Great epiphany that you had just after the voting ended.
I've been arguing that Irvin was a double edged sword for years. I've largely stayed out of the 40's era discussions because I have spent much more time researching 10's and 20's hockey than I have 40's.
I think we shouldn't blame Durnan for being the best goalie in the league since WWII. Actually, Durnan's AST/overall play during WWII seems to have been used to his disadvantage (like, half of his AST berths came in during WWII)... and the definition of recovery is definitely extremely loose around here.
Put Brimsek in the nets between WWII, and he too ends up with half his AST's berths happening during WWII. Would that be used against him?
The difference is that Brimsek's body of work outside those seasons has him at a top-10 level. So adding a couple of war-weakened seasons that could be easily dismissed would not be damaging... it just wouldn't advance his argument much. And we would probably have had to knock him down a peg from being a paper contender for Vote 1 or 2.
Take away "normal-season credit" for those 2 seasons from Durnan and it really does hurt him. A five-season NHL career on the best team in the league against still-shaky competition, wins one Cup and has some strong GAA finishes. Then quits mid-playoff and that's it. What do we do with that? It's even more enigmatic than Dryden, and the competition right now includes a dwindling number of guys who simply played too well for too long to fall behind even a very strong 5-season portfolio.
I will say, though, that it would be nice to see someone other than C1958 get behind Durnan. It's hard to judge the arguments clearly when you have one person arguing against a committee, trying to juggle half a dozen mini-arguments. This round had kind of a "fog of war" feeling to it.
One thing I'd like to know about Durnan -- were his All Star Game appearances in '47, '48 and '49 meaningful? That would appear to be a non-statistical accolade, maybe a better measure of stardom than the post-season team with its GAA bias.
1947 - Durnan and Brimsek chosen - Brimsek gets the start.
1948 - Same thing as '47... Durnan and Brimsek, with Brimsek starting.
1949 - Durnan and Rayner, and Rayner gets the start.
He was chosen, apparently on merit, for the first three incarnations of the NHL All Stars. But all three times he was holding the door. What do we make of that, particularly in light of Brimsek getting two of those starts? Were there any politics involved that might skew the merit-based aspect of those accolades?
I regret I couldn't be more active during this round. I tried to put together a couple of long analyses and simply got sidetracked in a limited amount of available time. Hope to be more productive next round.