compare or elevate Mr.HairClub For Men above Messier? Not happenin. Doesnt even compute. Compare him to Mike Bossy. Much better premise. And I live in Vancouver. Were supposed to hate Mark Messier. Dont get it I guess.
It's simple. Mark Messier is one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of skates. That's all there is to get. That's all I've been trying to get HF to get, but they don't get it either

Not a particularly nice man, no, but all you could want in a hockey player.

As for the Vancouver thing....I'd hate him too

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11-22-2012, 08:04 AM
  #21
tony d
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Esposito. I have him close to my list of top 5 players of all time.

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11-22-2012, 08:28 AM
  #22
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Esposito's stats fell off without Bobby Orr. But Mark Messier's stats didn't really go up until 1986-87, right before Gretzky left, and they stayed up. Makes sense since once Messier was moved to C, he rarely shared ice time with Gretzky. I also remember reading that he received limited PP time until around 1986-87.

Either way, both of Messier's Hart Trophies and his runner-up finish came without Gretzky.
Messier was 2nd in team scoring in 1982-83, 2nd in team PPG, and 5th in team PPGF (3rd among forwards). Obviously part of the #1 PP unit.

He dropped down a notch in 1983-84, being passed by Kurri for PP time, and then came a few injury plagued seasons where both his point production and PP time fell off.

Gretzky and Coffey were the only ones receiving monster PP time in Edmonton at the time.

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11-22-2012, 09:49 AM
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But Mark Messier's stats didn't really go up until 1986-87, right before Gretzky left, and they stayed up.
I don't know if I'd agree with that. From 1982, his stats only really dropped in 1984-85 when he hurt his knee in early November. I'd say they definitely improved in his first full season as a center (and by then, he was capable of stealing 1st Teams at the position from Gretzky and Lemieux), but they were pretty high as a LW as well.

Messier was coming off of three-straight All-Star selections at LW when he switched to Center. Imagine if he had stayed at LW: How many do you think he would get in his career? Ten? (1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996)

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11-22-2012, 11:41 AM
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Esposito showed what he was made of before Orr came into his own. Messier had some cups from the many stacked teams he played for, but so what? It was'nt like he was better than Esposito in many ways, while the latter was dominant offensively.

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11-22-2012, 11:52 AM
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I would go with Mark Messier without hesitation.I feel that with Messier as your go-to-guy you have a better shot at winning the stanley cup.

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