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If Gretzky/Lemieux didn't exist, how would we think of the other?

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02-23-2013, 08:24 PM
  #1
shazariahl
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If Gretzky/Lemieux didn't exist, how would we think of the other?

Let's start with Gretzky not existing, since I think that's where we'll see the most movement. Obviously without 99 setting even higher standards, Lemieux's career looks a lot more impressive. He would have an offensive peak which has never been approached by any other player. He would hold records for assists and points in a season (though not goals), and GPG, APG, and PPG averages in a single season. He'd have more awards as well. But he'd still have the missed games/seasons, the cancer, etc. Would that change how we rank him?

And then if it weren't for Lemieux, Gretzky's offensive dominance would look even more impressive. He wouldn't have many (any?) more records, but those he set wouldn't even be approached by anyone ever. Without Lemieux hitting 199 pts, Gretzky's next closest competitor is Yzerman at 155. He'd have a few more awards too, just like Lemieux. But would it matter?

I guess what I'm wondering is this: most of us rate these players based on our own personal preferences. Those who rate Orr above either sometimes say there were no Dmen in Orr's league, but Gretzky/Lemieux were in each others. Maybe the lack of one would help the others' case, but realistically I doubt it. For people who rank Orr and/or Howe above them, the gaudy numbers of points clearly don't matter anyways. So I don't think that would change anything. Those people clearly are judging on complete game, defensive awareness, etc. For those who rank Gretzky or Lemieux at the top, they already rank that player as the best, so clearly eliminating the other can't help their position as they're already #1 on those lists.

What do you guys think? Would it make a difference at all, or is our rating of players so individualized, and so often based on immeasurable intangibles, that their relation to one another doesn't make a difference?

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02-23-2013, 09:56 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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For me, it has always been either Orr or Gretzky at the top of the list. I believe Orr changed the game maybe more than any other player in history and his accomplishments are so astounding, maybe more so than Gretzky's because he was a d-man. However, I never saw Orr play; I saw Gretzky on TV weekly and live a number of times from the beginning of his NHL career. I rank Gretzky ahead of Orr because of my personal experience watching him. Despite the amount of video out there on Orr or even the other greats, my bias is for the players I saw live. That is why I believe we should strongly consider our elders views who had the experience of seeing far more players before my eyes opened.

As for your original question, I don't think Lemieux gets the same treatment as Gretzky if there is no Gretzky. From my understanding, it took A LOT for Gretzky to unseat Orr as the greatest ever. Orr was Canada's favorite and still is for many. Gretzky had a league of doubters from the beginning and they still exist today. My theory for this is that Gretzky was judged so hard because he just didn't look the part (his boyish looks and weak frame) and his expressiveness. He enjoyed himself on the ice and celebrated almost every goal like he would never score another one. Players before him rarely smiled, never mind celebrated, unless it was a huge goal. Orr was seen as classy because when he scored he put his head down and skated back to his own end. I believe a lot of people were very uncomfortable with Gretzky's enthusiasm after he scored. I think they saw it as gloating. He changed the culture of hockey in this sense too. He gave permission for many players to enjoy themselves.

Finally, Gretzky embraced every opportunity he was given to be in the limelight. Not that he was looking for it. It just followed him and he handled it so well. He just knew how to have fun. Lemieux avoided the limelight for the most part, especially early in his career. He was often seen as aloof, arrogant and misunderstood. I think this quality has enhanced Gretzky's reputation as the best ever. If there ever was a player that hockey was waiting for to transcend the game in so many ways, Gretzky was it.

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Old
02-23-2013, 10:13 PM
  #3
vadim sharifijanov
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if there is no mario, gretzky wins 13 straight scoring championships (counting the one where he tied dionne and assuming kevin stevens doesn't outscore him by two points in '92 without mario).

hard to build on gretzky's legacy beyond what it already is, but that's ridiculous. 10 straight MVPs too.

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02-23-2013, 10:32 PM
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MadLuke
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Whitout Mario, WAyne look even more like an ET stats wise.

Maybe people would event more go on on explaination about the oilers and how it would be impossible for a person not in that situation to do 200 points and explain the 50 points point that Yzerman by team factor (1989 Mario....)

But probably that is legacy will be even better.

Without Wayne, if mario to the same as he did, it would maybe be number one in people mind, but maybe without playing with WAyne in 1987 and wayne presence he do not push as much as he did and be happy with normal 140 points art ross seasons.

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02-23-2013, 11:43 PM
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Big Phil
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It has been said that Gretzky dominated a league of superstars and the only time someone caught up to him was when another once in a lifetime player hit his prime. Without Lemieux the only player to be within breathing distance of Gretzky for an entire decade would be a 1989 Yzerman. It would take until a back injury in 1992-'93 before Gretzky loses his scoring titles. Imagine that, a player needs a serious injury to finally be knocked off his pedestal.

I've always thought the player that would have benefitted from no Gretzky the most isn't Yzerman or Hawerchuk or Messier. I think it's Bossy. All of the sudden he racks up some nice hardware.

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02-24-2013, 01:02 AM
  #6
shazariahl
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Something I hadn't thought about until now, is if we eliminate Lemieux, then Yzerman is the next closest to Gretzky at 155. Then Espo, but many would discount that as being a by-product of Orr (the way they already seem to do, mistakenly IMO). But then is Nichols... playing with Gretzky. After that we have Jagr at 149, but without Mario he probably scores a bit less. Point is, not only does Gretzky's dominance look even worse, but the effect he had on Nichols, already discussed on these boards to great lengths, looks even more profound as he stands only 5 points short of Yzerman's best season.

I thought originally the absence of one or the other wouldn't change people's opinions, and maybe it wouldn't. But it would probably solidify the opinions of those who already hold these players as being #1.

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02-24-2013, 02:08 AM
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ushvinder
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Gretzky would be more dominant if Lemieux didnt exist, but orr's accomplishments are still more impressive. Defensemen never win the hart anymore because they will always be compared to Orr. The peaks of Potvin, Bourque, Kelly would be held in a very high regard if Orr never existed. I feel Bourque gets shafted on all time lists because his peak isnt in 'Orr's universe'. His longevity is just as impressive as Howe's.

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02-24-2013, 03:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ushvinder View Post
Gretzky would be more dominant if Lemieux didnt exist, but orr's accomplishments are still more impressive. Defensemen never win the hart anymore because they will always be compared to Orr. The peaks of Potvin, Bourque, Kelly would be held in a very high regard if Orr never existed. I feel Bourque gets shafted on all time lists because his peak isnt in 'Orr's universe'. His longevity is just as impressive as Howe's.
I bet Orr is not the reason defensemen does'nt win the Hart, the Norris is. Look at Orr's number of Harts and that gets evident.

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02-24-2013, 12:07 PM
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blogofmike
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Originally Posted by ushvinder View Post
Gretzky would be more dominant if Lemieux didnt exist, but orr's accomplishments are still more impressive. Defensemen never win the hart anymore because they will always be compared to Orr. The peaks of Potvin, Bourque, Kelly would be held in a very high regard if Orr never existed. I feel Bourque gets shafted on all time lists because his peak isnt in 'Orr's universe'. His longevity is just as impressive as Howe's.
No one compares defenders to Orr in Hart voting. At least, I don't remember anyone in 2000 saying "Wow! That Chris Pronger fella just equalled Bobby Orr..."

Should we also give Orr credit for defenders winning 0 Harts in the quarter century between WW2 and Orr's 1970 Hart?

Perhaps it's generally assumed that great forwards have more of an impact than a great defender.

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02-24-2013, 12:39 PM
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Big Phil
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Originally Posted by blogofmike View Post
No one compares defenders to Orr in Hart voting. At least, I don't remember anyone in 2000 saying "Wow! That Chris Pronger fella just equalled Bobby Orr..."

Should we also give Orr credit for defenders winning 0 Harts in the quarter century between WW2 and Orr's 1970 Hart?

Perhaps it's generally assumed that great forwards have more of an impact than a great defender.
Right. Not to mention how often SHOULD a defenseman have won the Hart? Harvey had a pretty good voting record for the Hart but I am not sure he was robbed at all. Maybe Kelly could have won in 1954. No chance for Pilote. Then Orr shows up. The only time you could argue Potvin may have been 1979 but Trottier won it instead. Robinson in 1977? Hard to overlook Lafleur. Coffey would never have overtaken Gretzky. Bourque in 1990 and we've all debated and agreed that he could and perhaps should have very easily won the Hart. Lidstrom never had a year that he should have won it either. That leaves who? Green? Weber? Karlsson? Chara? I have no problem with Pronger's Hart in 2000, but he wasn't robbed of it another time.

Lots of great all-time defensemen but there is rarely a year they were robbed over a forward.

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02-24-2013, 01:51 PM
  #11
ushvinder
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Originally Posted by blogofmike View Post
No one compares defenders to Orr in Hart voting. At least, I don't remember anyone in 2000 saying "Wow! That Chris Pronger fella just equalled Bobby Orr..."

Should we also give Orr credit for defenders winning 0 Harts in the quarter century between WW2 and Orr's 1970 Hart?

Perhaps it's generally assumed that great forwards have more of an impact than a great defender.
There are many teams that make the playoffs despite having no great forwards and simply building around thier defenseman and goaltenders, 'all offense' teams in the modern era either don't make the playoffs or get bounced out rather quickly.

The goals for/goals against ratio statistics point to Orr having the best impact and a player like bourque/potvin having a bigger impact than forwards that are considered on thier level.

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02-24-2013, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Right. Not to mention how often SHOULD a defenseman have won the Hart? Harvey had a pretty good voting record for the Hart but I am not sure he was robbed at all. Maybe Kelly could have won in 1954. No chance for Pilote. Then Orr shows up. The only time you could argue Potvin may have been 1979 but Trottier won it instead. Robinson in 1977? Hard to overlook Lafleur. Coffey would never have overtaken Gretzky. Bourque in 1990 and we've all debated and agreed that he could and perhaps should have very easily won the Hart. Lidstrom never had a year that he should have won it either. That leaves who? Green? Weber? Karlsson? Chara? I have no problem with Pronger's Hart in 2000, but he wasn't robbed of it another time.

Lots of great all-time defensemen but there is rarely a year they were robbed over a forward.
Its pretty hard to determine that since very few people here have seen a full season worth of games from the 1950's and 1960's, so the only way defenseman would be judged is based on how they appear on a stat sheet. Which wouldnt make sense because defenseman didnt join the rush in that era and scoring was way lower. Harvey is usually viewed as more valuable to the habs dynasty than beliveau, and in some of Gordie Howe's best years, Red Kelly got more hart votes than him.

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02-24-2013, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
It has been said that Gretzky dominated a league of superstars and the only time someone caught up to him was when another once in a lifetime player hit his prime. Without Lemieux the only player to be within breathing distance of Gretzky for an entire decade would be a 1989 Yzerman. It would take until a back injury in 1992-'93 before Gretzky loses his scoring titles. Imagine that, a player needs a serious injury to finally be knocked off his pedestal.

I've always thought the player that would have benefitted from no Gretzky the most isn't Yzerman or Hawerchuk or Messier. I think it's Bossy. All of the sudden he racks up some nice hardware.
Without Gretzky, Bossy is the guy who gains the most. And the Islanders might have another cup or two. Without Gretzky and Lemieux it's Yzerman. Suddenly he becomes the highest scorer from 1980-2000. Messier doesn't have anywhere near the same points (or career in my opinion) and Jagr suffers as well. I think a lot of those Oiler players would fall down signficantly in points actually and Yzerman would look that much more dominant.


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02-24-2013, 10:20 PM
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People tend to forget a man who pretty much dominated the 1980's and I'm surprised no one has menetioned him yet. Peter Stastny who had the most points behind Wayne during the 1980's. He's def get more ink then he currently get in the press or on this forum for that matter.

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02-25-2013, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by ushvinder View Post
Its pretty hard to determine that since very few people here have seen a full season worth of games from the 1950's and 1960's, so the only way defenseman would be judged is based on how they appear on a stat sheet. Which wouldnt make sense because defenseman didnt join the rush in that era and scoring was way lower. Harvey is usually viewed as more valuable to the habs dynasty than beliveau, and in some of Gordie Howe's best years, Red Kelly got more hart votes than him.
That's why you can judge them on their Hart votes at that time which the writers would have seen with their own eyes. It's pretty relevant I think. When you consider the dominant forwards that have been spread out in NHL history (Richard, Howe, Beliveau, Hull, Mikita, Esposito, Lafleur, Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin) it comes as no surprise that there wasn't often room for a defender to win the Hart. Even right now today, Karlsson wins the Norris and all, but I don't know anyone who thought he got robbed of the Hart. Malkin was plain and simply just that much better.

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02-25-2013, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Lafleurs Guy View Post
Without Gretzky, Bossy is the guy who gains the most. And the Islanders might have another cup or two. Without Gretzky and Lemieux it's Yzerman. Suddenly he becomes the highest scorer from 1980-2000. Messier doesn't have anywhere near the same points (or career in my opinion) and Jagr suffers as well. I think a lot of those Oiler players would fall down signficantly in points actually and Yzerman would look that much more dominant.
The problem I have with that is that Bossy was done in by a bad back which ended his career prematurely. Had he not had back issues, I would have agreed with you. In that absence, I have to agree with people who said Stevie Y. A better question to ask is: If Orr or Bossy had not had injuries force them out of hockey before the age of 31, would Gretzky still be considered the best ever, especially with how Bossy is arguably the best pure goal scorer ever and how Orr revolutionized the defenseman position?

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Originally Posted by connellc View Post
People tend to forget a man who pretty much dominated the 1980's and I'm surprised no one has menetioned him yet. Peter Stastny who had the most points behind Wayne during the 1980's. He's def get more ink then he currently get in the press or on this forum for that matter.
Thanks for that reminder. He is one of only 3 players (Gretzky is one of the others) to have 1,000 points in the 1980s decade. If he had defected before he turned 23, one can only imagine the records he could have set.

As for the original question, if one didn't exist, I think that the other is seen as greater by a long measure. If it was Gretzky not existing, then Lemieux's records look even more impressive given that he battled injuries and cancer. If it was Super Mario not existing, I think that Bossy or Stevie Y benefits the most.


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02-25-2013, 07:04 PM
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The problem I have with that is that Bossy was done in by a bad back which ended his career prematurely. Had he not had back issues, I would have agreed with you. In that absence, I have to agree with people who said Stevie Y. A better question to ask is: If Orr or Bossy had not had injuries force them out of hockey before the age of 31, would Gretzky still be considered the best ever, especially with how Bossy is arguably the best pure goal scorer ever and how Orr revolutionized the defenseman position?
Bossy is not a threat to be considered the best ever.

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02-25-2013, 08:28 PM
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That's why you can judge them on their Hart votes at that time which the writers would have seen with their own eyes. It's pretty relevant I think. When you consider the dominant forwards that have been spread out in NHL history (Richard, Howe, Beliveau, Hull, Mikita, Esposito, Lafleur, Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin) it comes as no surprise that there wasn't often room for a defender to win the Hart. Even right now today, Karlsson wins the Norris and all, but I don't know anyone who thought he got robbed of the Hart. Malkin was plain and simply just that much better.
Well back then the writers only saw full seasons of games for thier home team as technology wasnt as advanced back then, also if hart voting is the end all to be all, it suggests that Howe's 1951 and 1954 seasons werent that great, howe still ends up with 6 harts, but his peak becomes far more 'mortal-esque'. Bascally a bobby hull-beliveau with freakish longevity. If you want to agree with everything they say, kelly, richard and schmidt were better than howe in some of his 'art ross' seasons.

I dont think karlsson deserved the hart at all. Bourque in 1990 and Potvin in 1979 are two season where the defenseman should have won the hart. Trottiers' decline in the following season when potvin gets injured shows who was the true glue of that team. Pronger only won it in 2000 because don cherry whined and complained about lack of recognition for defenseman.


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