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Does Gretzky or Lemieux Benefit More if the Other Never Existed?

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Old
03-30-2012, 12:27 PM
  #1
jigglysquishy
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Gretzky without Lemieux

Gretzky and Lemieux provide a unique example of hockey icons with overlapping careers. Of the 4 established all-time greats (Howe, Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux) only two of them had overlapping careers and thus provide the context for diminishing the other's reputation.

Its common to consider Gretzky either the greatest of all time or second greatest of all time after Orr. But let's play out the scenario where Lemieux never played professional hockey. Here is what the history books would show if Lemieux never played in the NHL.

Let's talk Art Rosses. This is really where Gretzky dominated the most. He already accumulated 10 of them, but without Lemieux he would have a few more.

1987-1988 Gretzky finished second to Lemieux. Thus, another Gretzky Art Ross.
1988-1989 Gretzky finished second to Lemieux. Thus, another Gretzky Art Ross.
1991-1992 Gretzky finished third to Lemieux and Lemieux teammate Kevin Stevens. Its not a leap of faith to stay that Stevens would finish below Gretzky without Lemieux. Thus, another Gretzky Art Ross.

This bumps Gretzky's Art Ross total to 13. Second place is Gordie Howe with 6. Gretzky would have won 12 in a row. That's every single Art Ross from 1980-1981 to 1991-1992. Couple this with a tie in 1979-1980 and he literally would become the best scorer every year for the entire 80s.

The Hart Trophy is another place where Gretzky lost to Lemieux.

The 1987-1988 Hart Trophy surely goes to Gretzky. Thus bumping his totals to 10. All 10 are in a row.

How about individual season point totals? Let's look at a Lemieux list of the best season finishes.

Rank Name Season Points
1 Wayne Gretzky 1985-1986 215
2 Wayne Gretzky 1981-1982 212
3 Wayne Gretzky 1984-1985 208
4 Wayne Gretzky 1983-1984 205
5 Wayne Gretzky 1982-1983 196
6 Wayne Gretzky 1986-1987 183
7 Wayne Gretzky 1988-1989 168
8 Wayne Gretzky 1980-1981 164
9 Wayne Gretzky 1990-1991 163
10 Steve Yzerman 1988-1989 155
11 Phil Esposito 1970-1971 152
12 Bernie Nicholls 1988-1989 150
13 Wayne Gretzky 1987-1988 149

Gretzky would own the top 9 all time best seasons as well as 13, 19 and 23. He would be the only player to have scored more than 160 points in a season and he did it 9 times.

When it comes to assists Gretzky would own the top 11 seasons and only he and Bobby Orr would have hit 100 assists in a season. He would also be the only player to hit 110 assists


I was initially going to make this thread about Gretzky holding Lemieux back, but in reality it was more Lemieux's body that did the damage. We already think of Gretzky as the best player of all time. He managed all these crazy things with a top-4 player of all time playing at the same time. Without Lemieux Gretzky's numbers go from insane to unbelievable.

This raises some interesting questions. How does Steve Yzerman's reputation go up being the only person to approach Gretzky's numbers? Do the Pens move? What happens to Jagr without Lemieux to guide him?

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03-30-2012, 01:01 PM
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MadLuke
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Wayne without Lemieux and vice versa would just have made them unreal.

Because people will not have the impression that other great player of other would have been close to 200 points like them, and the offensive gap with the rest of the world would have been obviously greater.

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03-30-2012, 01:23 PM
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How about Lemieux without Gretzky? Lemieux would have been seen as the greatest scorer of all time by quite a large margin.

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03-30-2012, 01:25 PM
  #4
MadLuke
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Originally Posted by johnman10 View Post
How about Lemieux without Gretzky? Lemieux would have been seen as the greatest scorer of all time by quite a large margin.
And probably GOAT (and vice versa)

Lemieux and Gretzky hurt themself when comparing them to Orr/Howe because the other one exist and the 200 points season is not as special as if nobody else would have done 160 ever.

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03-30-2012, 01:36 PM
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jigglysquishy
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Originally Posted by johnman10 View Post
How about Lemieux without Gretzky? Lemieux would have been seen as the greatest scorer of all time by quite a large margin.
Lemieux without Gretzky results in only 1 extra Art Ross and maybe 2 extra Hart. Gretzky's trophy cabinet was hurt more by Lemieux than Lemieux was by Gretzky.

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03-30-2012, 01:43 PM
  #6
MadLuke
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Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
Lemieux without Gretzky results in only 1 extra Art Ross and maybe 2 extra Hart. Gretzky's trophy cabinet was hurt more by Lemieux than Lemieux was by Gretzky.
Yeah prime and trophy result, but we talk about best offensive season of all time wise.
Lemieux 160 points in 60 would have seen greater if 153 in 51 of Wayne was not done before IMO.

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02-23-2013, 09:24 PM
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If Gretzky/Lemieux didn't exist, how would we think of the other?

Let's start with Gretzky not existing, since I think that's where we'll see the most movement. Obviously without 99 setting even higher standards, Lemieux's career looks a lot more impressive. He would have an offensive peak which has never been approached by any other player. He would hold records for assists and points in a season (though not goals), and GPG, APG, and PPG averages in a single season. He'd have more awards as well. But he'd still have the missed games/seasons, the cancer, etc. Would that change how we rank him?

And then if it weren't for Lemieux, Gretzky's offensive dominance would look even more impressive. He wouldn't have many (any?) more records, but those he set wouldn't even be approached by anyone ever. Without Lemieux hitting 199 pts, Gretzky's next closest competitor is Yzerman at 155. He'd have a few more awards too, just like Lemieux. But would it matter?

I guess what I'm wondering is this: most of us rate these players based on our own personal preferences. Those who rate Orr above either sometimes say there were no Dmen in Orr's league, but Gretzky/Lemieux were in each others. Maybe the lack of one would help the others' case, but realistically I doubt it. For people who rank Orr and/or Howe above them, the gaudy numbers of points clearly don't matter anyways. So I don't think that would change anything. Those people clearly are judging on complete game, defensive awareness, etc. For those who rank Gretzky or Lemieux at the top, they already rank that player as the best, so clearly eliminating the other can't help their position as they're already #1 on those lists.

What do you guys think? Would it make a difference at all, or is our rating of players so individualized, and so often based on immeasurable intangibles, that their relation to one another doesn't make a difference?

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02-23-2013, 10:56 PM
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For me, it has always been either Orr or Gretzky at the top of the list. I believe Orr changed the game maybe more than any other player in history and his accomplishments are so astounding, maybe more so than Gretzky's because he was a d-man. However, I never saw Orr play; I saw Gretzky on TV weekly and live a number of times from the beginning of his NHL career. I rank Gretzky ahead of Orr because of my personal experience watching him. Despite the amount of video out there on Orr or even the other greats, my bias is for the players I saw live. That is why I believe we should strongly consider our elders views who had the experience of seeing far more players before my eyes opened.

As for your original question, I don't think Lemieux gets the same treatment as Gretzky if there is no Gretzky. From my understanding, it took A LOT for Gretzky to unseat Orr as the greatest ever. Orr was Canada's favorite and still is for many. Gretzky had a league of doubters from the beginning and they still exist today. My theory for this is that Gretzky was judged so hard because he just didn't look the part (his boyish looks and weak frame) and his expressiveness. He enjoyed himself on the ice and celebrated almost every goal like he would never score another one. Players before him rarely smiled, never mind celebrated, unless it was a huge goal. Orr was seen as classy because when he scored he put his head down and skated back to his own end. I believe a lot of people were very uncomfortable with Gretzky's enthusiasm after he scored. I think they saw it as gloating. He changed the culture of hockey in this sense too. He gave permission for many players to enjoy themselves.

Finally, Gretzky embraced every opportunity he was given to be in the limelight. Not that he was looking for it. It just followed him and he handled it so well. He just knew how to have fun. Lemieux avoided the limelight for the most part, especially early in his career. He was often seen as aloof, arrogant and misunderstood. I think this quality has enhanced Gretzky's reputation as the best ever. If there ever was a player that hockey was waiting for to transcend the game in so many ways, Gretzky was it.

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Old
02-23-2013, 11:13 PM
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vadim sharifijanov
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if there is no mario, gretzky wins 13 straight scoring championships (counting the one where he tied dionne and assuming kevin stevens doesn't outscore him by two points in '92 without mario).

hard to build on gretzky's legacy beyond what it already is, but that's ridiculous. 10 straight MVPs too.

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Old
02-23-2013, 11:32 PM
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Whitout Mario, WAyne look even more like an ET stats wise.

Maybe people would event more go on on explaination about the oilers and how it would be impossible for a person not in that situation to do 200 points and explain the 50 points point that Yzerman by team factor (1989 Mario....)

But probably that is legacy will be even better.

Without Wayne, if mario to the same as he did, it would maybe be number one in people mind, but maybe without playing with WAyne in 1987 and wayne presence he do not push as much as he did and be happy with normal 140 points art ross seasons.

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02-24-2013, 12:43 AM
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Big Phil
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It has been said that Gretzky dominated a league of superstars and the only time someone caught up to him was when another once in a lifetime player hit his prime. Without Lemieux the only player to be within breathing distance of Gretzky for an entire decade would be a 1989 Yzerman. It would take until a back injury in 1992-'93 before Gretzky loses his scoring titles. Imagine that, a player needs a serious injury to finally be knocked off his pedestal.

I've always thought the player that would have benefitted from no Gretzky the most isn't Yzerman or Hawerchuk or Messier. I think it's Bossy. All of the sudden he racks up some nice hardware.

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02-24-2013, 02:02 AM
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Something I hadn't thought about until now, is if we eliminate Lemieux, then Yzerman is the next closest to Gretzky at 155. Then Espo, but many would discount that as being a by-product of Orr (the way they already seem to do, mistakenly IMO). But then is Nichols... playing with Gretzky. After that we have Jagr at 149, but without Mario he probably scores a bit less. Point is, not only does Gretzky's dominance look even worse, but the effect he had on Nichols, already discussed on these boards to great lengths, looks even more profound as he stands only 5 points short of Yzerman's best season.

I thought originally the absence of one or the other wouldn't change people's opinions, and maybe it wouldn't. But it would probably solidify the opinions of those who already hold these players as being #1.

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02-24-2013, 03:08 AM
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Gretzky would be more dominant if Lemieux didnt exist, but orr's accomplishments are still more impressive. Defensemen never win the hart anymore because they will always be compared to Orr. The peaks of Potvin, Bourque, Kelly would be held in a very high regard if Orr never existed. I feel Bourque gets shafted on all time lists because his peak isnt in 'Orr's universe'. His longevity is just as impressive as Howe's.

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02-24-2013, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ushvinder View Post
Gretzky would be more dominant if Lemieux didnt exist, but orr's accomplishments are still more impressive. Defensemen never win the hart anymore because they will always be compared to Orr. The peaks of Potvin, Bourque, Kelly would be held in a very high regard if Orr never existed. I feel Bourque gets shafted on all time lists because his peak isnt in 'Orr's universe'. His longevity is just as impressive as Howe's.
I bet Orr is not the reason defensemen does'nt win the Hart, the Norris is. Look at Orr's number of Harts and that gets evident.

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02-24-2013, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ushvinder View Post
Gretzky would be more dominant if Lemieux didnt exist, but orr's accomplishments are still more impressive. Defensemen never win the hart anymore because they will always be compared to Orr. The peaks of Potvin, Bourque, Kelly would be held in a very high regard if Orr never existed. I feel Bourque gets shafted on all time lists because his peak isnt in 'Orr's universe'. His longevity is just as impressive as Howe's.
No one compares defenders to Orr in Hart voting. At least, I don't remember anyone in 2000 saying "Wow! That Chris Pronger fella just equalled Bobby Orr..."

Should we also give Orr credit for defenders winning 0 Harts in the quarter century between WW2 and Orr's 1970 Hart?

Perhaps it's generally assumed that great forwards have more of an impact than a great defender.

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02-24-2013, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by blogofmike View Post
No one compares defenders to Orr in Hart voting. At least, I don't remember anyone in 2000 saying "Wow! That Chris Pronger fella just equalled Bobby Orr..."

Should we also give Orr credit for defenders winning 0 Harts in the quarter century between WW2 and Orr's 1970 Hart?

Perhaps it's generally assumed that great forwards have more of an impact than a great defender.
Right. Not to mention how often SHOULD a defenseman have won the Hart? Harvey had a pretty good voting record for the Hart but I am not sure he was robbed at all. Maybe Kelly could have won in 1954. No chance for Pilote. Then Orr shows up. The only time you could argue Potvin may have been 1979 but Trottier won it instead. Robinson in 1977? Hard to overlook Lafleur. Coffey would never have overtaken Gretzky. Bourque in 1990 and we've all debated and agreed that he could and perhaps should have very easily won the Hart. Lidstrom never had a year that he should have won it either. That leaves who? Green? Weber? Karlsson? Chara? I have no problem with Pronger's Hart in 2000, but he wasn't robbed of it another time.

Lots of great all-time defensemen but there is rarely a year they were robbed over a forward.

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02-24-2013, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by blogofmike View Post
No one compares defenders to Orr in Hart voting. At least, I don't remember anyone in 2000 saying "Wow! That Chris Pronger fella just equalled Bobby Orr..."

Should we also give Orr credit for defenders winning 0 Harts in the quarter century between WW2 and Orr's 1970 Hart?

Perhaps it's generally assumed that great forwards have more of an impact than a great defender.
There are many teams that make the playoffs despite having no great forwards and simply building around thier defenseman and goaltenders, 'all offense' teams in the modern era either don't make the playoffs or get bounced out rather quickly.

The goals for/goals against ratio statistics point to Orr having the best impact and a player like bourque/potvin having a bigger impact than forwards that are considered on thier level.

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02-24-2013, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Right. Not to mention how often SHOULD a defenseman have won the Hart? Harvey had a pretty good voting record for the Hart but I am not sure he was robbed at all. Maybe Kelly could have won in 1954. No chance for Pilote. Then Orr shows up. The only time you could argue Potvin may have been 1979 but Trottier won it instead. Robinson in 1977? Hard to overlook Lafleur. Coffey would never have overtaken Gretzky. Bourque in 1990 and we've all debated and agreed that he could and perhaps should have very easily won the Hart. Lidstrom never had a year that he should have won it either. That leaves who? Green? Weber? Karlsson? Chara? I have no problem with Pronger's Hart in 2000, but he wasn't robbed of it another time.

Lots of great all-time defensemen but there is rarely a year they were robbed over a forward.
Its pretty hard to determine that since very few people here have seen a full season worth of games from the 1950's and 1960's, so the only way defenseman would be judged is based on how they appear on a stat sheet. Which wouldnt make sense because defenseman didnt join the rush in that era and scoring was way lower. Harvey is usually viewed as more valuable to the habs dynasty than beliveau, and in some of Gordie Howe's best years, Red Kelly got more hart votes than him.

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02-24-2013, 05:36 PM
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It has been said that Gretzky dominated a league of superstars and the only time someone caught up to him was when another once in a lifetime player hit his prime. Without Lemieux the only player to be within breathing distance of Gretzky for an entire decade would be a 1989 Yzerman. It would take until a back injury in 1992-'93 before Gretzky loses his scoring titles. Imagine that, a player needs a serious injury to finally be knocked off his pedestal.

I've always thought the player that would have benefitted from no Gretzky the most isn't Yzerman or Hawerchuk or Messier. I think it's Bossy. All of the sudden he racks up some nice hardware.
Without Gretzky, Bossy is the guy who gains the most. And the Islanders might have another cup or two. Without Gretzky and Lemieux it's Yzerman. Suddenly he becomes the highest scorer from 1980-2000. Messier doesn't have anywhere near the same points (or career in my opinion) and Jagr suffers as well. I think a lot of those Oiler players would fall down signficantly in points actually and Yzerman would look that much more dominant.


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02-24-2013, 11:20 PM
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People tend to forget a man who pretty much dominated the 1980's and I'm surprised no one has menetioned him yet. Peter Stastny who had the most points behind Wayne during the 1980's. He's def get more ink then he currently get in the press or on this forum for that matter.

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02-25-2013, 05:10 PM
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Its pretty hard to determine that since very few people here have seen a full season worth of games from the 1950's and 1960's, so the only way defenseman would be judged is based on how they appear on a stat sheet. Which wouldnt make sense because defenseman didnt join the rush in that era and scoring was way lower. Harvey is usually viewed as more valuable to the habs dynasty than beliveau, and in some of Gordie Howe's best years, Red Kelly got more hart votes than him.
That's why you can judge them on their Hart votes at that time which the writers would have seen with their own eyes. It's pretty relevant I think. When you consider the dominant forwards that have been spread out in NHL history (Richard, Howe, Beliveau, Hull, Mikita, Esposito, Lafleur, Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin) it comes as no surprise that there wasn't often room for a defender to win the Hart. Even right now today, Karlsson wins the Norris and all, but I don't know anyone who thought he got robbed of the Hart. Malkin was plain and simply just that much better.

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02-25-2013, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Lafleurs Guy View Post
Without Gretzky, Bossy is the guy who gains the most. And the Islanders might have another cup or two. Without Gretzky and Lemieux it's Yzerman. Suddenly he becomes the highest scorer from 1980-2000. Messier doesn't have anywhere near the same points (or career in my opinion) and Jagr suffers as well. I think a lot of those Oiler players would fall down signficantly in points actually and Yzerman would look that much more dominant.
The problem I have with that is that Bossy was done in by a bad back which ended his career prematurely. Had he not had back issues, I would have agreed with you. In that absence, I have to agree with people who said Stevie Y. A better question to ask is: If Orr or Bossy had not had injuries force them out of hockey before the age of 31, would Gretzky still be considered the best ever, especially with how Bossy is arguably the best pure goal scorer ever and how Orr revolutionized the defenseman position?

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Originally Posted by connellc View Post
People tend to forget a man who pretty much dominated the 1980's and I'm surprised no one has menetioned him yet. Peter Stastny who had the most points behind Wayne during the 1980's. He's def get more ink then he currently get in the press or on this forum for that matter.
Thanks for that reminder. He is one of only 3 players (Gretzky is one of the others) to have 1,000 points in the 1980s decade. If he had defected before he turned 23, one can only imagine the records he could have set.

As for the original question, if one didn't exist, I think that the other is seen as greater by a long measure. If it was Gretzky not existing, then Lemieux's records look even more impressive given that he battled injuries and cancer. If it was Super Mario not existing, I think that Bossy or Stevie Y benefits the most.


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02-25-2013, 08:04 PM
  #23
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The problem I have with that is that Bossy was done in by a bad back which ended his career prematurely. Had he not had back issues, I would have agreed with you. In that absence, I have to agree with people who said Stevie Y. A better question to ask is: If Orr or Bossy had not had injuries force them out of hockey before the age of 31, would Gretzky still be considered the best ever, especially with how Bossy is arguably the best pure goal scorer ever and how Orr revolutionized the defenseman position?
Bossy is not a threat to be considered the best ever.

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02-25-2013, 09:28 PM
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That's why you can judge them on their Hart votes at that time which the writers would have seen with their own eyes. It's pretty relevant I think. When you consider the dominant forwards that have been spread out in NHL history (Richard, Howe, Beliveau, Hull, Mikita, Esposito, Lafleur, Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin) it comes as no surprise that there wasn't often room for a defender to win the Hart. Even right now today, Karlsson wins the Norris and all, but I don't know anyone who thought he got robbed of the Hart. Malkin was plain and simply just that much better.
Well back then the writers only saw full seasons of games for thier home team as technology wasnt as advanced back then, also if hart voting is the end all to be all, it suggests that Howe's 1951 and 1954 seasons werent that great, howe still ends up with 6 harts, but his peak becomes far more 'mortal-esque'. Bascally a bobby hull-beliveau with freakish longevity. If you want to agree with everything they say, kelly, richard and schmidt were better than howe in some of his 'art ross' seasons.

I dont think karlsson deserved the hart at all. Bourque in 1990 and Potvin in 1979 are two season where the defenseman should have won the hart. Trottiers' decline in the following season when potvin gets injured shows who was the true glue of that team. Pronger only won it in 2000 because don cherry whined and complained about lack of recognition for defenseman.


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03-24-2013, 11:49 PM
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Gretzky or Lemieux, who had better D?

Simple question.

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