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Where would Lemieux rank without the cups?

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Old
12-27-2012, 01:50 PM
  #26
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there were moments in the early 90s where mario's domination on the ice was so apparent, it would be tough to justify dropping him any further without the cups. Mind you, it's memorable, in part, BECAUSE he won cups, but this guy simply stood head and shoulders above other players (figuratively and literally) on the ice.

Like man vs boys.

I've only ever seen 99 & 66 look that far ahead of other NHLers, and Orr was the same way from what others have said.

Career value/numbers and other statistical analysis notwithstanding, I don't think his value drops much without cups.

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12-27-2012, 03:01 PM
  #27
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I wonder if it'd change the legacy much of guys on the other side if they won the Cup those years instead. An early 90's Cup win for Chicago and the North Stars. Hmm

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12-27-2012, 03:19 PM
  #28
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Originally Posted by invictus View Post
I wonder if it'd change the legacy much of guys on the other side if they won the Cup those years instead. An early 90's Cup win for Chicago and the North Stars. Hmm
For sure.

JR with a cup.
Chelios with an extra cup.
Belfour likely wins the Smythe and sees a huge boost to his rep.

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12-27-2012, 04:10 PM
  #29
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Due to his exceptional individual performance, Mario Lemieux deserves at least the 2nd spot in the all-time rankings... only Orr could be higher

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12-27-2012, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Yamaguchi View Post
Due to his exceptional individual performance, Mario Lemieux deserves at least the 2nd spot in the all-time rankings... only Orr could be higher
I think it's pretty obvious that Gretzky and Howe could be higher right now, considering a lot of people would rank them higher right now.

The question in this thread is a hypothetical world where Mario never plays in the Stanley Cup finals.

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12-27-2012, 04:16 PM
  #31
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Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
For sure.

JR with a cup.
Chelios with an extra cup.
Belfour likely wins the Smythe and sees a huge boost to his rep.
Chelios had a real strong case for the Smythe too...he was only a point behind JR for the team lead in points and was a +19 while getting the toughest matchups...his D partner Steve Smith was the next closest on the team at +12. If Chelios gets another Cup and the Smythe I think there's a strong chance the majority of us here start ranking him above Larry Robinson.

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12-27-2012, 04:23 PM
  #32
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It's tough because two cups and two conn smythes definitely add to the resume. The Pens were the team to beat those years as well as in 93'. I'm sure there would be a lot of "what if" questions now if he hadn't won the cup. People would be quick to point out that he was never able to put everything together even with a great team. I find it hard to believe people would still rank him in the top 4.

What if Gretz never won a cup? I find it very hard to believe he would be the usual number 1 as well. Being able to compete in the regular season as well as the playoffs is important in ranking players IMO.

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12-27-2012, 04:24 PM
  #33
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It's tough because two cups and two conn smythes definitely add to the resume. The Pens were the team to beat those years as well as in 93'. I'm sure there would be a lot of "what if" questions now if he hadn't won the cup. People would be quick to point out that he was never able to put everything together even with a great team. I find it hard to believe people would still rank him in the top 4.

What if Gretz never won a cup? I find it very hard to believe he would be the usual number 1 as well. Being able to compete in the regular season as well as the playoffs is important in ranking players IMO.
This is a good point. If the Pens lost in 91, 92, and 93, not only would Mario not have any Cups or Conn Smythes, he'd be tarred with the "3 straight choke jobs" label most likely.

At the very least, I think that very few people even consider ranking him over Gretzky.

Of course, this is all a hypothetical fantasy world, since Mario did win those Cups and Smythes.

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12-27-2012, 04:24 PM
  #34
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even without the Cups, Lemieux is a solid #2 of all time

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12-27-2012, 09:04 PM
  #35
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In actuality, he would still be the same player wouldn't he? Assuming his playoffs numbers remained the same - we would have to assume then that there were other factors at play that made it so his Penguins never won. Lemieux would in actuality still be Lemieux - but you know darn well it would be a slight tarnish on his resume whether warranted or not.

I think that's an example of how dicey it gets when you start throwing that in to arguments - "Well player A won a Cup, and player B never did." Etc. You have to go much deeper in to it. Why did player A win? Why didn't player B win?

There's a ton of examples. Ron Francis is still Ron Francis, but he doesn't have any Cups if he doesn't get dealt to Pittsburgh. Joe Sakic is still Joe Sakic, but what if Colorado doesn't pull off that Patrick Roy trade?

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12-27-2012, 10:49 PM
  #36
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Considering the treatment Hasek gets around here by some, I flat out cannot believe the "his numbers stand on his own" crowd.

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12-27-2012, 11:11 PM
  #37
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Originally Posted by struckbyaparkedcar View Post
For stretches, yes, but not for his entire first seven years. Malkin/Malone were his most common linemates in 07-08 (with Colby Armstrong before injuries ruined him rounding out the top 3) and Malkin remained in his top three most common wingers into the next season. Additionally, I remain miffed that Kunitz, who has been a first liner for the past six seasons on two different teams and with five different centers keeps getting dumped on as not an "average top six player" in this thread and others, especially when each of those teams also has a Cup with him there.

Does Sid have his examples of producing with junk? Absolutely, but to act like he's been wandering in the desert with wingers incapable of doing anything right for his entire career is pretty asinine.
For the 1st 7 years Mario had a better supporting cast and opportunity to show his skill set than Sid has had go look at the season by season comparisons and line mates, PP personal.

Also take note that PP% was a little over 20% in Mario's 1st 7 years to Sid's 18% NHL wide.

Save % was .885 compared to .910

Different landscapes and Mario had zero defensive responsibilities in those years.

I'll say it again in terms of pure offensive skill Mario was the best but his other areas of the game were lacking and aside from those 2 seasons were the Pens stocked up on talent and experience and faced Minny and the hawks they didn't win a Cup again and part of it was Mario's incomplete game, contrast that to Federov's playoff excellence on both ends of the ice in the 90's

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12-27-2012, 11:20 PM
  #38
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Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
For sure.

JR with a cup.
Chelios with an extra cup.
Belfour likely wins the Smythe and sees a huge boost to his rep.
Bobby Smith for the Stars might be in the HHOF.

Another cup for Modano and Bellows, Broten might get a slight boost.

Larmer had a fine career and ended up with one cup but was an important player on that team and several other Hawk teams that were close.

For those that think cup counting doesn't matter look back at the lesser lights like George Armstrong who are in the HHOF for their playoff exploits (and cup wins) despite being less than extraordinary in their regular season careers.

I'm not saying that I agree with it but it seems to matter to the HHOF and many observers.

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12-27-2012, 11:24 PM
  #39
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Originally Posted by tjcurrie View Post
In actuality, he would still be the same player wouldn't he? Assuming his playoffs numbers remained the same - we would have to assume then that there were other factors at play that made it so his Penguins never won. Lemieux would in actuality still be Lemieux - but you know darn well it would be a slight tarnish on his resume whether warranted or not.

I think that's an example of how dicey it gets when you start throwing that in to arguments - "Well player A won a Cup, and player B never did." Etc. You have to go much deeper in to it. Why did player A win? Why didn't player B win?

There's a ton of examples. Ron Francis is still Ron Francis, but he doesn't have any Cups if he doesn't get dealt to Pittsburgh. Joe Sakic is still Joe Sakic, but what if Colorado doesn't pull off that Patrick Roy trade?
what you say is very true but it tends to be a pick and choose argument for certain players.

I mean if Glenn Anderson plays on a different team there is little chance of a HHOF berth but his playoff scoring, in an ideal situation, and 6 cups changes that. Wrongly IMO but that's the way it is.

Same with George Armstrong who was good but never close to great.

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12-28-2012, 01:35 AM
  #40
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You know, I think we are giving Mario a little too much credit here. Look, maybe he is still #4 all-time without the Cups. But those magical runs made him what he was too. No one would deny what he did in the regular season and it would be impossible to ignore, but there would be this huge elephant in the room when talking about Lemieux. No one can ever talk about Marcel Dionne without talking about his poor playoff showing. That is on a different level, but let's face it, there would be tons of questions facing a generational type player like Lemieux had he never won a Cup. Would he be considered a great leader? Would he be thought of as a guy who choked at the wrong time? Would there be character issues with him? Would he be depicted as being lazy?

I think we need to remember the way Mario was talked about before 1991. Immensely talented yes, and we all loved to watch him, but he hadn't done things that others before him had done like Gretzky, Messier, Lafleur, Orr, Howe, etc. That was a gigantic monkey on his back that I think we can't ignore. And if it was always lingering there to this day...............well who knows. With everyone of Orr, Lemieux and even Gretzky and Howe we can say "They could have won more Cups" but at least they won their share. What if Mario never wins? Then what?

There was always an unspoken stigma with Yzerman and even Bourque before they finally won. Can you imagine how much bigger that voice would be if Mario never accomplished this?

I don't really know if he drops a notch or not, but there might be some people who would put someone like Beliveau ahead of him just because Mario's lack of leadership compared to 10 Cups (and let's face it a HUGE contribution to them along with being among the clutch performers of all-time) just might intice enough people to slot Beliveau #4 for example. I really don't know because it's hard to say just how Mario would be perceived without his Cups.

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12-28-2012, 02:10 AM
  #41
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
You know, I think we are giving Mario a little too much credit here. Look, maybe he is still #4 all-time without the Cups. But those magical runs made him what he was too. No one would deny what he did in the regular season and it would be impossible to ignore, but there would be this huge elephant in the room when talking about Lemieux. No one can ever talk about Marcel Dionne without talking about his poor playoff showing. That is on a different level, but let's face it, there would be tons of questions facing a generational type player like Lemieux had he never won a Cup. Would he be considered a great leader? Would he be thought of as a guy who choked at the wrong time? Would there be character issues with him? Would he be depicted as being lazy?

I think we need to remember the way Mario was talked about before 1991. Immensely talented yes, and we all loved to watch him, but he hadn't done things that others before him had done like Gretzky, Messier, Lafleur, Orr, Howe, etc. That was a gigantic monkey on his back that I think we can't ignore. And if it was always lingering there to this day...............well who knows. With everyone of Orr, Lemieux and even Gretzky and Howe we can say "They could have won more Cups" but at least they won their share. What if Mario never wins? Then what?

There was always an unspoken stigma with Yzerman and even Bourque before they finally won. Can you imagine how much bigger that voice would be if Mario never accomplished this?

I don't really know if he drops a notch or not, but there might be some people who would put someone like Beliveau ahead of him just because Mario's lack of leadership compared to 10 Cups (and let's face it a HUGE contribution to them along with being among the clutch performers of all-time) just might intice enough people to slot Beliveau #4 for example. I really don't know because it's hard to say just how Mario would be perceived without his Cups.
I'm inclined to agree with much of this. I don't know if Lemieux drops from the top 4 or not, but he'd never be ranked higher than 4, that's for certain. What convincing arguement could you make for Lemieux over Gretzky if he doesn't ever win the cup? (IMO there's not really any convincing arguements for this already, but if he goes without ever winning one, there's really none at all).

A great example is Dan Marino in the NFL. At one time he had most the major passing records, but he never won a superbowl. The only time he made it, he lost to Montana and the 49ers, who beat them fairly handily, and Montana won superbowl MVP. Time and again I'd hear people say Marino was better, and every time someone would respond by saying that Montana had 4 rings, 3 superbowl MVPs, had never lost in the superbowl, never thrown an interception in the superbowl, and had beaten Dan Marino when he'd just come off his best season ever, in the superbowl. Its hard to convince people you're the best if you can't win a championship. Whether rightly or wrongly, some people will always point to the lack of championships as a sign you couldn't get it done in the clutch. And when you're being compared to someone who DID get it done, especially if they did it often, it's a hard sell indeed.

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12-28-2012, 02:57 AM
  #42
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
You know, I think we are giving Mario a little too much credit here. Look, maybe he is still #4 all-time without the Cups. But those magical runs made him what he was too. No one would deny what he did in the regular season and it would be impossible to ignore, but there would be this huge elephant in the room when talking about Lemieux. No one can ever talk about Marcel Dionne without talking about his poor playoff showing.
Did you read the OP? The assumption is that Lemieux scores at the same pace in the playoffs, so we're not talking about poor showing.

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12-28-2012, 06:55 AM
  #43
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I'm inclined to agree with much of this. I don't know if Lemieux drops from the top 4 or not, but he'd never be ranked higher than 4, that's for certain. What convincing arguement could you make for Lemieux over Gretzky if he doesn't ever win the cup? (IMO there's not really any convincing arguements for this already, but if he goes without ever winning one, there's really none at all).

A great example is Dan Marino in the NFL. At one time he had most the major passing records, but he never won a superbowl. The only time he made it, he lost to Montana and the 49ers, who beat them fairly handily, and Montana won superbowl MVP. Time and again I'd hear people say Marino was better, and every time someone would respond by saying that Montana had 4 rings, 3 superbowl MVPs, had never lost in the superbowl, never thrown an interception in the superbowl, and had beaten Dan Marino when he'd just come off his best season ever, in the superbowl. Its hard to convince people you're the best if you can't win a championship. Whether rightly or wrongly, some people will always point to the lack of championships as a sign you couldn't get it done in the clutch. And when you're being compared to someone who DID get it done, especially if they did it often, it's a hard sell indeed.

One thing Lemieux never had to do that Marino did was play against a dynasty team for the league championship. Granted Marino never got to the SB again, but damned if he didn't try. The Dolphins were on their way to the SB in 85-86, but they choked in the CF; they lost in 92 as well, but again came up against a dynasty team in the Bills. How does Lemieux fair if in 91 or 92 the Pens play an Oilers team with Gretzky? It could go either way. I am not a huge fan of cup counting, ie. Marcel Dionne, however, in 91 and 92, Lemieux was the definitive difference. Let us not forget, perhaps the strongest Pens team of the three lost in 93 to a very average NYI team. Is Lemieux at fault for this loss? Only partly. It takes the whole team to win. Marino had some of the worst supporting casts in football for years. Someday we might be saying similar things about Matthew Stafford and should we hold him directly responsible for the Lions failures the last two years? Makes me think of Barry Sanders too.

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12-28-2012, 07:21 AM
  #44
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Am I the only one who disagrees with the idea that in 91 & 92 the Pens were “the Team to beat”? I totally see it in 93, but not those 2 years. Were they among the top teams those 2 years? Sure, I buy that. But it’s not like the Pens were a juggernaut that could not be stopped, even when Mario was healthy (and I know he missed a lot of time in this period).

They had a great offense, with or without Mario, but they were not solid on the back end…at all (though to be fair, they did tighten up things in the playoffs). Anyone one of the Hawks, Kings, Flames (in 91), Habs, Bruins, Blues, Rangers (in 92 with Messier) were considered just as much a favourite as the Pens those 2 seasons.

I’m not just looking at Regular season points 20 years later either, this is absolutely how I remember it. Am I alone in this?

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12-28-2012, 07:51 AM
  #45
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One thing Lemieux never had to do that Marino did was play against a dynasty team for the league championship. Granted Marino never got to the SB again, but damned if he didn't try. The Dolphins were on their way to the SB in 85-86, but they choked in the CF; they lost in 92 as well, but again came up against a dynasty team in the Bills. How does Lemieux fair if in 91 or 92 the Pens play an Oilers team with Gretzky? It could go either way. I am not a huge fan of cup counting, ie. Marcel Dionne, however, in 91 and 92, Lemieux was the definitive difference. Let us not forget, perhaps the strongest Pens team of the three lost in 93 to a very average NYI team. Is Lemieux at fault for this loss? Only partly. It takes the whole team to win. Marino had some of the worst supporting casts in football for years. Someday we might be saying similar things about Matthew Stafford and should we hold him directly responsible for the Lions failures the last two years? Makes me think of Barry Sanders too.
As a Bills fan in the early 90's. That was NOT a dynasty. It was a very good team that made 4 Superbowl appearances.

But comparing football to hockey. Really you can not hold almost any SINGLE player responsible for winning or losing a championship with the exception of a Quarterback or a Goalie or a truly unbelievably dominant player like Mario or Gretzky. And clearly you need to have a good team around you to win too. Rarely you will see a goalie totally put a team on his back and win a championship like Roy in 86 and 93. To do this from outside the goal crease is even more rare. It is why it is silly to say... Sundin never won a Cup, he isn't that great. Or even Barry Sanders. You can not hold a single player responsible for winning a Cup. EXCEPT a player of Gretzky or Mario's caliber that literally plays almost half the game and is the best player on the ice. You can't expect even a Gretzky or Mario or Howe to win it every season but you have to expect over a career that last for 20 years that they would dominate a playoff at least a couple of times and win.

Even falling short you can make that impression. Mario only got to the finals twice. Gretzky was past his peak and had maybe his greatest playoff performance in 1993 to get a far weaker then the 80's Oiler's team to the finals.

If Mario had never won a Cup or had ridiculous 16 goal..34 and 44 point playoff years, he would not be as great. He might not be a unanimous 4th best ever, close to it though. Same with Orr. But Orr would be an even bigger failure had the Bruins not won 2 Cups as they dominated the NHL for 5 or 6 seasons.

The thing with Gretzky is... he really should have 4 Conn Smythe's. And easily could have 5 for each Oiler's final appearance. He should have been (and probably was) runner up to Roy in 1993. Messier should not have a Conn Smythe. Hextall should not have a Conn Smythe. I am not sure if it was voter fatigue (like when Jordan lost league MVPs to Barkley and Malone). Gretzky was an incredibly great playoff performer. Probably the best of all-time with the only others in the debate Roy and Rocket Richard.

If Mario did not have those 2 Cups... and the Gretzky-like 34 and 44 points in them. he is not even remotely close to Gretzky all-time. But he did. And millions watched Mario absolutely dominate the Playoffs. Appearing as the obviously best player on the ice by a wide margin. By a margin that made it appear he was on a different level then anyone else.

Recently I watched the last two games of the 1987 Canada Cup on TV. Or most of both games. It was astounding to the degree the Gretzky and Mario line seemed to dominate play and create chances and finish chances. They were on a clearly different level then their competition (The fearsome Soviets) and their teammates (mostly HHOFers). It was 2 games and they were close games, but it was obvious to me that they were just in another dimension. That is what it was like watching Mario and Gretzky... ALL THE TIME. If Mario had not been able to put it together and completely dominate a playoff (2 of them) then the dominance we saw in the regular season might be doubted. Everyone saw him dominate his entire career... get two points a game. Do pretty much whatever he wanted or needed to do to score. Fake Bourque out like he was a pilon for a fantastic goal. Score with a guy literally on his back from the blue line in. With the Stanley Cups and the sheer dominant play in winning those Cups... it leaves no real doubt. No real question marks. The what ifs with Mario largely disappear. Like they do with Orr. Orr and Mario were that good. Could dominate a regular season, a playoff, a best on best tournament. (Orr 1976). Younger and healthier they would win scoring titles... later with injuries and missing games... it is easy to fill in what would have been.

With Lindros, for example, he got injured and lost his dominance. Kariya, same thing. With Orr and Mario... because they had those championships and so much dominant play. There is no doubt. But also there is this huge gap between Gretzky and Howe... who both have among the longest and healthiest of careers and continued production throughout and short or injury plagued careers of the same caliber but half as long. So in a debate of best peak ever there can be debate for Mario and best career he can be 4th or in the big 4. But it is worth remembering that Gretzky had 6 Smythe Caliber 34+ point playoffs. Mario had 2 of them. Orr 2 of them. Howe led the playoffs in points 6 times.

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12-28-2012, 09:14 AM
  #46
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Bobby Smith for the Stars might be in the HHOF.

Another cup for Modano and Bellows, Broten might get a slight boost.

Larmer had a fine career and ended up with one cup but was an important player on that team and several other Hawk teams that were close.

For those that think cup counting doesn't matter look back at the lesser lights like George Armstrong who are in the HHOF for their playoff exploits (and cup wins) despite being less than extraordinary in their regular season careers.

I'm not saying that I agree with it but it seems to matter to the HHOF and many observers.
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what you say is very true but it tends to be a pick and choose argument for certain players.

I mean if Glenn Anderson plays on a different team there is little chance of a HHOF berth but his playoff scoring, in an ideal situation, and 6 cups changes that. Wrongly IMO but that's the way it is.

Same with George Armstrong who was good but never close to great.
Bang on on all accounts. It doesn't change what a truly player truly was, but without a doubt it adds or takes away from the shine on someone's resume. Guys can go from good to great to legends - depending on championships. Right or wrong that's how it is. Anderson with the Whalers or Blues etc is just a real good goal scoring winger and not in the HOF.

Mario with the Cups - "Amazing player."

Mario without the Cups - "Amazing player, but...."

Just the way it is.

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12-28-2012, 10:25 AM
  #47
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I'd still have him in the top 10 players of all-time but without the Cups he's not a top 4 player ever.

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12-28-2012, 10:44 AM
  #48
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Am I the only one who disagrees with the idea that in 91 & 92 the Pens were “the Team to beat”? I totally see it in 93, but not those 2 years. Were they among the top teams those 2 years? Sure, I buy that. But it’s not like the Pens were a juggernaut that could not be stopped, even when Mario was healthy (and I know he missed a lot of time in this period).

They had a great offense, with or without Mario, but they were not solid on the back end…at all (though to be fair, they did tighten up things in the playoffs). Anyone one of the Hawks, Kings, Flames (in 91), Habs, Bruins, Blues, Rangers (in 92 with Messier) were considered just as much a favourite as the Pens those 2 seasons.

I’m not just looking at Regular season points 20 years later either, this is absolutely how I remember it. Am I alone in this?
Maybe... but the Pens were stacked... they just missed Mario due to cancer and injuries. There were no real favorites then. Not like the dynasty Oiler days and the dominant Flyers teams. Were the Pens favourites? Perhaps not the first season. When defending the championship with Mario in thew playoffs? They were as much of a favourite as anyone. 91 and 92.... were years of relative parity.

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12-28-2012, 11:10 AM
  #49
tjcurrie
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Originally Posted by JaymzB View Post
Am I the only one who disagrees with the idea that in 91 & 92 the Pens were “the Team to beat”? I totally see it in 93, but not those 2 years. Were they among the top teams those 2 years? Sure, I buy that. But it’s not like the Pens were a juggernaut that could not be stopped, even when Mario was healthy (and I know he missed a lot of time in this period).

They had a great offense, with or without Mario, but they were not solid on the back end…at all (though to be fair, they did tighten up things in the playoffs). Anyone one of the Hawks, Kings, Flames (in 91), Habs, Bruins, Blues, Rangers (in 92 with Messier) were considered just as much a favourite as the Pens those 2 seasons.

I’m not just looking at Regular season points 20 years later either, this is absolutely how I remember it. Am I alone in this?
Well since they weren't stopped....

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12-28-2012, 12:22 PM
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Recently I watched the last two games of the 1987 Canada Cup on TV. Or most of both games. It was astounding to the degree the Gretzky and Mario line seemed to dominate play and create chances and finish chances. They were on a clearly different level then their competition (The fearsome Soviets) and their teammates (mostly HHOFers). It was 2 games and they were close games, but it was obvious to me that they were just in another dimension. That is what it was like watching Mario and Gretzky... ALL THE TIME.
excellent post.

the separation those two showed in those games, against that level of competition, was a treat, and probably something we won't see again anytime soon. And you're right, 99 & 66 were like that all the time in the NHL, regular season and playoffs. Internationally as well. The ability to play your best in playoffs and internationally is important, hardware is important as well.

But I would have a tough time discounting Mario's place in hockey if he hadn't one a cup, having played as well as he did for as long as he did.

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