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Generational Talent Entering the League

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07-15-2014, 10:10 AM
  #1
Randomtask68
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Generational Talent Entering the League

This is more of an observation than a question, but thinking about some of the greatest players to play in the NHL, it is somewhat curious how some of them ended up on the teams where they began their careers.

1) Wayne Gretzky: Played in the WHA before entering the NHL and was moved to the Oilers, signing a 10 year personal service contract before the league folded. This prevented him from being eligible for the 1979 entry draft, and the rest is history. Just seems amazing that the player widely considered the best of all time A) Played professionally in another North American league before playing in the NHL and B) Did not enter the draft and change the luck of a franchise finishing last in the league.

2) Maurice Richard: Failed on two occasions to join the Canadian military during World War 2 due to injuries suffered playing hockey. Ends up taking advantage of a watered down league with so many players away and becomes a legend with Montreal, ultimately scoring 50 in 50 during the 44-45 season. I know other great hockey players and athletes in other sports served in the military during this era but just thought it was interesting that someone as prominent as Richard tried multiple times to enlist and could've missed his career defining season in the process. The War itself also partially helped him making the team with so many players enlisted.

3) Eric Lindros: First of all, I learned through my other thread on this board about how the NHL decided that instead of an expansion team (San Jose) receiving the first overall pick in the 1991 draft, the last place team (Quebec) would receive the pick. Not only does Lindros, deemed "The Next One", refuse to play for Quebec and demand a trade, but returns to junior for a bit and then plays for the Canadian National Team instead of play in the NHL for the entire 91-92 season. Obviously Quebec trades Lindros in one of the biggest hockey deals ever and the deal, along with moving to Colorado and trading for Roy, propel them to a championship. Lindros goes on to have an incredible but injury plagued career and the Quebec situation is sort of a black mark on his career.

4) Sidney Crosby: Regardless of whether or not someone thinks the lottery was "rigged", it's pretty unique for every team in the league to have a chance to win the right to draft such a hyped and touted player like Sidney Crosby. The direction of a franchise and the league as a whole was dictated on a system that was never used before or since due to the full season lockout. Obviously the lottery at any given year back then would create a pool of 5 teams which could win and draft first overall, but to have someone like Crosby available to the entire league to some degree is fairly remarkable.

5) Guy Lafleur: He enters the league through the draft in typical fashion, but the team that had just won the Cup (Montreal) makes a few savvy trades and ends up with the first overall pick in a year where the top two players were Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne. Both were incredible talents but one became a fixture in Canadien legend and the other is maybe best known for being the best player to never win a Cup.

Edit: Jean Beliveau, considering the Canadiens bought the entire Quebec Senior Hockey League to force him to go pro.


Last edited by Randomtask68: 07-15-2014 at 10:16 AM.
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07-15-2014, 03:03 PM
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Killion
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Yep, and very interesting stories behind all of those listed, Maurice Richards one of my favorites.... grew up hard with 6 brothers & sisters, had to quit school to go to work full-time to help support the family, getting a job working with his father who was a Machinist with the railway. Heavy duty stuff. Tried to Enlist in the Infantry at 18 so he could go knife-fight Nazi's & kick Hitlers Butt... Rejected as being physically unfit having previously broken his femur, both wrists AND both ankles playing hockey, and none of the injuries had really ever healed properly.... Then he tried to Enlist as a Machinist having spent now over 2yrs working heavy metal in the rail yards & shops of Montreal.... and again in another case of military ill-logic; because he didnt have a High School Diploma, they refused to acknowledge or accept his accreditation as a Machinist & rejected his application.... so he instead gathers up his 4 barely functioning limbs, crawls I guess, maybe pushes himself over on a skid with wheels on it to the Montreal Forum where he's actually kinda like forced to beg them for a tryout....

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07-16-2014, 01:25 AM
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Bobby Orr?


and Daigle?


And what about Oveckin? I know, he is not Canadian, but he was also touted as the "next one".

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07-16-2014, 09:07 AM
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Randomtask68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alko View Post
Bobby Orr?


and Daigle?


And what about Oveckin? I know, he is not Canadian, but he was also touted as the "next one".
Well, the point of the thread was to show the strange/unique situations that generational talent found their way into the NHL, not just generational players in general. I was thinking about using Orr for this thread but didn't want to get into the players who entered the league through a C-form, although the circumstances surrounding Orr's beginnings with the Bruins seem fairly unique considering the hoops they jumped through to sign him at such a young age. Daigle was hyped but never panned out and entered the league through the draft in a traditional manner so I didn't think he would qualify for what I was looking for, although the allegations of tanking that year did influence the decision to put a lottery in place for future drafts. That's the same reason I didn't use Mario Lemieux, other than the tanking allegations against Pittsburgh, there wasn't anything extraordinary about him ending up in Pittsburgh. And Ovechkin's talent qualifies but I didn't feel that his entrance in the league seemed any different than most players drafted first overall. The Capitals won the draft lottery and chose Ovechkin and he played for them as soon as possible, nothing special to discuss really unless I'm missing something.

Although maybe not on the same tier as the players in the OP, other players who have unique backstories include:

- Peter Stastny and his brothers escaping Czechoslovakia while it was under Communist control to play for Quebec.

- Pavel Bure and the investigation following the 1989 draft where he was deemed ineligible for the draft and was passed over by the Red Wings but then selected by the Canucks. According to Wikipedia it wasn't until right before the 1990 draft that the draft choice was upheld.

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07-17-2014, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randomtask68 View Post
Although maybe not on the same tier as the players in the OP, other players who have unique backstories include:

- Peter Stastny and his brothers escaping Czechoslovakia while it was under Communist control to play for Quebec.

- Pavel Bure and the investigation following the 1989 draft where he was deemed ineligible for the draft and was passed over by the Red Wings but then selected by the Canucks. According to Wikipedia it wasn't until right before the 1990 draft that the draft choice was upheld.
Then also you should consider Alexander Mogilnyj. Or even Jevgenij Malkin and his departure to North America. It was like in middle 80s.
But i dont know, if they qualify to "Generational Talent" class.

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07-17-2014, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alko View Post
Then also you should consider Alexander Mogilnyj. Or even Jevgenij Malkin and his departure to North America. It was like in middle 80s.
But i dont know, if they qualify to "Generational Talent" class.
Jagr should be included. He was regarded as the best player from the 1990 Draft but because Czechoslovakia was still Communist at the time of the Draft, teams were a bit reluctant to take him and so his draft position dropped. He then coincidentally ended up being drafted 5th overall by the Penguins. Communism crumbled and Jagr didn't even have to defect. The rest is history as they say.

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07-17-2014, 04:16 PM
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Ogie Goldthorpe
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Lemieux (who it seems the Pens did tank to get) was upset with the state of his contract negotiations leading up to the draft and refused to shake GM Eddie Johnston's hand or don Pittsburgh's jersey.

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07-18-2014, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ogie Goldthorpe View Post
Lemieux (who it seems the Pens did tank to get) was upset with the state of his contract negotiations leading up to the draft and refused to shake GM Eddie Johnston's hand or don Pittsburgh's jersey.
Was there any legitimate fear that he would hold out?

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07-18-2014, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alko View Post
Then also you should consider Alexander Mogilnyj. Or even Jevgenij Malkin and his departure to North America. It was like in middle 80s.
But i dont know, if they qualify to "Generational Talent" class.
Quote:
Originally Posted by livewell68 View Post
Jagr should be included. He was regarded as the best player from the 1990 Draft but because Czechoslovakia was still Communist at the time of the Draft, teams were a bit reluctant to take him and so his draft position dropped. He then coincidentally ended up being drafted 5th overall by the Penguins. Communism crumbled and Jagr didn't even have to defect. The rest is history as they say.
No, Malkin nor Jagr should enter into the conversation when it comes to what Molginy did. He is in a class of his own as far as circumstances and the impact they had both within the sport as well as an international incident. The Sabres actually helped him defect. He wore #89 as a memorial to both the year he defected and the place he was chosen in the draft.

He may not have been a generational talent, but Molginy's actions helped open the door to Russian players in the NHL on a more regular basis and it was at a time when turmoil was the norm in the former USSR. His story is most certainly very interesting.

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07-18-2014, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by static80 View Post
No, Malkin nor Jagr should enter into the conversation when it comes to what Molginy did. He is in a class of his own as far as circumstances and the impact they had both within the sport as well as an international incident. The Sabres actually helped him defect. He wore #89 as a memorial to both the year he defected and the place he was chosen in the draft.

He may not have been a generational talent, but Molginy's actions helped open the door to Russian players in the NHL on a more regular basis and it was at a time when turmoil was the norm in the former USSR. His story is most certainly very interesting.
Do you even know why Jagr wears # 68?

Saying that someone did something for the Russians/ Soviets while the other player did nothing for the Czechs is plain ignorance and partisan.

Jagr's entry into the league was as difficult as they come, sort of like what the Stastny brothers had to endure and Jagr paved the way for the Czechs and Slovaks.


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07-19-2014, 10:53 AM
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If we are looking for some commonalities, the word I would use to connect Gretzky/Lindros/Crosby is "litigious."

to the best of my knowledge, the Gretzky family was the first to use the Canadian Court system to (unsuccessfully) gain some control over Wayne could play as a young teenager (Gretzky et. al v. CAHA, 1975). He lost this "resiency rule" court challenge but still left minor hockey forever and joined an unsanctioned jr. B team instead.

I still get a chuckle over Walter Gretzky's quip, delivered shortly after Wayne was selected by the Soo in the midget priority selection draft two years later. I'll have to paraphrase here, but his line went something like this: "the ******** argued in court two years ago that playing hockey 40 miles from home would cause irreparable harm to Wayne and that they couldn't allow it, and now they argue that if he doesn't play hockey 600 miles from home he will suffer irreparable harm."

Outlining the Lindros family's use of the legal system would fill a book. I've sometimes legitimately wondered what percentage of his career earnings ended up frittered away on legal fees. Unbelievably litigious family. And like Gretzky (and Crosby, which I will outline in a moment), the Big E chose to play outside of the Canadian governing bodies' jurisdictions when he joined the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors of the NAHL rather than acquiesce to the "play where we tell you" rules of Canadian major junior hockey.

Crosby might surprise you. His parents took a path similar to Gretzky's and sued the Nova Scotia ice Hockey Federation and the local minor hockey association to allow Sid to "play up," which they would not allow. Like Gretzky before him, Crosby lost this legal challenge, but rather than seek out an unsanctioned jr. B club like Grtetzky, he instead moved to Minnesota and enrolled at Shattuck-St. Mary's, an exclusive "hockey factory" school. His sister, an aspiring 15 year old goaltender, is there today.

Now, all three players challenged the authority of Canadian hockey's governing bodies, yet all three eventually became poster children for Hockey Canada and its programs.

Gretzky, we know, played a lot of international hockey for Canada and eventually became the executive director of Canada's Olympic endeavours, which is under the auspices of Hockey Canada, a group he'd sued.

Lindros, we know, was eventually named Captain of Canada's olympic team and, years before, was somewhat controversially allowed to join the Dave King-coached Canada's men's national national team program (not the WJC entry).

Crosby is currently a Team Canada stalwart and even appears as a "timbits" player in a popular television commercial. He is frequently used by Hockey Canada as sort of an "icon of the Canadian development system," despite his departure to the US at a very young age.

Clearly, Lindros has suffered the most for his litigious activities over the years, and a lot of knives came out once his on-ice dominance faded. Saying a negative word (publicly) about Gretzky within Hockey Canada circles just isn't allowed. Crosby, of course, is the current golden child.

But all three used the courts in various ways to get what they wanted.

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07-19-2014, 11:07 AM
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vadim sharifijanov
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Quote:
Originally Posted by static80 View Post
No, should enter into the conversation when it comes to what Molginy did. He is in a class of his own as far as circumstances and the impact they had both within the sport as well as an international incident. The Sabres actually helped him defect. He wore #89 as a memorial to both the year he defected and the place he was chosen in the draft.

He may not have been a generational talent, but Molginy's actions helped open the door to Russian players in the NHL on a more regular basis and it was at a time when turmoil was the norm in the former USSR. His story is most certainly very interesting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by livewell68 View Post
Do you even know why Jagr wears # 68?

Saying that someone did something for the Russians/ Soviets while the other player did nothing for the Czechs is plain ignorance and partisan.

Jagr's entry into the league was as difficult as they come, sort of like what the Stastny brothers had to endure and Jagr paved the way for the Czechs and Slovaks.

easy there tiger. nowhere in his post did he say any of the things you are alleging he said. maybe stop shaking your head so hard and read all the way to the end of the sentences?

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11-22-2014, 01:59 PM
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If Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel realize their talent and become incredible players, would they qualify for this thread considering the NHL changed the draft lottery rules starting with this specific draft to curtail tanking etc? Instead of only the bottom 5 teams having a chance to select first overall, now every playoff team has some kind of chance to win the lottery.

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11-22-2014, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randomtask68 View Post
If Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel realize their talent and become incredible players, would they qualify for this thread considering the NHL changed the draft lottery rules starting with this specific draft to curtail tanking etc? Instead of only the bottom 5 teams having a chance to select first overall, now every playoff team has some kind of chance to win the lottery.
I think Buffalo caused this by tanking by design. First team to do this in a long time. Likely the NHL thought with a Cap floor it would be hard to actually "tank". Buffalo has successfully and systematically got rid of almost all their players of value for draft picks. Buffalo isn't tanking for a single draft like Pittsburgh for Mario... But in general to get a ton of 1st and second round picks and do a full rebuild. But the way they are doing it looks bad and the league really doesn't like seeing it.

I don't think Edmonton ever tanked. They just were terrible. Could not get better. Buffalo were bad after going on a free agent frenzy. They decided to absolutely throw in the towel in a massive way. It is amazing they can get to the cap floor with the roster they are icing. With parity and such a small amount of $$$ between the cap ceiling and floor... It is really hard to be as bad as they are.

So these new rules have little to do with McDavid and a lot to do with Buffalo. In my opinion.

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11-22-2014, 08:05 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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I have not heard anyone say ever that Phil Esposito was a generational talent, but he had a longer stretch of dominance than most and was considered the best forward in the game for 6 or so years. I know it took him awhile to find his wings, but given his dominance, what was the hype on him coming into the league?

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11-22-2014, 08:31 PM
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Killion
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Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
I have not heard anyone say ever that Phil Esposito was a generational talent, but he had a longer stretch of dominance than most and was considered the best forward in the game for 6 or so years. I know it took him awhile to find his wings, but given his dominance, what was the hype on him coming into the league?
From what I recall not a whole lot of hype LBD. He'd been a Goal Scoring Machine in Jr.B & Jr.A, Hawks property of course, and they assigned to the farm where he toiled for a season and a half I think it was before finally getting called up. In the minors again, serious numbers. Bigger guy for the era at 6'1" & 220+lbs but not the greatest skater which held him back in terms of praise & hype, that ya he was a great playmaker & could score but that even then, bit of a Garbageman. Billy Reay in Chicago just didnt have a lot of confidence in him so eventually shipped off to Boston. Bobby Hull decrying that trade. Thought it was a bad move.

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