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Round 2, Vote 1 (HOH Top Centers)

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Old
10-22-2013, 12:24 PM
  #26
TheDevilMadeMe
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
At the time of his retirement, Morenz was 4th all-time in games played (Joliat, Clancy, Finnigan) and his 14 seasons could be viewed as exceptional all the way up until the expansion era.
Somewhat of a nitpick, but Morenz didn't retire - he died as a result of complications from a broken leg suffered in a collision with Earl Seibert at the age of 34.

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10-22-2013, 12:29 PM
  #27
tarheelhockey
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Somewhat of a nitpick, but Morenz didn't retire - he died as a result of complications from a broken leg suffered in a collision with Earl Seibert at the age of 34.
Yes, there's that. I didn't have that in mind at all when I was looking at the numbers.

Had Morenz simply completed that season, he would have passed Finnigan for 3rd place. Both Finnigan and Clancy hung 'em up that same season (1937), so one could speculate that Morenz could have passed Clancy for the #2 spot if he had played another year or two. I don't know if he had any intentions on continuing to play beyond 1937, though.

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10-22-2013, 12:32 PM
  #28
Hawkey Town 18
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Morenz All Star Teams

As TDMM said, post season all star teams were not around for part of Howie Morenz's career. When doing a bio of Morenz for the ATD two years ago I awarded Morenz 3 Unofficial All-Star Team placements (2 1st Team, 1 2nd) found through research.

One 1st team was based on the 1928 GM-picked team that TDMM referenced above.


The other 1st team was for 1926-27 based off of a New York Times article...

New York Times, April 4, 1927
Quote:
With the hockey stick-swingers still briskly battling away for the Stanley Cup, several readers have thought this a golden opportunity to raise the issue of an all-star hockey team. Step up and take your pick. Almost everybody agrees that Howie Morenz of the Canadiens belongs at centre ice on any all-star combination. Beyond that, all agreements are off.

The 2nd team was awarded for the 1924-25 season in which Morenz finished runner-up for the Hart behind another center.

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10-22-2013, 12:37 PM
  #29
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Mikita at #5. I almost ranked Messier over Mikita during round 1, but decided that would just be too contrarian. 4 Art Rosses was just two hard to ignore even if Stan "only" won the 2 Harts and didn't quite have the playoff heroics of some other centers here. I really do want to see evidence that Mikita was a strong two-way player while he was in his offensive prime.
I don't think there's any reason to suspect weakness of support to Mikita's defensive game. It's not exactly hard to come up with a plethora of sources that will lend credit to Mikita's performance on both sides of the puck. A quick search came up with a quote of interest from a former coach, Billy Reay:

"He could shoot, stick handle, make plays, and play defense... The two years in which he led the National Hockey League in scoring, he also had the best defensive record in the league." (source)

I'm sure "defensive record" has a lot to do with his faceoff record, but with a reputation for top-notch puck possession and winning faceoffs, as well as having faced top scoring lines (weren't he and Hull on different lines that early on?) while Hall backstopped back-to-back shutouts (pretty much "unheard of", as it was described in one account I've read) to dethrone the defending Cup champion Habs, it's not hard to imagine that he "epitomized" what it meant to be a top "2-way player" by any definition from the era - even/especially in his highest scoring days.

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10-22-2013, 12:39 PM
  #30
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I wouldn't count on Morenz doing much more than finishing off the season.

His last full year (35-36) he finished 36th in scoring or 15th among centers. In an 8 team league that really doesn't say much. He certainly rebounded in 36-37, on pace for a 15th place finish (6th among centers). I just don't see a 35 year old Morenz kicking it.

We can play the what-if game, but it doesn't change the fact that Morenz had the best longevity of his era.

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10-22-2013, 12:44 PM
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
The argument for Lemieux over Gretzky, in a nutshell:

1) The eye test. At one point in my life, I would have told you that Lemieux was a better hockey player than Gretzky. He just looked THAT good, on an aesthetic level in my mind with Muhammad Ali, Pele and Barry Sanders as jaw-droppingly, sublimely talented athletes who simply did whatever the hell they wanted against world-class competition. Grace and power in motion, at a level that maybe Bobby Orr could match.

2) The "what-if?" game. I think we've all been around this block a few times already. Gretzky played on a dynasty during his youth, while Lemieux basically carried the Pens on his back and won Cups as soon as they gave him something to work with. Lemieux made Kevin Stevens and Rob Brown into 50-goal scorers. Lemieux was passing to Brown when he reached the 200-point range, whereas Gretzky was passing to Kurri. What happens to those point totals if they swap wingers? Also, Lemieux's longevity was severely affected by injury and by cancer -- considering he came back and dominated at age 40, is it really fair to say he had less staying power than Gretzky?

3) The "Gretzky is overrated" angle. Wayne was the ultimate right-place-right-time story, as the playmaking center on a firewagon team during the highest-scoring period in history. Several of his teammates went on to Hall of Fame careers, and would have done so regardless whether they played with Wayne or not. Had he played primarily in the 1990s, when goalies were larger and more fundamentally sound, and opposing teams were far more willing to take liberties with slightly-built superstars, perhaps Gretzky's numbers come back down to earth a bit. Lemieux certainly never showed a lack of ability to score at will on 1990s goalies and to fight through 1990s obstruction, but Gretzky looked a bit less impressive as time wore on. It's common to hear from fans who were young in the 1990s that they were astonished by Lemieux and underwhelmed by Gretzky.

What the argument boils down to is that Lemieux was simply a better player than Gretzky, a force of nature that went largely to waste due to not being in the right time and place. That if you were drafting a team to win it all, you would be well served to take Mario #1.



^ I hope I represented that argument accurately. I think all the major points are in there.
Bravo buddy, bravo. As i'd like to remember it it was mainly you and me that mostly pushed Black Hawk Glenn Hall to fourth overall during the goalie project. I think the most important thing concerning your post here to comment, and probably the only one thing to add, is concerning your third paragraph.
Gretzkys dissappearence as a goalscorer starting allready in the last years of the eighties. Well before any so called "career-altering" injury by Gary Suter that seems so popular to push for as a law of nature, although the Great One hardly missed any games at all after it, and surely did not miss nothing compared to Le Magnifique. This brings us back to your first paragraph, the Eye Test. Lemieux was the better goal scorer of the two, he had no hinderence in that compartment, no matter the era, no Suter involved. But of course, i am the first to say that Gretzky was the better playmaker. It's up to the voters here, since i managed to hinder myself from sending a qualifying list in, to weigh these two qualities together. And from that result, decide what weight for longeivity they feel should be added to it. My thought is clear, that at their very best, by watching the games, relative stats and surrounding influences, shows that Lemieux at his peak was the better player.


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10-22-2013, 12:54 PM
  #32
Hawkey Town 18
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Regardless of the argument over who was better at their peak between Gretzky and Lemieux, I just see no way for Lemieux to overcome Gretzky's longevity. Lemieux had 10 seasons of 60+ games, Gretzky had 15 seasons as a top-2 center in the game (according to AS teams) and 16 seasons as a top-4 scorer. Even if you think Lemieux had the better peak (which I do not), is the gap so large to make up for that big a difference in number of elite seasons?

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10-22-2013, 12:55 PM
  #33
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Originally Posted by Ohashi_Jouzu View Post
I don't think there's any reason to suspect weakness of support to Mikita's defensive game. It's not exactly hard to come up with a plethora of sources that will lend credit to Mikita's performance on both sides of the puck. A quick search came up with a quote of interest from a former coach, Billy Reay:

"He could shoot, stick handle, make plays, and play defense... The two years in which he led the National Hockey League in scoring, he also had the best defensive record in the league." (source)

I'm sure "defensive record" has a lot to do with his faceoff record, but with a reputation for top-notch puck possession and winning faceoffs, as well as having faced top scoring lines (weren't he and Hull on different lines that early on?) while Hall backstopped back-to-back shutouts (pretty much "unheard of", as it was described in one account I've read) to dethrone the defending Cup champion Habs, it's not hard to imagine that he "epitomized" what it meant to be a top "2-way player" by any definition from the era - even/especially in his highest scoring days.
I have no idea what he means by "best defensive record in the league." Unofficial plus/minus? Yes, Mikita and Hull were usually on different lines at even strength. Mikita often went head to head against the top center of the other team, while Hull often went head to head against the top RW of the other team. From what I gather, the Hawks didn't really have any defensive specialists, so they often went strength vs strength.

Edit: Opposing teams all seemed to focus on shutting down Hull.


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Old
10-22-2013, 12:59 PM
  #34
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Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
Regardless of the argument over who was better at their peak between Gretzky and Lemieux, I just see no way for Lemieux to overcome Gretzky's longevity. Lemieux had 10 seasons of 60+ games, Gretzky had 15 seasons as a top-2 center in the game (according to AS teams) and 16 seasons as a top-4 scorer. Even if you think Lemieux had the better peak (which I do not), is the gap so large to make up for that big a difference in number of elite seasons?
There is no good argument that Lemieux was better than Gretzky.

tarheel just listed the usual suspects attempted..

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10-22-2013, 01:05 PM
  #35
tarheelhockey
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Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
I wouldn't count on Morenz doing much more than finishing off the season.

His last full year (35-36) he finished 36th in scoring or 15th among centers. In an 8 team league that really doesn't say much. He certainly rebounded in 36-37, on pace for a 15th place finish (6th among centers). I just don't see a 35 year old Morenz kicking it.

We can play the what-if game, but it doesn't change the fact that Morenz had the best longevity of his era.
Agreed, whether he would have finished #2 or #4 is trivial compared to the overall point that virtually nobody played as long as he did in that era.

This also highlights a point that I think will become thematic in my personal voting -- length of prime vs. length of career. I might give "brownie points" at some level for a player who continues to hold on and play at a lower level, but IMO prime performance is far more important in all-time ranking than cumulative numbers. So, unless the player is a Bourque or Selanne I am probably not going to give a lot of credence to pure longevity.

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10-22-2013, 01:08 PM
  #36
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post

This also highlights a point that I think will become thematic in my personal voting -- length of prime vs. length of career. I might give "brownie points" at some level for a player who continues to hold on and play at a lower level, but IMO prime performance is far more important in all-time ranking than cumulative numbers. So, unless the player is a Bourque or Selanne I am probably not going to give a lot of credence to pure longevity.
Absolutely, me too. That's what I mean when I mention longevity as an elite (or impact) player.


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Old
10-22-2013, 01:49 PM
  #37
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My top 10:

1. Gretzky
2. Mario
3. Beliveau
4. Morenz
5. Mikita
6. Esposito
7. Nighbor
8. Clarke
9. Trottier
10.Messier

Basically, Mario had a better chance being 3rd then 1st, but I gave Him the benefit of the doubt due to His injuries and Illness. Esposito's peak as the top forward in the game from 1968-75 was too strong for Me to ignore and was possibly over-shadowed by some player named Orr even on His own team. Nighbor was most likely the best 2 way Center in the history of the game and Clarke was right behind Him in most Historian's eyes. Trottier was ranked next due to the fact that Messier played LW until age 23 and held on about 4 years too long and only finished in the top 5 of scoring 3 times in His 23 year career. Out of everyone on My list, numbers 7-10 could change depending on compelling discussions.

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10-22-2013, 01:51 PM
  #38
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My top 10:

1. Gretzky
2. Mario
3. Beliveau
4. Morenz
5. Mikita
6. Esposito
7. Nighbor
8. Clarke
9. Trottier
10.Messier

Basically, Mario had a better chance being 3rd then 1st, but I gave Him the benefit of the doubt due to His injuries and Illness. Esposito's peak as the top forward in the game from 1968-75 was too strong for Me to ignore and was possibly over-shadowed by some player named Orr even on His own team. Nighbor was most likely the best 2 way Center in the history of the game and Clarke was right behind Him in most Historian's eyes. Trottier was ranked next due to the fact that Messier played LW until age 23 and held on about 4 years too long and only finished in the top 5 of scoring 3 times in His 23 year career. Out of everyone on My list, numbers 7-10 could change depending on compelling discussions.
I really hate this being used against Messier. Would he be a better player in your eyes if he retired after 1996-97 at the age of 37? I don't think what Messier did after 1997 adds anything to his legacy, but I don't see why it takes anything away, either.

Edit: By comparison, Bryan Trottier's last season as a point-per-game player (in high-scoring 80s) came at the age of 31 and he retired after his age 35 season. He had a brief, mostly unsuccessful comeback at the age of 37. Messier was a Hart finalist at the age of 36.

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10-22-2013, 02:03 PM
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ted1971 View Post
My top 10:

1. Gretzky
2. Mario
3. Beliveau
4. Morenz
5. Mikita
6. Esposito
7. Nighbor
8. Clarke
9. Trottier
10.Messier

Basically, Mario had a better chance being 3rd then 1st, but I gave Him the benefit of the doubt due to His injuries and Illness. Esposito's peak as the top forward in the game from 1968-75 was too strong for Me to ignore and was possibly over-shadowed by some player named Orr even on His own team. Nighbor was most likely the best 2 way Center in the history of the game and Clarke was right behind Him in most Historian's eyes. Trottier was ranked next due to the fact that Messier played LW until age 23 and held on about 4 years too long and only finished in the top 5 of scoring 3 times in His 23 year career. Out of everyone on My list, numbers 7-10 could change depending on compelling discussions.
Mario having a better chance of being third that first? Take a hard look at your own avatar, Lindros standing there beside Clarke. Sip in that image, experience that evolution that both Gretzky and Lemieux went through. If you happen to be a more modern guy than that, then lets reminice an image centering Lindros and Messier, Gretzkys teammate, and tell me, that Lemieux did not end up supreme. Gretzky would maybe score 50+110 today, while Lemieux would do 75+90. Solid.

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10-22-2013, 02:14 PM
  #40
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One word on positions.

I think that, if a player is considered at center for the purposes of this project, then he should be deemed being a center for his whole career. It would avoid the inconsistency of punishing a guy who played 4 years at wing, while voting in players who didn't even play that many seasons at C. Besides, Messier is de facto ineligible for the eventual winger list, so taking something away from him here wouldn't make much sense once all the lists are over.

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10-22-2013, 02:14 PM
  #41
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who benefitted the most from their linemates:

Trottier had one of the greatest scorers of all-time in Bossy.

Esposito had Orr.

Did Mikita play with Hull that much 5 on 5, or were they mostly together on the PP?

Beliveau had Richard for several years.

Messier I assume was only mostly with Wayne on the PP only. Won the Hart without Wayne, and carried the Rangers to their Cup in 94.

Clarke had Leach.

Morenz.... did he play with Lalonde?

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10-22-2013, 02:14 PM
  #42
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Chronic injury is not something I give any player a break on. There are a few things that can cause this: their body is naturally weaker, they aren't taking care of themselves, or their playing style is constantly putting them in harms way. I think all three were contributing factors to Lemieux, and I see no reason why he shouldn't be docked for them.

The cancer aspect is completely different. There is a lot of gray area as to how many games his cancer ultimately caused him to miss. We do know that Lemieux had injury problems long before the cancer showed up.
IMO, missed time is missed time, giving allowances for the 3, or is it 4 lockouts now Gary? and some for WW2 as well.

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10-22-2013, 02:15 PM
  #43
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who benefitted the most from their linemates:

Trottier had one of the greatest scorers of all-time in Bossy.

Esposito had Orr.

Did Mikita play with Hull that much 5 on 5, or were they mostly together on the PP?

Beliveau had Richard for several years.

Messier I assume was only mostly with Wayne on the PP only. Won the Hart without Wayne, and carried the Rangers to their Cup in 94.

Clarke had Leach.

Morenz.... did he play with Lalonde?
Morenz mostly played with Joliat, Gagnon and Boucher (Billy)

Richard was never a regular linemate of Bill.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 10-22-2013 at 02:31 PM. Reason: merged short posts
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10-22-2013, 02:16 PM
  #44
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My top four (and I'm sure many others) is identical to yours. I have Esposito at 5 (I can't overlook his statistical dominance and his play in the 72 SS). After that it's really a crapshoot. I have Messier as the last in the bunch as I feel he had the lowest peak out of himself, Mikita, Clarke and Trottier. For all the talk of his longevity, I don't see his peak being high enough to beat those guys out.

That being said, I'm totally willing to change and when I submitted my list I almost had Messier over Trottier.

I find Mikita, Clarke and Nighbor to be hard to rate as so much of their legacy is based on their defensive play. If anyone has a writeup/stats for these guys I'd love to see them.


Edit: For all the talk of Messier carrying his team to the cup in 94: Are we all forgetting just how good Brian Leetch was?

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10-22-2013, 02:21 PM
  #45
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Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
I wouldn't count on Morenz doing much more than finishing off the season.

His last full year (35-36) he finished 36th in scoring or 15th among centers. In an 8 team league that really doesn't say much. He certainly rebounded in 36-37, on pace for a 15th place finish (6th among centers). I just don't see a 35 year old Morenz kicking it.

We can play the what-if game, but it doesn't change the fact that Morenz had the best longevity of his era.
Yes Morenz is an interesting case and while I really hate comparing pre WW2 players with more current ones it has to be done.

That being said given his reputation as the best player in the world before WW2, isn't it odd he only led the NHL statistically 4 times in any category, all 3 in 1928 and in points in 31. Is it simply bad luck or should a guy in the mix for top 10 centers of all time, in such a small league, or should have he had more 1st place finishes?

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10-22-2013, 02:26 PM
  #46
Hawkey Town 18
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IMO, missed time is missed time, giving allowances for the 3, or is it 4 lockouts now Gary? and some for WW2 as well.
We give players credit for being naturally stronger, faster, more coordinated, etc. than other players. We discredit players for being naturally slower, weaker, less coordinated, etc. than other players. Why is the body's natural durability not on the table when everything else is?


EDIT: Missing because of injury is different than missing because of a lockout or war


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10-22-2013, 02:29 PM
  #47
tarheelhockey
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I really hate this being used against Messier. Would he be a better player in your eyes if he retired after 1996-97 at the age of 37? I don't think what Messier did after 1997 adds anything to his legacy, but I don't see why it takes anything away, either.
I think it took away significantly from his reputation as a leader and franchise-changer. His time in Vancouver was a debacle for which many have still not forgiven him. Egotistical, divisive, distracting. Severely reduced the legacy of a player who had to that point been seen as one of the very best captains in history.

Quote:
Edit: By comparison, Bryan Trottier's last season as a point-per-game player (in high-scoring 80s) came at the age of 31 and he retired after his age 35 season. He had a brief, mostly unsuccessful comeback at the age of 37. Messier was a Hart finalist at the age of 36.
I get what you're saying here, though. Trottier's career ended with a thud and that really needs to be addressed.

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10-22-2013, 02:29 PM
  #48
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IMO, missed time is missed time, giving allowances for the 3, or is it 4 lockouts now Gary? and some for WW2 as well.
There's quite a bit of a difference between WW and lockouts, and I really hope not having to explain it at this stage of my existence...

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10-22-2013, 02:29 PM
  #49
Hawkey Town 18
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One word on positions.

I think that, if a player is considered at center for the purposes of this project, then he should be deemed being a center for his whole career. It would avoid the inconsistency of punishing a guy who played 4 years at wing, while voting in players who didn't even play that many seasons at C. Besides, Messier is de facto ineligible for the eventual winger list, so taking something away from him here wouldn't make much sense once all the lists are over.
You are correct, and this is in the OP of the Preliminary Discussion thread.
Quote:
[*]A player who qualifies as a center should be ranked based on his overall accomplishments as a forward or hockey player.

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10-22-2013, 02:31 PM
  #50
tarheelhockey
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There's quite a bit of a difference between WW and lockouts, and I really hope not having to explain it at this stage of my existence...
Not in terms of evaluating players, though. Whether it's war or lockout, a player shouldn't be penalized for total inability to play at a particular time.

To me, the tricky thing is figuring out how not to penalize him OR give him extra "theoretical" credit for that time period. It's a fine line to walk.

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