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NYR Top Defensemen of All-Time (Rules & Preliminary Discussion)

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06-04-2013, 07:06 PM
  #101
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Originally Posted by Crease View Post
There is nothing wrong with the conversation, but the time to really influence rankings will be in Round 2 of the voting.
Yea, I'm mostly just pushing the debate forward to A) play devil's advocate (though I legitimately do think Park should be considered closer to Leetch than it seems a lot of people are giving him credit for), B) to push forward arguments/discussion about players' defensive skills in the hopes that this isn't ignored in the final rankings (though it is obviously everyone's prerogative to place value wherever they want), and C) clarify in my own mind how I'm going to think about and rank defenders since a number of the considerations are pretty different than what I might consider for ranking Centers.


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Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
As far as careers as Rangers are concerned, it really isn't close.
I can't tell from your posts whether you're getting snippy, if your writing style just comes off defensive/confrontational/aggressive, or if I'm reading too much into some of what you write -- but, in case you've interpreted anything I've said so far as a slight; to be clear, I'm really not trying to say you're "wrong," or to jilt you in any fashion.

When it comes down to it, as I have already said, I probably agree with you and ultimately rank Leetch ahead of Park. But I do disagree with the bold in that quote - and that is the main reason I'm even putting up any sort of debate. It seems like it comes down to you (I assume) valuing a defenseman's offense more than I do, and less than their defense - and that is perfectly fine.

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06-04-2013, 07:08 PM
  #102
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Originally Posted by Richter Scale View Post
Also - while we're on the topic of offensive dmen, I'm curious to hear what people's opinions are on Reijo "Plexi Rexi" Ruotsalainen. He has an interesting story, and while he is probably more well known (if remembered at all) for his two cups with Edmonton, he was damn good with NYR when he was here too. Amazing speed and shot. Not so hot defensively though.
I would love to hear that story.
Do tell, pls.
I'll share my memories when time permits tomorrow.

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06-04-2013, 07:10 PM
  #103
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Yeah, Gresch and MDZ are somewhat alike: I've had the thought before.

But, you know, I was in the blueseats for many years among fans just as critical as those today and I really don't recall any great animosity towards Seiling. I know how Ranger fans can be particularly in regards to certain defensemen. In fact, the guy I recall everyone getting on during that era was Dale Rolfe. Even Park came in for some criticism, fans seeming always to want more from him. But that might have been frustration from him not being Orr and us never winning the Cup. But Seiling.....I just don't remember any great dislike of him.

I was in section 432 between the red and blue lines on the side of MSG behind the benches. Maybe each section or sections had their own whipping boy.
Also topic for discussion tomorrow.

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06-04-2013, 07:13 PM
  #104
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Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
Greatest Rangers defenseman HAS to be Leetch. Not even a debate in my mind. I'll give you that Park had to compete against Orr for the Norris during his tenure as a Ranger. Look at who Leetch was competing with for over a decade: Chelios, Niedermayer, Pronger, Stevens, MacInnis, Coffey, Borque. Anyone there not a hall of famer?

Tenure: Leetch
Norris Trophies: Leetch
Conn Smythe: Leetch
Stanley Cup: Leetch
Calder: Leetch
Goals/Assists/Points: Leetch
NYR defensemen records: Leetch

If you want to draw CAREER comparisons between Park and Leetch, then you can make a better argument for Park and his (and Orr's) influence on the game, 2nd place Norris finishes, etc...

But, the title of this thread is about NYR Top Defenseman of all time and that, my friends, is not even close.

Brad played here 7+ seasons. Brian played here 16+. Both at a very high level.
If you compare one period NBA player to the other, it's fair game; if Michael Jordan is in the mix, it skews everything cause he gets all the trophies.

Orr was at least as dominant in hockey as Jordan was in bb.

Put it this way: No Orr, Park wins almost all those trophies, and some extra hardware.

So IMO it is fair topic for debate.

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06-04-2013, 07:29 PM
  #105
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Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
I did - but mostly as a member of the Bruins.

If Park had the years of service that Leetch did, then I'd put it up for debate. Again, judging solely on his career with the Rangers and Leetch's career as a Ranger, I don't think it's much of a contest. If you want to debate who had the better overall career, then I'd probably lean towards Park but it's close. All of those 2nd place Norris finishes aren't really taking into account that when Orr was no longer an effective player (1975+), Park had another 10 years of his career to win the Norris with no Orr and didn't. Leetch did. Twice.
Underline: thought that was partial consideration for our vote!

Bold: Park sacrificed his body, obviously, which cuts down on longevity and effectiveness in later years. The light that burns twice as bright, and is twice as hot, burns half as long.

Park's knees started to go by the end of his career. Badly.
So once he was past his prime, which thankfully was mostly with us, he too lost something.

But since his prime was here, and it was not a one year abberration, it needs be considered.

Put it this way: both D are like former Yankee ace Ron Guirdry.

Leetch is what you got with Guidry for a solid career, tailing off at the end, but a productive All Star all the way through.

Park was like 4-5 years of the Guidry who was like the Cy Young winner, 25-3 [or whatever], except he didn't win in his case any of those years because the guy who won was actually the friggin incarnation of ______________ [compilation of 20 best ever]

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06-04-2013, 07:54 PM
  #106
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Haohmaru,

Saying coming in 2nd in the Norris is the same as coming in 9th or 11th is so ridiculous that it portrays not even understanding the discussion.

Coming in 2nd or 9th or 11th as a team could be thought of as similar, but we are not talking about teams, we are comparing skills of one player to another. If you believe that being considered the 2nd best player in the world to the 11th best player in the world you have lost sight of the discussion.

By the way, your hardware argument reminds me of those who told me that Bourque wasn't great as a Bruin because he didn't win a Cup there.


Last edited by chosen: 06-04-2013 at 08:06 PM.
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06-04-2013, 08:28 PM
  #107
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Originally Posted by chosen View Post
Haohmaru,

Saying coming in 2nd in the Norris is the same as coming in 9th or 11th is so ridiculous that it portrays not even understanding the discussion.

Coming in 2nd or 9th or 11th as a team could be thought of as similar, but we are not talking about teams, we are comparing skills of one player to another. If you believe that being considered the 2nd best player in the world to the 11th best player in the world you have lost sight of the discussion.

By the way, your hardware argument reminds me of those who told me that Bourque wasn't great as a Bruin because he didn't win a Cup there.
My argument is that 2nd doesn't matter anymore than 5th does and it doesn't. You still didn't win. I completely understand the discussion that hypothesizes that if Bobby Orr didn't exist that Brad Park would've won some Norris trophies. It's completely hypothetical and you're comparing that to something tangible.

Orr did exist and Park played for 10 years after Orr won his last Norris on THE SAME TEAM and still finished no better than 2nd in the voting for the Norris trophy. He played 75+ games five times after Orr was finished. Bottom line is that Leetch *WAS* considered the best in the NHL twice and Park wasn't and Leetch did it both times as a Ranger. You might be misunderstanding my advocation for Leetch as being the better career Ranger as somehow insulting the legacy of Brad Park. It isn't. Leetch was the better career Ranger player. Cup. Norris. Norris. Conn Smythe. Calder. Double the years.

As far as the Bourque remark - how many Norris trophies did he win with the Bruins? Lester Patrick Trophy? King Clancy Trophy? 1st all time in points scored by a defenseman? And on and on and on.
Bourque can be mentioned in the same sentence with Orr, once again, if you're considering their career achievements with that organization. I give Orr the edge, but Bourque is worthy of consideration.

Park was a great player and had a great career and certainly brought a lot to the table. Leetch, however, was the more successful career Ranger. And not just a singular trophy or two Norris trophies. It's a championship. It's being the MVP of that championship and if that doesn't trump finishing second in an individual award 5 times then I submit that YOUR argument is ridiculous.

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06-04-2013, 08:30 PM
  #108
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Originally Posted by bernmeister View Post
Underline: thought that was partial consideration for our vote!
Big, big difference between "career" and "Rangers career" and that's what we're talking about.

And, guys, don't get me wrong. On my list, Park is a solid #2 all time with Howell a close 3rd. It's not like I didn't like the guy.

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06-04-2013, 08:34 PM
  #109
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Originally Posted by Richter Scale View Post




I can't tell from your posts whether you're getting snippy, if your writing style just comes off defensive/confrontational/aggressive, or if I'm reading too much into some of what you write -- but, in case you've interpreted anything I've said so far as a slight; to be clear, I'm really not trying to say you're "wrong," or to jilt you in any fashion.
Snippy? LOL. Nope. Call it "emphatically believe". You've been a gentleman, no worries.


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Originally Posted by Richter Scale View Post
When it comes down to it, as I have already said, I probably agree with you and ultimately rank Leetch ahead of Park. But I do disagree with the bold in that quote - and that is the main reason I'm even putting up any sort of debate. It seems like it comes down to you (I assume) valuing a defenseman's offense more than I do, and less than their defense - and that is perfectly fine.
Honestly, the two biggest things that separate Leetch from Park, IMHO, from a Rangers perspective are these:

Delivering the Cup and getting the Conn Smythe while doing it. Legendary.
Winning a Norris. Or two.
Longevity of career + number of seasons playing every game.

I realize Park had little to do with being traded and ending up in Boston. I wish the trade never happened.

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06-04-2013, 08:36 PM
  #110
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Originally Posted by Richter Scale View Post
I completely understand why the defensive part of these guys' games isn't really being discussed a ton. It is hard to make an argument either way when there are a dearth of tangible statistics to back up the point you're making. Or to compare players' defensive attributes in different eras or even to try to describe their game to people who may not have seen them play. But I hope that we find a way to include this part of each players' game in the discussion of the rest of this list as we move forward. It is a big part of why I've been playing devil's advocate to a degree and throwing out arguments against Leetch. If we end up with a list of dmen that is ranked solely based on the offensive side of the puck, I think that will do a great disservice to some of the best dmen that this team had play for it.
I agree. In addition to your suggestions, I think it's possible to piece together their defensive prowess by anecdotal evidence as well as by connecting the dots.

-------------------------

Some anecdotal evidence that Seibert was a dominant defensive force and a tough SOB:

"“Let’s put it this way, no one wanted any part of ‘Si’ in a fight. Even Eddie Shore (Boston) and Red Horner (Toronto) steered clear of him, and Shore and Horner were considered the toughest guys in the League at the time," said Johnson."

NYRangersLegends Blog

"Seibert was generally regarded as second only to Eddie Shore in terms of skill and rugged play, and Shore once confessed that Seibert was the only man he was afraid to fight. Defensively, Seibert was one of the best shot-blockers in the game, and he could move the puck just as quickly as anyone."

Legends of Hockey Blog

"Seibert was a strong, fast skater, and intimidating force with his stick and body. He was also one of the better shot-blockers around...Earl owned excellent puck-handling skills and he was almost impossible to knock off his skates." - Ultimate Hockey

-------------------------

Connecting the dots on Leetch's defensive game in 2000-2001:

Brian led all NHL defensemen in goals, assists, and points that season, but finishes 5th in Norris and AST voting. What does that suggst about his defensive game that year? I think comparing offensive rank to AST/Norris rank might be useful.

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06-04-2013, 08:45 PM
  #111
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Originally Posted by Crease View Post

Connecting the dots on Leetch's defensive game in 2000-2001.

Brian led all NHL defensemen in goals, assists, and points that season, but finishes 5th in Norris and AST voting. What does that suggst about his defensive game during that season? I think comparing offensive rank to AST/Norris rank might be useful.
He had a great season on a terrible team with Petr Nedved as its #1 center, an over the hill Messier (39 turning 40), and a truly laughable defense corps. How much would those numbers have changed on a team like the 2001 Avalanche and Red Wings?

Rangers D 2000-2001

Leetch
Kim Johnsson
Sylvain Lefebvre
Rich Pilon
Tomas Kloucek
Brad Brown
Alexei Gusarov
Mike Mottau
Peter Smrek
Dale Purinton
Vladimir Malakhov
Drew Bannister
Bert Robertsson
David Wilkie

I mean, seriously, LOOK at those names and tell me a little more about Leetch defensively. The guy had absolutely nothing to work with and still somehow had a great season.

Jesus, those were dark times. Look at that D.

And Leetch led the team in scoring for good measure.

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06-04-2013, 08:51 PM
  #112
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haohmaru, I'm not trying to pile on Leetch. I'm suggesting ways we might be able to quantify performance on the defensive side of the puck. Do you have any suggestions?

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06-04-2013, 08:58 PM
  #113
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Post '97, it's going to be hard to do for Leetch. Even the best guy defensively on a terrible team will probably have terrible defensive stats. I can't even remember who he was paired with in 2000-2001, but anyone on that list is pretty awful.

I guess total goals (not +/-) for and against when on the ice is a certain measure. Leetch actually has some pretty respectable stats there even on some bad teams. I'm not sure how you can account for his teammates, and his defensive partners in particular (for Leetch or for anyone else) - particularly on awful teams.

(Edit) I'm not sure how far those stats (total goals for and against) go back, but I'd be surprised if there's anything pre 1980

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06-04-2013, 10:37 PM
  #114
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Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
My argument is that 2nd doesn't matter anymore than 5th does and it doesn't. You still didn't win. I completely understand the discussion that hypothesizes that if Bobby Orr didn't exist that Brad Park would've won some Norris trophies. It's completely hypothetical and you're comparing that to something tangible.
I get what you're saying about him not winning a Norris and his other shortcomings compared to Leetch's achievements. But let's just focus on the Norris trophy argument alone for a second. I really don't think equating a 2nd place finish (to Orr) with a 5th place or below in any other era is a fair way to look at it.

You don't like chosen's Bourque comparison; I agree its not great, but I think he was mostly trying to make a point with it. Let me try with what I think might be a bit closer comparison:

Looking at Park's 2nd places to Orr in the Norris as meaningless and effectively dinging him for this is like looking at all of the absolutely dominant forwards who played in the early and mid-80's, during Gretzky's peak, and thinking that the fact that they weren't able to beat out Gretz for the Art Ross or Hart means something about the quality of players they all were. The fact that they were second to Gretzky only means that Gretzky was that good.

Ovechkin has two Harts. Heck, Corey Perry has a Hart! Would you really argue that they were/are (or will be) better players than any one of Mario Lemieux, Marcel Dionne, Mike Bossy, or even Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier, and Bryan Trottier in the years they were competing with Gretzky, in part on the basis of their lack of Harts/Art Rosses in that time? As talented as these guys were, none of them were able to sniff a Hart or Art Ross during the absolute peak of Gretz's career, and many of them placed 2nd to him in one year or another during his peak (though none in consecutive years). I'm not trying to say Park is on the same level of any of those guys, but the guy he was placing 2nd to was just so far above almost anything else this game has ever seen -- and this example provides another way to look at the type of argument you're making on this specific item.


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Orr did exist and Park played for 10 years after Orr won his last Norris on THE SAME TEAM and still finished no better than 2nd in the voting for the Norris trophy. He played 75+ games five times after Orr was finished.
This is getting outside of the relevant discussion to voting, but since you brought it up: And in the four years after Orr's peak, Park had to compete with the top 3 career years of Potvin's career and an absolutely ridiculous performance by Larry Robinson (he was +120 that season!!). 9 of the 10 seasons between '69 and '79, Park's competition for the Norris scored over 90 pts (7 of 10 over 100 pts). By then, he was past his prime and on the wrong side of 30.

Personally, I think it is pretty safe to say if Leetch had to compete with that as well, he similarly wouldn't have won a Norris. By way of comparison, in just 3 of the 13 seasons from '88 to '01 did the winner of the Norris score over 90 points (one was Leetch's Norris season in 91-92).

Only barely over one third of the winners of the Norris have won it after a season in which they played the majority of it over the age of 30 (22 of 58 winners). And 12 of those went to two players: Doug Harvey and Nick Lidstrom (6 apiece when they were over 30).

---

And re: Why didn't Leetch get a Norris in 2000-01?

Ugh, don't remind me of that team and those years. His team was certainly god awful - there is no doubt about it. The defense was awful. Problem is Leetch wasn't exactly a solution to that problem. He thrived with Beukeboom because Beuk was a stay at home defender, which allowed Leetch to play his game. Once Beuk was lost to injuries, Leetch's pairings struggled defensively. That year was also the beginning of Richter's injury troubles (probably a bit more responsible for the following than the team - but both were big problems).

But here is your answer: He was a minus-18 that year. Just three players in the history of the Norris trophy have won it with a minus rating - and they were all better than -18 (-16, -2, and -3). Not to mention Leetch was on the ice for the most goals against of any player in the league that year at 157. The next closest player was on the ice for 34 less goals against. There were 9 other teams worse than the Rangers (by points) that had defensemen on them. There was no way he was winning a Norris with stats like that.


Last edited by Richter Scale: 06-04-2013 at 11:12 PM.
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06-04-2013, 10:44 PM
  #115
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I also stumbled upon this when looking through some old THN's... Here is a top 100 players of all time list that has Leetch and Park on it. Though, it is from 1998; so it cuts off some of Leetch's career (even though the following years were Leetch's worst, depending upon the criteria the judges used, the extra points could have bumped him up the ranking quite a bit). It also obviously includes Park's career with Boston (which we are not considering). But either way - here you go:

http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lis...he_Hockey_News

They have Park at 49 and Leetch at 71.


*EDIT: They updated this list in 2010, but ranked by position: http://sportsandwrestling.mywowbb.com/forum3/16584.html

Park is ranked 13th among defensemen. Leetch 18.


Last edited by Richter Scale: 06-04-2013 at 11:06 PM.
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06-04-2013, 11:07 PM
  #116
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Did you see Park play?
Yes, but I don't remember much. BTW - not seeing Frank Boucher didn't stop me from placing him #1 among centers.

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06-05-2013, 01:12 AM
  #117
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Seiling wasn't a guy that was always easy to like. Kind of like his era's version of Rozsival--or a lesser James Patrick. Good player--skill wise. Not very physical. Seemed to be happiest when the limelight was on someone else. Fans did not like him. They wanted more. Rangers fans have a history of jumping all over certain players. He was one of them.[/QUOTE]


Seiling played a lot on a pairing with Neilson. One of the problems with the fans
was he tended to be a dead end with the puck in transition to offense.
He was solid defensively, but seemed to disappear when the often injured
Neilson went down.

I was at a game at MSG when the fans made signs that hung from the Blue seats.

One of the best ever, read

"THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN. ELEPHANTS CLOWNS AND SEILING"

Even the players on the bench were laughing

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06-05-2013, 05:13 AM
  #118
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Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
He had a great season on a terrible team with Petr Nedved as its #1 center, an over the hill Messier (39 turning 40), and a truly laughable defense corps. How much would those numbers have changed on a team like the 2001 Avalanche and Red Wings?

Rangers D 2000-2001

Leetch
Kim Johnsson
Sylvain Lefebvre
Rich Pilon
Tomas Kloucek
Brad Brown
Alexei Gusarov
Mike Mottau
Peter Smrek
Dale Purinton
Vladimir Malakhov
Drew Bannister
Bert Robertsson
David Wilkie

I mean, seriously, LOOK at those names and tell me a little more about Leetch defensively. The guy had absolutely nothing to work with and still somehow had a great season.

Jesus, those were dark times. Look at that D.

And Leetch led the team in scoring for good measure.
In your last post to me you wrote that you didn't like hypotheticals. Now a post solely based on hypotheticals.

Kloucek looked like he was going to be great until whatever happened to him happened to him.


Last edited by chosen: 06-05-2013 at 05:23 AM.
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06-05-2013, 05:20 AM
  #119
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Originally Posted by pbgoalie View Post
Seiling played a lot on a pairing with Neilson. One of the problems with the fans
was he tended to be a dead end with the puck in transition to offense.
He was solid defensively, but seemed to disappear when the often injured
Neilson went down.

I was at a game at MSG when the fans made signs that hung from the Blue seats.

One of the best ever, read

"THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN. ELEPHANTS CLOWNS AND SEILING"

Even the players on the bench were laughing
Seiling was disliked solely for his lack of physicality.

If you are a non-physical Rangers defenseman who is not named Leetch you will be hated by the idiot fans who attend Ranger games. The list is breathtakingly long. The most amazing part is that if you are physical and terrible otherwise, you will be loved.

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06-05-2013, 05:23 AM
  #120
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Originally Posted by chosen View Post
In your last post to me you wrote that you didn't like hypotheticals. Now a post solely based on hypotheticals.
If you think that post was "solely based on hypotheticals" then you must've misread the post. I only asked a hypothetical question (which, btw, doesn't hand Leetch a Norris). The rest of the post was entirely factual.

I think my argument for Leetch, however, has run its course.

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06-05-2013, 05:29 AM
  #121
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Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
If you think that post was "solely based on hypotheticals" then you must've misread the post. I only asked a hypothetical question (which, btw, doesn't hand Leetch a Norris). The rest of the post was entirely factual.

I think my argument for Leetch, however, has run its course.
How much would those numbers have changed on a team like the 2001 Avalanche and Red Wings?

Not a hypothetical?

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06-05-2013, 05:39 AM
  #122
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How much would those numbers have changed on a team like the 2001 Avalanche and Red Wings?

Not a hypothetical?
Again, it wasn't the point. The rest of the post that outlined the year Leetch had, on a terrible team, was.

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06-05-2013, 05:43 AM
  #123
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Originally Posted by Richter Scale View Post

And re: Why didn't Leetch get a Norris in 2000-01?

Ugh, don't remind me of that team and those years. His team was certainly god awful - there is no doubt about it. The defense was awful. Problem is Leetch wasn't exactly a solution to that problem. He thrived with Beukeboom because Beuk was a stay at home defender, which allowed Leetch to play his game. Once Beuk was lost to injuries, Leetch's pairings struggled defensively. That year was also the beginning of Richter's injury troubles (probably a bit more responsible for the following than the team - but both were big problems).

But here is your answer: He was a minus-18 that year. Just three players in the history of the Norris trophy have won it with a minus rating - and they were all better than -18 (-16, -2, and -3). Not to mention Leetch was on the ice for the most goals against of any player in the league that year at 157. The next closest player was on the ice for 34 less goals against. There were 9 other teams worse than the Rangers (by points) that had defensemen on them. There was no way he was winning a Norris with stats like that.
When you lead THE ENTIRE LEAGUE in ice time on a bad team you're probably a good bet to be on the ice for the most goals against.

But, I digress, I don't think anyone else would've won the Norris on a team like that either. Has the Norris ever been won by anyone on a losing team? I wonder.

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06-05-2013, 06:12 AM
  #124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
Again, it wasn't the point. The rest of the post that outlined the year Leetch had, on a terrible team, was.
The implication being that he would have put up better defensive numbers on a better team, no? Otherwise, why bring up his supporting cast.

Anyway, I'm done with the Leetch/Park debates for now. Without trying to bias the lists, I have almost no doubt that both players will be near the top of the aggregate list after Round 1 of voting and this discussion will be rehashed in Round 2 Vote 1.

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06-05-2013, 06:28 AM
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Added Ching Johnson's 1927-28 season to the table of All-Star finishes in post #92. That makes him a 3x 1st Team All Star with the Rangers.

Based on that table, this is a list of defensemen who were 1st Team, 2nd Team and 3rd Team (Unofficial) All-Stars as Rangers:

Player 1st AST
Brad Park 3
Ching Johnson 3
Bill Gadsby 3
Brian Leetch 2
Doug Harvey 1
Earl Seibert 1
Harry Howell 1

* Leetch (2), Howell, and Harvey won Norrises. Johnson won a retro-Norris.
* In Howell's Norris year (1966-67) he finishes second in AST voting to Pierre Pilote
* Excludes Park's 1975-76 partial season


Player 2nd AST
Art Coulter 3
Brian Leetch 3
Brad Park 2
Ching Johnson 2
Earl Seibert 2
Bill Gadsby 1
Hy Buller 1
Jim Neilson 1
Neil Colville 1
Ott Heller 1

Player 3rd AST
Jim Neilson 4
Harry Howell 3
Babe Pratt 1
Brad Park 1
Brian Leetch 1
Ott Heller 2
Ching Johnson 1
Neil Colville 1


Last edited by Crease: 06-06-2013 at 12:26 PM.
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