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Does Gretzky or Lemieux Benefit More if the Other Never Existed?

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Old
07-28-2014, 12:06 AM
  #126
Regal
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Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
More in depth:
The problem with that comparison is that it doesn't take into account games played. I think dominance and durability should be considered separately, and as such Lemieux would look much better in a point per game scenario. If looking at it that way, taking the top six years for each actually benefits Howe, not Lemieux, as Howe's dominance is relegated only to a four year period, whereas Lemieux was above every non-Gretzky player for much longer, he just didn't play enough games. It also doesn't take into account the fact the league was still recovering from the war during Howe's four dominant years and he was playing on an offensive juggernaut dynasty. With no Gretzky, Lemieux would very clearly be the best offensive forward of all time and by a rather large margin imo, and as such more people would look at him as being the best all time.

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Old
07-28-2014, 12:32 AM
  #127
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Originally Posted by Regal View Post
The problem with that comparison is that it doesn't take into account games played. I think dominance and durability should be considered separately, and as such Lemieux would look much better in a point per game scenario.
Of course, Lemieux looks better in a point-per-game scenario. Mike Rogers also has a better points-per-game than Gordie Howe -- does it follow that he's better? Was Dennis Maruk in 1982 really better than Crosby in 2007 because he had a better PPG? If you want to look at offensive dominance, I agree that per-game and per-season dominance must be considered (maybe even prioritized) in addition to career longevity and consistency, BUT you are completely ignoring HISTORICAL CONTEXT. How about looking at Howe's finish in the NHL's top scorers for twenty straight seasons?:

1949-50 NHL 68 (3)
1950-51 NHL 86 (1)
1951-52 NHL 86 (1)
1952-53 NHL 95 (1)
1953-54 NHL 81 (1)
1954-55 NHL 62 (5)
1955-56 NHL 79 (2)
1956-57 NHL 89 (1)
1957-58 NHL 77 (4)
1958-59 NHL 78 (4)
1959-60 NHL 73 (5)
1960-61 NHL 72 (5)
1961-62 NHL 77 (3)
1962-63 NHL 86 (1)
1963-64 NHL 73 (5)
1964-65 NHL 76 (3)
1965-66 NHL 75 (5)
1966-67 NHL 65 (4)
1967-68 NHL 82 (3)
1968-69 NHL 103 (3)

Any kind of League dominance should be based on how a player performed relative to his peers. Statistics alone aren't absolute, obviously.

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Originally Posted by Regal View Post
...Howe's dominance is relegated only to a four year period
There was a 4-year span when he won 4 scoring titles, yes. But can we not say that 5 scoring titles in 7 years is seven years' dominance? Lemieux never did that. Or, what about finishing top 3 for eight years in a row? Lemieux never did that. I just don't think those four years alone are Howe's period of dominance.
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Originally Posted by Regal View Post
whereas Lemieux was above every non-Gretzky player for much longer, he just didn't play enough games.
This is a bit off-topic, but why does every defense for Lemieux have to include the argument that "He-had-to-compete-with-Gretzky-so-that-shouldn't-count-against-him"? You know what, that DOES count against him. Gordie Howe had to compete with Rocket Richard and Bernie Geoffrion and the rest. You can't just imagine-away one player for convenience to make another player look better. The competition is what it is, Gretzky or not. If you can't take the heat, get out of the scoring-race kitchen!
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Originally Posted by Regal View Post
It also doesn't take into account the fact the league was still recovering from the war during Howe's four dominant years
How do you figure? The four years you keep focusing on begin FIVE YEARS after the war!!
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Originally Posted by Regal View Post
and he was playing on an offensive juggernaut dynasty.
He was playing on a great team (7 first-place finishes in a row), but during those "four years" you keep focusing on, the Red Wings had the best offense three times, and in two of the three they had very narrow leads over 2nd best in goals scored. Their very best scoring year they scored 236 goals in 70 games -- an average of 3.37 goals per game. Compare this to Lemieux: in his highest PPG season (1993) the Pens scored 367 goals in 84 games, an average of 4.37 per game.
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Originally Posted by Regal View Post
With no Gretzky, Lemieux would very clearly be the best offensive forward of all time and by a rather large margin imo
I respect your opinion, but I disagree that it would be a clear-cut Lemieux victory. The fact is, 6 scoring titles is all each of them has. If Gretzky didn't exist, Lemieux would have another in 1986, but that's all. I don't see where 7 scoring titles completely destroys 6, particularly in view of Howe's much more impressive long-term consistency.

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07-28-2014, 01:11 AM
  #128
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
Of course, Lemieux looks better in a point-per-game scenario. Mike Rogers also has a better points-per-game than Gordie Howe -- does it follow that he's better? Was Dennis Maruk in 1982 really better than Crosby in 2007 because he had a better PPG? If you want to look at offensive dominance, I agree that per-game and per-season dominance must be considered (maybe even prioritized) in addition to career longevity and consistency, BUT you are completely ignoring HISTORICAL CONTEXT. How about looking at Howe's finish in the NHL's top scorers for twenty straight seasons?:

1949-50 NHL 68 (3)
1950-51 NHL 86 (1)
1951-52 NHL 86 (1)
1952-53 NHL 95 (1)
1953-54 NHL 81 (1)
1954-55 NHL 62 (5)
1955-56 NHL 79 (2)
1956-57 NHL 89 (1)
1957-58 NHL 77 (4)
1958-59 NHL 78 (4)
1959-60 NHL 73 (5)
1960-61 NHL 72 (5)
1961-62 NHL 77 (3)
1962-63 NHL 86 (1)
1963-64 NHL 73 (5)
1964-65 NHL 76 (3)
1965-66 NHL 75 (5)
1966-67 NHL 65 (4)
1967-68 NHL 82 (3)
1968-69 NHL 103 (3)

Any kind of League dominance should be based on how a player performed relative to his peers. Statistics alone aren't absolute, obviously.


There was a 4-year span when he won 4 scoring titles, yes. But can we not say that 5 scoring titles in 7 years is seven years' dominance? Lemieux never did that. Or, what about finishing top 3 for eight years in a row? Lemieux never did that. I just don't think those four years alone are Howe's period of dominance.

This is a bit off-topic, but why does every defense for Lemieux have to include the argument that "He-had-to-compete-with-Gretzky-so-that-shouldn't-count-against-him"? You know what, that DOES count against him. Gordie Howe had to compete with Rocket Richard and Bernie Geoffrion and the rest. You can't just imagine-away one player for convenience to make another player look better. The competition is what it is, Gretzky or not. If you can't take the heat, get out of the scoring-race kitchen!

How do you figure? The four years you keep focusing on begin FIVE YEARS after the war!!

He was playing on a great team (7 first-place finishes in a row), but during those "four years" you keep focusing on, the Red Wings had the best offense three times, and in two of the three they had very narrow leads over 2nd best in goals scored. Their very best scoring year they scored 236 goals in 70 games -- an average of 3.37 goals per game. Compare this to Lemieux: in his highest PPG season (1993) the Pens scored 367 goals in 84 games, an average of 4.37 per game.

I respect your opinion, but I disagree that it would be a clear-cut Lemieux victory. The fact is, 6 scoring titles is all each of them has. If Gretzky didn't exist, Lemieux would have another in 1986, but that's all. I don't see where 7 scoring titles completely destroys 6, particularly in view of Howe's much more impressive long-term consistency.
I'm not ignoring points per game as a historical comparison, I'm not talking about points per game as a straight comparison, I'm talking about it compared to their peers. The comparison made is only based on total points percentages above their competition, not points per game percentages above competition.

Yes, Howe has only four years of dominance over his peers that is Lemieux-like (based on PPG, not total points) Stretching it over more years just because those were so dominant is misleading. Outside of those years he was always among the top scorers every year and twice more on top, but not clearly above everyone else the way he was for those four years and Lemieux was for a decade.

Gretzky gets brought up because he's completely above what Howe competed with. I think we can do without a comparison to how he compares offensively to Geoffrion and Richard.

The war killed a number of young men that might have otherwise been competiting in the league by that point. An 18 year old who died would have been 23 by then and starting his prime. I'm not sure the league fully recovered until the mid-50s.

Admittedly when I looked at it in the past I thought the Red Wings fared better offensively than that, so it's probably not much of a factor.

I'm not saying Lemieux vs. Howe isn't a debate, I think Howe had the better career. He was more durable, better all around and had more longevity, but I don't buy any of these arguments that he was offensively superior or on the same level as Lemieux. For those four years he was similar, but Lemieux was that far above his competition for much longer, and it's pretty clear unless people start conflating durability with dominance.

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07-28-2014, 02:45 AM
  #129
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Originally Posted by Regal View Post
I'm not ignoring points per game as a historical comparison, I'm not talking about points per game as a straight comparison, I'm talking about it compared to their peers.
I understand that.

In terms of ranking in scoring, wouldn't you say that Howe's beating at minimum 97% of all NHL players in scoring every year for twenty years, while winning 6 Art Rosses, is a kind of 20-year domination? Not just a four-year domination? I certainly would.


Anyway, in terms of domination over their peers in each's best seasons, is Lemieux really as far ahead of Howe as you think? You said: "The comparison made is only based on total points percentages above their competition, not points per game percentages above competition." I'm not sure, but let's check:

Howe:
1950-51: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 66 points (2nd)
1951-52: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 69 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1952-53: wins scoring title w/95 points (1st) to 71 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1953-54: wins scoring title w/81 points (1st) to 67 points (2nd)
1956-57: wins scoring title w/89 points (1st) to 85 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1962-63: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 81 points (2nd)

Lemieux:
1987-88: wins scoring title w/168 points (1st) to 149 points (2nd)
1988-89: wins scoring title w/199 points (1st) to 168 points (2nd)
1991-92: wins scoring title w/131 points (1st) to 123 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1992-93: wins scoring title w/160 points (1st) to 148 points (2nd)
1995-96: wins scoring title w/161 points (1st) to 149 points (2nd)
1996-97: wins scoring title w/122 points (1st) to 109 points (2nd)

So then, let's break it down mathematically to point-% above their competition, as you suggest (I agree this is a good way to compare it):

Howe:
1950-51: wins by 30.3%
1951-52: wins by 24.6%
1952-53: wins by 33.8%
1953-54: wins by 20.9%
1956-57: wins by 4.7%
1962-63: wins by 6.2%
Average win = by 20.1%

Lemieux:
1987-88: wins by 12.7%
1988-89: wins by 18.5%
1991-92: wins by 6.5%
1992-93: wins by 8.1%
1995-96: wins by 8.1%
1996-97: wins by 11.9%
Average win = by 11.0%

Erm... I'm not really seeing how Lemieux's scoring titles are so clearly dominant over Howe's, when Howe's were won by nearly twice as large a margin.

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07-28-2014, 03:46 AM
  #130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
I understand that.

In terms of ranking in scoring, wouldn't you say that Howe's beating at minimum 97% of all NHL players in scoring every year for twenty years, while winning 6 Art Rosses, is a kind of 20-year domination? Not just a four-year domination? I certainly would.


Anyway, in terms of domination over their peers in each's best seasons, is Lemieux really as far ahead of Howe as you think? You said: "The comparison made is only based on total points percentages above their competition, not points per game percentages above competition." I'm not sure, but let's check:

Howe:
1950-51: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 66 points (2nd)
1951-52: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 69 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1952-53: wins scoring title w/95 points (1st) to 71 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1953-54: wins scoring title w/81 points (1st) to 67 points (2nd)
1956-57: wins scoring title w/89 points (1st) to 85 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1962-63: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 81 points (2nd)

Lemieux:
1987-88: wins scoring title w/168 points (1st) to 149 points (2nd)
1988-89: wins scoring title w/199 points (1st) to 168 points (2nd)
1991-92: wins scoring title w/131 points (1st) to 123 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1992-93: wins scoring title w/160 points (1st) to 148 points (2nd)
1995-96: wins scoring title w/161 points (1st) to 149 points (2nd)
1996-97: wins scoring title w/122 points (1st) to 109 points (2nd)

So then, let's break it down mathematically to point-% above their competition, as you suggest (I agree this is a good way to compare it):

Howe:
1950-51: wins by 30.3%
1951-52: wins by 24.6%
1952-53: wins by 33.8%
1953-54: wins by 20.9%
1956-57: wins by 4.7%
1962-63: wins by 6.2%
Average win = by 20.1%

Lemieux:
1987-88: wins by 12.7%
1988-89: wins by 18.5%
1991-92: wins by 6.5%
1992-93: wins by 8.1%
1995-96: wins by 8.1%
1996-97: wins by 11.9%
Average win = by 11.0%

Erm... I'm not really seeing how Lemieux's scoring titles are so clearly dominant over Howe's, when Howe's were won by nearly twice as large a margin.
Taking Gretzky out of the mix for a moment, how do Howe and Lemieux compare using VsX?

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07-28-2014, 05:16 AM
  #131
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
I understand that.

In terms of ranking in scoring, wouldn't you say that Howe's beating at minimum 97% of all NHL players in scoring every year for twenty years, while winning 6 Art Rosses, is a kind of 20-year domination? Not just a four-year domination? I certainly would.


Anyway, in terms of domination over their peers in each's best seasons, is Lemieux really as far ahead of Howe as you think? You said: "The comparison made is only based on total points percentages above their competition, not points per game percentages above competition." I'm not sure, but let's check:

Howe:
1950-51: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 66 points (2nd)
1951-52: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 69 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1952-53: wins scoring title w/95 points (1st) to 71 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1953-54: wins scoring title w/81 points (1st) to 67 points (2nd)
1956-57: wins scoring title w/89 points (1st) to 85 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1962-63: wins scoring title w/86 points (1st) to 81 points (2nd)

Lemieux:
1987-88: wins scoring title w/168 points (1st) to 149 points (2nd)
1988-89: wins scoring title w/199 points (1st) to 168 points (2nd)
1991-92: wins scoring title w/131 points (1st) to 123 points (2nd -- his linemate)
1992-93: wins scoring title w/160 points (1st) to 148 points (2nd)
1995-96: wins scoring title w/161 points (1st) to 149 points (2nd)
1996-97: wins scoring title w/122 points (1st) to 109 points (2nd)

So then, let's break it down mathematically to point-% above their competition, as you suggest (I agree this is a good way to compare it):

Howe:
1950-51: wins by 30.3%
1951-52: wins by 24.6%
1952-53: wins by 33.8%
1953-54: wins by 20.9%
1956-57: wins by 4.7%
1962-63: wins by 6.2%
Average win = by 20.1%

Lemieux:
1987-88: wins by 12.7%
1988-89: wins by 18.5%
1991-92: wins by 6.5%
1992-93: wins by 8.1%
1995-96: wins by 8.1%
1996-97: wins by 11.9%
Average win = by 11.0%

Erm... I'm not really seeing how Lemieux's scoring titles are so clearly dominant over Howe's, when Howe's were won by nearly twice as large a margin.
Perhaps I didn't word that properly, actually I know I didn't, but you misunderstood me. The original post, like yours, uses actual points to come up with the percentages above second place, which generally benefits Howe because he was healthier. For example, Lemieux completely dominated the competition in points per game in 92-93 and won the scoring race in 60 games, but the percentage by which he led in points over second place LaFontaine, who was relatively healthy, doesn't show how much better Lemieux actually was. His points per game was actually 51.7% higher than LaFontaine's, but he only wins in points by 8.1%. Likewise, in 91-92 he only gets credit for winning by 6.5%, but he won in only 64 games. His actual PPG lead was 25%.

Now, I know a lot of people here hate the points per game argument, but when a guy proved it time and again that he could sustain those numbers like Lemieux did, I think they're relevant. Knock him for the missed games, sure, but that's a different question than how dominant he was when he was playing. From 88-89 to 96-97, he led the league in points per game every year except 90-91 when he only played 26 games and finished 3 to Gretzky and Oates and 94-95 when he sat out the year. The three seasons before that he was second to Gretzky every year, and he led the league again in 00-01 when he came back after a few years off. Howe's first four Art Rosses were definitely dominant, as his points per game margins over second place were very high, much like Lemieux. But after those four years he hovered around the leaderboards, sometimes at the top sometimes just below it, while Lemieux consistently put up huge point per game margins over anyone not named Gretzky: 22% in 86-87, 33% in 87-88, 35% in 88-89, 28% in 89-90, the aforementioned 25% and 52% in 91-92 and 92-93, 11% in 93-94, 26% in 95-96. I know you don't like to eliminate Gretzky, but that's actually the premise of the OP anyway.

I think the only way to say Howe was a better offensive producer than Lemieux is to rely on durability and longevity, and without Gretzky, Lemieux is the clear best offensive player of all time. I think this would be even more entrenched in the minds of the casual fan who doesn't look at things as closely as this board does and assume Howe wasn't that good because he only topped 100 points once. As this relates to the OP, Lemieux is currently somewhat easy to leave out of the debate for best player of all time, because Gretzky was a similar offense-only player who was even more dominant for longer while staying relatively healthy. Without Gretzky, I think Lemieux would be put into the best of all time debate far more frequently by many of those who would otherwise take Gretzky for his offensive domination. I think it would move from a fringe faction of those promoting Lemieux to closer to an equal split between him, Orr and Howe. Gretzky without Lemieux would likely remain pretty similar in rankings as he's already usually the number one to a large percentage of people, but that would likely increase slightly.


Last edited by Regal: 07-28-2014 at 05:27 AM.
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07-28-2014, 07:26 AM
  #132
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I see what you mean, Regal. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

I agree that we can eliminate Gretzky, theoretically, as that's the nature of this thread.

However, I don't see that we should factor too much into points-per-game. Given knowledge of Lemieux's injuries beforehand, would you rather take an 18-year-old Howe in 1946 or an 18-year-old Lemieux in 1984? It's a great choice either way, obviously, but I would probably take Howe because you know you're going to get quality, year-in-and-year-out, with no big drama over the player's health, retirement, comebacks, etc. (Well, Howe did actually come back, but not in the NHL or with Detroit.)

Now, with or without Gretzky's existence, Lemieux is still going to be injured a lot, to the point of missing entire seasons.

So, on the overall scale of things, I'd probably take Howe.


But you raise the interesting point of doing a scoring analysis based on percentage of PPG over the 2nd-best player (if, for the sake of this discussion, we ignore Gretzky's existence).

I don't think I have the time/energy to do this right now, but I would also assume that Lemieux would come out far ahead, as there are only 6 or 7 seasons where Howe led the NHL in PPG, but, as you say, there are 10 seasons where Lemieux would have led PPG (if Gretzky is ignored).

So, yes, based purely on offensive skill when healthy, Lemieux pips Howe.


The thing is, though -- would Lemieux having 10 #1PPG seasons (instead of the 7 he actually has) really sway people into definitively deciding he's the better player than Howe? or Orr? We can't imagine away his injuries, or missed games. Even without Gretzky, those remain.

Someone like Orr obviously had a lot of (knee) injuries and had to retire prematurely. But still, Orr put in 8 straight Norris seasons before the knees gave out. That's consistency. Lemieux never really had more than 2 consecutive stellar seasons with no major injuries. This is with or without Gretzky...

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07-28-2014, 07:35 AM
  #133
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The only reason why Lemieux would benefit more is because Gretzky has nowhere to go. He is far and away #1.

If Gretzky doesn't exist, Lemieux is in the conversation with Howe for the greatest forward of all time... and loses to Howe .

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07-28-2014, 08:45 AM
  #134
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
I see what you mean, Regal. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

I agree that we can eliminate Gretzky, theoretically, as that's the nature of this thread.

However, I don't see that we should factor too much into points-per-game. Given knowledge of Lemieux's injuries beforehand, would you rather take an 18-year-old Howe in 1946 or an 18-year-old Lemieux in 1984? It's a great choice either way, obviously, but I would probably take Howe because you know you're going to get quality, year-in-and-year-out, with no big drama over the player's health, retirement, comebacks, etc. (Well, Howe did actually come back, but not in the NHL or with Detroit.)

Now, with or without Gretzky's existence, Lemieux is still going to be injured a lot, to the point of missing entire seasons.

So, on the overall scale of thin probably take Howe.


But you raise the interesting point of doing a scoring analysis based on percentage of PPG over the 2nd-best player (if, for the sake of this discussion, we ignore Gretzky's existence).

I don't think I have the time/energy to do this right now, but I would also assume that Lemieux would come out far ahead, as there are only 6 or 7 seasons where Howe led the NHL in PPG, but, as you say, there are 10 seasons where Lemieux would have led PPG (if Gretzky is ignored).

So, yes, based purely on offensive skill when healthy, Lemieux pips Howe.


The thing is, though -- would Lemieux having 10 #1PPG seasons (instead of the 7 he actually has) really sway people into definitively deciding he's the better player than Howe? or Orr? We can't imagine away his injuries, or missed games. Even without Gretzky, those remain.

Someone like Orr obviously had a lot of (knee) injuries and had to retire prematurely. But still, Orr put in 8 straight Norris seasons before the knees gave out. That's consistency. Lemieux never really had more than 2 consecutive stellar seasons with no major injuries. This is with or without Gretzky...
Oh, I agree that health and longevity matter in any player debate, and Howe's track record of both excellence, health, consistency, and longevity is amazing and he's generally assumed to be above Lemieux on this board without much debate. Perhaps this would still be the prevailing notion if Gretzky didn't exist, but I think there might be a bit of a shift. In the general public there would probably be more of one because he would suddenly have all the top scoring seasons, and more records than he holds today. He also would be the best player many people would have ever seen and his place above his peers would be seen as greater than it is today. You're right about Orr though. Considering he and Lemieux both had injury problems and Orr is generally considered the better player on a per game basis, it would be a tough argument to put Lemieux ahead unless someone wants to dismiss the competitiveness of Orr's era. Perhaps no Gretzky would solidify Orr's position the most.

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07-28-2014, 09:21 AM
  #135
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Gretzky helped fuel Lemieux. Ever since Mario was a kid and his agent asked him what number he wanted to wear. Young Lemieux wanted to wear #99 in honor of Gretzky and his agent convinced him to flip it and go with #66 so he could carve out his own identity.

Mario said on many occasions that catching Gretzky as "best in the world" motivated him. And he also credited playing with Gretzky in the 87 Canada Cup as a defining moment in his career, saying it taught him how to "win" and helped him realize he could "play on that level."

Gretzky succeeded because his talent and mind were undeniable. Also because he never considered hockey "work." Mario always had something to prove. Such obstacles always motivated him to overcome them. Catching Gretzky as "best in the world", serious back injuries and cancer were challenges that motivated Lemieux and he thrived on challenges.

Without Gretzky, I think Lemieux would have been better than the rest but he wouldn't have pushed himself to be even greater, because he wouldn't have to. Mario needed Wayne in this way. Gretzky, on the other hand, would have been equally as great without Lemieux. And with Mario out of the picture, the gap between Gretzky and any other forward, including Howe, would be much wider.

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07-28-2014, 10:27 AM
  #136
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Originally Posted by Boxscore View Post
Mario always had something to prove. Such obstacles always motivated him to overcome them. Catching Gretzky as "best in the world", serious back injuries and cancer were challenges that motivated Lemieux and he thrived on challenges.

Without Gretzky, I think Lemieux would have been better than the rest but he wouldn't have pushed himself to be even greater, because he wouldn't have to. Mario needed Wayne in this way. Gretzky, on the other hand, would have been equally as great without Lemieux.
I like your post, and particularly this point.

Mario Lemieux was an incredibly gifted hockey player and one of the handful of all-time greats. But to me, he didn't have the self-motivation or consistency of Gretzky. He wasn't as capable of being truly great all the time as Gretzky was. I think Gretzky had exactly the same motivation, energy, and dedication no matter what stage of his career, no matter how well or poorly his team was doing in the standings (with the notable exception of the Kings in '95 and parts of '95-96). Whereas I think Lemieux was a bit 'moodier' (for lack of a better word). If things weren't going his way, if the game was unimportant, if he faced stiffer-than-usual on ice challenges, if there was nothing to measure himself against, Lemieux was inconsistent.

One also gets the feeling that Gretzky, despite his enormous pride as a world-beating athlete, simply loved the game more. When the hooking and holding got too much for Mario to be able to play the way he wanted, he walked away at age 31. He couldn't get his back in gear for Canada Cup '91... He didn't want to come out of retirement for the '98 Olympics. However, watching Gretzky with NYR in 1996-1998, he seemed to be as happy as he'd ever been in the game, even though he wasn't nearly as dominant.

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07-28-2014, 11:04 AM
  #137
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The only reason why Lemieux would benefit more is because Gretzky has nowhere to go. He is far and away #1.

If Gretzky doesn't exist, Lemieux is in the conversation with Howe for the greatest forward of all time... and loses to Howe .
I think among the general populace, i.e. more casual fans, Lemieux would probably be considered the GOAT.

He'd be sort of like Michael Jordan in comparison to the likes of Kareem, Wilt, and Russell. Michael Jordan didn't dominate over his competition by nearly as much as Wilt did in a stats perspective, nor even Kareem probably, he definitely loses to Kareem in longevity, and in team success in the playoffs he can't hold a candle to Bill Russell. However he's more recent and plays in an era with stronger competition than all of those three aforementioned.

You could probably make the same arguments for Lemieux above Orr and Howe (and... Beliveau?). He dominates in a world without Gretzky, but his domination is similar to the likes of Howe and probably inferior to Orr. His longevity can't hold a candle to Howe. His team accomplishments are similar to Orr and Howe, but can't hold a candle to the likes of Richard/Beliveau.

I'm not saying that Lemieux should be better, but I could certainly see the general populace saying Lemieux is, mostly due to recency bias+"stronger competition" argument.


As a sidenote, I do consider Michael Jordan to be the GOAT in basketball. However if he had a pedestrian playoff resume (i.e. never won in his prime, only won after his prime as a non-first option/superstar similar to Wilt), then there's no way that he should be ahead of Wilt, even with the "stronger era" arguments.

However MJ is the complete package: regular season performance (5x NBA MVP), defensive prowess (a few defensive first-teams on reputation, but most were well deserved), playoff performance (6x NBA champion, 6x Playoff MVP), and ability in the clutch.

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07-28-2014, 11:18 AM
  #138
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The only thing that Lemieux has going for him against Howe is his recent-ness. In every other department it's Howe by a landslide.

I also never really viewed Lemieux as a real clutch player. His team success record is a testament to that.

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07-28-2014, 12:28 PM
  #139
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The problem with that comparison is that it doesn't take into account games played.
You are right. Best seasons in terms of PPG relative to the next best scorer*:
*Excluding Gretzky and teammates whose scoring numbers might have benefited from playing with Howe (Ted Lindsay 51-52, 52-53) and Lemieux (Kevin Stevens 90-91, Jaromír Jágr 95-96).

Gordie Howe

1952-1953
Maurice Richard 61/70 = 100 %
Gordie Howe 95/70 = 155.7 %

1951-1952
Elmer Lach 65/70 = 100 %
Gordie Howe 86/70 = 132.3 %

1950-1951
Maurice Richard 66/65 = 100 %
Gordie Howe 86/70 = 121.0 %

1953-1954
Maurice Richard 67/70 = 100 %
Gordie Howe 81/70 = 117.39 %

Mario Lemieux

1995-1996
Joe Sakic 120/82 = 100 %
Mario Lemieux 161/70 = 157.2 %

1992-1993
Pat LaFontaine 148/84 = 100 %
Mario Lemieux 160/60 = 151.35 %

1990-1991
Brett Hull 109/73 = 100 %
Mario Lemieux 131/64 = 137.08 %

1988-1989
Steve Yzerman 155/80 = 100 %
Mario Lemieux 199/76 = 135.1 %

Based on PPG relative to peers an argument could easily be made that Lemieux was the better offensive player. However, Howe at his best is very close offensively to Lemieux at his best and statements like the one I was originally responding to are exaggerated, especially when you consider Howe's 1952-1953 season:

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reaching levels that nobody thought were even imaginable.

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07-28-2014, 12:53 PM
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The only thing that Lemieux has going for him against Howe is his recent-ness. In every other department it's Howe by a landslide.

I also never really viewed Lemieux as a real clutch player. His team success record is a testament to that.
I agree completely, but it is what it is.

People would no doubt say that "players today are way better than back in the 50s/60s/70s", and "Lemieux scored 199 points, Howe never even scored 100" (and completely ignore higher scoring in the early 90s, fewer games played per season for Howe, etc.).

Honestly if Gretzky never existed I could probably see a world where Lemieux is considered the GOAT the majority of fans, even if the more history-knowledgable fans acknowledge Howe/Orr as better, there's no way they could convince fans who saw Lemieux with their own eyes that they were better.

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07-28-2014, 01:12 PM
  #141
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Lemieux at his best= Gretzky at his best. Sorry Howe doesn't sniff a 89 or 93 Lemieux

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07-28-2014, 01:13 PM
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Lemieux at his best= Gretzky at his best. Sorry Howe doesn't sniff a 89 or 93 Lemieux
Compelling argument

(It sure seems to me that for a 4 year stretch, Howe was on or at least close to their level, probably a bit below offensively, but with a much stronger all-round game)

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07-28-2014, 01:15 PM
  #143
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Compelling argument
Saying Howe is better than Lemieux is basically saying he's also better than Gretzky. I'm talkin peak

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07-28-2014, 01:24 PM
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Gretzky's prime was in the 80's.
Lemieux's 199 pt season was also in the 80's. And frankly, it's not Gretzky's fault he was born when he was. He could only dominate against the competition he had at that time - and he did that better than anyone else in history.

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07-28-2014, 01:24 PM
  #145
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Lemieux at his best= Gretzky at his best.
I don't agree.
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Originally Posted by Ageless View Post
Sorry Howe doesn't sniff a 89 or 93 Lemieux
Hm, maybe, but what are two seasons?

Let's see -- the stats for scoring title domination show Howe beating Lemieux.

The stats for PPG domination show Lemieux just barely beating Howe, given that Gretzky, Stevens, and Jagr don't exist. (I mean, really, people!)

And yet, of course, Lemieux is better because he's the guy you saw play.

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07-28-2014, 01:30 PM
  #146
TheDevilMadeMe
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I don't agree.

Hm, maybe, but what are two seasons?

Let's see -- the stats for scoring title domination show Howe beating Lemieux.

The stats for PPG domination show Lemieux just barely beating Howe, given that Gretzky, Stevens, and Jagr don't exist. (I mean, really, people!)

And yet, of course, Lemieux is better because he's the guy you saw play.
You're right, but a couple of points for those 4 years:

1) Howe played with the best offensive defenseman the world ever saw until Bobby Orr came along.

2) Howe also played with the man who was easily the best LW in hockey at the time.

3) Howe also played in front of peak Terry Sawchuk; and in a 6-team league, that means Detroit players were the only ones who didn't have to face Sawchuk for 20% of their games

Do we know why Howe fell back to earth after those 4 years? (And by "Earth," I mean regularly competing for the Art Ross for the next decade and a half but not being far and away better than anyone else). I don't think he was injured, right?

I mean, I don't really think Howe was as good as Mario Lemieux in terms of strictly offense, but he's closer than anyone else not named Gretzky. And he does bring that strong all-round game (though I don't think Howe was exceptional defensively until later in his career, he was still responsible and always very physical).

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07-28-2014, 01:31 PM
  #147
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Lemieux's 199 pt season was also in the 80's. And frankly, it's not Gretzky's fault he was born when he was. He could only dominate against the competition he had at that time - and he did that better than anyone else in history.
The early 80s are not the same thing as the late 80s for the context under discussion. And it's no one's fault when they're born, and there's no suggestion that one player should be punished, but you do have to consider all of the context that you can consider. Raw numbers can be misleading.

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07-28-2014, 01:50 PM
  #148
Theokritos
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Lemieux at his best= Gretzky at his best. Sorry Howe doesn't sniff a 89 or 93 Lemieux
He does:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post

Gordie Howe

1952-1953
Maurice Richard 61/70 = 100 %
Gordie Howe 95/70 = 155.7 %

Mario Lemieux

1992-1993
Pat LaFontaine 148/84 = 100 %
Mario Lemieux 160/60 = 151.35 %

1988-1989
Steve Yzerman 155/80 = 100 %
Mario Lemieux 199/76 = 135.1 %

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07-28-2014, 02:00 PM
  #149
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He does:
Lemieux won the art Ross with just 60 games.... That season is top 5 in the history of the sport....

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07-28-2014, 02:02 PM
  #150
TheDevilMadeMe
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Lemieux won the art Ross with just 60 games.... That season is top 5 in the history of the sport....
I don't see it as any better than Gordie Howe's 52-53 season.

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