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Esposito Without Orr

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11-23-2012, 07:57 PM
  #26
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Nice job putting this all together, HT18.
I agree nice job, I wonder if there is a bit of residual affect of Orr though (ie as in increased confidence and shot taking remaining the same as well or even increasing).

I still wonder how he would have been without the Orr factor at all.

still it shows pretty impressive numbers (outside of those in Chicago and NYR).

Let's assume that his pace is like that without Orr and that the rest of his career stays exactly the same (playoff's with Orr adjusted as well I guess), the question is how far down does he slip on the all time list?

He was 20th Moose 22nd) on the all time top 70 list here, my guess is maybe down to the 40ish range?

Or does he drop below 50th and Marcel Dionne?

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11-23-2012, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Probably because the analysis is far from complete - overlooks Phil Esposito's scoring in Chicago as the third forward option, 1972 Summit Series - supported by Park, Lapointe and Savard,1976 Canada Cup with Orr and a cast of HHOFers, 1977 WHC with eliminated NHL support. New York with negligible support from defensemen.[/B]
Carol Vadnias and then Ron Greschner say hi. To a lesser extent Mike McEwen and Barry Beck.

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11-23-2012, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Carol Vadnias and then Ron Greschner say hi. To a lesser extent Mike McEwen and Barry Beck.
None of the defensemen you mention are HHOF quality like the ones mentioned.

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11-23-2012, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Taking away Orr implies a replacement or replacements. Which is where it gets interesting. Give Esposito healthy and deep replacements like he had in the 1972 Summit Series and the numbers/Art Ross Trophies might have sustained or gone higher.
Give any purely offensive player, what was it 13 HHOFers from 72 besides Espo?, then it might add to his production.

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11-23-2012, 08:17 PM
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One thing to note is, if Espo's scoring finishes (in particular, the five that read 1-1-1-1-1) were taken at 100% face value then he would be a top-10 player of all-time, probably the 4th best forward ever. But we don't take them at face value and he's in the 20-30 range all-time. I think that's fair for a guy who, if Orr never existed, might have finished something like 1-1-2-2-4-5-6-7-7-9 - with his two titles being by lower margins than his actual ones - while being a mediocre defensive player. That's like a less dominant Jagr, so 20-30 sounds about reasonable. Jagr is usually in the 20-30 range himself, but should be higher.

(If Orr did exist, and played on one of about five other teams, then those above finishes likely each drop by 1-2)

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11-23-2012, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
I agree nice job, I wonder if there is a bit of residual affect of Orr though (ie as in increased confidence and shot taking remaining the same as well or even increasing).

I still wonder how he would have been without the Orr factor at all.

still it shows pretty impressive numbers (outside of those in Chicago and NYR).

Let's assume that his pace is like that without Orr and that the rest of his career stays exactly the same (playoff's with Orr adjusted as well I guess), the question is how far down does he slip on the all time list?

He was 20th Moose 22nd) on the all time top 70 list here, my guess is maybe down to the 40ish range?

Or does he drop below 50th and Marcel Dionne?
that's probably a bit on the harsh side. I think what these numbers show is that Orr was typically worth a 25% (minimum) boost in Espo's production. there are other factors that lead me to believe that it's more than that, but it's absolutely at least 25%.

take Espo's point totals from 1968 to 1975, and multiply by 0.8, and these are his maximum theoretical totals, assuming Orr plays elsewhere and puts up the same totals, but not speculating on what Orr does to another star forward elsewhere:

1968: 67 (11)
1969: 101 (3)
1970: 72 (6)
1971: 122 (2)
1972: 106 (4)
1973: 104 (T-1)
1974: 116 (2)
1975: 102 (6)

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11-23-2012, 08:40 PM
  #32
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Simple. Take Orr away especially in 1971 and 1974. The second place finisher is Orr in those years and he's relatively close to Esposito. Without Orr we are talking about an even bigger gap. Here's what I mean:

1971 - Esposito 152, Orr 139
Take Orr away and the next best player is Bucyk at 115 if you even think he hits that without Orr. The best non-Bruin was Hull at 96. Even if Esposito "only" gets 130 points he is still 34 away from the next best scorer if Bucyk drops below Hull. You see what I mean? It isn't really a big issue, but it just is a way to debunk this idea that Esposito was who he was because of Orr, because if you look at it he was still head and shoulders above the rest of the NHL either way.
71, and the early 70's some weird things are going on in the scoring though here is a list of the non Bruin top 20 scorers (all 13 of them), and their ages in 71

Bobby Hull 32
Norm Ullman 35
Jean Beliveau 39
Dave Keon 30
Walt Tkaczuk 23
Yvon Cournoyer 27
Frank Mahovolich 33
Stan Mikita 30
Gilbert Perrault 20
Jean Ratelle 30
Jude Druin 22
Tom Webster 22
Andre Boudrias 27

Any dominance of this group in their makeup and age has to be taken with a grain of salt IMO.

74 has some weird things going on to which make it sort of the perfect storm as well.

Clarke, MacLeish and Dionne, all still very young and not in their prime, have down years between very good ones, Perrault is injured which affects Rick Martins scoring a bit. Mikita drops off his PPG pace a huge amount from the year before. Just alot of weird stuff going on.

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11-23-2012, 08:41 PM
  #33
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
the counter to that is, Orr didn't have gaudy offensive totals to prove he was driving the offense, at least for the first two years, ergo, Espo proved he could do it "without" Orr.

But the truth in the underlying numbers is that Orr was almost as dominant a possession player as he was in the 70s, in 68 and 69. He tilted the ice away from Boston's net and towards the opposition's, and everyone benefitted.
I'll give you that Espo could do it in 67-68. It being 2nd place in the Art Ross. But 68-69 was absolutely due to Orr, record points for a dman and led the league with +65. It was more of the same from then on out.

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11-23-2012, 09:21 PM
  #34
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Probably because the analysis is far from complete - overlooks Phil Esposito's scoring in Chicago as the third forward option, 1972 Summit Series - supported by Park, Lapointe and Savard,1976 Canada Cup with Orr and a cast of HHOFers, 1977 WHC with eliminated NHL support. New York with negligible support from defensemen.[/B]

Regardless of the circumstances, with/without Orr, Phil Esposito managed a quality offensive performance.
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
None of the defensemen you mention are HHOF quality like the ones mentioned.
Well you weren't talking about HHOF dmen but rather negligible support. I took that to mean offensive support right?

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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Still Orr/Esposito is a reciprocal arrangement - each created open ice for each other in the offensive zone as well as creating open ice in the offensive zone for the remaining three teammates.

Previously with Chicago, Esposito was the third forward behind Bobby Hull and Mikita with Pilote so the open ice benefits to him were secondary/tertiary.

Same effect was evident with Park and Jean Ratelle with New York and Boston, Islanders with Trottier and Potvin,Toronto Sittler and Salming, Montreal Lafleur and the Big 3 - defensive scoring stats spread out over 3, but was missing in Philadelphia with Bobby Clarke,Los Angeles with Marcel Dionne, Buffalo with Perreault - no strong offensive support from the defense.
Maybe you were thinking that I was responding to this quote but I have no doubt that Orr was creating more space than Phil was.

Reading your last quote, and the examples given it's unclear if it proves anything though.

Ratelle does quite well, without and before Parks breakout, in the late 60's but does do better with Park and ages better than Phil as well

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11-23-2012, 09:49 PM
  #35
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
One thing to note is, if Espo's scoring finishes (in particular, the five that read 1-1-1-1-1) were taken at 100% face value then he would be a top-10 player of all-time, probably the 4th best forward ever. But we don't take them at face value and he's in the 20-30 range all-time. I think that's fair for a guy who, if Orr never existed, might have finished something like 1-1-2-2-4-5-6-7-7-9 - with his two titles being by lower margins than his actual ones - while being a mediocre defensive player. That's like a less dominant Jagr, so 20-30 sounds about reasonable. Jagr is usually in the 20-30 range himself, but should be higher.

(If Orr did exist, and played on one of about five other teams, then those above finishes likely each drop by 1-2)
The last part with Orr is hard to quantify if he was playing on another team. Those Bruins teams with Orr had lots of top 10-20 scorers over his time.

How that would translate to Montreal, Toronto, NYR, Chicago or Detroit in that same time period is really difficult to tell.

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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
that's probably a bit on the harsh side. I think what these numbers show is that Orr was typically worth a 25% (minimum) boost in Espo's production. there are other factors that lead me to believe that it's more than that, but it's absolutely at least 25%.

take Espo's point totals from 1968 to 1975, and multiply by 0.8, and these are his maximum theoretical totals, assuming Orr plays elsewhere and puts up the same totals, but not speculating on what Orr does to another star forward elsewhere:

1968: 67 (11)
1969: 101 (3)
1970: 72 (6)
1971: 122 (2)
1972: 106 (4)
1973: 104 (T-1)
1974: 116 (2)
1975: 102 (6)
Fair enough but I'm also assuming that it affects his playoff scoring as well to the .8 tune.

That would make his playoff record something like this.

29-4-4-8 ages 21-24 with Chicago

71-37-45-82 (maximum with .8 multiplyer) with Boston
30-11-16-27 ages 35-37 with NYR

It actually had less impact on his total ranking from 64-80 in the playoffs dropping him from 2nd to 4th in both goals and points.

Part of that though is his being 4th with 130 Playoff games and one has to wonder how many playoff games less he plays in without Orr.

Maybe I'm holding Orr in too a high a regard here but something has to give (in the Orr and the rest of the Bruins equation) IMO and it's possible that we look at Phil in an entirely different light without Orr, ie less than Marcel Dionne overall.

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11-23-2012, 10:37 PM
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... interesting if you delve into his history a bit more, as he did indeed show early promises of what was to eventually follow in Boston, starting with his pro career in the Central League where in 62-63 he had 90pts in 71Gs; the following season racking up 80pts in 43Gs before getting called up by Chicago. Playing on the 3rd line as mentioned earlier, 3 seasons of very respectable numbers for that era consisting of 23, 27 & 21 goals.

Often referred to as "The Happy Worrier", Phil did in fact worry about Billy Reay, who he honestly felt didnt really appreciate his talents, actually valid, branded an under performer, traded to Boston.
Which was more valid though, that his talents weren't appreciated or that he was an underperformer? He didn't separate himself statistically from forwards like Mohns and Wharram in Chicago, despite those players being in their 30s.

Looking at his minor league stats:

'63- 71 gms, 36 G, 90 Pts. Teammate Alain Carron had 61 G & 97 points in 54 games as a 24 y/o winger, yet only managed one season in the NHL (age 29, in first post-expansion season) before bouncing around the minors again, until he had three < PPG seasons in the WHA from '73-'75. Teammate Murray Hall had 29 G & 98 points in 71 games as a 21 y/0 winger, before going on to score ~.5 PPG in 164 (mostly) post-expansion NHL games, then ~.7 PPG in 4 WHA seasons. On other teams, Gord Labossiere had 34 G & 101 points in 72 games at age 22 before ~.35 PPG in 215 (mostly) post-expansion NHL games and < .5 PPG in 4 WHA seasons... Marc Dufour had 50 G & 99 points in 71 games at age 20, but basically was a career minor leaguer... Don Blackburn had 42 G & 96 points in 67 games at age 24, before ~.5 PPG in 185 NHL games and < .8 PPG in ~2 WHA seasons... and Jeannot Gilbert had 34 G & 87 points in 64 games at age 21, but was a career minor leaguer.

'64- 43 gms, 26 G, 80 Pts. Carron at age 25 had 77 G & 125 points. While Espo could be given credit for elevating his totals, he still managed 6 goals in 6 games in the playoffs w/o Espo. Teammate and fellow center Ray Cullen was 21 (actually 7 months younger than Espo) and had 46 G & 98 points in 63 games, later scoring almost .7 PPG in 313 NHL games (all but 35 post-expansion). Jeannot Gilbert scored 50 G & 100 points in 72 games on another team at age 22. You're right, it seems a bit of an oddball league, given that the coaches were the big names, yet very few of the players.

Most of the other players who excelled in that league had relatively brief and middling NHL/WHA careers, even after expansion, or were career minor leaguers. I'm not sure what Espo's complaint was, as he seems to have gotten a comparatively quick call-up from a good NHL team in the O6, rather than having to wait years to play for some expansion team and/or WHA franchise. He did pretty well in Chicago, but he didn't exactly distinguish himself from lesser forwards in their 30s (Mohns & Wharram) nor did he do particularly well in the playoffs. There doesn't seem anything before his years in Boston to suggest that he was going to come close to winning a Ross, let alone break records.

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11-23-2012, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
There doesn't seem anything before his years in Boston to suggest that he was going to come close to winning a Ross, let alone break records.
Wow, thats a lot of number crunching & comparisons; good job. And ya, rather an interesting league huh? All kinds of guys who'd been around, reappearing with the the first Expansions & WHA..... but getting back to Esposito, I do remember watching him play for Chicago, and was struck that yep, there was something interesting, potentially brilliant in the way he was playing the game.... Twenty odd goals a year in those final seasons prior to Expansion, particularly from a 3rd liner, that was none too shabby, quite excellent in fact. Like a lot of guys during that period, the generation coming out of the late 50's, many bridled against the draconian meanderings of old school coaches like Ray & Imlach, some going completely loco & AWOL like Carl Brewer, Mahovlich, countless others who just gave up & quit altogether. It was indeed the Best of Times and the Worst of Times in many respects.

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11-24-2012, 12:16 AM
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getting back to Esposito, I do remember watching him play for Chicago, and was struck that yep, there was something interesting, potentially brilliant in the way he was playing the game.... Twenty odd goals a year in those final seasons prior to Expansion, particularly from a 3rd liner, that was none too shabby, quite excellent in fact.
Was Espo primarily a third liner until Hay's injury(?) in '67? I just noticed Mohns listed as a d-man in '67, when Mohns actually had a better PPG than any teammate except Mikita & Hull. Just wondering who Espo played with in each season in Chicago. Maybe the numbers didn't tell the whole story, whether in Juniors, the minors, or in Chicago. Obviously Chicago saw enough to call him up to what was already a talented team in the O6... but then they traded him in his prime. I tend to think he had the right ship for the perfect storm that was the Bruins in the post-expansion NHL. He got a great opportunity and made the most of it, I don't fault him for that. I'm only trying to get a truer picture of his abilities and value... if his name was picked out of a hat and sent to a random team in a random post-WWII era, just how great would he be in a different situation, against different competition? Would he put down the 12 pack and pick up some weights and be just as great in the 90s or 00s? Would he be a Brett Hull with playmaking to boot, or a better version of Tkachuk or Ciccarelli?

My perhaps misguided view of Espo in his prime is like that of the running back who has a huge season on a team with a great O-Line and good passing game... or like a DH who hits clean up, who doesn't get on base that much, nor does he have much speed once he gets there. Such players can be extraordinarily valuable in the right situation (if there's always players on base when he gets to the plate), but their value tends to be very elastic based on the situation. I wouldn't compare John Riggins or Franco Harris to Jim Brown or Barry Sanders. Nor would one compare Don Baylor or Dave Kingman to Mike Schmidt or Mickey Mantle. I don't mean to insult Espo with some of the names mentioned, and I know the value differences are exagerrated, but I think one gets the picture. Baylor won an MVP and Franco's a HOFer, but no one would hesitate to take the players who not only were better, but would likely be much, much better on a "typical" team.


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11-24-2012, 01:31 AM
  #39
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You're simply underestimating the value of an exceptionally strong possession and territorial game, which Orr drove.

Orr's on/off ratios in 1968 and 1969 weren't as dominant over Esposito as they were about to become, but over those two seasons, he was already 2.04/1.08 while Espo was 1.69/1.15.

Espo, being a forward, was getting more points on those goals, but Orr was already having a bigger apparent influence on both goals for and against.
Where can you find those stats?

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11-24-2012, 02:05 AM
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Where can you find those stats?
See post #197 (currently the last post) in this thread for a link to the author's year by year spreadsheets:

Adjusted Plus-Minus

The first part of the thread has career data for many players, including Orr & Espo. (note: data first available for '68 season)

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11-24-2012, 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Like a lot of guys during that period, the generation coming out of the late 50's, many bridled against the draconian meanderings of old school coaches like Ray & Imlach, some going completely loco & AWOL like Carl Brewer, Mahovlich, countless others who just gave up & quit altogether. It was indeed the Best of Times and the Worst of Times in many respects.
It seems like Mahovlich's career could have gone much differently in a more favorable environment. Here's a thought experiment: What if Frank Mahovlich and Espo switched places... or both were in similar circumstances, whether their own historical ones or random ones? Interestingly, Mahovlich has almost the inverse career curve to Espo's: great until ~25, substantial drop toward mediocrity, and then very good again from ~33-34. He also had ~19 good seasons, compared to Espo's 16. I wouldn't be surprised if Mahovlich could have at least come close to matching Espo in many environments.


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11-24-2012, 05:14 AM
  #42
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Simple. Take Orr away especially in 1971 and 1974. The second place finisher is Orr in those years and he's relatively close to Esposito. Without Orr we are talking about an even bigger gap. Here's what I mean:

1971 - Esposito 152, Orr 139
Take Orr away and the next best player is Bucyk at 115 if you even think he hits that without Orr. The best non-Bruin was Hull at 96. Even if Esposito "only" gets 130 points he is still 34 away from the next best scorer if Bucyk drops below Hull. You see what I mean? It isn't really a big issue, but it just is a way to debunk this idea that Esposito was who he was because of Orr, because if you look at it he was still head and shoulders above the rest of the NHL either way.
The issue isn't what Bucyk hits without Orr...It's what Esposito himself hits without Orr. Do you really think he puts up 152 Pts without Orr? Where does 130pts come from?...the data shows that his seasonal average was 106pts without Orr. C1958 makes a good point that without Orr but with a better #1 Dman than the Bruins had after Orr that Esposito's numbers probably wouldn't be as low as they were as the "without Orr data" shows; however, that is almost impossible to quantify...How good should the replacement #1 Dman be?...What kind of chemistry does he have with Esposito? I think we can say that Esposito was a great player that made the most out of his team situation, and he should get extra credit for that, and he should also get credit as a multiple Art Ross winner, but assuming that he puts up an extra 23% more points seems out of line. I would like to see evidence that an AVERAGE #1 Dman has that effect.

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11-24-2012, 07:24 AM
  #43
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Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
The issue isn't what Bucyk hits without Orr...It's what Esposito himself hits without Orr. Do you really think he puts up 152 Pts without Orr? Where does 130pts come from?...the data shows that his seasonal average was 106pts without Orr. C1958 makes a good point that without Orr but with a better #1 Dman than the Bruins had after Orr that Esposito's numbers probably wouldn't be as low as they were as the "without Orr data" shows; however, that is almost impossible to quantify...How good should the replacement #1 Dman be?...What kind of chemistry does he have with Esposito? I think we can say that Esposito was a great player that made the most out of his team situation, and he should get extra credit for that, and he should also get credit as a multiple Art Ross winner, but assuming that he puts up an extra 23% more points seems out of line. I would like to see evidence that an AVERAGE #1 Dman has that effect.
Thank you.

The point is a bit mote subtle than that. Bobby Orr's TOI probably tops out at 30 minutes per game, maybe a stretch to 32. Regardless Esposito does not share ice time with Orr anywhere close to 100%, maybe 50-55%.

Conversely in a Big 3 scenario Esposito would share ice time with an elite offensive defenseman close to 100% of the time.

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11-24-2012, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
You're simply underestimating the value of an exceptionally strong possession and territorial game, which Orr drove.

Orr's on/off ratios in 1968 and 1969 weren't as dominant over Esposito as they were about to become, but over those two seasons, he was already 2.04/1.08 while Espo was 1.69/1.15.

Espo, being a forward, was getting more points on those goals, but Orr was already having a bigger apparent influence on both goals for and against.
Nobody else here has even given a second thought to the fact that Orr also benefitted greatly from Esposito? The 1969 Hart voting looked like this:

Esposito - 133
Beliveau - 47
Orr - 44

Is it fair to say the people who watched the games at that time had a decent enough say? I am not saying Orr wasn't a great defenseman then, he just hadn't hit his superhuman level yet and even the stats show this. Orr was a +65 in 1969 which is incredible while Esposito was hardly far behind at +56. Orr had 283 shots in 1969 which is incredible again, but it pales in comparison to what he had later and even Esposito had 351 shots in 1969 while getting anywhere from 400-550 in later years.

Even in years Orr won the Hart, Esposito was not far behind other than 1970. In 1971 the Hart voting was Orr 151-127 over Esposito. Close, and even then Esposito won the Pearson award. Espo was 3rd in Hart voting in 1972 and second in 1973 behind Clarke and ahead of Orr. Not to mention winning in 1974. By 1975 the Hart vote had Esposito out of the picture for good despite playing a full season with Orr and despite 127 points. This is often cited as a time when Esposito noticeably had things catch up with him and he was slowly declining and yet it was still a season with Orr.

The people who watched these two play gave a lot of credit to Esposito, not just once but in all of his great seasons. Yes he benefitted from Orr and to be honest so would Mario Lemieux, no one is saying he didn't. But if you are going to penalize an all-time great for playing with another all-time great it has to cut both ways. Without Esposito there is no way Orr cracks 100 assists.

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Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
The issue isn't what Bucyk hits without Orr...It's what Esposito himself hits without Orr. Do you really think he puts up 152 Pts without Orr? Where does 130pts come from?...the data shows that his seasonal average was 106pts without Orr. C1958 makes a good point that without Orr but with a better #1 Dman than the Bruins had after Orr that Esposito's numbers probably wouldn't be as low as they were as the "without Orr data" shows; however, that is almost impossible to quantify...How good should the replacement #1 Dman be?...What kind of chemistry does he have with Esposito? I think we can say that Esposito was a great player that made the most out of his team situation, and he should get extra credit for that, and he should also get credit as a multiple Art Ross winner, but assuming that he puts up an extra 23% more points seems out of line. I would like to see evidence that an AVERAGE #1 Dman has that effect.
I think that point went over your head a bit. You asked how he'd be without Orr. I said without Orr you'd have to drop each of the Bruins' totals a bit, including Esposito to an extent. If there is no Orr then Esposito has about 130 in my estimation in 1971. Why do I estimate that? Because I don't think the guy is all of the sudden dropped to 106 points just without Orr. That's too much. Therefore if he has 130 points and Bucyk has, say 100, and Hodge around 95 or so that leaves the scoring race looking something like this:

Esposito - 130
Bucyk - 100
Hull - 96
Hodge - 95

This is total speculation and basically I am pretending to know what the world would look like using the butterfly effect, which I can't so take it anyway you want. But that right there shows you that he has an even bigger seperation from the 2nd place finisher (which was Orr in the "real" 1971 season). That's all it was.

But I prefer reality over a mere assumption and in reality Esposito scored a goal a game and he and Orr were one of the best one-two punches in hockey history.

Those are also incredibly small sample sizes that you use. I mean you basically say that because of 4 games played without Orr in 1974 that Esposito only has 97 points as if 5 games is a large sample size. The best year out of that chart (other than 1968 or 1969 which you probably won't mention because it goes against your argument) is 1973 because it was the most time without Orr - 15 games. Esposito still has 24 points and has a 124 point year instead of 130. We're nickel and diming here, Esposito was a dominant talent in his own right. I mean, according to your own study Esposito has a better PPG without Orr in 1968 and hardly any worse of one in 1969. You'd think that would be enough reason to give Esposito his due...........


Last edited by Big Phil: 11-24-2012 at 07:41 AM.
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11-24-2012, 04:50 PM
  #45
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
Was Espo primarily a third liner until Hay's injury(?) in '67? I just noticed Mohns listed as a d-man in '67, when Mohns actually had a better PPG than any teammate except Mikita & Hull. Just wondering who Espo played with in each season in Chicago. Maybe the numbers didn't tell the whole story, whether in Juniors, the minors, or in Chicago. Obviously Chicago saw enough to call him up to what was already a talented team in the O6... but then they traded him in his prime. I tend to think he had the right ship for the perfect storm that was the Bruins in the post-expansion NHL. He got a great opportunity and made the most of it, I don't fault him for that. I'm only trying to get a truer picture of his abilities and value... if his name was picked out of a hat and sent to a random team in a random post-WWII era, just how great would he be in a different situation, against different competition? Would he put down the 12 pack and pick up some weights and be just as great in the 90s or 00s? Would he be a Brett Hull with playmaking to boot, or a better version of Tkachuk or Ciccarelli?

My perhaps misguided view of Espo in his prime is like that of the running back who has a huge season on a team with a great O-Line and good passing game... or like a DH who hits clean up, who doesn't get on base that much, nor does he have much speed once he gets there. Such players can be extraordinarily valuable in the right situation (if there's always players on base when he gets to the plate), but their value tends to be very elastic based on the situation. I wouldn't compare John Riggins or Franco Harris to Jim Brown or Barry Sanders. Nor would one compare Don Baylor or Dave Kingman to Mike Schmidt or Mickey Mantle. I don't mean to insult Espo with some of the names mentioned, and I know the value differences are exagerrated, but I think one gets the picture. Baylor won an MVP and Franco's a HOFer, but no one would hesitate to take the players who not only were better, but would likely be much, much better on a "typical" team.
Bobby Hull and Chico Maki were Esposito's linemates in each of his three full seasons in Chicago, so he was on line 1A or 1B.

Esposito was a strong even strength scorer in Chicago, whether because of his play or because of Hull's. Here are his ranks in league even strength points by season, along with his linemates.

Chicago
1964-65: 4 (Hull, Maki)
1965-66: 9 (Hull, Maki)
1966-67: 3 (Hull, Maki)

Boston
1967-68: 7 (Hodge, Williams)
1968-69: 1 (Hodge, Murphy)
1969-70: 4 (Hodge, Cashman/Carleton)
1970-71: 1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1971-72: 2 (Cashman, Hodge)
1972-73: t-1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1973-74: 1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1974-75: t-5 (Hodge, Marcotte/Cashman)

NYR
1975-76: t-64 (Hickey/Gilbert/Middleton/Vickers)
1976-77: t-36 (Hodge, Newman/Goldsworthy/Murdoch)
1977-78: t-56 (Newman/Hickey/Greschner/Murdoch/Heaslip/DeBlois)
1978-79: t-28 (Murdoch/Maloney/Talafous/Duguay/Vickers/DeBlois)
1979-80: t-44 (Maloney, Murdoch/Talafous/Duguay)

He was a much more productive ES scorer in Chicago than he was later in his career in New York, although he certainly had better linemates in Chicago as well. One major difference between Chicago and Boston was that he was stuck on the second PP unit in Chicago, and in Boston he became one of the best PP scorers ever.

Esposito's league ranks in PP points by season.

Chicago
1964-65: t-29
1965-66: t-33
1966-67: t-38

Boston
1967-68: 1
1968-69: 1
1969-70: 2 (behind Orr)
1970-71: 1
1971-72: 1
1972-73: 1
1973-74: 1
1974-75: 1

NYR
1975-76: 4
1976-77: 5
1977-78: 3
1978-79: t-18
1979-80: t-21

We can also look at the share of Esposito's ES points that Bobby Orr was involved with.

1967-68: 3/54 6%
1968-69: 13/82 16%
1969-70: 12/56 21%
1970-71: 19/99 19%
1971-72: 23/77 30%
1972-73: 18/80 23%
1973-74: 33/99 33%
1974-75: 22/68 32%

And also look at Boston's GF/GA ratio while Esposito was on the ice at ES vs off the ice.

Year R-ON R-OFF
1968 1.37 1.20
1969 1.99 1.12
1970 1.64 1.26
1971 2.17 1.81
1972 1.88 1.39
1973 1.14 1.49
1974 1.57 1.61
1975 1.29 1.46

It all points to Esposito being a strong ES player even in Chicago and peaking around 1970, then steadily declining at ES from around 1972 on and becoming more and more reliant on Orr, and finally struggling in New York with a revolving door of linemates. While on the PP he wasn't given a chance in Chicago, and excelled in Boston and New York.

I would agree with your bolded sentence - Esposito's value was more situation-dependent than is usual for great players.

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11-24-2012, 05:23 PM
  #46
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Originally Posted by overpass View Post
Bobby Hull and Chico Maki were Esposito's linemates in each of his three full seasons in Chicago, so he was on line 1A or 1B.
That was closer to what I thought, although his being on the second PP unit sort of muddles things a bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overpass View Post
Esposito was a strong even strength scorer in Chicago, whether because of his play or because of Hull's. Here are his ranks in league even strength points by season, along with his linemates.

Chicago
1964-65: 4 (Hull, Maki)
1965-66: 9 (Hull, Maki)
1966-67: 3 (Hull, Maki)

Boston
1967-68: 7 (Hodge, Williams)
1968-69: 1 (Hodge, Murphy)
1969-70: 4 (Hodge, Cashman/Carleton)
1970-71: 1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1971-72: 2 (Cashman, Hodge)
1972-73: t-1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1973-74: 1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1974-75: t-5 (Hodge, Marcotte/Cashman)

NYR
1975-76: t-64 (Hickey/Gilbert/Middleton/Vickers)
1976-77: t-36 (Hodge, Newman/Goldsworthy/Murdoch)
1977-78: t-56 (Newman/Hickey/Greschner/Murdoch/Heaslip/DeBlois)
1978-79: t-28 (Murdoch/Maloney/Talafous/Duguay/Vickers/DeBlois)
1979-80: t-44 (Maloney, Murdoch/Talafous/Duguay)

We can also look at the share of Esposito's ES points that Bobby Orr was involved with.

1967-68: 3/54 6%
1968-69: 13/82 16%
1969-70: 12/56 21%
1970-71: 19/99 19%
1971-72: 23/77 30%
1972-73: 18/80 23%
1973-74: 33/99 33%
1974-75: 22/68 32%

And also look at Boston's GF/GA ratio while Esposito was on the ice at ES vs off the ice.

Year R-ON R-OFF
1968 1.37 1.20
1969 1.99 1.12
1970 1.64 1.26
1971 2.17 1.81
1972 1.88 1.39
1973 1.14 1.49
1974 1.57 1.61
1975 1.29 1.46

It all points to Esposito being a strong ES player even in Chicago and peaking around 1970, then steadily declining at ES from around 1972 on and becoming more and more reliant on Orr, and finally struggling in New York with a revolving door of linemates. While on the PP he wasn't given a chance in Chicago, and excelled in Boston and New York.

I would agree with your bolded sentence - Esposito's value was more situation-dependent than is usual for great players.
Thanks for posting that info. It helps, although it's still difficult to fairly examine his career, due to him playing his prime years ('65-'75) with Hull & Orr. Expansion makes it especially tough, since he was on a stacked team that was clearly superior to the majority of teams. It looks to me like:

pre-NHL: Very good numbers, but not good enough to suggest he was nearly as productive as he became.

Chicago: Strong ES numbers, but Hull was basically driving the bus, so it's tough to say just how good he was then (esp. with his weaker playoff numbers and being traded).

early Boston ('68-'71): This is the only period in his prime where he appears to have been driving the bus, particularly in '68 & '69, or at least sharing the load with Orr. His ES on/off data is solid, but Orr's are still stronger even in those first two seasons. His superior team in league of mostly inferior teams still makes it difficult to fully assess just how great he was during this period, but it's the most favorable period for him.

later Boston ('72-'75): While still a great offensive player, as you said, he became more reliant on Orr and the PP to keep his numbers in the stratosphere. He seems a defensive liability at this point and was probably fortunate to be in such a good situation.

Rangers: He still puts up some solid seasons, esp. given his age and the team's (lack of) quality. It's the large, immediate decrease in production upon leaving Boston that seems to confirm that his later years in Boston were in large part a product of circumstance.

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11-24-2012, 07:00 PM
  #47
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What if Frank Mahovlich and Espo switched places....
Mahovlich certainly wouldve been a lot better off. Imlach seemed to take some kinda sadistic joy in making his life Hell, forever berating him, deliberately mangling his name when addressing him as in "Mr. Maholovitch" or whatever. ... and Esposito in Toronto? Thats a laugh. Punch wouldve buried him, and deep. One-way bus ticket to San Diego & the Gulls; a plastic spoon.

Told to start digging.

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11-24-2012, 08:31 PM
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It all points to Esposito being a strong ES player even in Chicago and peaking around 1970, then steadily declining at ES from around 1972 on and becoming more and more reliant on Orr, and finally struggling in New York with a revolving door of linemates. While on the PP he wasn't given a chance in Chicago, and excelled in Boston and New York.

I would agree with your bolded sentence - Esposito's value was more situation-dependent than is usual for great players.
Yup. Great post.

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11-24-2012, 08:41 PM
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According to Esposito Don Cherry went to Gm Harry Sinden and demanded that Phil be traded.Years later Phil appeared at Don's interview show.But they have had no real dialoge in over 35 yrs

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11-25-2012, 12:22 AM
  #50
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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Yup. Great post.
Remember our discussion about the decline in Gretzky's GF/GA ratio upon moving to LA, and how much of that could be attributed to a change in his role? I wonder if Esposito also saw a change in his role after Derek Sanderson left for the WHA. It was in precisely that season when Espo's plus-minus numbers dropped.

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