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# Messier vs. Esposito

 View Poll Results: Esposito vs. Messier Messier 61 50.83% Esposito 59 49.17% Voters: 120. You may not vote on this poll

11-25-2012, 01:06 AM
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 Originally Posted by Big Phil You're right there. Keenan had many players he could have used against the KLM line and he chooses the Anderson-Messier-Gartner line. Yeah Selke finishes are definitely not the be all and end all of things. It helps but the eye test is just as good. Messier passes that with flying colours.
Messier wasn't elite at traditional defense, but he had an almost unique ability to dominate his opposing center physically head to head, especially in big games. And sometimes, it was more effective than traditional defense. He completely dominated Larionov head to head even as Krutov and Makarov performed

11-25-2012, 01:34 AM
#102
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 Originally Posted by Czech Your Math Actually, I think there are multiple solutions... but that we need to find solutions where Orr w/ Espo > Orr w/o Espo. So my first solution seems invalid based on that constraint. I may have found a more singular solution based on these additional constraints: Orr on/off = 2.19/1.10 = 1.977 = (O+E)/(E-O) Espo on/off = 1.64/1.41 = 1.149 = (O+E)/(O-E) About as close as I can get (values were 1.972 and 1.149... as we want closest match for Espo): E+O 2.36 O-E 2.06 E-O 1.20 -(E,O) 1.04 The question is, how accurate is the assumption that Orr & Espo's ES ice time was not correlated (IOW did they play together more at ES than would be expected by chance)?
plugging in espo's "time with orr" as 7 minutes, and 10.46 without, it makes it easier to play with the numbers. Here's what I got:

E+O 2.28
O-E 2.15
E-O 1.22
-(E, O) 0.99

looks like the exact same thing, except that we're using different on/off numbers to start with, and I know mine were more roughly calculated, so yours were probably correct. On the other hand, mine were generated with the extra helpful step of knowing what their approximate time on the ice together was. In any case, I think the answer is very close to what one of us calculated.

When multiplied out, ((R-Orr*TOI-Orr) + (R-Espo*TOI-Espo) + (R-both*TOI-both) - (R-neither*TOI-neither))/46 = 1.63, and Orr's R-on is 2.19 and Espo's R-on is 1.64.

is this solved? Maybe. I'd like you to scrutinize it, and hopefully a couple other math guys as well.

11-25-2012, 04:39 AM
#103
Big Phil
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 Originally Posted by seventieslord Don't pay too much attention to the small season by season samples provided. Singularly they don't mean much, but together they form a large enough sample to prove that Orr was responsible for boosting Espo's production by a bare minimum of 25%. As I showed in the other thread, if we take Orr out of the picture, Espo's best point finishes become 1-2-2-4-6-6. I wouldn't call that just a "regular top-10 guy", more like "regular top-6" which would make him, at the absolute bare minimum, a Peter Stastny, except there's also an 11th in 1968, plus two top-10s from Chicago, so no doubt he had the offensive ability to place highly and often. But to place 1st, and often, and by a high amount? No. Esposito's true ability lies somewhere between the "5 scoring titles at face value" and "completely a product of Orr" crowds. The math I did is rather simple but is grounded in fact and is a greats starting point for a discussion of what he'd have done had Orr not existed.
Yes, I've seen them, picked them apart and realized that we are talking about 69 games here. That is all added into the total of "Espo without Orr". Here's the huge flaw with that. For starters 39 out of 69 of those games come in 1967-'68 when scoring was lower and in 1975-'76 when we all know Esposito was dropping anyway. Of course Esposito's PPG "Without Orr" is going to look worse than his PPG "With Orr" considering scoring was higher post 1968, and 1968 was the year Orr missed most of his time. Combining them all into one and using the PPG from different seasons with different levels of scoring is extremely flawed and you should know this.

It is more important to take a look at it season by season, for example:
1968 - (27 games) Without Orr 88 points projected which is 4 more than he had
1969 - (9 games) Without Orr still gets 115 points projected, 11 less than his real total
1972 - 2 games without Orr is hardly enough to judge
1973 - Perhaps the truest test for Esposito is 15 games without Orr still has him at a 125 point season rather than the 130.
1974 - 4 games, too small of an amount
1976 - 12 games without Orr but Espo was on his way down by now anyway

When we look at the only two seasons that have ample enough games missed to compare how Espo did with and without Orr they are 1968 and 1973. In 1968 his PPG is higher and he wins another Art Ross by those projections in the original post. In 1973 Esposito clearly doesn't need any help without Orr, he gets 24 points in 15 games, good for a 125 point year which is 5 less than his overall total.

These are projections, which are a weak defense because you are basing it on assumptions but even then it still doesn't hurt Esposito at all. Where are these Art Rosses the guy wins? Heck, you've got him down to 1 Art Ross now without Orr? That's insane. Again, I'll ask a question that gets overlooked, but who steals these Art Rosses from him without Orr? Who is a better forward in the NHL at that time. No one at all and at times it isn't even close. I really don't know what you are looking at here.

11-25-2012, 11:07 AM
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 Originally Posted by seventieslord plugging in espo's "time with orr" as 7 minutes, and 10.46 without, it makes it easier to play with the numbers. Here's what I got: E+O 2.28 O-E 2.15 E-O 1.22 -(E, O) 0.99 looks like the exact same thing, except that we're using different on/off numbers to start with, and I know mine were more roughly calculated, so yours were probably correct. On the other hand, mine were generated with the extra helpful step of knowing what their approximate time on the ice together was. In any case, I think the answer is very close to what one of us calculated. When multiplied out, ((R-Orr*TOI-Orr) + (R-Espo*TOI-Espo) + (R-both*TOI-both) - (R-neither*TOI-neither))/46 = 1.63, and Orr's R-on is 2.19 and Espo's R-on is 1.64. is this solved? Maybe. I'd like you to scrutinize it, and hopefully a couple other math guys as well.
My brain still hurts from solving that.

I think the key to my solution was using additional assumptions based on their actual on/off ratios:

Espo's on/off = (Espo + Orr) / (Orr w/o Espo) = (Espo w/o Orr) / (no Espo, no Orr)

Orr's on/off = (Espo + Orr ) / (Espo w/o Orr) = (Orr w/o Espo ) / (no Espo, no Orr)

In each case, the numerator only differs from the denominator by the addition of the appropriate player.

Also, I never used TOI estimates at any point, only the GF & GA data, as it didn't seem necessary. My SHGF estimates are calculated by formula from PPGA data, but perhaps Overpass' estimates using actual SH points are better? Either is only an estimate and I'm not sure which is better at this time.

I think the most surprising part was that when using those additional assumptions/constraints based on their respective On/Off ratios, the actual proportion of time they played together/apart mattered very little to the final results. I did not expect that, although it makes a lot of sense, given that the ratios then became fixed in proportion to each other.

11-25-2012, 11:37 AM
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 Originally Posted by Big Phil These are projections, which are a weak defense because you are basing it on assumptions but even then it still doesn't hurt Esposito at all. Where are these Art Rosses the guy wins? Heck, you've got him down to 1 Art Ross now without Orr? That's insane. Again, I'll ask a question that gets overlooked, but who steals these Art Rosses from him without Orr? Who is a better forward in the NHL at that time. No one at all and at times it isn't even close. I really don't know what you are looking at here.
He was generally the best scoring forward during most of his prime, but that doesn't mean he was every season. Also, one reason for that is that it was an historically weak period for scoring forwards. I mean, Ratelle and Clarke? I can see a lot of forwards winning multiple Rosses while playing with Orr & Co. in that league with that competition. That's the whole point.

It's sort of similar to Kurri only being outscored by linemate Gretzky, teammate Coffey (once) and Lemieux (once) from '85-'87. Does that mean Kurri would have won even one Ross, let alone 3, in most eras (without Gretzky/Lemieux type players)?

The difficulty is that Espo wasn't just playing on an above average team with a very good player in a league with a bit of disparity against slightly below average competition. He was often playing with Bobby Orr on a team that twice had the top 4 scorers in the league, when the NHL had massive disparity and was diluted by massive, repeated expansion (and by the WHA in his later prime), and with historically weak competition. It's numerous extreme factors occurring simultaneously. There's little data without most/all of those conditions:

- a very small sample of games of Espo w/o Orr in Boston
- a very small sample of international play
- 3 seasons where he played with Bobby Hull, yet didn't really stand out as a much better producer than Mohns & Wharram in their early 30s
- 5+ seasons with the Rangers when he wasn't even close to as productive, albeit at an advanced age with a weak team
- 3 years in Jrs./Minors that were very good, but not really suggestive of a future Ross winner

There's some data in Espo's favor, and of course his actual accomplishments under very atypical conditions, and there's plenty of data that's much less in his favor. A lot of it depends on interpretation, so I don't see it being close to absolutely settled anytime soon.

As far as actually seeing Espo play, when I had the necessary bandwidth to do so, I did watch a couple games (one was vs. Tor. and one was vs. Phil. in SCF). Again, too small a sample to tell much, but I certainly don't recall Espo doing much carrying of the puck, stickhandling or skating circles around guys. He didn't seem to be controlling the action/pace of the game, but controlled his area of the ice and capitalized on opportunities. If anything, it confirmed by impressions of his strengths and weaknesses, not contradicted them.

11-25-2012, 04:29 PM
#106
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 Originally Posted by Czech Your Math He was generally the best scoring forward during most of his prime, but that doesn't mean he was every season. Also, one reason for that is that it was an historically weak period for scoring forwards. I mean, Ratelle and Clarke? I can see a lot of forwards winning multiple Rosses while playing with Orr & Co. in that league with that competition. That's the whole point. It's sort of similar to Kurri only being outscored by linemate Gretzky, teammate Coffey (once) and Lemieux (once) from '85-'87. Does that mean Kurri would have won even one Ross, let alone 3, in most eras (without Gretzky/Lemieux type players)? The difficulty is that Espo wasn't just playing on an above average team with a very good player in a league with a bit of disparity against slightly below average competition. He was often playing with Bobby Orr on a team that twice had the top 4 scorers in the league, when the NHL had massive disparity and was diluted by massive, repeated expansion (and by the WHA in his later prime), and with historically weak competition. It's numerous extreme factors occurring simultaneously. There's little data without most/all of those conditions: - a very small sample of games of Espo w/o Orr in Boston - a very small sample of international play - 3 seasons where he played with Bobby Hull, yet didn't really stand out as a much better producer than Mohns & Wharram in their early 30s - 5+ seasons with the Rangers when he wasn't even close to as productive, albeit at an advanced age with a weak team - 3 years in Jrs./Minors that were very good, but not really suggestive of a future Ross winner There's some data in Espo's favor, and of course his actual accomplishments under very atypical conditions, and there's plenty of data that's much less in his favor. A lot of it depends on interpretation, so I don't see it being close to absolutely settled anytime soon. As far as actually seeing Espo play, when I had the necessary bandwidth to do so, I did watch a couple games (one was vs. Tor. and one was vs. Phil. in SCF). Again, too small a sample to tell much, but I certainly don't recall Espo doing much carrying of the puck, stickhandling or skating circles around guys. He didn't seem to be controlling the action/pace of the game, but controlled his area of the ice and capitalized on opportunities. If anything, it confirmed by impressions of his strengths and weaknesses, not contradicted them.
That pretty much describes my impression and I saw his whole career. Orr was the guy that drove those Boston teams.

11-25-2012, 05:07 PM
#107
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 Originally Posted by Czech Your Math He was generally the best scoring forward during most of his prime, but that doesn't mean he was every season. Also, one reason for that is that it was an historically weak period for scoring forwards. I mean, Ratelle and Clarke? I can see a lot of forwards winning multiple Rosses while playing with Orr & Co. in that league with that competition. That's the whole point.
You can rack up a ton of all-time greats and they wouldn't have been able to compete with Esposito at that time statistically. It matters little that his best competition post 1972 was Clarke. For starters, Clarke was a HHOFer and an all-time great. Secondly, perhaps the WHA did take a bit of talent away (although not as much as people tend to remember) but what about his dominance up until 1972 before the WHA came?

Top point getters in 1969 - Esposito (126), Hull (107), Howe (103), Mikita (97), Hodge (90), Cournoyer (87), Delvecchio (83), Berenson (82), Beliveau (82), Mahovlich (78)

1971 - Esposito (152), Orr (139), Bucyk (116), Hodge (105), Hull (96), Ullman (85)

1972 - Esposito (133), Orr (117), Ratelle (109), Hadfield (106), Gilbert (97), Mahovlich (96), Hull (93), Cournoyer (83), Bucyk (83), Clarke (81)

The next couple of years his next best competition was Clarke and then there was a burst in scoring in 1975 with top end talent (although not near Esposito's best). I look at that competition that Esposito faced and see a lot of Hall of Famers. So bascially the whole WHA idea gets thrown away because Esposito dominated pre and post-WHA, it didn't matter.

Quote:
 It's sort of similar to Kurri only being outscored by linemate Gretzky, teammate Coffey (once) and Lemieux (once) from '85-'87. Does that mean Kurri would have won even one Ross, let alone 3, in most eras (without Gretzky/Lemieux type players)?
Alright, well let's look at it this way. Kurri never won an Art Ross with Gretzky. Was never even close.

1984-'85 - Gretzky 208, Kurri 135, Hawerchuk 130
1985-'86 - Gretzky 215, Lemieux 141, Coffey 138, Kurri 131
1986-'87 - Gretzky 183, Kurri 108, Messier, 107, Lemieux 107

Anyway Esposito's case is nothing like Kurri's at all. Where does Kurri win an Art Ross if you take away Gretzky? I think he surely loses more than 2 points in 1987 without Gretzky. Almost certainly more than 5 in 1985 as well. The difference being is that Esposito was so far ahead of his competition that he still wins most (maybe all) of his Art Rosses without Orr. No one else was close.

Quote:
 As far as actually seeing Espo play, when I had the necessary bandwidth to do so, I did watch a couple games (one was vs. Tor. and one was vs. Phil. in SCF). Again, too small a sample to tell much, but I certainly don't recall Espo doing much carrying of the puck, stickhandling or skating circles around guys. He didn't seem to be controlling the action/pace of the game, but controlled his area of the ice and capitalized on opportunities. If anything, it confirmed by impressions of his strengths and weaknesses, not contradicted them.
You should watch more of him. Start with the Canada/Russia series in 1972. No Orr to save him there but no one was a more dominant force on the ice - on either team. Watch games in his prime Art Ross years. He was more or less an unstoppable force on the ice for quite some time.

 11-25-2012, 05:26 PM #108 Fourier Registered User     Join Date: Dec 2006 Location: Waterloo Ontario Country: Posts: 8,081 vCash: 500 Definitely a biased pick but I would go with Messier on this one. Offensively, at least in the regular season, Esposito gets the edge, and perhaps by a fair bit. But Messier had so many dimensions to his game. It is also hard to overlook 295 playoff points
11-25-2012, 05:44 PM
#109
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 Originally Posted by Fourier Definitely a biased pick but I would go with Messier on this one. Offensively, at least in the regular season, Esposito gets the edge, and perhaps by a fair bit. But Messier had so many dimensions to his game. It is also hard to overlook 295 playoff points
It definitely is. Even separating the entire "Gretzky Oilers" from his playoff resume, he still has as many playoff points as guys like Lemaire, Esposito, Lafleur, etc; basically two HoF careers' worth of value in the playoffs. I must say, though, considering 8 time Cup champion Jacques Lemaire retired just two seasons earlier with only 2 more career points than Esposito, and considering Guy Lafleur went on to retire with 3 fewer, 137 ain't bad. Henri Richard with 129, etc.

11-25-2012, 10:40 PM
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 Originally Posted by pappyline That pretty much describes my impression and I saw his whole career. Orr was the guy that drove those Boston teams.
Being a fan of Chicago, was it your impression that he was "held back" at all there (e.g. by being on 2nd PP unit) or that he was soon going to take it up a notch or two before his trade to Boston?

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 Originally Posted by Big Phil You can rack up a ton of all-time greats and they wouldn't have been able to compete with Esposito at that time statistically. It matters little that his best competition post 1972 was Clarke. For starters, Clarke was a HHOFer and an all-time great. Secondly, perhaps the WHA did take a bit of talent away (although not as much as people tend to remember) but what about his dominance up until 1972 before the WHA came? The next couple of years his next best competition was Clarke and then there was a burst in scoring in 1975 with top end talent (although not near Esposito's best). I look at that competition that Esposito faced and see a lot of Hall of Famers. So bascially the whole WHA idea gets thrown away because Esposito dominated pre and post-WHA, it didn't matter.
Espo was an all-time great and a dominant scorer. The question is how great he was and how great he would be in various, more typical environments... in what ways was he dominant and how dominant would he be in more typical environments... and why was he so dominant at that time. Let's just say that when someone basically says "Espo could have still been very good at 33-34, if he just had an excellent puck-moving d-man and a couple guys to dig pucks out of the corners to feed him in the slot," that it doesn't dispel my impression of a player who wasn't driving the bus and creating his dominance from scratch, so to speak.

My point about Clarke is that if he was about as good of a point producer as any competition Espo faced outside his own team, then that's historically weak competition. While I respect Clarke's all-around game, and of course Orr's as well, I doubt it's an accident that the most lopsided ESGF/GF data comes from those players during the early-mid 70s (which matches Espo's prime and was most likely largely influenced by the weak, diluted, over-expanded league with massive disparity).

I see a lot of HOFers too, but many/most of them were past their peak, and a few were on Espo's team. The loss of talent to the WHA wouldn't have been a big deal, except that it was already so diluted by continual over-expansion.

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 Originally Posted by Big Phil You should watch more of him. Start with the Canada/Russia series in 1972. No Orr to save him there but no one was a more dominant force on the ice - on either team. Watch games in his prime Art Ross years. He was more or less an unstoppable force on the ice for quite some time.
I would like to see more of Espo and the Summit series.

11-26-2012, 12:20 PM
#111
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 Originally Posted by Czech Your Math Being a fan of Chicago, was it your impression that he was "held back" at all there (e.g. by being on 2nd PP unit) or that he was soon going to take it up a notch or two before his trade to Boston?
I remember him quite well from Chicago. Certainly wasn't held back as he was on the Hull line almost from day 1. Big awkward skating guy who had trouble keeping up with Hull & Maki. Even so, he got his share of points. He had good hands even then. Was benched occasionally in the playoffs. The playoffs before the trade he got "zero" points. He certainly didn't look like the scorer he was to become with Boston. He also didn't get along with Ivan and Reay. It actually didn't look like a bad trade at that time. They were getting rid of a guy who didn't seem like a team guy, who didn't backcheck and wasn't producing in the playoffs.

I think Boston was a perfect storm for him. A team focused on offense with the greatest puck carrying defenseman of all time. Espo was allowed to lurk in the slot and didn't have to do a lot of skating. He never would have been allowed to play that way in Chicago and of course they didn't have Orr.

Also, I think he was a bit of a late bloomer.

11-26-2012, 04:09 PM
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 Originally Posted by Czech Your Math Espo was an all-time great and a dominant scorer. The question is how great he was and how great he would be in various, more typical environments... in what ways was he dominant and how dominant would he be in more typical environments... and why was he so dominant at that time. Let's just say that when someone basically says "Espo could have still been very good at 33-34, if he just had an excellent puck-moving d-man and a couple guys to dig pucks out of the corners to feed him in the slot," that it doesn't dispel my impression of a player who wasn't driving the bus and creating his dominance from scratch, so to speak. My point about Clarke is that if he was about as good of a point producer as any competition Espo faced outside his own team, then that's historically weak competition. While I respect Clarke's all-around game, and of course Orr's as well, I doubt it's an accident that the most lopsided ESGF/GF data comes from those players during the early-mid 70s (which matches Espo's prime and was most likely largely influenced by the weak, diluted, over-expanded league with massive disparity). I see a lot of HOFers too, but many/most of them were past their peak, and a few were on Espo's team. The loss of talent to the WHA wouldn't have been a big deal, except that it was already so diluted by continual over-expansion.
See I think he had dropped down a notch even by 1975. He was getting older and while still a great player you could see him slowing down. You watch him in the 1972 Canada/Russia series and he's the best player out there. You watch him in the 1976 Canada Cup and he's still a very good player but he had lost a step or two and this was a year after the Ranger trade. None of that at all has to do with Orr so in reality Esposito was doing this on his own.

Did going to the Rangers speed things up a bit? Yes it did. But that roster will do that to you. Esposito has talked in his book about how after an awful loss to the Kings all the Ranger players were yukking it up after the game shortly after he was traded there. He was upset at the loss and no one seemed to care. It was clear he was in a much different culture. That being said he was still good for 80 points up until his retirement at an advanced age.

How does he do in Boston without Orr? There is no doubt he is still the best forward in the game. I still don't see any evidence that he for sure loses even one of his Art Rosses. He scored 42 goals on an average team when he was 36 years old. You can do the math and ask yourself how he would have done when he was 28-32. I don't see how he isn't hitting 60 goals at couple of times. And remember, he was a power forward, a big awkward guy and everyone from Joe Thornton to Lecavalier have a hard time adjusting in the beginning of their careers. For all we know he was on the cusp of stardom either way. But I'll say again, a leech who needs charity doesn't annihilate the rest of the field (minus Orr) in the NHL. It's a simple case of when his play started to drop a bit as a Bruin he was still valuable on the market and Sinden got rid of him rather coldly.

 11-26-2012, 04:18 PM #113 Big Phil Registered User     Join Date: Nov 2003 Country: Posts: 15,207 vCash: 500 A couple of other things here. The 1973 playoffs are a small window but Esposito got knocked out in Game 2 against the Rangers. The Bruins lost the series in 5 games. Orr had 2 points in 5 games which is hardly Orr-like. Does anyone think that maybe Esposito did have a lot more impact than you tend to let on? Boston won the Cup in 1972, Esposito gets knocked out early in 1973, no Bruin player surpasses 3 points in the postseason and the next year a healthy Esposito is back for a run to the final. Coincidence? I don't think it was. I know what you are saying, "well the Bruins had two other first round exits in 1971 and 1975. Yes they did, but both of those series went the distance with Esposito in there (1975 was a best of three) and statistically the Bruins were better too. In 1975 Orr had 6 points in 3 games and Esposito had 5 points. In 1971 Orr had 12 points in 7 games and Esposito had 10 points in 7 games and the series went the distance. The one time Esposito is in a hospital bed the entire team stops scoring (1973) and they lose the series in 5 games.
11-26-2012, 05:13 PM
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 Originally Posted by Big Phil A couple of other things here. The 1973 playoffs are a small window but Esposito got knocked out in Game 2 against the Rangers. The Bruins lost the series in 5 games. Orr had 2 points in 5 games which is hardly Orr-like. Does anyone think that maybe Esposito did have a lot more impact than you tend to let on? Boston won the Cup in 1972, Esposito gets knocked out early in 1973, no Bruin player surpasses 3 points in the postseason and the next year a healthy Esposito is back for a run to the final. Coincidence? I don't think it was. I know what you are saying, "well the Bruins had two other first round exits in 1971 and 1975. Yes they did, but both of those series went the distance with Esposito in there (1975 was a best of three) and statistically the Bruins were better too. In 1975 Orr had 6 points in 3 games and Esposito had 5 points. In 1971 Orr had 12 points in 7 games and Esposito had 10 points in 7 games and the series went the distance. The one time Esposito is in a hospital bed the entire team stops scoring (1973) and they lose the series in 5 games.
I think there's a lot of evidence on both sides. A lot of it is open to interpretation. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. The problem is that "middle" is a huge area. On one side is the Espo who broke records, led Canada in the Summit Series, and who did pretty well in the limited time when Orr was injured in Boston. On the other side is the Espo who didn't outshine lesser stars in Juniors, had similar numbers in the minors to some players of similar ages that were career minor leaguers or only had brief mediocre NHL careers due to expansion, didn't stand out statistically (while centering Hull at ES) from early 30s Mohns & Wharram, suddenly increased his production by leaps and bounds in Boston, peaked at an unusually late age (esp. for a goal scorer), had much worse ES data than Orr (not much shame in that) and relatively weak in general after '71, and suddenly dropped like a rock as soon as he left Boston.

I'm really not sure where to place him, because the range is just so large and the conditions during his peak/prime were so atypical and extreme in his favor (team strength, league disparity, historically weak competition). I do think a lot of it was a perfect storm, but I also know that not just any player can shatter records, even when the stars align in their favor.

11-27-2012, 10:50 PM
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 Originally Posted by Czech Your Math I think there's a lot of evidence on both sides. A lot of it is open to interpretation. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. The problem is that "middle" is a huge area. On one side is the Espo who broke records, led Canada in the Summit Series, and who did pretty well in the limited time when Orr was injured in Boston. On the other side is the Espo who didn't outshine lesser stars in Juniors, had similar numbers in the minors to some players of similar ages that were career minor leaguers or only had brief mediocre NHL careers due to expansion, didn't stand out statistically (while centering Hull at ES) from early 30s Mohns & Wharram, suddenly increased his production by leaps and bounds in Boston, peaked at an unusually late age (esp. for a goal scorer), had much worse ES data than Orr (not much shame in that) and relatively weak in general after '71, and suddenly dropped like a rock as soon as he left Boston. I'm really not sure where to place him, because the range is just so large and the conditions during his peak/prime were so atypical and extreme in his favor (team strength, league disparity, historically weak competition). I do think a lot of it was a perfect storm, but I also know that not just any player can shatter records, even when the stars align in their favor.
I don't really understand the whole thing when it comes to how he did in Junior. He was a perennial late bloomer and we saw this in the NHL. This is not unusual for a rather big player having to adjust with playing against men instead of boys. Smaller players usually adjust better because they've always been small (see Samsonov vs. Thornton initially).

I also don't think the fact that Wharram was equal to him at that time matters either. Wharram was a 1st team all-star at RW twice, both times ahead of Gordie Howe. He could play the game of hockey rather well. Esposito did run into a perfect storm in Boston but how much of that was because he was finally "the man"? Pretty hard to stand out with a prime Hull in the lineup. Maybe he didn't get his opportunity until Boston because the facts point to that as well. Also remember, a lot of players have a "perfect storm". Heck, I'll even say Crosby in many ways has had luxury in his career and hasn't taken full advantage of it. He's had a generally good goalie, lots of depth down the middle (Malkin, Staal) always an offensive minded defenseman back there (Gonchar, Letang or both) and able to play with the 2nd best center (maybe player) in the NHL. If you ask me Crosby has squandered a lot of that when it was clear he could have won more Cups by now instead of having disapointing upsets (2010, 2012). Not to mention he has more talent than anyone in the NHL and should have more than one Art Ross to his name.

See, Esposito had the benefit of Orr and still didn't blow it. Plenty of players have blown great situations.

I personally have cited things where I feel Esposito was his own player and I also have the luxury of remembering him back then too. I don't remember any "He's only good because of Orr" comments. Similar to Coffey or Kurri or whoever. Those players were obvious all-time greats and to see them play you knew it as well.

Personally I rank Esposito very high among centers. Maybe as high as 5th behind Gretzky, Lemieux, Beliveau and Mikita. Morenz is there too. But I put Esposito higher than Clarke, Trottier, Sakic and Yzerman. Just slightly ahead of Messier as well, but I can see if others put Messier ahead of him and I am okay with that.

 11-28-2012, 12:27 AM #116 ushvinder Registered User   Join Date: Mar 2008 Posts: 3,364 vCash: 500 Esposito has to be looked at in perspective, otherwise if his peak is taken at face value, he would be above bobby hull. Espo's raw stats and peak is flat out better than bobby hull's, theres no ifs ands or butts about it. The main reason hull and beliveau get ranked above espo is because people question how good espo really was.
11-28-2012, 06:05 AM
#117
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 Originally Posted by Big Phil I don't really understand the whole thing when it comes to how he did in Junior. He was a perennial late bloomer and we saw this in the NHL. This is not unusual for a rather big player having to adjust with playing against men instead of boys. Smaller players usually adjust better because they've always been small (see Samsonov vs. Thornton initially).
I'm only trying to look at any evidence there is to get a truer picture of Espo's career, especially because his career curve is most unusual in many aspects. It would help his case if there was any time outside Boston (through age 25) which suggested "this guy's going to compete for Rosses." His Juniors, minor league and Chicago data are all very respectable, but as you say he was a late bloomer. We shouldn't hold it against him that he peaked late, but it makes it all the more imperative to find the real reasons for his sudden jump and sudden drop off. Of course playing with Orr would help anyone... and going from 2nd to 1st PP unit helps... and
an aging Espo on a weak team can't be expected to maintain the exact same production. However, does that explain the magnitude of changes in production that began immediately upon his arrival to & departure from Boston? I have my doubts, but there's so many unusual things happening at once that it's difficult to properly assess and attribute each factor.

Your "big man" theory may have merit, but there doesn't exactly seem to be a steadfast rule (Howe, Lemieux and Lindros were big players... St. Louis is not, etc.).

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Big Phil I also don't think the fact that Wharram was equal to him at that time matters either. Wharram was a 1st team all-star at RW twice, both times ahead of Gordie Howe. He could play the game of hockey rather well.
Wharram was a very capable player. He benefited from playing with Chicago's All-Star cast, just as Espo did. I'm not sure why Wharram was selected over Howe, when Howe scored as many or more points each year, but it's probably his higher goal totals. Nonetheless, no one would rank Wharram anywhere near Espo, so one would think 22-25 y/o Espo could stand out a bit more from an early 30s Wharram, who likely benefited from playing with Mikita (as Espo did from playing with Hull and Orr, et al.).

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Big Phil Esposito did run into a perfect storm in Boston but how much of that was because he was finally "the man"? Pretty hard to stand out with a prime Hull in the lineup. Maybe he didn't get his opportunity until Boston because the facts point to that as well. ... See, Esposito had the benefit of Orr and still didn't blow it. Plenty of players have blown great situations.
I agree with all three these points. Espo helped created the perfect storm of Boston's offensive powerhouse. However, so did Orr (and others), as well as the expansion and resulting disparity in quality of teams, etc. It's sort of a chicken/egg type of situation. More and/or better PP time helped as well. He definitely made the most of the situation, however much it seems in his favor.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Big Phil Also remember, a lot of players have a "perfect storm". Heck, I'll even say Crosby in many ways has had luxury in his career and hasn't taken full advantage of it. He's had a generally good goalie, lots of depth down the middle (Malkin, Staal) always an offensive minded defenseman back there (Gonchar, Letang or both) and able to play with the 2nd best center (maybe player) in the NHL. If you ask me Crosby has squandered a lot of that when it was clear he could have won more Cups by now instead of having disapointing upsets (2010, 2012). Not to mention he has more talent than anyone in the NHL and should have more than one Art Ross to his name.
I think Crosby has been fortunate in many respects. Getting full opportunity from the beginning on a weak team, which had a series of #1 picks in the pipeline, was very fortunate. I think he's also been unfortunate in a couple of respects: he hasn't always had the best linemates, and his injury issues. However, I think we're in agreement that he may have been able to do more to prevent at least some of his injuries. I'm not sure what he can do to get better linemates, except possibly behave more maturely (I don't think his antics help him in any way). He's still young, but he needs to grow up quickly if he wants to fill those big skates.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Big Phil I personally have cited things where I feel Esposito was his own player and I also have the luxury of remembering him back then too. I don't remember any "He's only good because of Orr" comments. Similar to Coffey or Kurri or whoever. Those players were obvious all-time greats and to see them play you knew it as well.
He was his own, great player, and you're a worthy advocate for his side.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Big Phil Personally I rank Esposito very high among centers. Maybe as high as 5th behind Gretzky, Lemieux, Beliveau and Mikita. Morenz is there too. But I put Esposito higher than Clarke, Trottier, Sakic and Yzerman. Just slightly ahead of Messier as well, but I can see if others put Messier ahead of him and I am okay with that.
He may be in between the two groups you mention, although I see him fitting in pretty well with the second group of five, and definitely closer to them than the first 4-5. That's just my opinion at this time. However, several years ago, I had him among the top 5 centers, so I can certainly understand how he could be.

11-28-2012, 07:16 AM
#118
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Big Phil I personally have cited things where I feel Esposito was his own player and I also have the luxury of remembering him back then too. I don't remember any "He's only good because of Orr" comments. Similar to Coffey or Kurri or whoever. Those players were obvious all-time greats and to see them play you knew it as well.
Prior to Espo, I never really heard the phrase "garbage goal scorer" much. So yeah, people were saying it.

 11-28-2012, 07:54 AM #119 overpass Registered User   Join Date: Jun 2007 Posts: 3,322 vCash: 500 A panel of experts for Hockey the magazine ranked Messier as the 6th best and Esposito as the 10th best Canadian player. Individual rankings: Scotty Bowman: Messier 15th, Esposito 40th Terry Crisp: Esposito 7th, Messier 8th. Marc De Foy: Messier 7th, Esposito 9th Jacques Demers: Messier 10th, Esposito 11th Dany Dube: Messier 6th, Esposito 8th Michael Farber: Messier 7th, Esposito 15th Red Fisher: Messier 9th, Esposito 10th Ron Fournier: Messier 6th, Esposito 30th Kerry Fraser: Messier 5th, Esposito 10th John Garrett: Messier 5th: Esposito 17th
11-28-2012, 08:29 AM
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 Originally Posted by overpass A panel of experts for Hockey the magazine ranked Messier as the 6th best and Esposito as the 10th best Canadian player. Individual rankings: Scotty Bowman: Messier 15th, Esposito 40th Terry Crisp: Esposito 7th, Messier 8th. Marc De Foy: Messier 7th, Esposito 9th Jacques Demers: Messier 10th, Esposito 11th Dany Dube: Messier 6th, Esposito 8th Michael Farber: Messier 7th, Esposito 15th Red Fisher: Messier 9th, Esposito 10th Ron Fournier: Messier 6th, Esposito 30th Kerry Fraser: Messier 5th, Esposito 10th John Garrett: Messier 5th: Esposito 17th
I have that magazine.

Man, their lists are allllll over the place. Bowman in particular seems to judge a lot of popular players much lower than the others.

I think he had Gretzky 5th or 7th.. something like that..

Then again I think every list I looked at had at least one "what the hell is your reasoning behind this guy being here?" moment hahaha

Admittedly I'm sure if I made a list it would be difficult and people would say the same thing about mine.

11-28-2012, 09:02 AM
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 Originally Posted by overpass A panel of experts for Hockey the magazine ranked Messier as the 6th best and Esposito as the 10th best Canadian player. Individual rankings: Scotty Bowman: Messier 15th, Esposito 40th Terry Crisp: Esposito 7th, Messier 8th. Marc De Foy: Messier 7th, Esposito 9th Jacques Demers: Messier 10th, Esposito 11th Dany Dube: Messier 6th, Esposito 8th Michael Farber: Messier 7th, Esposito 15th Red Fisher: Messier 9th, Esposito 10th Ron Fournier: Messier 6th, Esposito 30th Kerry Fraser: Messier 5th, Esposito 10th John Garrett: Messier 5th: Esposito 17th
It's called Hockey the Magazine? I really need to get a copy. So it's easier for me to find, could you tell me who is on the cover and what month/year it says?

11-28-2012, 09:14 AM
#122
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 Originally Posted by Big Phil 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.
This post pretty much says it all.

11-28-2012, 11:57 AM
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 Originally Posted by quoipourquoi It's called Hockey the Magazine? I really need to get a copy. So it's easier for me to find, could you tell me who is on the cover and what month/year it says?
Title is Hockey, subtitle The magazine. It's a special edition, with a big maple leaf on the front and the text "Top 100 Greatest Canadian Players In NHL History"

Here in Canada I just grabbed it off the magazine rack. You may have more difficulty finding it in America.

The lists are mostly composed of players they saw plus some O6 stars. Basically Maurice Richard and later. Red fisher explicitly refused to rank players he hadn't seen and most others had similar meanings. Bowman was an exception, putting Shore and Morenz in his top 10.

11-28-2012, 12:15 PM
#124
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 Originally Posted by overpass Title is Hockey, subtitle The magazine. It's a special edition, with a big maple leaf on the front and the text "Top 100 Greatest Canadian Players In NHL History" Here in Canada I just grabbed it off the magazine rack. You may have more difficulty finding it in America. The lists are mostly composed of players they saw plus some O6 stars. Basically Maurice Richard and later. Red fisher explicitly refused to rank players he hadn't seen and most others had similar meanings. Bowman was an exception, putting Shore and Morenz in his top 10.
I guess I better grab my passport and make a quick trip across the border.

11-28-2012, 12:45 PM
#125
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 Originally Posted by overpass Title is Hockey, subtitle The magazine. It's a special edition, with a big maple leaf on the front and the text "Top 100 Greatest Canadian Players In NHL History" Here in Canada I just grabbed it off the magazine rack. You may have more difficulty finding it in America. The lists are mostly composed of players they saw plus some O6 stars. Basically Maurice Richard and later. Red fisher explicitly refused to rank players he hadn't seen and most others had similar meanings. Bowman was an exception, putting Shore and Morenz in his top 10.
Outside of another thread here on hf a few days ago I can't find any info about it online. Is there any other info listed that might help track it down?...a website, publishing info, etc.

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