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Were Gretzky And Mario "200-Foot Giants" When They Played?

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Old
11-27-2011, 07:32 PM
  #1
sawchuk1971
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Were Gretzky And Mario "200-Foot Giants" When They Played?

good article..

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/New.../19024526.html


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So what is a 200-foot game and why do coaches and hockey “insiders” keep using it to describe the best forwards? Simply put, playing a 200-foot game describes a forward’s ability to play both ends of the rink equally as hard.

These players compete for every inch of space on the ice, are tough to knock off the puck and will work hard to get the puck when it’s not on their sticks.

Gone are the days when players could float around the ice, never be first on the fore or backcheck, cheat for breakaways and get rewarded for putting up big numbers.

Those who can’t play a 200-foot game anymore are being weeded out, no matter how much offensive talent they possess.

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11-27-2011, 08:11 PM
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Those who can’t play a 200-foot game anymore are being weeded out, no matter how much offensive talent they possess.
That's just not true. I mean sure if you don't even bother to play defense but how many players ever do that. There's lots of players that are extremely below average defensively and still have a place in the league.

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11-27-2011, 09:10 PM
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Big Phil
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Gretzky and Lemieux weren't necessarily 200 foot players for the very reason that they didn't have to be. Or to put it in a better perspective, they were so dominant on the ice that everyone else worked around them. They were the central focal point every second they were on the ice. It is a good argument that they had so much offensive talent that it might have been detrimental to have them focus more on defense.

I mean, backcheck and such of course, but you didn't want to ask these guys to alter their game.

As of today's game, there are still some players with questionable defense. Kovalchuk. I don't think Stamkos is particularly good without the puck. Semin. Heatley. Eric Staal is borderline. Selanne never was great. In the end, these guys might pay for it in the end. Strong two-way play makes for a successful playoff run. We know the failings of Heatley, Semin and Kovalchuk in the postseason. Stamkos wasn't good last year either.

A 200-foot game puts you in a position where you can be valuable when you don't have the puck. This is why I believe Crosby, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Toews, etc. are as succesful as they have been. All are champions. All know what it takes to win. But if you have the luxury of not HAVING to play good defense and still be succesful, well, then you are probably in the mold of Mario/Gretzky/prime Jagr and do enough damage as it is

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11-27-2011, 09:21 PM
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Mario barely saw his own end and was bad defensively. Mind you it wasn't because he couldn't play average in his own end, he made a mental decision not to. The coaches tailored the Penguins style of play based on Mario and his floating to a degree.

Part of it for Mario was simply his health and they used him the best way they could.

Having said that, when Mario decided to play somewhat responsible in his own zone he could do it. See his Olympic play or some of his playoff efforts, wasn't for lack of talent, just the way it was and the period of hockey.

Wayne on the other hand was a much better defensive player then people give him credit for, he stole a lot of pucks with his sneaky play and positioning. He also back checked often and was double shifted. He wasn't stellar by any stretch, but the space/time fear he generated was enough to make him defensively responsible. He was better then Mario in his own end.

Wayne played better then average defensively on the international stage when it was called for.

Truth be told the Oilers and Penguins when they got rolling took the season a lot more relaxed then in the current NHL.

It was easier to make the playoffs in the 80's for sure and you could coast a lot more, it definately showed. The regular season intensity wasn't there.

Gilmour is 92/93 - 93/94 is probably one of the best 200 foot players I have ever seen, Feds in 93/94 as well.

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11-27-2011, 10:20 PM
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I dont understand this. Neither Gretzky nor Lemieux were "200' players". They didnt need to be because when they were on the ice they only dealt with about 100-150' of it. Gretzkys' defensive abilities consisted of a sharp stick & positional play. He was where the puck was going. I wouldnt call it floating, Id call it intelligent, but others disagree with me on that one. Lemieux could be and was physical in the transition zone if he needed to be, but in most cases wasnt. His defence was offence, and it was executed from his own blue line to the oppositions net. Thats not 200'. Bob Gainey was a 200' player. Butch Goring. A bunch of the lesser celebrated, but these two guys?...

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11-27-2011, 10:22 PM
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If another Gretzky or Lemieux comes along, I would hope coaches will let the whole "200-foot" thing slide.

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11-27-2011, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tavaresmagicalplay View Post
That's just not true. I mean sure if you don't even bother to play defense but how many players ever do that. There's lots of players that are extremely below average defensively and still have a place in the league.
Heh, one of them signed a lifetime contract with the Devils 2 summers ago. Another one of them recently won 3 Pearsons and 2 Harts in a row...

I think there would be a place for Gretzky and Lemieux in today's league.

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11-28-2011, 12:48 AM
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last year: robbie schrempf in the NHL. this year: robbie schremp gone.

i take that as unequivocal proof that sub-200' players are being phased out. you're next, heatley.


but seriously, of course there are lots of guys like phil kessel who are below average defensively and still have a place in this league. by definition, somebody has to be below average; if every player in the league was ryan kesler, then ryan kesler would just be average. so there will always be guys who are closer to the bottom defensively but can make it up on the offensive end, and for those guys it probably makes sense if they can't make much of an impact defensively anyway to concentrate on scoring goals.

i'd rather have kessel on my team, by the way, than rick nash. coaches and media seem to fetishize high end offensive guys who can play two ways, but at least kessel tries on half of the ice surface.

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11-28-2011, 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
I dont understand this. Neither Gretzky nor Lemieux were "200' players". They didnt need to be because when they were on the ice they only dealt with about 100-150' of it. Gretzkys' defensive abilities consisted of a sharp stick & positional play. He was where the puck was going. I wouldnt call it floating, Id call it intelligent, but others disagree with me on that one. Lemieux could be and was physical in the transition zone if he needed to be, but in most cases wasnt. His defence was offence, and it was executed from his own blue line to the oppositions net. Thats not 200'. Bob Gainey was a 200' player. Butch Goring. A bunch of the lesser celebrated, but these two guys?...
Gretzky and Lemieux had incredible anticipation and instincts. They seemed to intercept passes, force turnovers and the transition game with them on the ice was unstoppable. They removed the 4-on-4 on incidental minors because of the Oilers.

I found Gretzky battled harder as he got older. When he was younger, his quickness and talent was so far ahead of everyone else, all he did was float, play on the perimeter and create offense every shift. Mario as well. Mario wasn't as quick, but his size and deceptive speed made him unstoppable.

I miss those players. The NHL misses those players.

Problem with players who don't play 200ft hockey today is that they lack that level of offensive skill to get away with it.
Crosby's probably talented enough to get away with it, but it's simply not the way he plays. Malkin has elite talent, as does Ovechkin, but they look ordinary when they aren't battling.

Different class of greatness altogether.

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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Gretzky and Lemieux weren't necessarily 200 foot players for the very reason that they didn't have to be. Or to put it in a better perspective, they were so dominant on the ice that everyone else worked around them. They were the central focal point every second they were on the ice. It is a good argument that they had so much offensive talent that it might have been detrimental to have them focus more on defense.

I mean, backcheck and such of course, but you didn't want to ask these guys to alter their game.

As of today's game, there are still some players with questionable defense. Kovalchuk. I don't think Stamkos is particularly good without the puck. Semin. Heatley. Eric Staal is borderline. Selanne never was great. In the end, these guys might pay for it in the end. Strong two-way play makes for a successful playoff run. We know the failings of Heatley, Semin and Kovalchuk in the postseason. Stamkos wasn't good last year either.

A 200-foot game puts you in a position where you can be valuable when you don't have the puck. This is why I believe Crosby, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Toews, etc. are as succesful as they have been. All are champions. All know what it takes to win. But if you have the luxury of not HAVING to play good defense and still be succesful, well, then you are probably in the mold of Mario/Gretzky/prime Jagr and do enough damage as it is
excellent post.

Sometimes we confuse compete-level with 200ft players and defensive play (play without the puck).

When 99 & 66 didn't have the puck, they prepared for when they would have the puck. The other four players on the ice would immediately look to them and they simply controlled the pace of the game.

They didn't battle for loose pucks like Crosby or Zetterberg, they didn't cycle the puck in the offensive zone or dump and chase hard, very little physical contact initiated. They didn't play "hard" like some offensive stars today - but they made plays off the rush, opened up space for teammates that has been unseen since they retired, except for a few examples.

I agree that it would have been somewhat wasted energy to battle the full 200ft the way some offensive stars do today.

They were just that good.

An opponent couldn't afford to leave them unchecked, even if they hovered around center ice without the puck, like both Mario and Wayne did often, Bure as well for that matter.

In those unique cases, the best defense was a great offense.

And in both those cases, their teams didn't win much until they learned to be more responsible defensively. Despite how incredibly gifted offensively they were.

Someone check out 99s stats in the 83 playoffs in the first three rounds and then the last round, a sweep at the hands of the incredible Isles team. Humbling.

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11-28-2011, 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ozzie View Post
Wayne on the other hand was a much better defensive player then people give him credit for, he stole a lot of pucks with his sneaky play and positioning. He also back checked often and was double shifted. He wasn't stellar by any stretch, but the space/time fear he generated was enough to make him defensively responsible. He was better then Mario in his own end.

Wayne played better then average defensively on the international stage when it was called for.

Truth be told the Oilers and Penguins when they got rolling took the season a lot more relaxed then in the current NHL.

It was easier to make the playoffs in the 80's for sure and you could coast a lot more, it definately showed. The regular season intensity wasn't there.

Gilmour is 92/93 - 93/94 is probably one of the best 200 foot players I have ever seen, Feds in 93/94 as well.
Agreed. Wayne is the all-time leader in takeaways, single season leader in take-aways, all-time leader among forwards in +/- and single season leader among forwards in +/-. He was twice nominated for the Selke even (though he was never a front-runner, recieving only 1 vote each time, and neither were 1st place votes).

Point is though, he was much better than people give him credit for on defense, especially earlier in his career. Most forwards seem to get better defensively as they mature, but I think too much of his defence was based on speed and anticipation. As he got older, he still had the anticipation, but not the speed. Still, by every statistical measurement people generally use to measure defensive ability, Gretzky is very strong.

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11-28-2011, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by sawchuk1971 View Post
Sounds like another article downplaying the past and propping up the new and improved players of today.

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11-28-2011, 09:06 AM
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Gretzky and Lemieux were definitely not typical 200-foot players.. but they were good enough on the other side it didn't matter.

Lemieux was generally disinterested defensively in my opinion (but a shorthanded attacking threat), but both were good at anticipating and picking off passes, and Gretzky in particular was outstanding stealing the puck away from the opposition. The prevailing groupthink that he didn't expend any effort on defense at all is just revisionism.

The article is just more Crosby hype. He is a great player but (risking sounding old) no where near a Gretzky or Lemieux in overall effectiveness no matter how much time he spends on the boards.

Corners are for bus stops.. and stamps.

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11-28-2011, 09:49 AM
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Point is though, he was much better than people give him credit for on defense, especially earlier in his career.
Disagree; I think people gave him more credit than he deserved earlier in his career because he was so dominant offensively and his team always had the puck. He was never really "bad" defensively, but I wouldn't say he was any better than slightly above average at his best Eventually, when that was no longer the case. A player like Yzerman or Lindros, OTOH, was more recognized as strong defensive players as it became apparent how good defensively they really were. Yzerman was only really given credit in the mid 90s when the Wings as a whole became a much better team and Fedorov was peaking, and therefore Yzerman was (naturally) compared to Fedorov. But Yzerman was always a strong defensive player after his first couple of seasons; he simply played on a weak defensive team. Lindros was so dominant physically and offensively with the Flyers, and that got so much of the press, that his defensive skills were generally ignored and he was often called "weak" defensively because of the presence of players like Rod Brind'Amour. Jiri Hudler is a player who sees this same effect; he's better than average defensively and better than most comparable scorers in his own end. But he plays for a team that is full of skilled defensive forwards, which makes his level of defensive play look poor by comparison.

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11-28-2011, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Gretzky and Lemieux were definitely not typical 200-foot players.. but they were good enough on the other side it didn't matter.

Lemieux was generally disinterested defensively in my opinion (but a shorthanded attacking threat), but both were good at anticipating and picking off passes, and Gretzky in particular was outstanding stealing the puck away from the opposition. The prevailing groupthink that he didn't expend any effort on defense at all is just revisionism.

The article is just more Crosby hype. He is a great player but (risking sounding old) no where near a Gretzky or Lemieux in overall effectiveness no matter how much time he spends on the boards.

Corners are for bus stops.. and stamps.
Amen. Before Crosby invented two way play for superstars, there was Orr, Howe, Clarke, Trottier, Lindsay, etc...I could go on and on. What's with this "Giants" term? Two way play has been an expectation for most players for decades. It seems like when a new term (like 'stretch' pass or 'power forward') is applied to something old, it gives the impression that its been invented by the current generation. FYI, Danny Gallivan used to call it a 'long lead' pass, but if you are doing color on a broad cast today, you have to use the new terms to sound like you know something.

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11-29-2011, 07:01 AM
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200-Point Giants.

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11-29-2011, 08:39 AM
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200-Point Giants.
Yes Mario was one in Jr.

People have to realize that the game does indeed change and expectations of players become different over time, it's just reality.

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11-29-2011, 10:29 AM
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Gretzky + Lemieux

Jagr

EVERY OTHER STAR (Forsberg, Hasek, whathaveyou...)

Two hockey gods, a demi-god and every other contender.

That is hockey as I remember the 1990s, regardless of where the heck on the ice you are talking about.

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11-29-2011, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Gretzky and Lemieux weren't necessarily 200 foot players for the very reason that they didn't have to be. Or to put it in a better perspective, they were so dominant on the ice that everyone else worked around them. They were the central focal point every second they were on the ice. It is a good argument that they had so much offensive talent that it might have been detrimental to have them focus more on defense.
Precisely.

The question is flawed since it implies that the two most dominating offensive forwards in the history of the game were in any way analogous to the average NHLer, the 99.9%.

They weren't.

The problem becomes when fans excuse "just" highly skilled offensive talents from basic responsiblities outside of when the puck is on their blade in the offensive zone.


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11-29-2011, 02:07 PM
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Mario Lemeiux doesnt need to be a 200 foot player, yet hes being ranked below gordie howe on all-time lists. I'm sure if he focused on backchecking, he would rank above orr and howe, he chose not to and thats why he's 4th.

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11-29-2011, 05:31 PM
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Challenged

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Gretzky and Lemieux weren't necessarily 200 foot players for the very reason that they didn't have to be. Or to put it in a better perspective, they were so dominant on the ice that everyone else worked around them. They were the central focal point every second they were on the ice. It is a good argument that they had so much offensive talent that it might have been detrimental to have them focus more on defense.

I mean, backcheck and such of course, but you didn't want to ask these guys to alter their game.

As of today's game, there are still some players with questionable defense. Kovalchuk. I don't think Stamkos is particularly good without the puck. Semin. Heatley. Eric Staal is borderline. Selanne never was great. In the end, these guys might pay for it in the end. Strong two-way play makes for a successful playoff run. We know the failings of Heatley, Semin and Kovalchuk in the postseason. Stamkos wasn't good last year either.

A 200-foot game puts you in a position where you can be valuable when you don't have the puck. This is why I believe Crosby, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Toews, etc. are as succesful as they have been. All are champions. All know what it takes to win. But if you have the luxury of not HAVING to play good defense and still be succesful, well, then you are probably in the mold of Mario/Gretzky/prime Jagr and do enough damage as it is
Nobody really challenged Gretzky or Lemieux to play defense. Other than Trottier and the Islanders in the 1983 and 1984 playoffs against the Oilers teams would play their defensive centers against Gretzky and especially Lemieux.

In most instances these centers would not go deep into the offensive zone so ...................

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11-29-2011, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
last year: robbie schrempf in the NHL. this year: robbie schremp gone.

i take that as unequivocal proof that sub-200' players are being phased out. you're next, heatley.


but seriously, of course there are lots of guys like phil kessel who are below average defensively and still have a place in this league. by definition, somebody has to be below average; if every player in the league was ryan kesler, then ryan kesler would just be average. so there will always be guys who are closer to the bottom defensively but can make it up on the offensive end, and for those guys it probably makes sense if they can't make much of an impact defensively anyway to concentrate on scoring goals.

i'd rather have kessel on my team, by the way, than rick nash. coaches and media seem to fetishize high end offensive guys who can play two ways, but at least kessel tries on half of the ice surface.
Schremp wasn't nearly good enough offensively to make up for his defensive deficiencies. Calling him average offensively would be a generous description of him. If Heatley gets to that level it will be the same deal for him. But that's nothing new, a guy who provides average offensive value and no defensive value has never been an NHL player. There will always be bad defensive players as there will be always be guys who can't skate, who can't knock anyone off the puck or who don't have the positioning or defensive awareness down but who can provide enough offensive value to offset that. A guy like Pat Kane just doesn't really have the physical characteristics to be "good" defensively, and even if he eventually learns how to work around that, there was no way he was going to get left off the Blackhawks when he provided first liner offense out of the gate.

You mentioned how people fetishize high end two-way players. I think part of it is how Yzerman, Sakic and other star forwards from the previous generation had their defensive reputations talked about all the time in ridiculous fashion, leading to people deluding themselves into thinking that any first liner who ever back checked is an elite defensive forward. So you have people talking about Spezza's defense because he's good on faceoffs, Kovalchuk's defense because he's on the Devils, Thornton's defense because he's getting more takeaways, Eric Staal's defense because he has 2 brothers that are good defensively, etc. It is especially apparent within each of the fanbases, where people will instinctively talk up any young guy's defense no matter how raw it is.

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11-29-2011, 07:38 PM
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Schremp wasn't nearly good enough offensively to make up for his defensive deficiencies. Calling him average offensively would be a generous description of him. If Heatley gets to that level it will be the same deal for him. But that's nothing new, a guy who provides average offensive value and no defensive value has never been an NHL player. There will always be bad defensive players as there will be always be guys who can't skate, who can't knock anyone off the puck or who don't have the positioning or defensive awareness down but who can provide enough offensive value to offset that. A guy like Pat Kane just doesn't really have the physical characteristics to be "good" defensively, and even if he eventually learns how to work around that, there was no way he was going to get left off the Blackhawks when he provided first liner offense out of the gate.

You mentioned how people fetishize high end two-way players. I think part of it is how Yzerman, Sakic and other star forwards from the previous generation had their defensive reputations talked about all the time in ridiculous fashion, leading to people deluding themselves into thinking that any first liner who ever back checked is an elite defensive forward. So you have people talking about Spezza's defense because he's good on faceoffs, Kovalchuk's defense because he's on the Devils, Thornton's defense because he's getting more takeaways, Eric Staal's defense because he has 2 brothers that are good defensively, etc. It is especially apparent within each of the fanbases, where people will instinctively talk up any young guy's defense no matter how raw it is.
I must say that fedorov's defensive abilities gets over glorified. I have heard people on here say that his individual 20 point playoff runs were better than sakic's because of his 'defense'.

I have also heard people say that fedorov was just as valuable as forsberg during the 97-2002 time frame because his defense made up for the large chunk in offense.

Doug Gilmour's 1993 hart voting was also questionable. He only scored 32 goals, yet hes more valuable than players who scored 20 more points or 40 more goals, because of his defense. Yet these same arguments never got datsyuk any love for the hart in either 08 or 09.

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11-29-2011, 10:53 PM
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I must say that fedorov's defensive abilities gets over glorified. I have heard people on here say that his individual 20 point playoff runs were better than sakic's because of his 'defense'.

I have also heard people say that fedorov was just as valuable as forsberg during the 97-2002 time frame because his defense made up for the large chunk in offense.

Doug Gilmour's 1993 hart voting was also questionable. He only scored 32 goals, yet hes more valuable than players who scored 20 more points or 40 more goals, because of his defense. Yet these same arguments never got datsyuk any love for the hart in either 08 or 09.
People say a lot of things but anyone questioning Gilmour's hart voting in 93 doesn't have a clue what they are talking about.

I have never seen a player more valuable to his team than Gilmour that year. And I am including Gretzky/Lemieux/Trottier/Crosby/Yzerman etc.

His level of play that year was absolutely mindboggling and quite frankly Datsyuk has never even approached it.

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11-30-2011, 12:41 AM
  #24
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People say a lot of things but anyone questioning Gilmour's hart voting in 93 doesn't have a clue what they are talking about.

I have never seen a player more valuable to his team than Gilmour that year. And I am including Gretzky/Lemieux/Trottier/Crosby/Yzerman etc.

His level of play that year was absolutely mindboggling and quite frankly Datsyuk has never even approached it.
Disagree 100%, the consensus was that gilmour won the selke based on his two way play, not because he had bob gainey caliber of a checking game. Dastyuk has been every bit as effective, this is just standard canadian bias. Selanne scored 44 more goals, lafontaine put up 20 more points, even oates outscored him by a comfortbale margin. But people only use two way play to favour hart voting if it is a media darling playing in a media market. Gilmour was great, but suggesting his peak dwarfs datsyuk's is revionism at its finest. Gilmour was never a lindros/forsberg level player, if he was, he would make the top 100.

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11-30-2011, 02:00 AM
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pdd
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Originally Posted by ushvinder View Post
I must say that fedorov's defensive abilities gets over glorified. I have heard people on here say that his individual 20 point playoff runs were better than sakic's because of his 'defense'.
Fedorov was an elite defensive center from the day he stepped foot on North American ice. Sakic developed into a very good two-way center later in his career but was NEVER as good defensively as Fedorov was at the BEGINNING of his career. In Fedorov's rookie year, he was 4th in Selke voting. Second the next year. Fourth in 1993. Won it in 1994, along with the Hart and Pearson. Fourth in 1995. Won it again in 1996. 9th in 1997. Missed most of the 97-98 season. At this point people started to realize how good Yzerman was defensively, and Draper's line was starting to get some of the tough assignments. So that started splitting up the vote; if a Wing is the best defensive forward, who is it? Yzerman? Fedorov? Draper? Maltby? Larionov? Yzerman was fourth in 99 and won it in 2000. Fedorov would show up again highly for the next few years before people wrote him off entirely after he went to Columbus.

His defense is spoken highly of because he was an INCREDIBLE defensive player. When a guy like Jimmy Devellano says that a forward who played some games on defense as an injury replacement could have won several Norrises, it's not BS. This is a guy who was assistant GM for the dynasty Isles, and was GM for the Wings when they started the late 90s run, and drafted most of the "homegrown" players involved (including Yzerman, Fedorov, Lidstrom, Konstantinov, and more)

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I have also heard people say that fedorov was just as valuable as forsberg during the 97-2002 time frame because his defense made up for the large chunk in offense.
Fedorov vs. Forsberg was always interesting. I would argue yes, because when Fedorov went all-out offensively, he was as unstoppable as anybody. But he played a more conservative game, having played center between Bure and Mogilny in Russia, and then having Bowman installed soon after he arrived, and the left-wing-lock system which is effectively an offensive trap system. Had Fedorov played on a more run-and-gun team, he is a regular 100-point man winning a Hart trophy every other year; and probably gets more Selkes too.

Quote:
Doug Gilmour's 1993 hart voting was also questionable. He only scored 32 goals, yet hes more valuable than players who scored 20 more points or 40 more goals, because of his defense. Yet these same arguments never got datsyuk any love for the hart in either 08 or 09.
Gilmour also had 95 assists and 127 points (2nd and T-7th), and he was the Selke winner. Only two players scored 20 more points; Pat LaFontaine and Mario Lemieux. Lemieux won the Hart. LaFontaine and Gilmour each had half a season of Dave Andreychuk, with comparable results at each end. LaFontaine, however, also had Alexander Mogilny - who scored 76 goals and 127 points; tying with Gilmour for 7th. So Gilmour being more valuable than LaFontaine is perfectly justifiable on the offensive grounds alone, ignoring the Selke. Now to the 40 goals. Teemu Selanne and Mogilny were the only ones. LaFontaine was more valuable than Mogilny to the Sabres, so we'll throw him out. 76 goals and 132 points from a generally one-dimensional rookie sniper or 32 goals and 127 points from a gritty, top-end defensive forward? Datsyuk was 9th in Hart voting (Lidstrom was 4th and Zetterberg 10th) and Datsyuk was third in 2008-09. So "no Hart love" isn't quite accurate.

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