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What is Gretzky's legacy if he retires after 1988?

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07-07-2013, 04:32 AM
  #26
flyin_finn
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If Gretzky had retired in '88 his legacy would have been:

- Sidenotes like "many Canadians consider him as greatest ever to play the game"

- Debates on HFBoards about did Gretzky retire too early and is he all-time best after Howe?

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07-07-2013, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by VanIslander View Post
If Gretzky had been done in '88, then Messier winning cups in '90 and '94 would have raised comparison questions, peak versus career, which was better, Gretzky or Messier?

I personally think it's obscene that Orr is considered on par (better!) than Howe and Gretzky. Orr had the sort of shortened career posited in this thread.
I think the Messier-part really shows what an obscene thing it is to value longivity over peak, as long as the latter was not really close between two players. Even if Messier was dominant around the years of his Hart Trophy winning years it becomes a little like someone putting Ron Francis on par with Lemieux.
On the same note Bobby Orr might not have had any usual poor years at the end of his career but who really digged Wayne Gretzky in 1994-95 and 1998-99? He was a bum then, worse than Michael Nylanders truly all-time great peak, and any extra 110 points from those years does nothing for him except for people getting to proclaim that "Wayne Gretzky had more assists than anyone else had points!!!"


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07-07-2013, 08:14 AM
  #28
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but who really digged Wayne Gretzky in 1994-95 and 1998-99? He was a bum then, worse than Michael Nylanders truly all-time great peak, and any extra 110 points from those years does nothing for him except for people getting to proclaim that "Wayne Gretzky had more assists than anyone else had points!!!"
I'm sorry, but that's B.S. I watched Wayne Gretzky in NYR. He was still the best player on that team, and the only one that looked like he gave a damn. In fact, one of the reasons why I hate Rangers so much is because I blame them for Gretzky's retirement (he easily had a couple more years left in the tank). A driven genius like him can only take so many years of not making playoffs.

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07-07-2013, 09:13 AM
  #29
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"in the name of the Father, the son, and the Holy Gretzky amen" at the dinner table

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07-07-2013, 11:59 AM
  #30
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I'm sorry, but that's B.S. I watched Wayne Gretzky in NYR. He was still the best player on that team, and the only one that looked like he gave a damn. In fact, one of the reasons why I hate Rangers so much is because I blame them for Gretzky's retirement (he easily had a couple more years left in the tank). A driven genius like him can only take so many years of not making playoffs.
I wish they had brought in Pavel Bure or Jagr to play with him. That would have been the "miracle" that they needed for him to stay. Gretzky admitted this in an interview just after he retired. When asked why Gretzky never talked to the Rangers about this miracle that would be needed, he replied, "Because nobody asked me." I mean, really?! Neil Smith had given up on Gretzky. He had forgotten how Gretzky -- just a season before -- had finished one point out of 2nd overall in NHL scoring behind Peter Forsberg. With a week left in that season, Gretzky had sole possession of 2nd in NHL in scoring. This as a 37 year old player on a horrible team. Neil Smith also seemed to forget that just two seasons before, at age 36, Gretzky had put on a clinic in the playoffs with 10 goals -- including two hat tricks -- and 10 assists in the first 3 rounds. He was probably the best player in the NHL during the 1996 playoffs until the Rangers were out. This as a 36 year old. At 38, Gretzky was beginning to wear down mentally. And once he this happens, the physical begins to catch up. He realized that Neil Smith wasn't doing anything to improve the team, and it was like beating a dead horse. Why stay and go on to play another year when age was catching up to him if this was how the organization was being run? If this was how the organization was repaying him during the twilight of his career for all the hard work he put in the past two seasons, for taking a pay cut to come to NY, and for being the best player the game has ever seen? The sad part is, the Rangers acquired Bure a year after Gretzky left, and of course later, Jagr too. Never understood what took Neil Smith so long. But as you said, Gretzky was still the best player the Rangers had. He led them in both points and assists despite missing quite a few games that year. If he had any good players to pass to, he would have been again in the top 10 scorers at age 38.

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07-07-2013, 12:16 PM
  #31
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Yes I'd agree with that on a certain level, absolutely. The memory of Orr, The Legend if you will has grown brighter with the passage of time. I guess I have a rather unique perspective on Orr, as I was fortunate enough to have faced him (goalie) live & in-person on the ice in shooting drills, in some serious scrimmages, and of course he could be stopped. Absolutely. I didnt consider him Superhuman nor anything to fear, indeed quite the contrary, take your best shot Pal. A treat to play against someone so talented & creative, a constant learning experience and certainly one that built, instilled a great deal of confidence in my game, abilities. Both Orr & Gretzky were more than capable of seriously embarrassing their opponents, opponents who had they worked on their own games with considerably more diligence couldve' avoided such. Not entirely, but at minimum mitigated the likelihood or chances of that happening. Orr was a lot more temporal, rugged; Gretzky lithe, ethereal. I rank Orr as the Greatest Player All Time, on par with and equal in stature/status with Gretzky & vice-versa. I realize thats a bit wishy-washy for some, but objectively, I cant rationally elevate one over the other. Does not compute especially so if we imagine Gretzky retiring in 88.... perhaps Ive been staring at those balls of fire for too long, Sunspots, but thats how I see it, call it.
Wow, what an amazing first hand experience to play against Orr. This of course gives you an entirely different perspective on him. I'm just hypothesizing, but I would imagine if you had played against Gretzky, you might have not understood him as well as you understood Orr. In 1985-86, Gretzky won the scoring title by 74 points, obliterating 2nd place Mario Lemieux -- and broke records (of course, his own) with 163 assists and 215 points. Yet the players still gave the Pearson to Lemieux as the best player in the game. Why is this? I think it's because Gretzky was also the most misunderstood player in the game. He seemed like a normal player out there on the ice. Players and fans alike couldn't read the slight, subtle adjustments and manipulations he was constantly making while getting lost in the ebb and flow -- often letting the flow find him at just the right time before executing -- that allowed him to break those countless scoring records. As such, it kind of went over everyone's head. Yet it was precisely this "mis-understanding" that Gretzky used to exploit the record book and pretty much every success he had. If you were to play with him on the ice, he probably wouldn't impress you much. At least not until you started watching everyone else on the ice, and how the puck was finding them. But that's just a theory.


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07-07-2013, 12:20 PM
  #32
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Originally Posted by Sentinel View Post
I'm sorry, but that's B.S. I watched Wayne Gretzky in NYR. He was still the best player on that team, and the only one that looked like he gave a damn. In fact, one of the reasons why I hate Rangers so much is because I blame them for Gretzky's retirement (he easily had a couple more years left in the tank). A driven genius like him can only take so many years of not making playoffs.
Only Wayne Gretzky would be called a "bum" for finishing 4th and then 3rd in scoring.

Anyway, if Gretzky retires in 1988, I think more people rank Howe as the #1 player of all time. Gretzky vs Howe would look a lot like Orr vs Howe does now. And I think there would be less to choose from between Orr and Gretzky.

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07-07-2013, 01:06 PM
  #33
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In 1985-86, Gretzky won the scoring title by 74 points, obliterating 2nd place Mario Lemieux -- and broke records (of course, his own) with 163 assists and 215 points. Yet the players still gave the Pearson to Lemieux as the best player in the game. Why is this? I think it's because Gretzky was also the most misunderstood player in the game. He seemed like a normal player out there on the ice....
Well, no not really. There was nothing "normal" about Wayne Gretzky. Those subtleties to which you allude are glaring at ice-level whereas from the stands or if watching on TV difficult to read, pick-up on. He was deceptive, impossible to read as a defender and as a goalie in particular as he was either unbelievably patient with the puck or he'd release it with a pass or on the net at a speed that was quite incredible, and deadly accurate. Normally you could tell what a player was going to do by the lie of the puck on their stick and position yourself accordingly, moving out to challenge if they had it cradled on the forehand with little time to release, or of ragging it in front back & forth from forehand to backhand about try a deke, so youd back in with them, either try for the pokecheck or back in and at the moment they release with a flick or backhander fall into a semi Butterfly as direction, where that pucks headed not always easy to determine. Gretzkys patience in that regard, forcing the goalie to make the first move & exposing open mesh beyond anything Ive ever seen, all the while dodging checks, be they physical or stick on stick.

He could play Keep-Away in a phone booth and win. Drew defenders into double coverage, making mistakes, leaving others uncovered & wide open. Opponents, goalies panicked. Playing it from behind the net like that as well the way he did leaves the goalie completely susceptible, as you cant move out from hugging the posts for fear of a wraparound, yet if he manages a clear pass out to the slot, and what you tried to do was stop that with your stick, your in way to deep to cover the angle. To compensate, goaltenders starting to rely heavily on the Butterfly, falling into it when the puck was being played behind the net in anticipation of a quick pass out front, too late to move out & cut down the angle so just make yourself as big as possible to cover as much net as possible, hope it hits you, that you or one of your defenceman can then control a rebound.

As for Lemieux, different situation. You have no idea how big & how fast these guys actually are until your right there on the ice with them. Watching it from the comfort of a seat, TV, forget it. Doesnt do it justice, and Lemieux, with his size & reach, deceptive speed, quick hands, that type of player playing up-front who a generation or 2 earlier wouldve been brought up a Defenceman, rather intimidating to be facing. Like a high-speed locomotive comin right at ya. All of your senses wide-awake. Sort of a cross between Jean Beliveau & Frank Mahovlich. Much more proto-typical a player than Gretzky who was a total outlier, Freak Show. Almost like Wayne was forever 14 out there playing Tournament Hockey, shinny almost, whereas Lemieux was all grow'd up & supersized at that, playing a more temporal, almost conservative game. The difference between the two being that Gretzky saw the ice in a more abstract & surrealistic way than Lemieux did, with more joie de vivre' if you will. Those two playing together, incredible.

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07-07-2013, 01:28 PM
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At what point did most people first call Gretzky the greatest player of all-time? I'm curious to know how early in his career did people make that conclusion.

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07-07-2013, 01:38 PM
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Well, no not really. There was nothing "normal" about Wayne Gretzky. Those subtleties to which you allude are glaring at ice-level whereas from the stands or if watching on TV difficult to read, pick-up on. He was deceptive, impossible to read as a defender and as a goalie in particular as he was either unbelievably patient with the puck or he'd release it with a pass or on the net at a speed that was quite incredible, and deadly accurate. Normally you could tell what a player was going to do by the lie of the puck on their stick and position yourself accordingly, moving out to challenge if they had it cradled on the forehand with little time to release, or of ragging it in front back & forth from forehand to backhand about try a deke, so youd back in with them, either try for the pokecheck or back in and at the moment they release with a flick or backhander fall into a semi Butterfly as direction, where that pucks headed not always easy to determine. Gretzkys patience in that regard, forcing the goalie to make the first move & exposing open mesh beyond anything Ive ever seen, all the while dodging checks, be they physical or stick on stick.

He could play Keep-Away in a phone booth and win. Drew defenders into double coverage, making mistakes, leaving others uncovered & wide open. Opponents, goalies panicked. Playing it from behind the net like that as well the way he did leaves the goalie completely susceptible, as you cant move out from hugging the posts for fear of a wraparound, yet if he manages a clear pass out to the slot, and what you tried to do was stop that with your stick, your in way to deep to cover the angle. To compensate, goaltenders starting to rely heavily on the Butterfly, falling into it when the puck was being played behind the net in anticipation of a quick pass out front, too late to move out & cut down the angle so just make yourself as big as possible to cover as much net as possible, hope it hits you, that you or one of your defenceman can then control a rebound.

As for Lemieux, different situation. You have no idea how big & how fast these guys actually are until your right there on the ice with them. Watching it from the comfort of a seat, TV, forget it. Doesnt do it justice, and Lemieux, with his size & reach, deceptive speed, quick hands, that type of player playing up-front who a generation or 2 earlier wouldve been brought up a Defenceman, rather intimidating to be facing. Like a high-speed locomotive comin right at ya. All of your senses wide-awake. Sort of a cross between Jean Beliveau & Frank Mahovlich. Much more proto-typical a player than Gretzky who was a total outlier, Freak Show. Almost like Wayne was forever 14 out there playing Tournament Hockey, shinny almost, whereas Lemieux was all grow'd up & supersized at that, playing a more temporal, almost conservative game. The difference between the two being that Gretzky saw the ice in a more abstract & surrealistic way than Lemieux did, with more joie de vivre' if you will. Those two playing together, incredible.
Wow, this might be the best thing I've ever read on Gretzky/Lemieux. Thanks for that "ice-level" insight, something that sports writers never really have the ability to uncover. You are right, I never really saw those subtleties as for more than they seemed -- mere "subtleties". Your last line is spot on. Game 2 of the 1987 Canada Cup might be the best example of "chemistry" I've ever seen in one hockey game. Both players had the ability to make time stand still, or better put -- to make 1 second seem like an eternity. Mario did this more often than Wayne, I think. With Wayne, time was more elastic: Yes, he could slow it down as needed, but he could also speed it up, and then stretch it. The space and geometry of a hockey arena made the game ever so malleable to him, it seemed. The play would find him, the puck would find him. Things just found him.... Someone once observed, to paraphrase: "Like a tennis racquet has a sweet spot, there is a sweet spot in time. And when the time is right, Gretzky goes to that spot."


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07-07-2013, 01:38 PM
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At what point did most people first call Gretzky the greatest player of all-time? I'm curious to know how early in his career did people make that conclusion.
Before he even played pro. As early as 10, 14, then 16yrs of age... www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-kBon2bUbo

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07-07-2013, 01:42 PM
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At what point did most people first call Gretzky the greatest player of all-time? I'm curious to know how early in his career did people make that conclusion.
Sports Illustrated called him the best player in the game at age 19. But as for the best of "all time", I don't think he had that title until maybe winning the 1987 Canada Cup or maybe his 4th Cup. But I'm not really qualified to answer that question. Maybe it wash't until he broke Howe's points record?

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07-07-2013, 01:44 PM
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If Gretzky had been done in '88, then Messier winning cups in '90 and '94 would have raised comparison questions, peak versus career, which was better, Gretzky or Messier?
Messier doesn't win the 1990 Cup without that trade. FOUR key players on that Edmonton team were obtained directly either from that trade (Gretzky for Martin Gelinas/Jimmy Carson/picks) or resulting trades (Carson+McClelland for Murphy/Klima/Graves/Sharples).

And then there's the Rangers; they wouldn't have traded Tomas Sandstrom and Tony Granato to get Bernie Nicholls because there wouldn't have been a need to add higher end wingers in LA for Gretzky. Messier may still end up traded somewhere at that point (or even earlier), but a more likely destination in a deal that would bring a #1 center back might be Boston (Craig Janney), St. Louis (Adam Oates), Chicago (Jeremy Roenick), Buffalo (Pierre Turgeon), NYI (Pat LaFontaine), Hartford (John Cullen), Pittsburgh (Ron Francis), or even Los Angeles (Bernie Nicholls/Jimmy Carson).

Some of those teams are in good situations to potentially win a Cup if he's dealt there in 1991 (Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago) but none of them are the same "Messier is the savior" mode that the Rangers were. Especially not Pittsburgh, who had just won the Cup and would have Messier on the second line. Or Boston, who had been to the Finals twice since 1988.

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07-07-2013, 02:45 PM
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At what point did most people first call Gretzky the greatest player of all-time? I'm curious to know how early in his career did people make that conclusion.
In 1983 The Hockey News ran a "Top 10" issue where they polled some players, ex-players, coaches, writers, broadcasters, etc. about the 10 best so-and-sos in various categories. One of the categories was greatest player of all-time. Gretzky finished 4th. Keep in mind, he was only 22 and hadn't won a Cup yet.

By '87 or '88, he was probably the most popular choice. I wouldn't say consensus choice, because Orr and Howe still had their supporters. But anybody who didn't have Gretzky #1 by '88, wouldn't be convinced to put him there based on anything he did after that.

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07-07-2013, 02:50 PM
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In 1983 The Hockey News ran a "Top 10" issue where they polled some players, ex-players, coaches, writers, broadcasters, etc. about the 10 best so-and-sos in various categories. One of the categories was greatest player of all-time. Gretzky finished 4th. Keep in mind, he was only 22 and hadn't won a Cup yet.

By '87 or '88, he was probably the most popular choice. I wouldn't say consensus choice, because Orr and Howe still had their supporters. But anybody who didn't have Gretzky #1 by '88, wouldn't be convinced to put him there based on anything he did after that.
I'd love to see the full results of those polls if you have them.

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07-07-2013, 03:21 PM
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I seem to recall it just sort of evolved from him being nicknamed "The Great One" to the "Greatest Ever" type dealeo. Morphed organically from about 81/82 to about 87 when after shattering just about every record in the book it was rather apparent, undeniable, that we were all witness to someone very special indeed. Remember too, he wasnt even the first pick in the OHA Midget Draft, selected 3rd. An awful lot of naysayers until he turned it upside down in Edmonton and even then, to this day, people who refuse acknowledge just how smart a player he was.

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07-07-2013, 03:22 PM
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Wow, this might be the best thing I've ever read on Gretzky/Lemieux. Thanks for that "ice-level" insight, something that sports writers never really have the ability to uncover. You are right, I never really saw those subtleties as for more than they seemed -- mere "subtleties". Your last line is spot on. Game 2 of the 1987 Canada Cup might be the best example of "chemistry" I've ever seen in one hockey game. Both players had the ability to make time stand still, or better put -- to make 1 second seem like an eternity. Mario did this more often than Wayne, I think. With Wayne, time was more elastic: Yes, he could slow it down as needed, but he could also speed it up, and then stretch it. The space and geometry of a hockey arena made the game ever so malleable to him, it seemed. The play would find him, the puck would find him. Things just found him.... Someone once observed, to paraphrase: "Like a tennis racquet has a sweet spot, there is a sweet spot in time. And when the time is right, Gretzky goes to that spot."
Killion is one of the most insightful posters on this forum.

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07-07-2013, 03:24 PM
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In 1983 The Hockey News ran a "Top 10" issue where they polled some players, ex-players, coaches, writers, broadcasters, etc. about the 10 best so-and-sos in various categories. One of the categories was greatest player of all-time. Gretzky finished 4th. Keep in mind, he was only 22 and hadn't won a Cup yet.

By '87 or '88, he was probably the most popular choice. I wouldn't say consensus choice, because Orr and Howe still had their supporters. But anybody who didn't have Gretzky #1 by '88, wouldn't be convinced to put him there based on anything he did after that.
I would bet money that if Gretzky retires in 1988, that almost nobody considers Orr to be the best player ever and that Don Cherry is laughed at for saying it. Also interesting is the comparison of "what if Howe retired after nine seasons". He'd have been third all-time in scoring, second in PPG among played with 129+ games and fifth overall, and would have just won four straight scoring titles by wide margins.

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07-07-2013, 03:25 PM
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I seem to recall it just sort of evolved from him being nicknamed "The Great One" to the "Greatest Ever" type dealeo. Morphed organically from about 81/82 to about 87 when after shattering just about every record in the book it was rather apparent, undeniable, that we were all witness to someone very special indeed. Remember too, he wasnt even the first pick in the OHA Midget Draft, selected 3rd. An awful lot of naysayers until he turned it upside down in Edmonton and even then, to this day, people who refuse acknowledge just how smart a player he was.
I still see people to this day try to marginalize Gretzky because of his playing style as if he was some sort of fraud for playing the way he did. It's mind boggling really as the results speak for them themselves.

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07-07-2013, 03:34 PM
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I still see people to this day try to marginalize Gretzky because of his playing style as if he was some sort of fraud
BREAKING SCANDAL: Wayne Gretzky to be charged with hockey fraud! If convicted, he may have his records and championships stripped from him! Prosecutors are expected to provide evidence that Gretzky had some kind of knowledge or "forethought" of how the play was developing, and that it gave him an unfair advantage!

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07-07-2013, 03:36 PM
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BREAKING SCANDAL: Wayne Gretzky to be charged with hockey fraud! If convicted, he may have his records and championships stripped from him! Prosecutors are expected to provide evidence that Gretzky had some kind of knowledge or "forethought" of how the play was developing, and that it gave him an unfair advantage!
Not bad!

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07-07-2013, 03:50 PM
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Killion is one of the most insightful posters on this forum.
Sure if you can get past his "corporate textbook boring style" that is.

The guy needs to add some flair to his thoughts.

Maybe a sip or two of fine Okanogan wine would help?

#justsaying (my kids hate it when I hashtag outside of twitter and I live to aggravate them.

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07-07-2013, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by tazzy19 View Post
In 1985-86, Gretzky won the scoring title by 74 points, obliterating 2nd place Mario Lemieux -- and broke records (of course, his own) with 163 assists and 215 points. Yet the players still gave the Pearson to Lemieux as the best player in the game. Why is this?
From the time he was a pee wee player he had haters and jealous types chastising him. It was no different in the NHL. I mean this was a guy who broke into the NHL and didn't just dominate. He embarrassed the league and its records. Now not by his choice. This was not his goal. He was just that good. I believe a lot of the Canadian public at the time resented this kid having so much fun doing this while looking like he should be asking 'do you want fries with that' at some hamburger joint. (Can you imagine if Michael Jordan looked like a 6'6" Erkel?) It came so easy to him. As Killion stated, his on-ice moves were so subtle even at ice-level they were hard to pick up. I think it took a long time for hockey observers and players not on his team to really appreciate what he was doing. As I've said before, it wasn't until after the trade that the Canadian public as a whole really understood and appreciated what he did in hockey. Now he was across the border and we just lost are greatest Canadian asset since oil and water. Ok, misunderstood, perhaps in the sense of most geniuses, yeah. However, most geniuses are ignored or called crazy during their time rather than idolized, resented and called lucky. Most geniuses are shut-ins, doing their thing until they find a way to communicate their invention to the general public in an understandable way. Gretzky was a genius right in the mix challenging the egos of every Canadian who ever played or watched the game. Personally, I hated him. Being 12 at the time of his onslaught on the NHL; my younger brother idolizing him and the Oilers trouncing the Habs in 3 games. That Habs team was old but still a formidable force. Gretzky embarrassed the most revered franchise in the history of hockey. Huh? A lot of this just didn't compute for us. It took years to settle in, years to get past our denial and personal biases, years to finally say, "Wow! That's incredible!" Of course I am speaking more for myself than the Canadian public as a whole, but I think I probably speak for a lot of Canadians.

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07-07-2013, 04:36 PM
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tazzy19
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Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
From the time he was a pee wee player he had haters and jealous types chastising him. It was no different in the NHL. I mean this was a guy who broke into the NHL and didn't just dominate. He embarrassed the league and its records. Now not by his choice. This was not his goal. He was just that good. I believe a lot of the Canadian public at the time resented this kid having so much fun doing this while looking like he should be asking 'do you want fries with that' at some hamburger joint. (Can you imagine if Michael Jordan looked like a 6'6" Erkel?) It came so easy to him. As Killion stated, his on-ice moves were so subtle even at ice-level they were hard to pick up. I think it took a long time for hockey observers and players not on his team to really appreciate what he was doing. As I've said before, it wasn't until after the trade that the Canadian public as a whole really understood and appreciated what he did in hockey. Now he was across the border and we just lost are greatest Canadian asset since oil and water. Ok, misunderstood, perhaps in the sense of most geniuses, yeah. However, most geniuses are ignored or called crazy during their time rather than idolized, resented and called lucky. Most geniuses are shut-ins, doing their thing until they find a way to communicate their invention to the general public in an understandable way. Gretzky was a genius right in the mix challenging the egos of every Canadian who ever played or watched the game. Personally, I hated him. Being 12 at the time of his onslaught on the NHL; my younger brother idolizing him and the Oilers trouncing the Habs in 3 games. That Habs team was old but still a formidable force. Gretzky embarrassed the most revered franchise in the history of hockey. Huh? A lot of this just didn't compute for us. It took years to settle in, years to get past our denial and personal biases, years to finally say, "Wow! That's incredible!" Of course I am speaking more for myself than the Canadian public as a whole, but I think I probably speak for a lot of Canadians.
Very interesting observations, and you are probably spot on. How did you feel after watching the 1987 Canada Cup, now that he was on your side, and pretty much toying with arguably the most talented team ever in hockey (specifically game 2 against Russia)?

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07-07-2013, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
BREAKING SCANDAL: Wayne Gretzky to be charged with hockey fraud! If convicted, he may have his records and championships stripped from him! Prosecutors are expected to provide evidence that Gretzky had some kind of knowledge or "forethought" of how the play was developing, and that it gave him an unfair advantage!
I did hear that some people used to joke that Gretzky must be "doing it with mirrors", and the irony is I also heard -- after he retired -- that he admitted that he did use the reflection in the glass to make passes without looking.

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