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HOH Top 60 Defensemen of All-Time

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Old
11-14-2011, 07:02 PM
  #1
TheDevilMadeMe
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This is the final list of the top defensemen from all of hockey history, as determined by the History of Hockey community at HFBoards:

NOTE: Please report any errors via PM to TheDevilMadeMe

Top 60 Defensemen of All-Time
RankNo.PlayerHeightWeightBornDiedCareerNationality
14Bobby Orr6'0"1991948 1966-1979Canada
22Doug Harvey5'11"190192419891947-1969Canada
377Raymond Bourque6'0"2191960 1979-2001Canada
42Eddie Shore5'11"194190219851924-1944Canada
55Nicklas Lidström6'2"1901970 1991-PresentSweden
65Denis Potvin6'0"2051953 1973-1988Canada
74Leonard "Red" Kelly6'0"1951927 1947-1967Canada
82Viacheslav Fetisov6'1"2151958 1974-1998Russia
919Larry Robinson6'3"2201951 1972-1992Canada
1024Chris Chelios6'1"1901962 1983-2010USA
1122Brad Park6'0"1901948 1968-1985Canada
127Francis "King" Clancy5'7"155190319861921-1937Canada
137Paul Coffey6'0"2001961 1980-2001Canada
143Pierre Pilote5'10"1781931 1955-1969Canada
152Sprague Cleghorn5'10"190189019561910-1928Canada
1617Earl Seibert6'2'198191119901931-1946Canada
177Tim Horton5'10'180193019741949-1974Canada
182Al MacInnis6'2"2041963 1981-2004Canada
194Scott Stevens6'2"2151964 1982-2004Canada
2044Chris Pronger6'6'2201974 1994-PresentCanada
214Bill Gadsby6'0'1801927 1946-1966Canada
2221Börje Salming6'1"1931951 1970-1993Sweden
232Brian Leetch6'0"1851968 1987-2006USA
245Aubrey "Dit" Clapper6'2"195190719781927-1947Canada
256Valeri Vasiliev5'11"1871949 1966-1984Russia
26-T2Mark Howe5'11"1851955 1973-1995USA
26-T11Bill Quackenbush5'11"190192219991942-1956Canada
2818Serge Savard6'3"2101946 1966-1983Canada
295Rod Langway6'3"2181957 1977-1993USA
308Eddie Gerard5'9"168189019371913-1923Canada
312Jack Stewart5'10"190191719831938-1952Canada
325Guy Lapointe6'0"2051948 1968-1984Canada
3327Scott Niedermayer6'1"1941973 1992-2010Canada
343Marcel Pronovost6'0"1901930 1950-1970Canada
352Lionel Conacher6'2"195190119541925-1937Canada
36 William "Hod" Stuart6'0"190187919071902-1907Canada
373Ivan "Ching" Johnson5'11"210189819791926-1938Canada
382Jacques Laperričre6'2"1901941 1962-1974Canada
397Alexei Kasatonov6'1"2151959 1976–1997Russia
403Jean-Claude Tremblay5'11170193919941960-1979Canada
41 Ernest "Moose" Johnson5'11185189619631905-1931Canada
4233Zdeno Chára6'9"2551977 1998-PresentSlovakia
435Ebbie Goodfellow6'0"175190719851929-1943Canada
444Rob Blake6'4"2201969 1990-2010Canada
453Emile "Butch" Bouchard6'2"2051919 1941-1956Canada
462Carl Brewer5'9"180193820011958-1980Canada
471Albert "Babe" Siebert5'10"182190419391925-1939Canada
48 Georges "Buck" Boucher5'9169189619601915-1932Canada
4917Jan Suchý5'81691944 1963-1983Czech
5055Larry Murphy6'2"2101961 1980-2001Canada
5117Ken Reardon5'10"180192120081940-1950Canada
5210Tom Johnson6'0"180192820071950-1965Canada
53 Lester Patrick6'1"180188319601903-1927Canada
542Art Coulter5'11"185190920001932-1942Canada
5524Doug Wilson6'1"1871957 1977-1993Canada
562Sylvio Mantha5'10"178190219741923-1936Canada
572Harry Cameron5'10"155189019531912-1926Canada
5860František Pospíšil6'0"1761944 1961-1978Czech
5926Allan Stanley6'1"1701926 1948-1969Canada
60 Harvey Pulford5'11"200187519401893-1908Canada

Links to all the discussion threads that went into making this list:
Round 2 Voting Results
Round 2, Vote 1 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 2 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 3 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 4 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 5 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 6 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 7 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 8 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 9 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 10 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 11 Discussion
Round 2, Vote 12 Discussion

Links to the preliminary discussion threads before voters submitted their lists:
Rules Discussion
Preliminary and General Discussion

Links that explain the creation of the aggregate list that formed the basis of discussion. This data was released at the end of the project:
Round 1 Voting Results (Aggregate List)
Round 1 Screening Process
Participant Survey

Listed here are the individual voting records of all participants:
BiLLY_ShOE1721
Canadiens1958
chaosrevolver
Dave G
Dennis Bonvie
Der Kaiser
Dreakmur
Epsilon
Hardyvan123
Hawkey Town 18
Hockey Outsider
intylerwetrust
JaysCyYoung
McNuts
MXD
overpass
pappyline
reckoning
seventieslord
tarheelhockey
TheDevilMadeMe
tony d
VanIslander


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Old
11-14-2011, 07:30 PM
  #2
ushvinder
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Looks good so far, bourque deserved to move up to 3rd and overtake shore.

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11-14-2011, 07:34 PM
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RabbinsDuck
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Shore started at #2 the first go-around, then 3rd and now 4th. Would love to see how the voting went.

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11-14-2011, 07:37 PM
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tjcurrie
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I know this is just a list and it's fun to do but man, I dont get how any of us can truly rank Shore and compare him to anyone else.

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11-14-2011, 07:53 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Originally Posted by tjcurrie View Post
I know this is just a list and it's fun to do but man, I dont get how any of us can truly rank Shore and compare him to anyone else.
Obviously this is nothing close to an exact science, but have you read the Round 2, Vote 1 Discussion?

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11-15-2011, 12:57 AM
  #6
Cory Trevor
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3 Bs in the top five. Gotta love it!

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Old
11-15-2011, 03:06 AM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Anyone think we should add a team and/or nationality column to the list or would that just clutter things up too much?

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11-15-2011, 07:01 AM
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unknown33
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Yeah instead of the Weight and Height column.

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11-15-2011, 07:48 AM
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plusandminus
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Anyone think we should add a team and/or nationality column to the list or would that just clutter things up too much?
Yes, please add nationality and birthyear.

Height and weight are less interesting to me, but I would want them to be shown anyway. For example, it's interesting to see than Lidstrom so far is the tallest guy on the list. Centimeters and kilograms would be better, instead of the strange units now shown , but I assume a majority here thinks otherwise.

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11-15-2011, 08:18 AM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Originally Posted by plusandminus View Post
Yes, please add nationality and birthyear.

Height and weight are less interesting to me, but I would want them to be shown anyway. For example, it's interesting to see than Lidstrom so far is the tallest guy on the list. Centimeters and kilograms would be better, instead of the strange units now shown , but I assume a majority here thinks otherwise.
We already have career span, so I don't see a point in adding birth year.

I'll probably end up adding nationality. Adding a full list of a player's teams will take a little more work - for example, who do you list for Slava Fetisov when he gets added?

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11-15-2011, 09:24 AM
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plusandminus
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We already have career span, so I don't see a point in adding birth year.
It would make it easier to see which periods were strong or weak in producing all time greats. One could see e.g. how many 1960s born players were on the list, etc. It would also be easier to sort players based on birthyear. Thirdly, one could see at what age a player's career started and ended.

Regarding "career span"... Since Lidstrom's "senior" career started 1-2 years earlier than 1991 (link: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=722), it seems as if you define "career span" as the seasons a player played in the NHL? So for Fetisov, it will say 1989-1998? What if guys like Suchy or Svedberg would end up on the list? What about Europeans who moved back to Europe to continue do well at a high level (for example, Salming was good enough to score 4+3 points in 8 GP in the 1992 Olympics).

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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I'll probably end up adding nationality. Adding a full list of a player's teams will take a little more work - for example, who do you list for Slava Fetisov when he gets added?
I personally don't want to see team listed, for the reasons you mention.

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11-18-2011, 06:59 PM
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Why did player X finish ahead of player Y?

(Still think my last post makes sense.)


Here is a thing that I've been missing... You/We guys have all these interesting discussions, which some/most seem to think is the most fun/interesting/educating part of this project. Then the ranking is submitted here in this thread. But wouldn't it be great to have some sort of summary or motivation telling why players ended up where they did?

One can always visit the threads where the discussions takes place. But even doing that, one does not necessarily understand what made one player finish ahead of another. I read most that was written in the thread determining 1-5 (Orr to Lidstrom), but yet was surprised that Lidstrom finished as low as he did, and Harvey and Shore finishing as high as they did.

What made the difference?
Orr: Short career is compensated by the by far highest peak ever being seen. Norris, Hart and scoring record unparalleled. Visibly dominant in a unique way.
Harvey: Harts. ??
Bourque. Longevity, extremely long peak, great in many international tournaments.
Shore: ??
Lidstrom: No 1 candidate looking at Norrises. Not as visibly dominant as main rivals, possibly playing in a weak era, and not dominant during international play raises question marks. Being European may have hurt him.

I understand this would take some time for someone to write down. I think TDMM, Overpass and some of the others would be very capable of giving a fair and objective summary of how people's thoughts went.

Think about people visiting this thread, perhaps including ourselves doing it some year(s) from now. Wouldn't it be very possible with reactions like "How the heck did X finish ahead of Y?".

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11-18-2011, 08:16 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Originally Posted by plusandminus View Post
I read most that was written in the thread determining 1-5 (Orr to Lidstrom), but yet was surprised that Lidstrom finished as low as he did, and Harvey and Shore finishing as high as they did.
.
I made my case as to why Harvey was #2 and several people made cases as to why Shore was better than Lidstrom. I really don't know what I could add.


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11-18-2011, 08:22 PM
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Appreciate the suggestion, but I don't think there's much value in adding a summary for a few reasons:

1. Our extensive discussions are already documented. Somebody who dismisses Eddie Shore because he peaked in the 1930's is likely to do so whether they read a couple of sentences about him, or if they read a thousand-word essay.

2. I don't think it's fair or informative to summarize arguments that are often subtle and nuanced down to a couple of sentences.

3. Unfortunately, not everybody has enough time to do a full write-up of their reasoning. For example, some people may have voted Harvey second overall for reasons that weren't fully discussed in the voting threads. The only thing that TDMM/Overpass would have to work from is what's already in the discussion threads, which leads us back to my previous two points.

What do others think?

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11-18-2011, 08:50 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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When I add nationality, should I use place of birth or some other criteria?

I can't think of a defenseman this would be an issue for off the top of my head, but it could be an issue for Brett Hull, Stan Mikita, and Charlie Gardiner off the top of my head.

I think it looks weird to consider Gardiner as Scottish or Mikita as Slovakian. On the other hand, if we add a "date of birth" category (which I'm undecided on), it would look weird to have nationality listed as something other than birth, right?

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11-18-2011, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
Appreciate the suggestion, but I don't think there's much value in adding a summary for a few reasons:

1. Our extensive discussions are already documented. Somebody who dismisses Eddie Shore because he peaked in the 1930's is likely to do so whether they read a couple of sentences about him, or if they read a thousand-word essay.

2. I don't think it's fair or informative to summarize arguments that are often subtle and nuanced down to a couple of sentences.

3. Unfortunately, not everybody has enough time to do a full write-up of their reasoning. For example, some people may have voted Harvey second overall for reasons that weren't fully discussed in the voting threads. The only thing that TDMM/Overpass would have to work from is what's already in the discussion threads, which leads us back to my previous two points.

What do others think?
I'd rather not have one person speak for the group in that way, for the reasons you gave.

Maybe we need to improve on our discussions. Don't assume that everyone agrees on something, or that everyone knows about a certain point. Post it, and even if it doesn't start a discussion at least it's on the record.

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11-18-2011, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
When I add nationality, should I use place of birth or some other criteria?

I can't think of a defenseman this would be an issue for off the top of my head, but it could be an issue for Brett Hull, Stan Mikita, and Charlie Gardiner off the top of my head.

I think it looks weird to consider Gardiner as Scottish or Mikita as Slovakian. On the other hand, if we add a "date of birth" category (which I'm undecided on), it would look weird to have nationality listed as something other than birth, right?
I think the important consideration is where the player grew up and learned to play hockey, and 99% of the time it's pretty obvious. I'd like to see Stan Mikita listed as Canadian, basically. Hull would be Canadian under that category, although I could see him listed as American.

Another possibility would be the team for which they played international hockey.

Whatever you do, don't list Rod Langway as being from Taiwan.

Si Griffis could be an issue if he comes up for voting. Born in the US, learned hockey in Canada.

Olaf Kolzig may not end up on one of these lists, but what if he did? Would you list him as South Africa (place of birth)? Germany (international team)? Or Canada (grew up and learned to play hockey)?

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11-19-2011, 12:27 AM
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I'd rather not have one person speak for the group in that way, for the reasons you gave.

Maybe we need to improve on our discussions. Don't assume that everyone agrees on something, or that everyone knows about a certain point. Post it, and even if it doesn't start a discussion at least it's on the record.
Personally I think that some of the information being asked will come out at the end of the project when voting lists are made public.

I for one think that separation between players 1-5 is extremely small and the order might depend on a voters individual preference for factors since many are being considered.

An obvious one is a physical presence over a lack of one that is being focused on in the Potvin/Lidstrom thread.

Peak, Prime, Career is another.

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11-19-2011, 12:24 PM
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Dennis Bonvie
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Personally I think that some of the information being asked will come out at the end of the project when voting lists are made public.

I for one think that separation between players 1-5 is extremely small and the order might depend on a voters individual preference for factors since many are being considered.

An obvious one is a physical presence over a lack of one that is being focused on in the Potvin/Lidstrom thread.

Peak, Prime, Career is another.
This seems to be the big one.

Top defensemen = Best career? Best player when at his peak? Longest prime?

I'm a peak guy. How good a player was when he was able to perform at his peak.

Still, I don't know how Orr gets such high marks from everyone (including people who value career). Then again, I never put Lindros or Forsberg in my top 40 all-time either.

Not an exact science, is it?

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11-19-2011, 03:20 PM
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tjcurrie
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Obviously this is nothing close to an exact science, but have you read the Round 2, Vote 1 Discussion?
Been trying to read up as much as possible. I'm not trying to insult anyone and for sure it's not an exact science, I'm just weary of dissecting some really old timers like Shore and Clancy when comparing to more modern day defensemen. Fun to do though and I think a final list done by all the members on here should be a nice guideline anyways.

I also find a lot of more modern day stars get the shaft when there's a lot of the real old time players being ranked. Not to take anything away from the old guys but they get the "legend" status because they were around way back when and a lot of the guys like say Cherry, Meeker, etc etc are probably at least a little bias towards them so they get a lot of praise and we go off that stuff too.

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11-19-2011, 05:05 PM
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Dennis Bonvie
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Originally Posted by tjcurrie View Post
Been trying to read up as much as possible. I'm not trying to insult anyone and for sure it's not an exact science, I'm just weary of dissecting some really old timers like Shore and Clancy when comparing to more modern day defensemen. Fun to do though and I think a final list done by all the members on here should be a nice guideline anyways.

I also find a lot of more modern day stars get the shaft when there's a lot of the real old time players being ranked. Not to take anything away from the old guys but they get the "legend" status because they were around way back when and a lot of the guys like say Cherry, Meeker, etc etc are probably at least a little bias towards them so they get a lot of praise and we go off that stuff too.
Could you give us some examples of modern day players that are getting the shaft in this manner?

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11-19-2011, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
This seems to be the big one.

Top defensemen = Best career? Best player when at his peak? Longest prime?

I'm a peak guy. How good a player was when he was able to perform at his peak.

Still, I don't know how Orr gets such high marks from everyone (including people who value career). Then again, I never put Lindros or Forsberg in my top 40 all-time either.

Not an exact science, is it?
It's not an exact science and there is a godlike aura around Orr sometimes when one even questions if other guys are in the discussion for number 1 and I think Lidstrom is but this might become more clear after he retires and we have some perspective to judge him on.

I'm a career guy but of course peak and prime are important too.

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11-19-2011, 10:00 PM
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tjcurrie
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Could you give us some examples of modern day players that are getting the shaft in this manner?
Well obviously in tis instance there's only been a few dmen named so far. But having Shore ahead of guys like Lidstrom and Potvin would be a little bit of an example. I'm not saying he isn't better than them, but which one of us can truly say he is ? How can someone seriously sit down and differentiate between say Potvin and Shore, or Lidstrom and Shore in an honest, in depth manner ?

I've just seen lots of all-time lists where Cy Denneny or someone like that and is ranked extremely high while there's a more modern day player like say Sakic or Yzerman or Modano or Gilmour just for example ranked below. Or even where someone ranks a guy like that in say the top 20 of all-time, while they have another guy like say a Lafontaine or a Francis ranked like 50 to 100 spots lower. Really ? How the heck can someone really say that ? I saw on another thread where someone said, "we all know Modano wouldnt be in the top 100 players of all-time", and I take serious issue with that. Yes, I'm a Modano fan but tis isnt just about Modano. The point is its because theres a lot of real oldies being placed in there when really, how the heck can that be an honest ranking ? I say its an injustice.

Guess I'm just ranting, but I've always hated reading all-time lists, and seeing guys who played 450 games in the 1920s being ranked way ahead of certain modern day stars.

Anyways, sorry for interrupting. Rank away.


Last edited by tjcurrie: 11-19-2011 at 10:07 PM.
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11-20-2011, 09:56 AM
  #24
Dennis Bonvie
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Originally Posted by tjcurrie View Post
Well obviously in tis instance there's only been a few dmen named so far. But having Shore ahead of guys like Lidstrom and Potvin would be a little bit of an example. I'm not saying he isn't better than them, but which one of us can truly say he is ? How can someone seriously sit down and differentiate between say Potvin and Shore, or Lidstrom and Shore in an honest, in depth manner ?

I've just seen lots of all-time lists where Cy Denneny or someone like that and is ranked extremely high while there's a more modern day player like say Sakic or Yzerman or Modano or Gilmour just for example ranked below. Or even where someone ranks a guy like that in say the top 20 of all-time, while they have another guy like say a Lafontaine or a Francis ranked like 50 to 100 spots lower. Really ? How the heck can someone really say that ? I saw on another thread where someone said, "we all know Modano wouldnt be in the top 100 players of all-time", and I take serious issue with that. Yes, I'm a Modano fan but tis isnt just about Modano. The point is its because theres a lot of real oldies being placed in there when really, how the heck can that be an honest ranking ? I say its an injustice.

Guess I'm just ranting, but I've always hated reading all-time lists, and seeing guys who played 450 games in the 1920s being ranked way ahead of certain modern day stars.

Anyways, sorry for interrupting. Rank away.
Because you are including a Potvin in with modern day players, I see your point more clearly.

This is a history of hockey site, so it behooves us to know as much as we can about the players from all eras and make our educated guesses as best we can with that knowledge. I would suggest its also hard to rank players we've seen who played in the same time frames. There was a poll question recently that compared Pat Lafountaine and Dale Hawerchuk. There were posters on each side of the argument stating "its not even close". But as the discussion went on, most reasonable posters saw that in fact it was pretty close. Hence the discussions here to take a stab at ranking all the greats from all eras.

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11-20-2011, 12:33 PM
  #25
tjcurrie
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Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
Because you are including a Potvin in with modern day players, I see your point more clearly.

This is a history of hockey site, so it behooves us to know as much as we can about the players from all eras and make our educated guesses as best we can with that knowledge. I would suggest its also hard to rank players we've seen who played in the same time frames. There was a poll question recently that compared Pat Lafountaine and Dale Hawerchuk. There were posters on each side of the argument stating "its not even close". But as the discussion went on, most reasonable posters saw that in fact it was pretty close. Hence the discussions here to take a stab at ranking all the greats from all eras.
I like the discussions. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable but I've learned since being on here just by reading certain boardie's posts and being involved in discussions. I think it makes us all more knowledgeable at the end of the day. So kudos for that.

I just don't like when say someone my age for example ( early 30s ) really breaks down a comparison between say Lidstrom and Shore and then ranks one ahead of the other, or ranks say Sid Abel at a certain position and then say Ron Francis like 30 spots below. But I know it's not an exact science or a definitive list. I just want to see a little more open mindedness when a more modern day player say from the 80s or 90s is compared to a guy like say Abel or Denneny or a Conacher. I like giving the old guys their props, but I'm not gonna sell a modern day player short because of these guys' legend status.

Hope you guys see my point here and I dont come across as just a whiner or a complainer.

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