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Messier Vs Yzerman

View Poll Results: Better Career
Mark Messier 68 66.02%
Steve Yzerman 35 33.98%
Voters: 103. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
12-14-2012, 08:08 PM
  #26
pdd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
A few people (including you) have mentioned that the competition skews this comparison. If we remove Gretzky and Lemieux, it looks like:

Messier: 1st (1990), 1st (1992), 1st (1996)
Yzerman: 1st (1989), 2nd (1988)

One could argue that Bourque deserved the Hart over Messier in 1990 (since it was such a close race), and/or that Yzerman really deserved the Hart in 1988 (the only mortal player to finish above him was Fuhr, and one could argue it's unlikely that Fuhr would have won the Hart on another team).

If we use both of these assumptions (which are favourable to Yzerman), the revised trophy case looks like:

Messier: 1st (1992), 1st (1996), 2nd (1990)
Yzerman: 1st (1988), 1st (1989)

It's definitely closer than the original comparison but no matter how you slice it, Messier fared better than Yzerman in Hart voting.
Let's expand that trophy case to other trophies.

Messier has that second place finish in the Hart in 1996. Yzerman has a Selke and the equivalent of a Richard. Messier gets 1996 2nd team. Yzerman gets 2nd in 1988 (possibly 1st, he received a 1st-place vote while Savard did not) and 1st in 1989, 2nd in 1990, possibly 2nd in 1991.

Messier 2 Harts, 2 Pearsons, Smythe, Ross, two 1st-teams, one 2nd team

Yzerman 2 Harts, 2 Pearsons, Smythe, Selke, Richard (equivalent), Ross, 3 1st teams, 2 2nd teams (almost all consecutively).

That certainly changes the landscape, doesn't it?

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12-14-2012, 08:22 PM
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Let's expand that trophy case to other trophies.

Messier has that second place finish in the Hart in 1996. Yzerman has a Selke and the equivalent of a Richard. Messier gets 1996 2nd team. Yzerman gets 2nd in 1988 (possibly 1st, he received a 1st-place vote while Savard did not) and 1st in 1989, 2nd in 1990, possibly 2nd in 1991.

Messier 2 Harts, 2 Pearsons, Smythe, Ross, two 1st-teams, one 2nd team

Yzerman 2 Harts, 2 Pearsons, Smythe, Selke, Richard (equivalent), Ross, 3 1st teams, 2 2nd teams (almost all consecutively).

That certainly changes the landscape, doesn't it?
Hockey Outsider posted a thread a few years ago on the effects of Gretzky and Lemieux on stats and awards:

http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...d.php?t=608582

His conclusion:

Messier:
3 Harts
4 1st Team (2C, 2LW), 3 2nd Team (2C, 1LW)
2 Art Rosses

Yzerman:
1-2 Harts
2 1st Team, 2 2nd Team
1 Art Ross
2 Richards (if they existed at the time)

I don't even know how you would estimate Pearson winners without voting totals, but Messier has as 2-1 edge in actual Pearsons won.

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12-14-2012, 08:29 PM
  #28
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Originally Posted by FakeKidPoker View Post
Messier did it, twice.

I don't know how you can say 92 should have been to Lemieux but 88-89 to Yzerman.
Yzerman equaled Lemieux at even strength offensively. Lemieux had Rob Brown (49-66-115 in only 68 games, 7th in goals, 6th in assists, 5th in points), Paul Coffey (30-83-113, 4th in assists, 6th in points), and Dan Quinn (34-60-94, 11th in assists, 12th in points) on the ice with him a majority of the time.

Yzerman had Gerard Gallant (39-54-93, 14th in points) and Paul MacLean (36-35-71, 54th in points) with the best offensive defenseman on the team being Steve Chiasson (12-35-47, 127th in points)

Quote:
Lemieux had 44 more points than Yzerman was well over a goal per game and if played the full season would have been just shy of Gretzky's all time record....playing with Rob Brown
Now you're confusing years. Lemieux played 76 games and scored 86-113-199 in 1988-89. You're thinking of 1992-93, when Lemieux scored 69-91-160 in 60GP. With Kevin Stevens and Rick Tocchet.

Yzerman had 58-79-137 that year with a broken down Gallant and an aged Dino Ciccarelli, and should have been on the 2nd team.

Quote:
I will concede Yzerman was a little bit better than Mess on just offensive alone (Mess would have put up similar numbers if not behind Gretz though) but Messier simply was a better overall player and had a far better career.
Yzerman was:

a) A LOT better offensively. Check their offensive primes and see the difference.
b) Equal defensively from the mid 80s through the early 90s and far better defensively after that.

So that leaves physical play. Sorry, but Messier's physical play doesn't outweigh the advantage Yzerman had at both ends of the rink.

Quote:
Also Messier is probably the only player ever that "intangibles" can be brought up legitimately.. and I'm a Chicago Blackhawks fan
The idea that Messier's "intangibles" are being used as an argument for him over Yzerman has me absolutely rolling. Exactly what intangibles did Messier bring that put him over Yzerman, all else being equal?

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12-14-2012, 08:33 PM
  #29
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Originally Posted by habsfanatics View Post
It's hard to win harts when your direct competition during your prime is Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and dman like Ray Bourque. It's hard to penalize Yzerman for coming short to those 3.
You are aware of when Mark Messier played hockey and won two Hart Trophies, yes?

And make no mistake, he was probably winning a third in 1996 before getting injured and missing the final six games.


I mean, how is he not getting a modicum of credit for succeeding in a world that DOES have Gretzky and Lemieux? That's all we ever see anymore in these threads about post-1980 players: What does Player X look like when you remove generational talents?

Yeah... Mark Messier doesn't need you to remove anybody; he's Mark Messier.

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12-14-2012, 09:11 PM
  #30
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Hockey Outsider posted a thread a few years ago on the effects of Gretzky and Lemieux on stats and awards:

http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...d.php?t=608582

His conclusion:

Messier:
3 Harts
4 1st Team (2C, 2LW), 3 2nd Team (2C, 1LW)
2 Art Rosses

Yzerman:
1-2 Harts
2 1st Team, 2 2nd Team
1 Art Ross
2 Richards (if they existed at the time)

I don't even know how you would estimate Pearson winners without voting totals, but Messier has as 2-1 edge in actual Pearsons won.
Forgot to include Messier's LW time. Although LW AS selections are rarely comparable to center selections. Messier didn't even hit 90 points in the league's highest scoring season ever with the league's highest scoring player ever centering him, yet was on the 1st team. That's how shallow the LW pool was.

And yeah, forgot to include the 3rd Hart for Mess.

But Yzerman has an excellent chance to out-vote Savard in 1988 with no Lemieux or Gretzky, and in 1991 he likely takes it given the closeness with Sakic in the actual vote if he has already been on the AS the previous three seasons.

So I think Yzerman taking 1st in 88 and 2nd in 91 is likely. But even if we assume the order stays the same, it's still a 2nd from 1988.

I think it's also quite possible that Yzerman, with the newfound reputation as the league's "dominant center" might get more votes in 1992 and end up second or even first team. In 1993 he might have a shot as well. I could see both years being an Yzerman/LaFontaine battery in some combination. Far less likely that 1991, but certainly a decent chance.

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12-14-2012, 09:21 PM
  #31
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Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Let's expand that trophy case to other trophies.

Messier has that second place finish in the Hart in 1996. Yzerman has a Selke and the equivalent of a Richard. Messier gets 1996 2nd team. Yzerman gets 2nd in 1988 (possibly 1st, he received a 1st-place vote while Savard did not) and 1st in 1989, 2nd in 1990, possibly 2nd in 1991.

Messier 2 Harts, 2 Pearsons, Smythe, Ross, two 1st-teams, one 2nd team

Yzerman 2 Harts, 2 Pearsons, Smythe, Selke, Richard (equivalent), Ross, 3 1st teams, 2 2nd teams (almost all consecutively).

That certainly changes the landscape, doesn't it?
- Hart trophy. I showed previously that even if we ignore Gretzky and Lemieux, and make two additional assumptions that are favourable to Yzerman, they both end up with two Harts, but Messier has an additional 2nd place finish. Edge to Messier.

- Pearson trophy. As TDMM said, voting data isn't available so I'm not sure how you end up with a 2-2 draw. I don't think we have enough information to determine who would have won sans Gretzy and Lemieux.

- All-star voting. Messier has a clear edge. Here are their results, removing Gretzky and Lemieux.

Messier first team in 1982 (LW), 1983 (LW), 1990, 1992; 2nd team in 1984 (LW), 1987, 1996

Yzerman first team in 1989, 2000; 2nd team in 1988, 1990

They're even if we ignore Messier's time as a LW. I realize that competition was weaker at LW than C (even after we remove Gretzky and Lemieux), but not enough to explain away Messier's 7-4 advantage.

- Smythe. Both have a Smythe.

- Selke. Yzerman won in 2000, was 3rd in 1996, 4th in 1999 and 5th in 2001. Messier never placed in the top five.

- Richard. It's not meaningful to compare a goal-scorer to a playmaker since, as you know, there's no trophy for best playmaker.

It makes more sense to look at points (that's what's important - I don't care whether a player shoots or passes first as long as they produce). Without the two freaks of nature, here are the times they place in the top five:

- Messier: 1st (1990), 2nd (1992), 2nd (1987 - though it's a tough call, Messier easily could jump past a Gretzky-free Kurri, though he might also fall behind Gilmour, Ciccarelli and Hawerchuk, who aren't far behind), 4th (1988 - another tricky situation, but I assume he won't fall behind Carson)

- Yzerman: 1st (1989), 2nd (1990), 3rd (1992 - on the assumption that losing Gretzky costs Robitaille at least five points and losing Lemieux costs Stevens at least twenty-one points), 3rd (1993)

This is quite judgmental, but it looks very close.

If you're looking at their trophy cases, Messier has and edge in Hart and all-star voting. They both have a Smythe, they've both led the playoffs in scoring once, and they have very similar top five scoring placements. You'd need to assign a massive premium to the Selke trophy in order bridge such a larger gap.

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12-14-2012, 09:32 PM
  #32
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Originally Posted by quoipourquoi View Post
You are aware of when Mark Messier played hockey and won two Hart Trophies, yes?

And make no mistake, he was probably winning a third in 1996 before getting injured and missing the final six games.
Yzerman was the Hart favorite in 1987-88 until he was injured. He lost the Hart that year because Jacques Demers was able to get the Wings to not fall apart, and some voters decided Yzerman wasn't the MVP.

Quote:
I mean, how is he not getting a modicum of credit for succeeding in a world that DOES have Gretzky and Lemieux? That's all we ever see anymore in these threads about post-1980 players: What does Player X look like when you remove generational talents?

Yeah... Mark Messier doesn't need you to remove anybody; he's Mark Messier.
Messier played over two decades, but his career accomplishments can be whittled down to a career shorter than Tim Thomas. He had that good year in 1990 where he was 1st team but probably should have been in a close race for 3rd. He won that Hart in 1992 when Lemieux was light years better and more valuable, and it's arguable as to whether he was even his team's best player. He was second in 1996 (and no, he wasn't going to win before getting injured 6 game to go) but he wasn't even a postseason all-star and realistically there were probably six or seven centers better, although he somehow ended up third in voting.

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Old
12-14-2012, 10:14 PM
  #33
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Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
- Hart trophy. I showed previously that even if we ignore Gretzky and Lemieux, and make two additional assumptions that are favourable to Yzerman, they both end up with two Harts, but Messier has an additional 2nd place finish. Edge to Messier.

- Pearson trophy. As TDMM said, voting data isn't available so I'm not sure how you end up with a 2-2 draw. I don't think we have enough information to determine who would have won sans Gretzy and Lemieux.
Typo, actually. Although I anticipate Yzerman would have ended up with at least one more from 88 (the Pearson vote occurs around the time he was injured).

Quote:
- All-star voting. Messier has a clear edge. Here are their results, removing Gretzky and Lemieux.

Messier first team in 1982 (LW), 1983 (LW), 1990, 1992; 2nd team in 1984 (LW), 1987, 1996

Yzerman first team in 1989, 2000; 2nd team in 1988, 1990

They're even if we ignore Messier's time as a LW. I realize that competition was weaker at LW than C (even after we remove Gretzky and Lemieux), but not enough to explain away Messier's 7-4 advantage.
Messier placed as a LW 3 times while playing with Gretzky as his center. Based on the way you have treated other wingers (such as Kurri) Messier would likely lose those.

Also... 3 selections at LW perfectly explains the difference of a 7-4 advantage. 7-4=3.

Quote:
- Richard. It's not meaningful to compare a goal-scorer to a playmaker since, as you know, there's no trophy for best playmaker.
Yzerman was an elite playmaker also; it's just that he didn't have a significant goal-scorer until Ray Sheppard - except for John Ogrodnick one year early in his (Yzerman's) career. Look at O's stats and you'll know which year. He had a decent Gerard Gallant, Bob Probert, a used-up Paul MacLean, a broken-down Dino Ciccarelli, and guys like Dave Barr.

Quote:
It makes more sense to look at points (that's what's important - I don't care whether a player shoots or passes first as long as they produce). Without the two freaks of nature, here are the times they place in the top five:

- Messier: 1st (1990), 2nd (1992), 2nd (1987 - though it's a tough call, Messier easily could jump past a Gretzky-free Kurri, though he might also fall behind Gilmour, Ciccarelli and Hawerchuk, who aren't far behind), 4th (1988 - another tricky situation, but I assume he won't fall behind Carson)
Messier wouldn't have the shielding of the top defensive pairings being put on Gretzky. Other top scorers didn't have that shielding. And Messier would also lose PP scoring (until 88) from not having Gretzky. As for Kurri, in 88-89 Kurri and Carson both outscored a Gretzky-free Messier.

Quote:
- Yzerman: 1st (1989), 2nd (1990), 3rd (1992 - on the assumption that losing Gretzky costs Robitaille at least five points and losing Lemieux costs Stevens at least twenty-one points), 3rd (1993)
Robitaille only has to lose 4 points; Yzerman had 45 goals to Luc's 44.

This is quite judgmental, but it looks very close.[/quote]

Let's now look at top tens, using those same assumptions for top-5s. We'll also use the same kind of drops you did for Kurri and Robitaille on Messier for his years playing alongside Gretz as a LW.

Messier - 1987 (2nd), 1988 (4th), 1989 (10th), 1990 (1st), 1992 (1st), 1995 (10th)

Yzerman - 1987 (10th), 1988 (10th; pace for 1st), 1989 (1st), 1990 (2nd), 1991 (5th; Recchi loses at least 5 points from no Lemieux), 1992 (3rd), 1993 (3rd), 1994 (injured; pace for 2nd), 2000 (10th)

Now we're seeing a difference.

Quote:
If you're looking at their trophy cases, Messier has and edge in Hart and all-star voting. They both have a Smythe, they've both led the playoffs in scoring once, and they have very similar top five scoring placements. You'd need to assign a massive premium to the Selke trophy in order bridge such a larger gap.
Or take a look at top-ten scoring placements and notice the MASSIVE disparity. In an alternate world as such, Yzerman has seven straight years in the top ten plus an eighth at the end where he was on pace to finish second in scoring (which would have been his fifth top-three finish among the eight). Yzerman had four top-three and five top-five worthy finishes plus two years where he was on pace for second place, one where he still did finish top-ten. Messier is nowhere near that kind of offense.

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12-14-2012, 10:58 PM
  #34
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Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Yzerman equaled Lemieux at even strength offensively. Lemieux had Rob Brown (49-66-115 in only 68 games, 7th in goals, 6th in assists, 5th in points), Paul Coffey (30-83-113, 4th in assists, 6th in points), and Dan Quinn (34-60-94, 11th in assists, 12th in points) on the ice with him a majority of the time.

Yzerman had Gerard Gallant (39-54-93, 14th in points) and Paul MacLean (36-35-71, 54th in points) with the best offensive defenseman on the team being Steve Chiasson (12-35-47, 127th in points)
You make a good point about linemates but sometimes a guy can really thrive offensively when he is the go to guy, especially in the 80's, so it's really hard to determine if Stevie Y would have scored much better with more skilled linemates. Gallant is also a guy who gets slagged here quite a bit, sure he wasn't the most skilled guy in the world but still a very good and hard working player.


Quote:
Yzerman was:

a) A LOT better offensively. Check their offensive primes and see the difference.
b) Equal defensively from the mid 80s through the early 90s and far better defensively after that.

So that leaves physical play. Sorry, but Messier's physical play doesn't outweigh the advantage Yzerman had at both ends of the rink.

Stevie Y does have the better offensive peak and prime IMO and some of Mark lead on offensive, in counting stats, was his sheer hanging around with the Rangers.

Moose has the decisive edge in defensive and physical play over the two players entire career though IMO.


Quote:
The idea that Messier's "intangibles" are being used as an argument for him over Yzerman has me absolutely rolling. Exactly what intangibles did Messier bring that put him over Yzerman, all else being equal?
I'm not the biggest Moose fan in the world and believe his ego is greater than his leadership and don't see any advantage here for the Moose.

Overall it's Moose for me for his overall play.

I would still take Stevie Y over Phil Espostio though.

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12-14-2012, 11:18 PM
  #35
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Won't multiquote but will respond to the relevant points:

- We're in agreement that they earned (adjusted for presence of Gretzky/Lemieux) the same number of all-star selections at centre. I don't think that Messier would lose three all-star selections playing on another team, but neither of us can prove our position on this.

- What I meant was that a greater proportion of Yzerman's points came from goals relative to Messier.

- You are being very selective in presenting data that only favours Yzerman. You emphasized twice about Yzerman's "on pace for" finish in 1988, yet fail to mention several on pace finishes that would give Messier more seasons in the top ten (he was on pace for at least a 7th place finish in 1986 (higher if one removes Coffey/Kurri)), 3rd place in 1989 (removing Gretzky, Nicholls, Lemieux, Brown and Coffey), and 6th place in 1996. Suddenly Messier has nine seasons as a top ten scorer, tied with Yzerman. My point is - you can tell me that "on pace for" counts or not, but don't emphasize it for Yzerman and ignore it for Messier.

- I disagree with your position that Messier significantly benefited by playing with Gretzky, and this assumption permeates your entire analysis. I'm sure playing with such a great player helped Messier early in his career, but by the time he reached his mid twenties, it hurt him more than it helped. There's a lot of evidence to support this position:

1. Whatever benefit that Messier got by being "shielded" by Gretzky was offset by the fact that he got less ice time, especially on the powerplay. Consider that in the last three seasons where Messier played with Gretzky, he scored 1.39 ppg (302 points in 217 games). Despite the team becoming noticeably worse during the next three years (losing Coffee and others) and league scoring dropping around 5% league-wide, Messier actually improved his offensive production to 1.41 ppg (287 points in 204 games).

2. Based on the adjusted numbers per HR.com, all three of Messier's highest scoring seasons (and five of his top seven) came after he played with Gretzky. The fact that Messier posted his two best seasons, based on HR.com's adjusted stats, within the first three full seasons of Gretzky leaving, suggests that Messier was likely ready to break out offensively had he been given that much ice time earlier.

3. The fact that Messier won the Hart twice, within the first three full seasons of Gretzky leaving, suggests that Messier was likely ready to break out as an elite all-around performer had he been given that much ice time earlier.

4. The data indicates that Gretzky actually had a negative impact on Messier's powerplay numbers. In Gretzky's last three seasons in Edmonton, Messier was on the ice for 126 goals (in 217 games - 0.58 PPG per game). In the following three seasons, Messier was on the ice for 136 goals (in 204 games - 0.67 gpg). Again, this suggests that playing behind Gretzky actually held Messier back, statistically.

5. Despite a massive drop in league scoring, Messier's post-Gretzky playoff numbers declined only by 11% (1.32 ppg through 1988, 1.18 ppg after). Even if you ignore the 1980-82 postseasons (where Messier had clearly not reached his prime) and keep his worst performance, in 1997, the drop is still only 16%, which is almost fully explained by the league-wide decrease in offense. In other words - when Messier had a chance to be the go-to guy in the playoffs, he produced essentially the same amount (adjusted for era) without Gretzky, and that ignores the fact that he was getting older and playing on weaker teams.

6. I like to consider myself an honest debater, so I'll give you some evidence that contradicts my position. Gretzky was so healthy that we only have a small sample size of games where we can compare Messier's production in Edmonton with & without Grezky. In 1988, TGO missed 16 games and Messier's production dropped from 1.48 ppg (93 points in 63 games) to 1.29 ppg (18 points in 14 games) - a 13% decrease. I think this is due to the small sample size of just 14 games.

Maybe it's just a coincidence that Messier performed so well immediately after Gretzky left, but I find it unlikely. The evidence shows that Messier was held back statistically by playing with Gretzky.

Despite that, I agree that Yzerman was better offensively, but not by much. The most favourable comparison I make is comparing their performance from 1988 to 1997. This is very favourable to Yzerman because it encapsulates his entire offensive prime and it excludes all the time that Messier spent with Gretzky (aside from their reunion in 1997). Even under these very favourable conditions, Yzerman outscored Messier by just 10% (1.34 ppg versus 1.22 ppg).

Ultimately, Messier was generally acknowledged as the better player by those who watched them (reflected in his superiority in Hart and all-star voting), his offensive numbers were suppressed by playing so many years behind Gretzky (demonstrated above), he's indisputably a superior playoff performer and had a longer, more productive career. Yzerman was better offensively (though not by nearly as large a margin as one would think) and although he was better defensively, he didn't clearly surpass Messier's defensive play until his offense had withered. It's close but clearly Messier.


Last edited by Hockey Outsider: 12-14-2012 at 11:49 PM.
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12-15-2012, 01:03 AM
  #36
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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
You make a good point about linemates but sometimes a guy can really thrive offensively when he is the go to guy, especially in the 80's, so it's really hard to determine if Stevie Y would have scored much better with more skilled linemates. Gallant is also a guy who gets slagged here quite a bit, sure he wasn't the most skilled guy in the world but still a very good and hard working player.
Upgrade Gallant to HHOFer Anderson (who played on Messier's wing for a long time), a faster and more skilled "hard-working winger". What happens to Yzerman's numbers? They go up. Maybe 75-110-185 in 88-89?

Quote:
Moose has the decisive edge in defensive and physical play over the two players entire career though IMO.
Disagree. Messier was not significantly better if at all than Yzerman defensively through their offensive primes, and Yzerman clearly had the better defensive peak. The "Messier is good at defense" argument is a thrust of the "Messier is physical" argument. Physical play, while a forte of Messier's, doesn't equal defense. Rob Blae in 1998 and Dion Phaneuf in 2008 are more recent examples of this error being made. Derian Hatcher vs Zubov/Sydor/Matvichuk is another example.

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Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
Won't multiquote but will respond to the relevant points:

- We're in agreement that they earned (adjusted for presence of Gretzky/Lemieux) the same number of all-star selections at centre. I don't think that Messier would lose three all-star selections playing on another team, but neither of us can prove our position on this.
If you assume the Gretzky and Lemieux voters don't change the vote order, yes. However, I do think Messier loses those selections at LW in the 80s without Gretzky. In 1984 I think he loses out to one of Ogrodnick, Propp, or Simmer. In 1983 it would have been Goulet/Secord... truly legendary. 1982 would have brought us Tonelli/Barber with a scattered race for third between Messier, Goulet, and Secord.

Also of note: Glenn Anderson, who played much of the year with Messier and Gretzky, received (5-3-3) on the LW and (0-8-6) on the RW. If those 11 had voted for Anderson on the right side, he could have finished as high as third among RW.

Quote:
- What I meant was that a greater proportion of Yzerman's points came from goals relative to Messier.
That's what happens when you don't have quality players to play with.

Quote:
- You are being very selective in presenting data that only favours Yzerman. You emphasized twice about Yzerman's "on pace for" finish in 1988, yet fail to mention several on pace finishes that would give Messier more seasons in the top ten (he was on pace for at least a 7th place finish in 1986 (higher if one removes Coffey/Kurri)), 3rd place in 1989 (removing Gretzky, Nicholls, Lemieux, Brown and Coffey), and 6th place in 1996. Suddenly Messier has nine seasons as a top ten scorer, tied with Yzerman. My point is - you can tell me that "on pace for" counts or not, but don't emphasize it for Yzerman and ignore it for Messier.
I noted 1988 because Yzerman was the Hart favorite when injured, and I noted 1994 because it would have been his 8th consecutive 100-point season. Also because both were not just top-ten on-pace finishes, but top-TWO pace finishes.


Quote:
- I disagree with your position that Messier significantly benefited by playing with Gretzky, and this assumption permeates your entire analysis. I'm sure playing with such a great player helped Messier early in his career, but by the time he reached his mid twenties, it hurt him more than it helped. There's a lot of evidence to support this position:

1. Whatever benefit that Messier got by being "shielded" by Gretzky was offset by the fact that he got less ice time, especially on the powerplay. Consider that in the last three seasons where Messier played with Gretzky, he scored 1.39 ppg (302 points in 217 games). Despite the team becoming noticeably worse during the next three years (losing Coffee and others) and league scoring dropping around 5% league-wide, Messier actually improved his offensive production to 1.41 ppg (287 points in 204 games).
Messier scored 71 points at ES in 1989-90. That's right in line with his ES production in 86-87 (68) and 87-88 (70). The difference? He had a ridiculous amount of PP time that season because Edmonton traded Jimmy Carson to Detroit for a bunch of wingers (Murphy, Graves, Klima). So he posted 47 PP points. Yzerman in the same season had 37 PP points and 79 ES points. Both had 11 SH points.

Quote:
2. Based on the adjusted numbers per HR.com, all three of Messier's highest scoring seasons (and five of his top seven) came after he played with Gretzky. The fact that Messier posted his two best seasons, based on HR.com's adjusted stats, within the first three full seasons of Gretzky leaving, suggests that Messier was likely ready to break out offensively had he been given that much ice time earlier.
As noted above, Messier got the ice time on the PP when Edmonton decided to not have skill at center.

Quote:
3. The fact that Messier won the Hart twice, within the first three full seasons of Gretzky leaving, suggests that Messier was likely ready to break out as an elite all-around performer had he been given that much ice time earlier.
No, it suggests that people saw Messier carry Edmonton and then New York after having been second fiddle, and rewarded him for it. It's the same as Scott Niedermayer's 2004 Norris; he wasn't the best defenseman that year, but he was rewarded because he proved that he was in fact a star defenseman.

Quote:
4. The data indicates that Gretzky actually had a negative impact on Messier's powerplay numbers. In Gretzky's last three seasons in Edmonton, Messier was on the ice for 126 goals (in 217 games - 0.58 PPG per game). In the following three seasons, Messier was on the ice for 136 goals (in 204 games - 0.67 gpg). Again, this suggests that playing behind Gretzky actually held Messier back, statistically.
Or, it suggests that Messier played for a team that decided halfway through this period to deal away skilled centers not named Messier to get wingers.

Quote:
5. Despite a massive drop in league scoring, Messier's post-Gretzky playoff numbers declined only by 11% (1.32 ppg through 1988, 1.18 ppg after). Even if you ignore the 1980-82 postseasons (where Messier had clearly not reached his prime) and keep his worst performance, in 1997, the drop is still only 16%, which is almost fully explained by the league-wide decrease in offense. In other words - when Messier had a chance to be the go-to guy in the playoffs, he produced essentially the same amount (adjusted for era) without Gretzky, and that ignores the fact that he was getting older and playing on weaker teams.
Are you using the league average GPG for RS or PO?

Quote:
6. I like to consider myself an honest debater, so I'll give you some evidence that contradicts my position. Gretzky was so healthy that we only have a small sample size of games where we can compare Messier's production in Edmonton with & without Grezky. In 1988, TGO missed 16 games and Messier's production dropped from 1.48 ppg (93 points in 63 games) to 1.29 ppg (18 points in 14 games) - a 13% decrease. I think this is due to the small sample size of just 14 games.

Maybe it's just a coincidence that Messier performed so well immediately after Gretzky left, but I find it unlikely. The evidence shows that Messier was held back statistically by playing with Gretzky.

Despite that, I agree that Yzerman was better offensively, but not by much. The most favourable comparison I make is comparing their performance from 1988 to 1997. This is very favourable to Yzerman because it encapsulates his entire offensive prime and it excludes all the time that Messier spent with Gretzky (aside from their reunion in 1997). Even under these very favourable conditions, Yzerman outscored Messier by just 10% (1.34 ppg versus 1.22 ppg).
Yzerman's offensive prime ended in 1994; he changed drastically as a player the following seasons when he went from a two-way player who thought offense-first to a two-way player who thought defense-first. His 1994-95 season was so uncharacteristically low coring because Bowman sometimes put him on the third line to "drive the message home." Adding 94-95, 95-96, and 96-97 to the sample of 87-88 to 93-94 skews the numbers in favor of Messier, who played an offense-first game his whole career and while he did backcheck, he was never a high-level defensive forward.

Quote:
Ultimately, Messier was generally acknowledged as the better player by those who watched them (reflected in his superiority in Hart and all-star voting), his offensive numbers were suppressed by playing so many years behind Gretzky (demonstrated above), he's indisputably a superior playoff performer and had a longer, more productive career. Yzerman was better offensively (though not by nearly as large a margin as one would think) and although he was better defensively, he didn't clearly surpass Messier's defensive play until his offense had withered. It's close but clearly Messier.
Yzerman wasn't good defenively until his offense had "withered"? That's why he placed 10th in scoring and won a Selke in 2000. That's why he was a 95-point Selke finalist in 1996.

Yzerman is one of the best two-way player ever. He developed into his peak defensive game, but he was always strong defensively. Ask Bryan Trottier about it. Bryan Trottier should know about playing defense as a center in the NHL, right?

As I stated before, his offensive decline was a result of a defensive shift in his play, not a cause of it. He could likely have continued scoring 100 points for another several seasons had he continued the style he had been playing.

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12-15-2012, 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Upgrade Gallant to HHOFer Anderson (who played on Messier's wing for a long time), a faster and more skilled "hard-working winger". What happens to Yzerman's numbers? They go up. Maybe 75-110-185 in 88-89?



Disagree. Messier was not significantly better if at all than Yzerman defensively through their offensive primes, and Yzerman clearly had the better defensive peak. The "Messier is good at defense" argument is a thrust of the "Messier is physical" argument. Physical play, while a forte of Messier's, doesn't equal defense. Rob Blae in 1998 and Dion Phaneuf in 2008 are more recent examples of this error being made. Derian Hatcher vs Zubov/Sydor/Matvichuk is another example.



If you assume the Gretzky and Lemieux voters don't change the vote order, yes. However, I do think Messier loses those selections at LW in the 80s without Gretzky. In 1984 I think he loses out to one of Ogrodnick, Propp, or Simmer. In 1983 it would have been Goulet/Secord... truly legendary. 1982 would have brought us Tonelli/Barber with a scattered race for third between Messier, Goulet, and Secord.

Also of note: Glenn Anderson, who played much of the year with Messier and Gretzky, received (5-3-3) on the LW and (0-8-6) on the RW. If those 11 had voted for Anderson on the right side, he could have finished as high as third among RW.



That's what happens when you don't have quality players to play with.


I noted 1988 because Yzerman was the Hart favorite when injured, and I noted 1994 because it would have been his 8th consecutive 100-point season. Also because both were not just top-ten on-pace finishes, but top-TWO pace finishes.




Messier scored 71 points at ES in 1989-90. That's right in line with his ES production in 86-87 (68) and 87-88 (70). The difference? He had a ridiculous amount of PP time that season because Edmonton traded Jimmy Carson to Detroit for a bunch of wingers (Murphy, Graves, Klima). So he posted 47 PP points. Yzerman in the same season had 37 PP points and 79 ES points. Both had 11 SH points.



As noted above, Messier got the ice time on the PP when Edmonton decided to not have skill at center.



No, it suggests that people saw Messier carry Edmonton and then New York after having been second fiddle, and rewarded him for it. It's the same as Scott Niedermayer's 2004 Norris; he wasn't the best defenseman that year, but he was rewarded because he proved that he was in fact a star defenseman.



Or, it suggests that Messier played for a team that decided halfway through this period to deal away skilled centers not named Messier to get wingers.



Are you using the league average GPG for RS or PO?



Yzerman's offensive prime ended in 1994; he changed drastically as a player the following seasons when he went from a two-way player who thought offense-first to a two-way player who thought defense-first. His 1994-95 season was so uncharacteristically low coring because Bowman sometimes put him on the third line to "drive the message home." Adding 94-95, 95-96, and 96-97 to the sample of 87-88 to 93-94 skews the numbers in favor of Messier, who played an offense-first game his whole career and while he did backcheck, he was never a high-level defensive forward.



Yzerman wasn't good defenively until his offense had "withered"? That's why he placed 10th in scoring and won a Selke in 2000. That's why he was a 95-point Selke finalist in 1996.

Yzerman is one of the best two-way player ever. He developed into his peak defensive game, but he was always strong defensively. Ask Bryan Trottier about it. Bryan Trottier should know about playing defense as a center in the NHL, right?

As I stated before, his offensive decline was a result of a defensive shift in his play, not a cause of it. He could likely have continued scoring 100 points for another several seasons had he continued the style he had been playing.

I'm a huge Yzerman fan (his jersey is the only non-Habs NHL jersey I own) but even I in good conscious can't advocate him over Messier.
Outside of Lindros, Mess in his prime, was one of the most physically dominant centers I have ever seen.
His speed to this day is seriously underrated IMO as is just how much of a dirty SoB he could be. Whether you want to believe the hype in hindsight is your prerogative but I'll tell you right now it wasn't just "hype" back then. He led by example, his teammates were definitely inspired and he scared the **** out of a lot of opposing players.
In his prime he could out skate you, out hit you and out score you all in the same shift sometimes.

I definitely believe Stevie had a higher scoring peak but I can't agree that he was a better career overall player.

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12-15-2012, 02:53 AM
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You’re significantly underrating Messier’s performance during his time with Gretzky. Just because Messier played on the same team, it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t an elite player in his own right. Here are some quotes to support my position:

- A 1983 Sports Illustrated article declares that Messier "is, quite simply, the best left wing in the NHL". This supports my argument that, even without Gretzky, Messier would likely have been a year-end all-star very early in his career. The article also clearly states that (although he still hasn't reached his prime yet) a young Messier would "be the No. 1 star on most teams". http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...51/1/index.htm

- In 1983, Messier "did a superb job of shutting down Islander star Bryan Trottier in the Cup finals". Evidence that even very early in his career, Messier was a good defensive player. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...08/3/index.htm

- In 1987, Messier is “one of the NHL's five best players”. More evidence that Messier was a complete player before Gretzky was traded: “You have to go back to Gordie Howe to find someone who can dominate every aspect of a game—puckhandling, checking, skating—the way Mark can”. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...7299/index.htm

- Messier faced Gretzky in the 1989 playoffs and outshone his former captain: “With due respect to Gretzky, Messier was the series' most dominant player through four games. On every shift, it seemed, the muscular center set up a scoring opportunity by making a slick pass or by drilling either a shot or a King. Sometimes he did all three.” http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...8284/index.htm

I can spend time looking for more articles but this should suffice; it shows that, even while Gretzky’s teammate (and in the season immediately after losing him), Messier was regarded as an elite, complete player.

====
None of your points contradict my position. Messier scored more without Gretzky (even though league scoring was dropping and his team was getting worse). The decline is especially noticeable on the powerplay. The decrease in Messier's playoff production post-Gretzky is small, despite a very long playoff career and a massive decrease in leaguewide GPG.

====
A 1990 poll of players named Messier the best all-around player in the league, the 2nd toughest to defend against (behind Gretzky), the #3 player to start a franchise with (behind Gretzky and Lemieux). http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...e+ramsey&hl=en. I know that a lot of people like to ignore the 1990 Hart voting results, but this is independent evidence (in the sense that it's from the players, not the media who votes for the Hart) that Messier was highly respected. For a complete player like Messier, it's hard to imagine a better accolade than being named the league’s best all-around player by your peers.

It's inaccurate to call Messier "offense-first". He was a complete player from early in his career, as demonstrated by the quotes above (shutting down Trottier in the playoffs, being compared to Howe).

Yes, Yzerman eventually turned into a great defensive forward (better than Messier ever was). A number of reasons for that - the league was becoming more defensive in general, the Wings have other scoring threats aside from #19, and of course Bowman molded Yzerman into a different kind of player. Yzerman deserves full credit for becoming an elite defensive player in the mid-nineties and, as I've said, he has a higher peak as a defensive player than Messier. That being said - I’ve presented a lot of evidence that Messier was a complete two-way player early in his career (though not an elite, Selke caliber forward either) and it's important to recognize that this helps offset Yzerman's offensive advantage. As you suggested, if we look only at 1988 to 1993 (which is them most favourable possible comparison as it includes Yzerman's six best seasons while it excludes several of Messier's), Yzerman outscored Messier by 15% per game. Part of that difference is offset by Messier's superior two-way game at that stage in their career - I'd probably take Yzerman in a prime vs prime comparison, but it's close.

To justify my assumption that Yzerman was not a great defensive player early in his career:

1. I have a 1990 players poll (referenced above), right in the middle of Yzerman's prime. This is the one where Messier was named the league's best all-around player by 64 players, more than half of those responding. Yzerman got 4 votes.

2. I have the results of a 1993 coaches' poll (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...84&postcount=4). Coaches were asked to name the best defensive forward and best penalty killer. Yzerman didn't receive any votes.

3. I have the results of a 1994 coaches' poll (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...10&postcount=5). Coaches were asked to name the best defensive forward and best penalty killer. Yzerman didn't receive any votes.

4. I have the result of another poll from 1994 (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...5&postcount=21). Once again, Yzerman didn't get any votes in the best defensive forward or best penalty killer categories. In case you were curious, Bryan Trottier (who was in fact a complete two-way player even during his offensive prime, certainly more so than Messier) placed in the top five in the best defensive forward category in a similar poll from 1984 (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...05&postcount=1).

5. I have a glowing article that justifiably called Yzerman the 3rd best player in the league in 1989. It’s a long, gushing article but they don’t say anything about his defensive play. If he was really a great defensive player during his offensive prime, I think they would have wrote at least one sentence in a 1,500 word article about that aspect of his game. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...37/1/index.htm

6. Yzerman received virtually no votes for the Selke trophy prior to 1996. By my count, he got 2 first place votes (one each in 1988 and 1989) and 2 second place votes (one each in 1989 and 1993). In comparison, Messier got 6 first place votes (three in 1992, two in 1987 and one in 1990), 4 second place votes (one in 1986, two in 1988 and one in 1990) and 2 third place votes (one each in 1984 and 1986). Prior to 1996, Yzerman (2-2-0) earned roughly the same number of Selke votes as Michel Goulet (2-1-1)

7. I know that Yzerman said in 1997 that "I always considered myself a decent two-way player" http://articles.nydailynews.com/1997...n-eric-lindros. I'll agree that Yzerman was decent defensively early in his career, but in comparison to Messier, who I've already proven was well above "decent" in terms of two-way play, I don't think that helps Yzerman's case very much.

I realize that none of this evidence, on its own, necessarily shows that pre-Bowman Yzerman wasn’t great defensively, but collectively the evidence I’ve presented clearly shows that Messier was regarded as a more complete and better defensive player, much earlier in his career.

Like I said before, I try to debate honestly, so here’s an article with a quote from Trottier that says that Yzerman was good defensively - http://m.espn.go.com/wireless/story?storyId=8147906&wjb. But I don’t think it outweighs all the other evidence I've presented.

Yzerman is a great player and it was a privilege to watch him, but there isn’t a strong case for ranking him above Messier. To summarize this and my previous post, Messier was regarded as one of the best and most complete players in the league even while playing in Gretzky’s shadows. He posted his two best seasons statistically (adjusted) and won two Hart trophies within the first three full seasons of playing apart from TGO. There are only perhaps two dozen players in history who can match Messier’s peak (two Harts and runner-up to Lemieux for a third), incredible playoff portfolio, exceptional longevity and physical presence/complete game - and as great as he is, Yzerman isn’t one of those players.


Last edited by Hockey Outsider: 12-15-2012 at 03:28 AM.
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12-15-2012, 03:29 AM
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Yzerman equaled Lemieux at even strength offensively. Lemieux had Rob Brown (49-66-115 in only 68 games, 7th in goals, 6th in assists, 5th in points), Paul Coffey (30-83-113, 4th in assists, 6th in points), and Dan Quinn (34-60-94, 11th in assists, 12th in points) on the ice with him a majority of the time.

Yzerman had Gerard Gallant (39-54-93, 14th in points) and Paul MacLean (36-35-71, 54th in points) with the best offensive defenseman on the team being Steve Chiasson (12-35-47, 127th in points)



Now you're confusing years. Lemieux played 76 games and scored 86-113-199 in 1988-89. You're thinking of 1992-93, when Lemieux scored 69-91-160 in 60GP. With Kevin Stevens and Rick Tocchet.

Yzerman had 58-79-137 that year with a broken down Gallant and an aged Dino Ciccarelli, and should have been on the 2nd team.



Yzerman was:

a) A LOT better offensively. Check their offensive primes and see the difference.
b) Equal defensively from the mid 80s through the early 90s and far better defensively after that.

So that leaves physical play. Sorry, but Messier's physical play doesn't outweigh the advantage Yzerman had at both ends of the rink.



The idea that Messier's "intangibles" are being used as an argument for him over Yzerman has me absolutely rolling. Exactly what intangibles did Messier bring that put him over Yzerman, all else being equal?
wait, you mean yzerman should have been on the 2nd team in '93? ahead of lafontaine who helped raise the production of mogilny and andreychuk to new and unforeseen levels, adam oates who played with two rookies and got one of them 100 points, and gilmour who played with nikolai borschevsky and a broken down glenn anderson? i mean, if we're going to play the bad linemates card, oates did more with less. and not to say yzerman wasn't awesome in '93 but come on, lafontaine, gilmour, and oates all had years for the ages.

also, how can you say with a straight face that prime gallant and paul maclean weren't much better linemates than quinn and rob brown? obviously, coffey makes a difference too, but we're talking about two big and tough 40 goal wingers to create space for him vs. two all-time anti-intangibles guys that mario coaxed ridiculous, never-to-be-repeated years from. surely you concede that mario's wingers were only 5th and 12th in points because of him, don't you?

and yes, yzerman was much better offensively than messier. no one doubts that. but messier DID steal a hart from prime mario. that should indicate to you that he has intangibles that put him ahead of yzerman. and i say this as someone who likes yzerman and has never hated any hockey player more than i hate messier.

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12-15-2012, 03:41 AM
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Rob Brown had 7 more NHL games than AHL/IHL games.

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12-15-2012, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Messier placed as a LW 3 times while playing with Gretzky as his center. Based on the way you have treated other wingers (such as Kurri) Messier would likely lose those.
i was under the impression that messier played on a different line than gretzky, even when he was a winger. can someone confirm/deny?


Quote:
Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Disagree. Messier was not significantly better if at all than Yzerman defensively through their offensive primes, and Yzerman clearly had the better defensive peak. The "Messier is good at defense" argument is a thrust of the "Messier is physical" argument.
wait, what? mark messier won the conn smythe over gretzky, largely on the strength of him shutting down bryan trottier (111 points and second team-all star in the regular season) in the finals. in fact, as i recall sather switched messier from LW to center in the finals specifically for that matchup.

Quote:
Held scoreless for most of the series, Gretzky was not a huge factor in the '84 finals. Messier was. And though Gretzky was the no.1 center on the Oilers, it was Messier who took the draws against the Isles no.1 line center, the great Bryan Trottier. Winning most of the draws, scoring all the important goals, out-hustling, and physically beating Trottier was a pretty damn amazing accomplishment. All of 23 at the time, Messier beat the virtually unbeatable Trottier in virtually every department. The torch had been passed.
http://spitfireshurricane.blogspot.c...k-messier.html

you might also want to see some of the quotes about messier's defensive abilities and two-way game in seventieslord's ATD bio: http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...6&postcount=69

most relevant:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1987-88
The league's ultimate power forward, Messier is blessed with both tremendous physical and tremendous finesse skills... for a man with his size and strength he is incredibly agile... defensively he is unparalleled, simply skating over the opposing center almost without exception. He backchecks excellently and is aided by his play reading ability and hockey sense... a powerful and mature leader... loves challenges and loves to respond to them... The best two-way player in the game, better than Bryan Trottier in his prime because of superior strength and speed.

don't get me wrong, messier was not a selke guy. but he was still excellent defensively.



also, to respond to a couple other people upthread, if you pretend wayne and mario don't exist, robitaille has more, not less, points. his most productive stretch (first half of '93) was when gretzky was injured. ditto '91 recchi, who was damn near leading the league when mario was out.

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12-15-2012, 04:27 AM
  #42
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Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
You’re significantly underrating Messier’s performance during his time with Gretzky. Just because Messier played on the same team, it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t an elite player in his own right. Here are some quotes to support my position:

- A 1983 Sports Illustrated article declares that Messier "is, quite simply, the best left wing in the NHL". This supports my argument that, even without Gretzky, Messier would likely have been a year-end all-star very early in his career. The article also clearly states that (although he still hasn't reached his prime yet) a young Messier would "be the No. 1 star on most teams". http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...51/1/index.htm

- In 1983, Messier "did a superb job of shutting down Islander star Bryan Trottier in the Cup finals". Evidence that even very early in his career, Messier was a good defensive player. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...08/3/index.htm

- In 1987, Messier is “one of the NHL's five best players”. More evidence that Messier was a complete player before Gretzky was traded: “You have to go back to Gordie Howe to find someone who can dominate every aspect of a game—puckhandling, checking, skating—the way Mark can”. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...7299/index.htm

- Messier faced Gretzky in the 1989 playoffs and outshone his former captain: “With due respect to Gretzky, Messier was the series' most dominant player through four games. On every shift, it seemed, the muscular center set up a scoring opportunity by making a slick pass or by drilling either a shot or a King. Sometimes he did all three.” http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...8284/index.htm

I can spend time looking for more articles but this should suffice; it shows that, even while Gretzky’s teammate (and in the season immediately after losing him), Messier was regarded as an elite, complete player.

====
None of your points contradict my position. Messier scored more without Gretzky (even though league scoring was dropping and his team was getting worse). The decline is especially noticeable on the powerplay. The decrease in Messier's playoff production post-Gretzky is small, despite a very long playoff career and a massive decrease in leaguewide GPG.

====
A 1990 poll of players named Messier the best all-around player in the league, the 2nd toughest to defend against (behind Gretzky), the #3 player to start a franchise with (behind Gretzky and Lemieux). http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...e+ramsey&hl=en. I know that a lot of people like to ignore the 1990 Hart voting results, but this is independent evidence (in the sense that it's from the players, not the media who votes for the Hart) that Messier was highly respected. For a complete player like Messier, it's hard to imagine a better accolade than being named the league’s best all-around player by your peers.

It's inaccurate to call Messier "offense-first". He was a complete player from early in his career, as demonstrated by the quotes above (shutting down Trottier in the playoffs, being compared to Howe).

Yes, Yzerman eventually turned into a great defensive forward (better than Messier ever was). A number of reasons for that - the league was becoming more defensive in general, the Wings have other scoring threats aside from #19, and of course Bowman molded Yzerman into a different kind of player. Yzerman deserves full credit for becoming an elite defensive player in the mid-nineties and, as I've said, he has a higher peak as a defensive player than Messier. That being said - I’ve presented a lot of evidence that Messier was a complete two-way player early in his career (though not an elite, Selke caliber forward either) and it's important to recognize that this helps offset Yzerman's offensive advantage. As you suggested, if we look only at 1988 to 1993 (which is them most favourable possible comparison as it includes Yzerman's six best seasons while it excludes several of Messier's), Yzerman outscored Messier by 15% per game. Part of that difference is offset by Messier's superior two-way game at that stage in their career - I'd probably take Yzerman in a prime vs prime comparison, but it's close.

To justify my assumption that Yzerman was not a great defensive player early in his career:

1. I have a 1990 players poll (referenced above), right in the middle of Yzerman's prime. This is the one where Messier was named the league's best all-around player by 64 players, more than half of those responding. Yzerman got 4 votes.

2. I have the results of a 1993 coaches' poll (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...84&postcount=4). Coaches were asked to name the best defensive forward and best penalty killer. Yzerman didn't receive any votes.

3. I have the results of a 1994 coaches' poll (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...10&postcount=5). Coaches were asked to name the best defensive forward and best penalty killer. Yzerman didn't receive any votes.

4. I have the result of another poll from 1994 (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...5&postcount=21). Once again, Yzerman didn't get any votes in the best defensive forward or best penalty killer categories. In case you were curious, Bryan Trottier (who was in fact a complete two-way player even during his offensive prime, certainly more so than Messier) placed in the top five in the best defensive forward category in a similar poll from 1984 (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...05&postcount=1).

5. I have a glowing article that justifiably called Yzerman the 3rd best player in the league in 1989. It’s a long, gushing article but they don’t say anything about his defensive play. If he was really a great defensive player during his offensive prime, I think they would have wrote at least one sentence in a 1,500 word article about that aspect of his game. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...37/1/index.htm

6. Yzerman received virtually no votes for the Selke trophy prior to 1996. By my count, he got 2 first place votes (one each in 1988 and 1989) and 2 second place votes (one each in 1989 and 1993). In comparison, Messier got 6 first place votes (three in 1992, two in 1987 and one in 1990), 4 second place votes (one in 1986, two in 1988 and one in 1990) and 2 third place votes (one each in 1984 and 1986). Prior to 1996, Yzerman (2-2-0) earned roughly the same number of Selke votes as Michel Goulet (2-1-1)

7. I know that Yzerman said in 1997 that "I always considered myself a decent two-way player" http://articles.nydailynews.com/1997...n-eric-lindros. I'll agree that Yzerman was decent defensively early in his career, but in comparison to Messier, who I've already proven was well above "decent" in terms of two-way play, I don't think that helps Yzerman's case very much.

I realize that none of this evidence, on its own, necessarily shows that pre-Bowman Yzerman wasn’t great defensively, but collectively the evidence I’ve presented clearly shows that Messier was regarded as a more complete and better defensive player, much earlier in his career.

Like I said before, I try to debate honestly, so here’s an article with a quote from Trottier that says that Yzerman was good defensively - http://m.espn.go.com/wireless/story?storyId=8147906&wjb. But I don’t think it outweighs all the other evidence I've presented.

Yzerman is a great player and it was a privilege to watch him, but there isn’t a strong case for ranking him above Messier. To summarize this and my previous post, Messier was regarded as one of the best and most complete players in the league even while playing in Gretzky’s shadows. He posted his two best seasons statistically (adjusted) and won two Hart trophies within the first three full seasons of playing apart from TGO. There are only perhaps two dozen players in history who can match Messier’s peak (two Harts and runner-up to Lemieux for a third), incredible playoff portfolio, exceptional longevity and physical presence/complete game - and as great as he is, Yzerman isn’t one of those players.
First i admire you trying to be an honest debater (and more that you seem to not have this condescending tone). That being said i have two points of disagreement with this entire post.

1) You are providing evidence that Messier was an all around player yes, but you then seem to be extrapolating it to a conclusion on defense/two way. Taking a look at some of the sources you provide it seems to be Messier's physical game that is the main reason for him being considered an all around player (aside from the notable example of him shutting down Trottier). And you provide absence of Yzerman on the 93 and 94 coaches poll as evidence of a negative (which you again do admit is tenuous but still could be taken as suggestive). But at the same time, Messier got no votes in the 93 poll and he got 1 vote for each category in the 94 poll so this is about an advantage the size of the Selke voting advantage where Messier has 3 more first place votes...

2) You do provide Yzerman's own view and Trottier's view on how early Yzerman played, but there is other evidence you may be unaware of. Below are some more:

As a analog to the Messier-Trottier matchup you brought up, here are some contemporary views of a Yzerman-Gretzky matchup in 87 (the last link being a general view of the entire 87 ssn):

Yzerman was mainly matched up against Gretzky in game 1
Yzerman was the man credited with doing most of the work of keeping Gretzky away from the net in game 1
The Red Wings team D frustrated the Oilers
The Red Wings in 87 played a tight defensive style of which Yzerman played a key role and which also limits his scoring opportunities

So if we can use a microcosm like this as you said the same for Messier based on his matchup with Trottier i think this is evidence that early in his career Yzerman was a good defensive player.

For articles about 89 the one you posted may not have anything about D but others certainly do. See for example this one in The Hockey News which makes a case for Yzerman over Gretzky and Lemieux based on his lack of help, horrible off ice team situation, playing back from an knee injury that still bothered him when he walked, and lastly D:


Another coach so saw the same "complete player" "do it all" thing.

As did a scouting report:


As did his own coach Demers and the linemate who played the most with him (there are a ton more Demers quotes both at the time and after the fact if you want to see them):


As did his following coach Murray for the second half of his prime (there are more of these as well at the time):
"He's so consistent and the one thing he does every night for us is he plays in his own end as well."
"Steve is playing as well, at both ends of the ice, as I've ever seen him."

Lastly on this point and this is important Yzerman has always maintained that it was Jacques Demers who first started playing him in a defensive role, making him a better two way player, etc. He said this in his jersey retirement on HNIC (and a story on it is on CBC affirming this), and also here:
"Jacques Demers (his coach from 1986-87 to 1989-90) challenged us all to become good two-way players," Yzerman said. "In the early '90s, we had a high-scoring team but we kept stumbling in the playoffs. In '95, Scotty said if we got to play all night long to win 1-0, we're going to do that. We accepted that."

And here:


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12-15-2012, 04:30 AM
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I'm a huge Yzerman fan (his jersey is the only non-Habs NHL jersey I own) but even I in good conscious can't advocate him over Messier.
Outside of Lindros, Mess in his prime, was one of the most physically dominant centers I have ever seen.
His speed to this day is seriously underrated IMO as is just how much of a dirty SoB he could be. Whether you want to believe the hype in hindsight is your prerogative but I'll tell you right now it wasn't just "hype" back then. He led by example, his teammates were definitely inspired and he scared the **** out of a lot of opposing players.
In his prime he could out skate you, out hit you and out score you all in the same shift sometimes.

I definitely believe Stevie had a higher scoring peak but I can't agree that he was a better career overall player.
I realize that it's just an example of one opponent, but as a Devils' fan from the early 90s on, no player ever scared me more than Mark Messier. Not prime Jagr, not slightly past his prime but still awesome Lemieux, nobody.

The only forward I've ever seen who was without-a-doubt better than Messier was prime Mario Lemieux. (Sadly, I missed the best of Gretzky).

The thing with Messier is that when the game was on the line, he was impossible to stop, because he would beat you in every way imaginable, including by physically powering through your best players or by speeding past them. I agree with you - Messier was one of the fastest player in the league, in addition to probably being the second most physically overpowering star center this side of expansion, after Lindros.

The only guy I ever saw who could regularly stand up to Scott Stevens and still score was Mark Messier. And yes, that includes Eric Lindros, who could stand up to Stevens physically but had trouble with the fact that Stevens could also stand up to him and was semi-neutralized.


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12-15-2012, 05:03 AM
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(separating the second part of my reply to make it manageable)

You also said that Yzerman outscored Messier by 15% per game (which years by the way in some shorter ranges it is quite a lot more) but part of that is offset by Messier's two way game. For the two way game offset i have to question that given the post above but yes you can say Messier's physical game was something Yzerman didnt have. Yzerman was strong for his size and initiated contact but he wasnt blessed physically to play a game like Messier. On the 15% per game difference though Yzerman did that difference while playing with less help on the wings, and on D. In some years much less so. During the Murray years he also had to share his icetime with two other 1st line centers, and by his own account he didnt play on an offensive line in 92. Those things certainly have to factor in when looking at a 15% difference as well.

On Hart voting i think other things than just performance play into Hart voting. In the late 80s Demers campaigned for Yzerman. He would go and say before games that Yzerman was just behind Gretzky/Lemieux, in their class, or even playing better than them. He loved talking to the media about how good Yzerman was. They were also coming off back to back trips to the conference finals after years of underachieving. The story was all there. None of this was there for the Murray years. I dont know as much about the surroundings of Messier but i can speculate that generally the media followed this guy esp when he went to New York.

Also for the 90 Hart these are comments made during the all star game in 90. This comment says that Lafontaine, Messier, Bourque are the Hart candidates at that stage whereas this one calls Yzerman considered probably the 3rd best player in the game (after Gretzky and Lemieux). By the same guy. Team factors in Hart voting is another thing not captured. Yzerman in 90 was playing on a non playoff team. By the way Yzerman finished the 90 ssn stronger than he started and the Red Wings who were way out of a playoff spot early on nearly made it so it isnt like the case where he fell off the cliff after that game. Hart voting clearly did not mean. Despite Messier/Lafontaine being favorites from the Hart from pretty early in the year, the top tier of centers was still Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman. Guys like Messier/Lafontaine/Bourque/Hull may have been the Hart candidates but it seems Gretzky/Lemieux/Yzerman were still considered the best players. IMO Messier's 92 and esp 96 Hart votes are even more bizarre if you go by best player.

Oh last thing i omitted in the first reply is that there are statements to the contrary on Yzerman's early D. Devellano said Yzerman was explicitly not good. Holland doesnt say explicitly negative things but uses terms offensive in the early years and then two way, learning D later. Dave Lewis kind of supports both sides when explictly asked that there were some things to learn. Agent Larry Kelly specifically picks out Devellano's statements and rebukes them. Dick Todd says that two way was the way Yzerman played in Juniors. Barry Smith says that the ability was always there and he was asked later to lead by it.

To note these are all after the fact and in the context of the transformation narrative. I havent found any of these guys say anything negative about Yzerman's D before. In fact i think there is a good argument to be made that had Yzerman never transformed his game into a elite defense first style, his earlier defense wouldnt be foiled negatively (exaggeratedly so).


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12-15-2012, 05:08 AM
  #45
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Yes, many fans got that feeling in '02 but maybe not as much as they did about Messier. Besides, Messiers guarantee was a gamble and he did it several times more after '94 which all failed.

I dislike that such things gets hyped up to such an extent that it propells a player above others. It's like the Legend of Bill Barilko.
The famous paint off the wall speech after they lost game 2 in the opening round against Vancouver at home to fall down 0-2. Yzerman had a lot of closed door moments that the Wings referenced when talking about their success, very few he would talk about himself and almost all of them could not be repeated even in the company of sailors or at bachelor parties taking place in strip clubs. At least that is how most stories go on it.

He actually always had a kind of disconnect with certain members of the media in Detroit as he was bitter about some of the things they wrote about him as a young player and the fact he was almost forced out to Ottawa. There were certain big name reporters that he wouldn't even speak to in Detroit for a while.

But 02 while everyone celebrated that team he made all the egos work and fall in line as he played through bone on bone pain in his knee so bad he couldn't get up when knocked down without using his stick on the ice to tripod up.

As much as I like Yzerman it is hard to argue him over Messier. His numbers aren't there and only for a short time period did he blend offensive dynamo Yzerman with defensive dynamo Yzerman. He excelled in both at different time periods and I always wonder what his numbers would have been but for the major knee injury made worse by the back injury in the early/mid 90's. Yes he played well after the knee, but it would eventually deteriorate in a big way to the point he still maintaines he hasn't put on skates since he retired because quite frankly it is painful to skate and was for almost his entire career.

He was a great player and I would take the Captain over anyone, but in fairness he should not win this poll he didn't accomplish what Messier did as much as that pains me to say.

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12-15-2012, 05:20 AM
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To me, Messier is kind of one of those "so overrated he's underrated" players. He gets lauded for great "leadership" skills that are a result of him winning a bunch of Cups (on stacked Oilers teams, mostly) and the "guarantee" (in the running for the most overrated moment ever). He won two Harts and a Conn Smythe he probably shouldn't have. He got to second on the all-time scoring list by virtue of spending his prime alongside Gretzky and compiling into middle-age.

But then you actually look at what he accomplished, or watch him play when he was "prime" (which stretched roughly 15 years), and you're reminded of how great and dominant a player he was.

I give him the edge over Yzerman. Probably not as much as many here do, but I still think there's room between the two.


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12-15-2012, 05:37 AM
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The famous paint off the wall speech after they lost game 2 in the opening round against Vancouver at home to fall down 0-2. Yzerman had a lot of closed door moments that the Wings referenced when talking about their success, very few he would talk about himself and almost all of them could not be repeated even in the company of sailors or at bachelor parties taking place in strip clubs. At least that is how most stories go on it.

He actually always had a kind of disconnect with certain members of the media in Detroit as he was bitter about some of the things they wrote about him as a young player and the fact he was almost forced out to Ottawa. There were certain big name reporters that he wouldn't even speak to in Detroit for a while.

But 02 while everyone celebrated that team he made all the egos work and fall in line as he played through bone on bone pain in his knee so bad he couldn't get up when knocked down without using his stick on the ice to tripod up.

As much as I like Yzerman it is hard to argue him over Messier. His numbers aren't there and only for a short time period did he blend offensive dynamo Yzerman with defensive dynamo Yzerman. He excelled in both at different time periods and I always wonder what his numbers would have been but for the major knee injury made worse by the back injury in the early/mid 90's. Yes he played well after the knee, but it would eventually deteriorate in a big way to the point he still maintaines he hasn't put on skates since he retired because quite frankly it is painful to skate and was for almost his entire career.

He was a great player and I would take the Captain over anyone, but in fairness he should not win this poll he didn't accomplish what Messier did as much as that pains me to say.
I dont think anyone has a problem with someone ranking Messier over Yzerman, I do that too. I have a problem with people using the guarantee as an argument for it.

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12-15-2012, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Rhiessan71 View Post
I'm a huge Yzerman fan (his jersey is the only non-Habs NHL jersey I own) but even I in good conscious can't advocate him over Messier.
Outside of Lindros, Mess in his prime, was one of the most physically dominant centers I have ever seen.
His speed to this day is seriously underrated IMO as is just how much of a dirty SoB he could be. Whether you want to believe the hype in hindsight is your prerogative but I'll tell you right now it wasn't just "hype" back then. He led by example, his teammates were definitely inspired and he scared the **** out of a lot of opposing players.
In his prime he could out skate you, out hit you and out score you all in the same shift sometimes
.

I definitely believe Stevie had a higher scoring peak but I can't agree that he was a better career overall player.
This.

The rest of this thread is kinda silly. Stevie Y was great, Messier was greater. Use all the "adjusted" numbers you want (and I know you guys are just having fun, it's why we're here) but if you watched both of their careers it's a pretty clear choice. Messier


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12-15-2012, 08:02 AM
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This.

The rest of this thread is kinda silly. Stevie Y was great, Messier was greater. Use all the "adjusted" numbers you want (and I know you guys are just having fun, it's why we're here) but if you watched both of their careers it's a pretty clear choice. Messier
Adjusted numbers need not to be applied. Yzerman was a greater force offensively and defensively imo. He doesn't have the accolades of Messier, but he was without a doubt a more offensively gifted player. Selke voting suggests he was better defensively as well, although award voting is often suspect, I think Yzerman's selke votes were justified, unlike Messiers harts. Cups and other things suggest Messier was on better teams during their peak years.

Messier was never in the running for 3rd best player in the world behind Lemieux and Gretzky.


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12-15-2012, 08:29 AM
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Well there was a dozen other veteran recent Cup winners on those teams. Not saying Messier wasn't a great Captain those years but 1990 was on a post dynasty Oiler's team filled with vets and the Rangers might have well been with all the ex-Oilers. Of course Yzerman had some great stars later on and Bowman.

The one big thing you can say for Yzerman in his younger offensive peak is he was a one man force. Few superstar centres end up at their peaks with wingers like Gallant and Probert. His contempories like Savard and Statsny had far better linemates. He never even had a Paul Maclean like Hawerchuk. Messier was a winger with Gretzky and once he was a centre he had Anderson.

I do think Messier was better. But imagine Yzerman as the second centre on the Oilers of the middle 80's. He would have, in my opinion, scored far more goals and points then Messier did.

The Oiler's were FAR better in the playoffs then the regular season. Some of it was Messier but in my opinion it was Gretzky. I think Gretzky taught ALL the Oiler's how to win and how to be the best. He gave them swagger because he was the best. Messier took that swaggar with him after Gretzky left the Oiler's and after Messier left for New York. I think giving TOO much credit to Messier for 1990 is a common occurance. The playoff 1990 Oilers were a playoff machine. Player's like Tilkanen and tons of others were playoff warriors. It is easy to lead a team that is already a united team of playoff veterans.

If anything Messier's actual play is underrated and his leadership is overrated. In my opinion. Yzerman's ability to difuse ego and become a cog in the machine later in his career in Detroit and be effective as Messier demanded he take over the whole show in Vancouver as he was declining and really should have only been a cog in the machine turns the leadership argument towards Yzerman.
Well when I evaluate Messier I rarely have anything good to say about him post 1997. The last 7 years of his career were a mess. But what he did the previous 18 years is what puts him ahead of Yzerman. I really don't think Yzerman scores any more goals if he is on the Oilers. Yzerman scored 155 and 127 points in back to back years. Messier topped out at 129 (without Gretzky). In the 1980s Messier did have his share of 100 point seasons but it was Gretzky who carried that team offensively and it would have been the same had Yzerman been there. In fact, maybe he doesn't get the opportunity or the ice time to crack 155 points. Who knows?

But when I said Messier "captained" two different teams to a Cup it was more ceremonial than anything. He actually played great those two times. He was the best forward on either team without a doubt and he had the ability to just stomp another team offensively if he needed to (witness his stats against Chicago in 1990). He only lost the Smythe those years because of excellent play from Ranford, and then later Leetch. It still doesn't mean he didn't have Conn Smythe-worthy runs. Because he certainly did.

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