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Who is the 5th best NHL player of all time?

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03-06-2013, 01:43 AM
  #276
Morgoth Bauglir
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Originally Posted by TANK200 View Post
You guys are getting too hung up on this whole top 5 all-time thing (yea, I know that's the title of the thread). Let's pretend for a minute that I suggested Crosby is only the 6th or 7th best player of all time. The point that I am trying to highlight is that there is a clear bias against outstanding players of the current era. Many people happily rank Richard-Hull-Beliveau-Harvey as 5 through 8 on an all-time list, while they scoff at the very idea that a current player could even be considered in the top 20.
NHL hockey has been around for 95 years. The vast majority of players who played in the NHL played before the "current era". Why is it so surprising that the vast majority of top-10, top-20, top-100 players came from earlier eras since those players greatly outnumber those from the current era? Why does a member of the top-5 have to come from this particular era as opposed to any other era? These things aren't done on a quota afterall.

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03-06-2013, 01:48 AM
  #277
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Originally Posted by TANK200 View Post
You guys are getting too hung up on this whole top 5 all-time thing (yea, I know that's the title of the thread). Let's pretend for a minute that I suggested Crosby is only the 6th or 7th best player of all time. The point that I am trying to highlight is that there is a clear bias against outstanding players of the current era. Many people happily rank Richard-Hull-Beliveau-Harvey as 5 through 8 on an all-time list, while they scoff at the very idea that a current player could even be considered in the top 20.
Most of the posters here are dead set against future projection in ranking players, partly because of how embarrassing Lindros' high position looks on THN's top 100 list from 1998.

If Sidney Crosby suffered a career-ending injury today and never played another game, would his career be better than Peter Forsberg's?

I mean, I see your point that people are all too happy to rank 4 O6 players as 5-8, but aren't we also happy to rank 2 centers who were both at their peaks in the late 80s in the top 4?

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03-06-2013, 02:06 AM
  #278
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
...If Sidney Crosby suffered a career-ending injury today and never played another game, would his career be better than Peter Forsberg's?

I mean, I see your point that people are all too happy to rank 4 O6 players as 5-8, but aren't we also happy to rank 2 centers who were both at their peaks in the late 80s in the top 4?
No. Yes. Doug Harvey is #5.

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03-06-2013, 07:49 AM
  #279
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Originally Posted by TANK200 View Post
You guys are getting too hung up on this whole top 5 all-time thing (yea, I know that's the title of the thread). Let's pretend for a minute that I suggested Crosby is only the 6th or 7th best player of all time. The point that I am trying to highlight is that there is a clear bias against outstanding players of the current era. Many people happily rank Richard-Hull-Beliveau-Harvey as 5 through 8 on an all-time list, while they scoff at the very idea that a current player could even be considered in the top 20.
As TDMM said, many of us are very wary about projections for active players who are still early in their careers. I suspect if we did a Top 20 list right now, Jagr and Lidstrom would both place in it, giving two players who have played recently in the Top 20 (and another who played post-lockout, Hasek, would be there as well).

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03-06-2013, 04:45 PM
  #280
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Originally Posted by Epsilon View Post
As TDMM said, many of us are very wary about projections for active players who are still early in their careers. I suspect if we did a Top 20 list right now, Jagr and Lidstrom would both place in it, giving two players who have played recently in the Top 20 (and another who played post-lockout, Hasek, would be there as well).
I place Hasek 7th (first among G), Jagr 9th (second among RW), and Lidstrom 10th (second among D) on my All-Time list personally.

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03-07-2013, 12:00 PM
  #281
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Jean Beliveau


It's a no-brainer, gents

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03-07-2013, 12:10 PM
  #282
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Originally Posted by SaintPatrick33 View Post
NHL hockey has been around for 95 years. The vast majority of players who played in the NHL played before the "current era". Why is it so surprising that the vast majority of top-10, top-20, top-100 players came from earlier eras since those players greatly outnumber those from the current era? Why does a member of the top-5 have to come from this particular era as opposed to any other era? These things aren't done on a quota afterall.
The funny thing is that the sport has progressed so much since that time that you could make an argument for a ton of players in this era being actually better than those players. They might not have as successful careers, but they are better players.

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03-07-2013, 12:17 PM
  #283
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The funny thing is that the sport has progressed so much since that time that you could make an argument for a ton of players in this era being actually better than those players. They might not have as successful careers, but they are better players.
Going by the criteria of "Actual ability" rather than the normal standard of "Performance v. peers", it's likely that of the top 100 players ever, 75 or more played after 1990.

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03-07-2013, 01:37 PM
  #284
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Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Going by the criteria of "Actual ability" rather than the normal standard of "Performance v. peers", it's likely that of the top 100 players ever, 75 or more played after 1990.
I see this parroted a lot, and I think it's nonsense, unless you think 40 year old Ray Bourque was significantly better than 20 year old Ray Bourque. If players are sooooo much better now, how could some relic from the 1980s be a First Team All Star in 2000-01 at the age of 40?

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03-07-2013, 01:40 PM
  #285
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Originally Posted by Cujomi View Post
The funny thing is that the sport has progressed so much since that time that you could make an argument for a ton of players in this era being actually better than those players. They might not have as successful careers, but they are better players.
Cujomi, you may be interested in this post:
http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...php?p=20296230

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03-07-2013, 01:52 PM
  #286
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I see this parroted a lot, and I think it's nonsense, unless you think 40 year old Ray Bourque was significantly better than 20 year old Ray Bourque. If players are sooooo much better now, how could some relic from the 1980s be a First Team All Star in 2000-01 at the age of 40?
Ray Bourque is an exception. Not only did he have elite talent, he also had elite longevity.

Let's compare him to another all-time great defenseman who retired nine years prior. Larry Robinson. Robinson is almost nine years older than Bourque, so they have comparable length of career. Bourque was a Norris contender right up until the end. How did Robinson fare? Bourque was clearly better at their best, but the gap was even larger in their last few seasons than in their best seasons.

Of course, Robinson would be one of the 75+ players as he retired in 1992, assuming he makes the list.

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03-07-2013, 02:26 PM
  #287
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Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Ray Bourque is an exception. Not only did he have elite talent, he also had elite longevity.

Let's compare him to another all-time great defenseman who retired nine years prior. Larry Robinson. Robinson is almost nine years older than Bourque, so they have comparable length of career. Bourque was a Norris contender right up until the end. How did Robinson fare? Bourque was clearly better at their best, but the gap was even larger in their last few seasons than in their best seasons.

Of course, Robinson would be one of the 75+ players as he retired in 1992, assuming he makes the list.
This doesn't disprove his point at all.

If the league was magically getting better all the time then after 2 decades a Gordie Howe should not be capable of being top 5 in scoring and a Raymond Bourque should not be capable of being a 1st team all-star.

Obviously the existence of players like those two and even more recently Nik Lidstrom being a Norris threat at ~40 means that the players being bigger faster better crowd has some splaining to do.

(I'll save you the trouble, it isn't true except maybe at the average level.. and who cares about them?)

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03-07-2013, 02:34 PM
  #288
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in terms of skill?

Forsberg

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03-07-2013, 02:37 PM
  #289
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Larry Robinson

Quote:
Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Ray Bourque is an exception. Not only did he have elite talent, he also had elite longevity.

Let's compare him to another all-time great defenseman who retired nine years prior. Larry Robinson. Robinson is almost nine years older than Bourque, so they have comparable length of career. Bourque was a Norris contender right up until the end. How did Robinson fare? Bourque was clearly better at their best, but the gap was even larger in their last few seasons than in their best seasons.

Of course, Robinson would be one of the 75+ players as he retired in 1992, assuming he makes the list.
Larry Robinson suffered a career threatening broken leg playing polo circa 1987 so your comparison is rather lame.

Let's look at:
Chris Chelios - 17 seasons between 1st AST selections 1985/2002.
Martin Brodeur - comparable seasons at age 21 and 39.

Then you have Gordie Howe:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/players/h/howego01.html

2nd team AST in 1949, 1st AST in 1970. 1980 at age 51 had better PPG numbers against Ray Bourque and his contemporaries then he produced at age 18 in the O6 NHL.

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03-07-2013, 04:43 PM
  #290
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It's a no-brainer, gents
I suggest you change the username from Yamaguchi to No-Brainer since you seem to love that word so much, gent.

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03-07-2013, 06:27 PM
  #291
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Ray Bourque is an exception. Not only did he have elite talent, he also had elite longevity.

Let's compare him to another all-time great defenseman who retired nine years prior. Larry Robinson. Robinson is almost nine years older than Bourque, so they have comparable length of career. Bourque was a Norris contender right up until the end. How did Robinson fare? Bourque was clearly better at their best, but the gap was even larger in their last few seasons than in their best seasons.

Of course, Robinson would be one of the 75+ players as he retired in 1992, assuming he makes the list.
I thought that's what we were talking about here, exceptional players.

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03-07-2013, 07:04 PM
  #292
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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
This doesn't disprove his point at all.

If the league was magically getting better all the time then after 2 decades a Gordie Howe should not be capable of being top 5 in scoring and a Raymond Bourque should not be capable of being a 1st team all-star.

Obviously the existence of players like those two and even more recently Nik Lidstrom being a Norris threat at ~40 means that the players being bigger faster better crowd has some splaining to do.

(I'll save you the trouble, it isn't true except maybe at the average level.. and who cares about them?)
Basically this. The average 4th liner today is much better than the average 4th liner in the 1980s, but who cares about them, especially in this thread where we are talking about the 5th best player of all time? Guys like Gordie Howe, and Ray Bourque, and more recently Nicklas Lidstrom show that the elite talent can be successful 20 years after they got started if their bodies hold up.

Anyway, this is probably best saved for the "players of today vs players of yesterday" catch-all thread.

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03-07-2013, 08:00 PM
  #293
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Basically this. The average 4th liner today is much better than the average 4th liner in the 1980s, but who cares about them, especially in this thread where we are talking about the 5th best player of all time? Guys like Gordie Howe, and Ray Bourque, and more recently Nicklas Lidstrom show that the elite talent can be successful 20 years after they got started if their bodies hold up.

Anyway, this is probably best saved for the "players of today vs players of yesterday" catch-all thread.
The bolded statement is part of where I'm making my point. While not true throughout history, for most of the past 45 years third-pair defense and fourth-line (and even third-line) forwards were well below "par" in ability. The primary driver of the scoring differential between the 1980s and now or the DPE is depth forwards and scoring from defensemen. If we can agree that depth forwards and defensemen are better nowadays, doesn't that lead to a conclusion that by extension, the top tier forwards are likely to be better players than their counterparts as well.

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This doesn't disprove his point at all.

If the league was magically getting better all the time then after 2 decades a Gordie Howe should not be capable of being top 5 in scoring and a Raymond Bourque should not be capable of being a 1st team all-star.

Obviously the existence of players like those two and even more recently Nik Lidstrom being a Norris threat at ~40 means that the players being bigger faster better crowd has some splaining to do.

(I'll save you the trouble, it isn't true except maybe at the average level.. and who cares about them?)
Here's some 'splainin' for you.

Ray Bourque is one of the four best defensemen of all-time. He was a first-team or second-team all-star seventeen straight times from the start of his career (nineteen total). Other guys who were near Bourque's age and among the top Norris vote-getters in the late-90s/early-00s: Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis. Outside of that group of HHOFers - all of whom are legendary for their staying power - the guys getting Norris votes in the late 90s/early 2000s were guys who played their primes in the 90s or after. Without Bourque and those four from 96-97 on, the Norris trophy and AS teams are affected as is bolded below (if you assume the order of finish in the voting would have stayed the same):

YearNorris winnerFinalists1st AS2nd AS
96-97LeetchKonstantinov, OzolinshLeetch/OzolinshKonstantinov/Lidstrom
97-98BlakeLidstrom, ProngerLidstrom/BlakePronger/Niedermayer
98-99LidstromPronger, DesjardinsLidstrom/ProngerDesjardins/Leetch
99-00ProngerLidstrom, BlakePronger/LidstromBlake/Desjardins
00-01LidstromBlake, LeetchLidstrom/BlakeLeetch/Gonchar
01-02LidstromBlake, GoncharLidstrom/BlakeGonchar/Pronger
02-03LidstromHatcher, GoncharLidstrom/GoncharHatcher/Blake

I took out all of those defensemen, and there's still barely a mention of Niedermayer, but nothing more than he already had.

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03-07-2013, 08:02 PM
  #294
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I thought that's what we were talking about here, exceptional players.
Ok. Name me five players who entered the league among the best at their position, played two decades, and left as one of the best at said position.

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03-07-2013, 08:06 PM
  #295
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Consider

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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Basically this. The average 4th liner today is much better than the average 4th liner in the 1980s, but who cares about them, especially in this thread where we are talking about the 5th best player of all time? Guys like Gordie Howe, and Ray Bourque, and more recently Nicklas Lidstrom show that the elite talent can be successful 20 years after they got started if their bodies hold up.

Anyway, this is probably best saved for the "players of today vs players of yesterday" catch-all thread.
Consider the following 2012-13 4th line, Canadiens Colby Armstrong, Ryan White, Travis Moen combined 61 GP 3G 5A.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...thibagi01.html

1988-89 Gilles Thibaudeau, effectively the 5th or 6th center outscored them in 32 games

1984-85 Mike McPhee 4th line LW behind Gainey, Naslund, Walter generated 70GP 17G 22A.

Effectively today the 4th line plays app 10 minutes with little offensive production while playing against the opponents 4th line so it is a wash for the most part.

Problem is that they are playing with the top pairing defensemen on their team and suppressing the offensive numbers of such defensemen, impacting how they will be viewesd in an all-time context. Likewise the opposite happens, they do not challenge the other teams goalies and defensemen to the same degree that previous generations 4th liners did, so the goalies and defensemen look better by comparison.

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03-08-2013, 12:03 AM
  #296
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Consider the following 2012-13 4th line, Canadiens Colby Armstrong, Ryan White, Travis Moen combined 61 GP 3G 5A.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...thibagi01.html

1988-89 Gilles Thibaudeau, effectively the 5th or 6th center outscored them in 32 games

1984-85 Mike McPhee 4th line LW behind Gainey, Naslund, Walter generated 70GP 17G 22A.

Effectively today the 4th line plays app 10 minutes with little offensive production while playing against the opponents 4th line so it is a wash for the most part.

Problem is that they are playing with the top pairing defensemen on their team and suppressing the offensive numbers of such defensemen, impacting how they will be viewesd in an all-time context. Likewise the opposite happens, they do not challenge the other teams goalies and defensemen to the same degree that previous generations 4th liners did, so the goalies and defensemen look better by comparison.
Without commenting on defensemen, the goalies (in general) are better. Significantly. You don't see a guy come down the wing on a breakaway and take an unscreened slapshot and just plain beat the goalie. It doesn't happen. It used to happen ALL THE TIME. As someone who started watching hockey in the 80s, I can't say I watched 70s goalies and can't tell you how they compare as far as the eye test. But 80s goalies were crap compared to goalies of nowadays. One way to tell? Compare Roy's save percentage in the late 80s to other goalies. The gap is ridiculous. Nowadays, the leaders are all close together. Hasek was way in front in his prime. Roy was way in front in his prime. But I would probably take a guy like Joey MacDonald over most 80s goalies. Why? He may not be as good as a lot of his peers, but he's better than the guys who played in the 80s. Mainly because goaltending technique was so far behind... those guys either made amazing saves or looked like idiots out there. There was no in between.

But your comparison is flawed. Depth forwards in the 80s were the primary driver for the increased scoring of the era; elite scorers did not actually score significantly more (aside from Gretzky and Lemieux) so the "era" argument is flawed when used against top 80s players like Yzerman and Messier. Unless you're looking at a season like 92-93, where there were tons of top scorers scoring unusually high amounts. Even in 88-89, there were only nine 100-point scorers. It's why adjusted stats must always be used in context (if you adjust from the 7.5GPG from 88-89 to the 5.5GPG during the DPE, and use that as a coefficient for player point adjustment, then 2000-01 had 50 players with a 100-point pace had they played in 88-89. Including reigning Selke winner Steve Yzerman. Mario Lemieux would adjust to pace for 193 points over 80 games (104 in the 40 he played). So either player quality simply increased that much (but defense and goaltending had improved enough that scoring was far more limited) or the argument that player quality has not increased is correct and if so, that's probably why scoring dropped and has stayed low. After all, Teemu Selanne was a top scorer in 1993 and was a top scorer in 2011. Defensemen score far fewer points now than we used to see (Orr, Potvin, Bourque, MacInnis, etc.), so they must be less skilled right?

Which seems more reasonable? A feeder system that has developed over the years becomes more refined, a 21-team league with 17 teams' worth of Canadian players gains access to Europe's pool of skilled players, which is regularly enough to fill another 6-7 teams. The US improves its hockey program dramatically. The minor leagues (AHL, IHL, etc.) become far more aligned with the league and teams develop much more focused prospect development systems, often with full control of the minor league teams. Players now have nutritionists, trainers, and full-year training regimens when they used to see the league as a "season only" job and training camp was literally for getting in shape, rather than a warmup for the season and a tryout for rookies.

And we'll also ignore the increase in population and youth hockey in general.

But yes, it's probable that talent level has remained stagnant, despite all of that. That second-line and even some third-line depth players nowadays wouldn't be stars if they were suddenly transported to the 70s or 80s.

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03-08-2013, 12:10 AM
  #297
Morgoth Bauglir
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Without commenting on defensemen, the goalies (in general) are better. Significantly. You don't see a guy come down the wing on a breakaway and take an unscreened slapshot and just plain beat the goalie. It doesn't happen. It used to happen ALL THE TIME. As someone who started watching hockey in the 80s, I can't say I watched 70s goalies and can't tell you how they compare as far as the eye test. But 80s goalies were crap compared to goalies of nowadays. One way to tell? Compare Roy's save percentage in the late 80s to other goalies. The gap is ridiculous. Nowadays, the leaders are all close together. Hasek was way in front in his prime. Roy was way in front in his prime. But I would probably take a guy like Joey MacDonald over most 80s goalies. Why? He may not be as good as a lot of his peers, but he's better than the guys who played in the 80s. Mainly because goaltending technique was so far behind... those guys either made amazing saves or looked like idiots out there. There was no in between.

But your comparison is flawed. Depth forwards in the 80s were the primary driver for the increased scoring of the era; elite scorers did not actually score significantly more (aside from Gretzky and Lemieux) so the "era" argument is flawed when used against top 80s players like Yzerman and Messier. Unless you're looking at a season like 92-93, where there were tons of top scorers scoring unusually high amounts. Even in 88-89, there were only nine 100-point scorers. It's why adjusted stats must always be used in context (if you adjust from the 7.5GPG from 88-89 to the 5.5GPG during the DPE, and use that as a coefficient for player point adjustment, then 2000-01 had 50 players with a 100-point pace had they played in 88-89. Including reigning Selke winner Steve Yzerman. Mario Lemieux would adjust to pace for 193 points over 80 games (104 in the 40 he played). So either player quality simply increased that much (but defense and goaltending had improved enough that scoring was far more limited) or the argument that player quality has not increased is correct and if so, that's probably why scoring dropped and has stayed low. After all, Teemu Selanne was a top scorer in 1993 and was a top scorer in 2011. Defensemen score far fewer points now than we used to see (Orr, Potvin, Bourque, MacInnis, etc.), so they must be less skilled right?

Which seems more reasonable? A feeder system that has developed over the years becomes more refined, a 21-team league with 17 teams' worth of Canadian players gains access to Europe's pool of skilled players, which is regularly enough to fill another 6-7 teams. The US improves its hockey program dramatically. The minor leagues (AHL, IHL, etc.) become far more aligned with the league and teams develop much more focused prospect development systems, often with full control of the minor league teams. Players now have nutritionists, trainers, and full-year training regimens when they used to see the league as a "season only" job and training camp was literally for getting in shape, rather than a warmup for the season and a tryout for rookies.

And we'll also ignore the increase in population and youth hockey in general.

But yes, it's probable that talent level has remained stagnant, despite all of that. That second-line and even some third-line depth players nowadays wouldn't be stars if they were suddenly transported to the 70s or 80s.
Roy's sv% of .875, .892, and .900 weren't out of line for elite level goaltenders in the '80s. Andy Moog had a number seasons with sv% in the .890s for example.

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03-08-2013, 12:47 AM
  #298
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Roy's sv% of .875, .892, and .900 weren't out of line for elite level goaltenders in the '80s. Andy Moog had a number seasons with sv% in the .890s for example.
In 88-89, the top five for goalies who played the majority of their team's games went as such:

1) Roy: .908
2) Casey: .900
3) Vernon: .897
4) Hextall: .891
5) McLean: .891
6) Sidorkiewicz: .890
7) Bester: .890
8) Lemelin: .887
9) Hrudey: .882
10) Vanbiesbrouck .882
14) Moog: .877
15) Fuhr: .876
20) Chevrier: .869

Roy was as far ahead of second place (Casey) as Casey was ahead of 6th/7th place (Sidorkiewicz/Bester). It's also the same gap between the last-place goalie (Chevrier; only 20 played 40+ games) and slightly below-average netminders in Moog and Fuhr. If you take the total from 85-86 through 89-90, Roy leads the league at .898; Casey is second with .894. Tenth among goalies with at least 80 games (average 16 per season) is Moog at .886.

Of course, in 89-90, Roy posted a .912; second place was Daren Puppa at .903. Similar numbers heading down towards Chevrier in 22nd place, except he posted a garish .852 with a 4.25. I think I could probably do better than that... seriously. 28 shots, I have to stop 24 to be better than Chevrier? I bet there are more than a few posters who could do it. Which truly makes me feel sad for the state of league goaltending in the 80s. Not so much that he was a goalie in the 80s NHL; it's that he was a STARTER.

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03-08-2013, 01:00 AM
  #299
Morgoth Bauglir
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
In 88-89, the top five for goalies who played the majority of their team's games went as such:

1) Roy: .908
2) Casey: .900
3) Vernon: .897
4) Hextall: .891
5) McLean: .891
6) Sidorkiewicz: .890
7) Bester: .890
8) Lemelin: .887
9) Hrudey: .882
10) Vanbiesbrouck .882
14) Moog: .877
15) Fuhr: .876
20) Chevrier: .869

Roy was as far ahead of second place (Casey) as Casey was ahead of 6th/7th place (Sidorkiewicz/Bester). It's also the same gap between the last-place goalie (Chevrier; only 20 played 40+ games) and slightly below-average netminders in Moog and Fuhr. If you take the total from 85-86 through 89-90, Roy leads the league at .898; Casey is second with .894. Tenth among goalies with at least 80 games (average 16 per season) is Moog at .886.

Of course, in 89-90, Roy posted a .912; second place was Daren Puppa at .903. Similar numbers heading down towards Chevrier in 22nd place, except he posted a garish .852 with a 4.25. I think I could probably do better than that... seriously. 28 shots, I have to stop 24 to be better than Chevrier? I bet there are more than a few posters who could do it. Which truly makes me feel sad for the state of league goaltending in the 80s. Not so much that he was a goalie in the 80s NHL; it's that he was a STARTER.
And in 87-88?

1. Patrick Roy .900
2. Pete Peeters .898
3. Brian Hayward .896
4. Greg Stefan .896
t5. Tom Barrasso .896
t5. Kelly Hrudey .896

How about 86-87?

1. Ron Hextall .902
2. Bob Sauve .894
3. Brian Hayward .894
4. Glen Hanlon .893
5. Patrick Roy .892

Maybe the year before?

1. Bob Froese .909
2. Kelly Hrudey .906
3. Clint Malarchuk .895
4. Rick Wamsley .894
5. Don Beaupre .892
- Patrick Roy .875

Are you getting the picture? You're trying to cherry-pick Roy's outlier season of the decade and use it as a baseline. Funny how Bob Froese's .909 in 85-86 isn't any different from Roy's .908 in 88-89.

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03-08-2013, 01:01 AM
  #300
shazariahl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post


Here's some 'splainin' for you.

Ray Bourque is one of the four best defensemen of all-time. He was a first-team or second-team all-star seventeen straight times from the start of his career (nineteen total). Other guys who were near Bourque's age and among the top Norris vote-getters in the late-90s/early-00s: Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis. Outside of that group of HHOFers - all of whom are legendary for their staying power - the guys getting Norris votes in the late 90s/early 2000s were guys who played their primes in the 90s or after. Without Bourque and those four from 96-97 on, the Norris trophy and AS teams are affected as is bolded below (if you assume the order of finish in the voting would have stayed the same):

YearNorris winnerFinalists1st AS2nd AS
96-97LeetchKonstantinov, OzolinshLeetch/OzolinshKonstantinov/Lidstrom
97-98BlakeLidstrom, ProngerLidstrom/BlakePronger/Niedermayer
98-99LidstromPronger, DesjardinsLidstrom/ProngerDesjardins/Leetch
99-00ProngerLidstrom, BlakePronger/LidstromBlake/Desjardins
00-01LidstromBlake, LeetchLidstrom/BlakeLeetch/Gonchar
01-02LidstromBlake, GoncharLidstrom/BlakeGonchar/Pronger
02-03LidstromHatcher, GoncharLidstrom/GoncharHatcher/Blake

I took out all of those defensemen, and there's still barely a mention of Niedermayer, but nothing more than he already had.
But the fact that so many people were able to compete and still be effective later in their career means players today aren't "automatically" better by virtue of playing today. You can try to dismiss all those guys as being legendary for their staying power, but isn't that the entire point we're discussing? That's not even including guys like Jagr, Selanne, or 40 yr old Mario coming out of retirement for the 17th time and still being good.

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