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Round 2, Vote 6 (HOH Top Defensemen)

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Old
12-15-2011, 09:13 PM
  #1
TheDevilMadeMe
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Round 2, Vote 6 (HOH Top Defensemen)

Before we begin, just a recap on how Round 2 will operate:

Round 2
  • The top ranked players from the aggregate list will be posted in a thread
  • Players will be listed in alphabetical order to avoid creating bias
  • Voters will rank their top 10 of the available defensemen
  • Final results will be posted and the top 5 vote getters will be added to the final list in order.
  • The process will be repeated for the next 5 places with remaining players until a list of 60 players is obtained
These might be tweaked to allow longer or shorter debating periods depending on how the process moves along.

Additionally, there are a couple guidelines we'd ask that everyone agree to abide by:
  • Please try to stay on-topic in the thread
  • Please remember that this is a debate on opinions and there is no right or wrong. Please try to avoid words like "stupid" "dumb" "wrong" "sophistry" etc. when debating.
  • Please treat other debaters with respect
  • Please don't be a wallflower. All eligible voters are VERY HIGHLY encouraged to be active participants in the debate.
  • Please maintain an open mind. The purpose of the debate is to convince others that your views are more valid. If nobody is willing to accept their opinions as flexible there really is no point in debating.
Eliglible Voters (23):
BiLLYShOE1721; Canadiens1958; chaosrevolver; DaveG; Dennis Bonvie; Der Kaiser; Dreakmur; Epsilon; Hardyvan123; Hawkey Town 18; Hockey Outsider; intylerwetrust; JaysCyYoung; McNuts; MXD; overpass; pappyline; reckoning; seventieslord; TheDevilMadeMe; tarheelhockey; tony D; VanIslander

All posters are encouraged to participate in the debates and discussions, but only those listed above will be eligible for the final votes.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 12-23-2011 at 01:03 PM.
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12-15-2011, 09:17 PM
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Vote 6 will begin now. Votes must be submitted between 9PM EST on Wednesday 12/21 and 9PM EST on Friday 12/23. Votes received outside this time frame will not be accepted unless you make prior arrangements with me via PM. Voting will run until the deadline or until all voters have sent their vote in, whichever comes first. THESE DEADLINES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE SO PLEASE READ THROUGH THE ENTIRE THREAD.

Please PM me your votes during the above timeframe.

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU WILL VOTE FOR YOUR TOP 10 OUT OF THE POOL OF ELIGIBLE PLAYERS.

Vote 6 will be for places 26 through 30 on the Top 60 list.

Here are the candidates, listed alphabetically:

Emile "Butch" Bouchard
Lionel Conacher
Eddie Gerard
Mark Howe
Rod Langway
Jacques Laperriere
Guy Lapointe
Scott Niedermayer
Marcel Pronovost
Bill Quackenbush
Serge Savard
Jack Stewart
J.C. Tremblay

Please note that you are voting for your top 10 of the 13 available candidates.


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12-15-2011, 09:28 PM
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Observations :

* I was really expecting one guy to be available this round. He isn't (no, that's not Reardon, though he should have been).

* Butch? Mixed feelings. Kindof a mix of Clapper and Stewart.

* Awesome to see Conacher available. Made lots of mileage out of an award, but he's certainly relevant at this point.

* LaperriŤre? The guy was good, no doubt, but the more I dug, the more I had problems splitting the player from the team.

* Last one, I said that I considered one former and unavailable Wing superior to Quackenbush and Stewart. He's available now.

* JC Tremblay is the first guy in his situation : how do we consider WHA careers? The calibre was somewhat below the NHL, and Tremblay probably didn't dominate it was much as he would if he would have gotten there 4 years earlier.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 12-16-2011 at 01:47 AM. Reason: moved that part of your post to the rules discussion thread
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12-15-2011, 09:28 PM
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Note that Eddie Gerard is the first candidate to be available who was omitted from multiple Round 1 lists (appearing on 21 of 23 lists).


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12-16-2011, 01:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MXD View Post

* Last one, I said that I considered one former and unavailable Wing superior to Quackenbush and Stewart. He's available now.
I'd be interested to hear why you prefer Pronovost to Quackenbush or Stewart.

Pronovost is probably the available defenseman who I know the least about - he was good at everything but doesn't really have anything that stands about about him like Quackenbush's Lidstromesque style of defense or Stewart's Stevensesque style of physical play.


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12-16-2011, 02:31 AM
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Norris/All Star voting records:

Parenthesis indicated range of consideration.

Note that when Norris votes aren't available, I'm using all-star votes indicated by italics. For Lionel Conacher, I used Hart voting among defensemen to estimate a 3rd and 4th place finish before All Star Teams. Note also that we don't have much below the top 4-5 for much of Conacher's career.

Eddie Gerard played too early to have relevant data.

Lionel Conacher (1926-1937): 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 4th, 8th
Jack Stewart (1941-1950): 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 5th (plus token votes twice more)
Bill Quackenbush (1944-1953): 1st, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th
Butch Bouchard (1944-1956): 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 6th
Marcel Pronovost (1957-1966): 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 5th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 11th
Jacques Laperriere (1964-1974): 1st, 2nd, 4th, 4th, 5th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th
JC Tremblay (1966-1972): 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 5th, 8th (WHA = 1st, 1st, 2nd, 3/4)*
Guy Lapointe (1973-1979): 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 5th, 5th, 6th
Serge Savard (1973-1979): 4th, 5th, 5th, 5th, 6th, 8th
Rod Langway (1980-1987): 1st, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 5th, 9th, 10th, 11th
Mark Howe (1980-1988): 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 11th
Scott Niedermayer (1998-2009): 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 8th, 10th, 12th

*Tremblay won 2 Dennis A. Murphy Trophies for best defenseman in the WHA, was a 1st Team WHA All Star 3 Times, and a 2nd Team WHA All Star once).

Obsevations:
  • Savard, Lapointe faced the toughest competition - the late 70s.
  • Butch Bouchard almost rivals Niedermayer in terms of shortness of peak, and his 4 All Star finishes were during the 2 worst War years and the 2 years following. After 1948, Bouchard only has the 1 6th place finish in 1956.
  • Jacques Laperriere had an injury-shortened career and his team won in the playoffs when he was injured. But he got Norris votes almost every season of his career.
  • Hard to know what to make of Tremblay's WHA years


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12-16-2011, 02:50 AM
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A quick note on Eddie Gerard:

He was more or less a contemporary of Sprague Cleghorn. The majority of observers seemed to think Cleghorn was the best defenseman in the NHL, but Eddie Gerard, the ultimate team player, seems to be the most common choice of those who didn't. He was definitely a cleaner player than Cleghorn and contributed to more than his own share of team success.

Gerard relied on modern techniques like positioning and stickwork to play defense - he didn't use the fear of assault to defend his goal. That doesn't mean he was soft though.

Gerard wasn't as good offensively as Sprague Cleghorn, Georges Boucher, or Harry Cameron, but he was just one step down. And he was probably better defensively than all of them (definitely better defensively than Boucher and Cameron).

Gerard was the captain of the NHL's first dynasty - the early 20s Ottawa Senators.

I'm sure more will be posted about him later.


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12-16-2011, 07:15 AM
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It's going to be interesting going forward to decide how much weight to place on "true #1" status. There are several players on the list whose best years were as part of a tandem. And at least a couple who played almost their entire career behind another top-20.

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12-16-2011, 07:30 AM
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Marcel Pronovost

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I'd be interested to hear why you prefer Pronovost to Quackenbush or Stewart.

Pronovost is probably the available defenseman who I know the least about - he was good at everything but doesn't really have anything that stands about about him like Quackenbush's Lidstromesque style of defense or Stewart's Stevensesque style of physical play.
Short answer would be longevity, all around game, better competition. Red Wings with Kelly and Pronovost were better defensively than with Stewart and Quackenbush. Difference being that Stewart and Quackenbush complimented each other - physicality and finesse while Kelly and Pronovost enhanced each others skills. Pronovost could, finesse, rush and play offense - former center, Stewart could not. Pronovost could hit just as well as Stevens - one of the few who hit Henri Richard, compete with Beliveau, Frank Mahovlich, Bathgate in the slot, etc.

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12-16-2011, 07:32 AM
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Tandems

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
It's going to be interesting going forward to decide how much weight to place on "true #1" status. There are several players on the list whose best years were as part of a tandem. And at least a couple who played almost their entire career behind another top-20.
True. Top tandems would be an interesting discussion once guidelines were agreed upon.

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12-16-2011, 09:42 AM
  #11
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Regular season adjusted stats for post-1967 defencemen


Career Stats
Player Start End GP EV% R-ON R-OFF $ESP PPP PP% TmPP+ SH% TmSH+
Jacques Laperriere 1968 1973 435 47% 1.53 1.31 26 9 35% 1.22 73% 0.84
J.C. Tremblay 1968 1972 358 45% 1.37 1.33 32 22 69% 1.31 64% 0.85
Serge Savard 1968 1983 1038 43% 1.44 1.52 25 9 24% 1.32 58% 0.82
Guy Lapointe 1969 1984 884 42% 1.41 1.66 31 28 64% 1.29 52% 0.76
Mark Howe 1980 1995 929 38% 1.48 0.97 35 21 58% 0.99 41% 0.87
Rod Langway 1979 1993 994 35% 1.29 1.20 20 3 10% 1.02 53% 0.83
Scott Niedermayer 1992 2010 1263 39% 1.25 1.22 31 26 64% 1.04 40% 0.94

Prime Stats
Player Start End GP EV% R-ON R-OFF $ESP PPP PP% TmPP+ SH% TmSH+
Jacques Laperriere 1968 1973 393 47% 1.56 1.31 26 9 36% 1.23 75% 0.83
J.C. Tremblay 1968 1972 358 45% 1.37 1.33 32 22 69% 1.31 64% 0.85
Serge Savard 1970 1979 651 45% 1.72 1.67 28 13 34% 1.33 65% 0.76
Guy Lapointe 1973 1979 499 46% 1.67 1.88 40 34 75% 1.32 68% 0.74
Mark Howe 1980 1988 654 42% 1.47 0.94 39 22 64% 0.96 44% 0.86
Rod Langway 1981 1989 673 38% 1.35 1.21 22 4 14% 0.99 57% 0.85
Scott Niedermayer 2004 2007 242 39% 1.27 1.22 37 33 79% 1.13 47% 0.90

Stats Glossary
EV%: The percentage of the teamís even-strength goals the player was on the ice for, on a per-game basis.

R-ON: The teamís GF/GA ratio while the player is on the ice at even strength.

R-OFF: The teamís GF/GA ratio while the player is off the ice at even strength.

$ESP/S: Even strength points per season, adjusted to a 200 ESG per team-season scoring level.

$PPP/S: Power play points per season, adjusted to a 70 PPG per team-season scoring level and a league-average number of power play opportunities.

PP%: The percentage of the teamís power play goals for which the player was on the ice.

TmPP+: The strength of the playerís team on the power play. 1.00 is average, higher is better.

SH%: The percentage of the teamís power play goals against for which the player was on the ice.

TmSH+: The strength of the playerís team on the penalty kill. 1.00 is average, lower is better.


What does it all mean?

A note on the team-based stats - the lack of parity in the 1970s NHL made it easier to put up high numbers in these stats. EV% tended to be higher pre-1980, when teams went to 6 defencemen.

Jacques Laperriere and Jean-Claude Tremblay both starred before the NHL expanded in 1967-68, so these numbers don't capture their full careers or primes.

Based on what we have, Laperriere's numbers were slightly better than Tremblay's at even strength. Much of that comes from his 1972-73 season, when he posted a +78. (I assume he played with Savard, who was +70.) Both Laperriere and Tremblay played on the penalty kill, but Laperriere played more. In fact, Laperriere played a ton on the penalty kill. Keep in mind that was a little more common in the 1970s as compared to 1980 or later.

On the power play, Laperriere was on the second unit, and Tremblay played on the first unit and was more effective.

Tremblay broke out offensively in 1970-71 at age 32. The progression of his power play numbers are interesting.

YearPPP
1960-61 1
1961-62 1
1962-63 1
1963-64 3
1964-65 4
1965-66 10
1966-67 15
1967-68 12
1968-69 10
1969-70 12
1970-71 33
1971-72 28

He didn't play big minutes on the power play until 1970-71. And what happened when he finally did? Montreal went 24.8% and 27.1% on the power play in those seasons.

Season Tremblay PPP Montreal PP
1968-69 10 17.7%
1969-70 12 20.3%
1970-71 33 24.8%
1971-72 28 27.1%
1972-73 0 21.8%
1973-74 0 20.1%

Since I've done all this analysis on Tremblay's power play performance, I should also note that Montreal's penalty kill really dropped off in performance during Laperriere's injury-plagued final season, and also the following season after he retired.

At even strength, Serge Savard played big minutes and played the toughest defensive assignments. His team had outstanding results whether he was on or off the ice. He had a minor role on the power play, usually on the second unit (he was never on the ice for as many as half of his team's power play goals.) He was a great penalty killer, playing a major role on a great Montreal unit.

Guy Lapointe was a major contributor in all situations to a great Montreal team. He's the first defenceman available who's team was better with him off the ice than on the ice at even strength, but that's partly because he was on the second pairing behind Savard and Robinson for much of his prime. On the power play and penalty kill, he was second to nobody on Montreal, playing a major role on both units. His prime was relatively short, at least when measured in regular season games.

Mark Howe had extremely good plus-minus numbers at even strength right from the start to the end of his NHL career. His best results came while paired with Brad McCrimmon from 84/85 to 86/87. I'm not sure to what degree he was used in an offensive/defensive role, which would have implications for his plus-minus, but his record of +400 in the regular season and +54 in the playoffs is very impressive. IMO he's clearly the best even-strength defenceman left.

He played on both the power play and the penalty kill, but not huge minutes on either one. It's a little puzzling to me why he didn't play more on the power play, given his offensive skills. Was it because he relied on a wrist shot instead of a slap shot? Because his coaches (Keenan and others) preferred to spread the minutes around?

Rod Langway was a pure defensive defenceman. Rarely played on the power play, played huge minutes on the penalty kill.

His even-strength plus-minus record is a good illustration of the effect role and strength of opposition can play in plus-minus, IMO. His last two seasons in Montreal playing second pairing behind Robinson, he was +53 and +66. In his first two seasons in Washington as the top shutdown option, he was even and +14 - and won the Norris trophy both seasons.

Washington's power play goals against in the two seasons before Langway - 83, 67.
Washington's power play goals against in Langway's first two seasons - 53, 39.

It's hard to match the impact of the other defenceman here as a pure defensive defenceman. But if anyone could, it was Langway.

Scott Niedermayer spent most of his career as a second pairing defenceman on an excellent team, and finally became an elite defenceman in his 30s. An all-around contributor. Like Mark Howe, he wasn't elite on the PP or the PK. In fact, for much of his career in New Jersey he played on the second unit for both. At even strength, he carried the offence for the second pairing against second-tier matchups in New Jersey. In Anaheim he was paired with a strong defender on the top pairing and played the toughest matchups.

His prime was hard to isolate, as he didn't really step forward until after Scott Stevens retired, and then wasn't really the same after he took half a year off in 2007. I listed his 03/04 through 06/07 seasons as his prime, as they were an easily identified high point in his career.

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12-16-2011, 10:53 AM
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Hawkey Town 18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Norris/All Star voting records:

Parenthesis indicated range of consideration.

Note that when Norris votes aren't available, I'm using all-star votes indicated by italics. For Lionel Conacher, I used Hart voting among defensemen to estimate a 3rd and 4th place finish before All Star Teams.
I'm not sure how accurate this is for Conacher. For one, other non-defensemen on his team could have stolen Hart votes from him, which would not have affected his all-star finishes. Second, for some of those years only a couple defensemen are even listed in the Hart voting results. All that would tell you is that he wasn't in the top 2. Here's a breakdown year by year...

25'-26': Teammate Worters, a goalie, finishes ahead in Hart voting
26'-27': Teammate Burch, a center, finishes ahead of him in Hart voting, also only 2 defensemen are listed.
27'-28': Only 2 defensemen are listed.
28'-29': Teammate, Worters, a goalie, finishes ahead in Hart voting
29'-30': Teammate Himes, a center, finishes ahead of him in Hart voting.
30'-31': NHL starts giving out post-season all-star awards.

There is at least one issue with every single year before the all-star awards start. I'd rather just say, all-star awards were only handed out during Conacher's career from ages 29-35, here's how he finished, and then just try to find other sources about his performance for the 5 seasons he played before that.

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12-16-2011, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
I'm not sure how accurate this is for Conacher. For one, other non-defensemen on his team could have stolen Hart votes from him, which would not have affected his all-star finishes. Second, for some of those years only a couple defensemen are even listed in the Hart voting results. All that would tell you is that he wasn't in the top 2. Here's a breakdown year by year...

25'-26': Teammate Worters, a goalie, finishes ahead in Hart voting
26'-27': Teammate Burch, a center, finishes ahead of him in Hart voting, also only 2 defensemen are listed.
27'-28': Only 2 defensemen are listed.
28'-29': Teammate, Worters, a goalie, finishes ahead in Hart voting
29'-30': Teammate Himes, a center, finishes ahead of him in Hart voting.
30'-31': NHL starts giving out post-season all-star awards.

There is at least one issue with every single year before the all-star awards start. I'd rather just say, all-star awards were only handed out during Conacher's career from ages 29-35, here's how he finished, and then just try to find other sources about his performance for the 5 seasons he played before that.
It's certainly not exact, but for someone who wants to skim the data, I think it's better than nothing, no?

We do have GM voted all star voting in 1927-28 and Conacher did not get a spot - Eddie Shore and Ching Johnson were first team, King Clancy and Herb Gardiner were second team.

And I do think we have enough data from Hart voting to determine Conacher was not a top 2 dman in any season before the official all star teams. He could have been top 4 or 5 in some of the missing seasons, but definitely wasn't top 4 in 27-28.


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12-16-2011, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
It's certainly not exact, but for someone who wants to skim the data, I think it's better than nothing, no?

We do have GM voted all star voting in 1927-28 and Conacher did not get a spot - Eddie Shore and Ching Johnson were first team, King Clancy and Herb Gardiner were second team.

And I do think we have enough data from Hart voting to determine Conacher was not a top 2 dman in any season before the official all star teams. He could have been top 4 or 5 in some of the missing seasons, but definitely wasn't top 4 in 27-28.
This helps some. My main issue is with the 25'-26' and 28'-29' seasons where Conacher actually gets Hart votes, but a teammate of his finishes ahead of him. I think in those situations there's at least a good chance he could have been a Top 2 Dman (more likely in 28'-29').

EDIT: After looking, I'd say 28'-29' is the real year in question. I don't see him finishing ahead of Cleghorn or Clancy in 25'-26'. Cleghorn was the Hart runner-up and Clancy also had a teammate finish ahead of him.

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12-16-2011, 01:30 PM
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First impressions:
  • Eddie Gerard is a candidate for the top spot on my list. Others might disagree, but I have him as the second best defenseman of his generation after Sprague Cleghorn. Issues that people might have with Cleghorn - his excessive violence and occasionally putting himself over his team - do not apply to Gerard.
  • Bill Quackenbush another candidate for the top guy on my list. I think he was the best defenseman of the early Original 6 period and should be recognized. I like him better than Jack Stewart and a lot better than Butch Bouchard. I think he is similar to Mark Howe in a lot of ways, but I like him better than Howe because of his durablity, which gives Quack the advantage in All-Star Teams. 3 1st Teams, 2 2nds for Quack vs. 3 1st Teams, 0 2nds for Howe. 8-4 advantage in All Star games for Quackenbush.
  • I still like Jack Stewart more than Serge Savard or Rod Langway, but it's quite close.
  • While I respect Butch Bouchard's leadership (Jean Beliveau said he copied Bouchard's leadership style), we need to recognize that he was only a star calibre player for 5 seasons from 1944 to 1948 until his first major knee injury. After that, he was Doug Harvey's stay-at-home partner. He's an easy "not top 10" vote for me.
  • It seems too early for Lionel Conacher based on his resume as a hockey player. Maybe someone will sell me on him.
  • I still think it's too early for Niedermayer (I have him under Howe, and I have Howe under Quackenbush among two-way defensemen), but he has a good shot at getting my support next round.
  • Interesting case made for Marcel Pronovost. He won 5 Stanley Cups, but none of them as a #1 dman. In 1950, he was the #3 dman behind Red Kelly and Jack Stewart. In 52, 54, and 55, he was #2 behind Red Kelly and well behind Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Terry Sawchuk in terms of importance to the franchise. In 67, he was, at best the #2 dman behind Tim Horton and I'm not sure if he was more important than Allan Stanley. Definitely a guy worth talking about more.
  • I always go back and forth on Tremblay vs. Laperriere.


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12-16-2011, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Short answer would be longevity, all around game, better competition. Red Wings with Kelly and Pronovost were better defensively than with Stewart and Quackenbush. Difference being that Stewart and Quackenbush complimented each other - physicality and finesse while Kelly and Pronovost enhanced each others skills. Pronovost could, finesse, rush and play offense - former center, Stewart could not. Pronovost could hit just as well as Stevens - one of the few who hit Henri Richard, compete with Beliveau, Frank Mahovlich, Bathgate in the slot, etc.
How much credit can you give Pronovost for the Wing's great defense during the dynasty years? He wasn't a postseason All-Star until 1957-58, when the team was already in decline. I would think that the emergence of Red Kelly (who was mentored by Quackenbush) and Terry Sawchuk had more to do with Detroit's improvement in goals against than a young Pronovost, right?


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12-16-2011, 02:49 PM
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Lionel Conacher

Lionel Conacher was selected the Canadian Athelete of the Half Century (1900-1950), but it was largely (mostly?) due to his contributions to other sports. It should not be used to bolster his case as a hockey player.

This is from a historical article that praises Conacher as an all-round athlete:

Quote:
Originally Posted by History of Sports in Canada
One of ten children of a Toronto teamster, Lionel quit school after Grade 8 to help support his family. He soon realized that sports offered a way - maybe the only way - out of poverty. With characteristic drive, he pursued athletic success. At sixteen he was the Ontario wrestling champion in the 125-pound (57 kg) class. At twenty, he was the Canadian light heavyweight boxing champion. He played baseball for the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning the Triple A championship in 1926. He played lacrosse for the Toronto Maitlands, winners of the Ontario Amateur Lacrosse championship in 1922. For eleven years he was an outstanding defenceman in the National Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Americans, Montrťal Maroons, and Chicago Black Hawks. He was a league All-Star and his teams won the Stanley Cup twice, yet hockey was Big Train's weakest sport. He didn't even strap on skates until he was 16 years old, and had to develop cunning defensive strategies to overcome his limited skating abilities.

But hockey was one sport that paid well. His real love, football, did not. One of the most famous football coaches of the era, Carl Snavely of Cornell University said Conacher "was probably he greatest athlete that I have ever coached in football or in any other form of athletics…. I don't believe I ever had a fullback who was a better runner in an open field, or was a better punter, or who so fully possessed all of the qualities of speed, skill, dexterity, aggressiveness and self-control…"
Read more here (it's actually quite facsincating):
http://www.histori.ca/sports/conach.html

It may be noteworthy (or maybe it isn't) that Conacher was inducted into the HHOF long after he was inducted into the Hall of Fames in other sports.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wikipedia article on Lionel Conacher
Numerous organizations have honoured Conacher's career. In addition to being named Canada's athlete of the half-century, he was named the country's top football player over the same period. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1964, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1994. Additionally, the Canadian Press gives the Lionel Conacher Award to its male athlete of the year.
This says more about his prominence in other sports than his prominence in hockey. It should NOT be held against him as a hockey player. But I don't think he should be given extra credit for things like "inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame." He should be judged as a hockey player alone, I think.

Conclusion: Lionel Conacher's credentials as a defenseman should be judged the same way we judge other defensemen - All Star Teams, first-hand accounts of those who saw him play, etc. He should not get extra credit for being named "Canada's Athlete of the Half Century," which was based on his career as a multi-sport athlete.


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12-16-2011, 02:56 PM
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Lionel Conacher

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
This helps some. My main issue is with the 25'-26' and 28'-29' seasons where Conacher actually gets Hart votes, but a teammate of his finishes ahead of him. I think in those situations there's at least a good chance he could have been a Top 2 Dman (more likely in 28'-29').

EDIT: After looking, I'd say 28'-29' is the real year in question. I don't see him finishing ahead of Cleghorn or Clancy in 25'-26'. Cleghorn was the Hart runner-up and Clancy also had a teammate finish ahead of him.
Good point. I usually find wikipedia to be of limited use, but their Lionel Conacher article is excellent and well sourced, much of it to articles appearing in google archives. It gives a very good summary of his career, including his pre-NHL days. He didn't become a professional until the age of 24 because he didn't want to give up his amateur status. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Conacher

Here is a summary of his NHL career. Perhaps it is a good starting place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wikipedia
Conacher scored the first goal in Pirates history on November 26, 1925, against the Boston Bruins.[18] He scored nine goals in 33 games in 1925–26, then returned to Toronto to play professional baseball with the Toronto Maple Leafs.[25] An outfielder on the team, Conacher and the Maple Leafs won the International League championship then defeated the Louisville Colonels to win the Little World Series.[26]

He returned to Pittsburgh for the 1926–27 NHL season, but was was dealt early in the year to the New York Americans in exchange for Charlie Langlois and $2,000.[27] The trade nearly proved disastrous for Conacher. He scored 8 goals in 1926–27 and improved to 11 in 1927–28,[27] but playing for a team owned by notrious bootlegger Bill Dwyer resulted in his becoming a heavy drinker.[23] Conacher served as player-coach in 1929–30, but his play and health had deteriorated. Two events in that off-season saved Conacher: he swore off alcohol completely upon the birth of his first child, and his playing rights were sold to the Montreal Maroons.[28]

Conacher periodically struggled with Montreal, and at one point was placed on waivers with no other team willing to take over his contract.[29] None the less, his overall play and point totals increased for three consecutive seasons with the Maroons, peaking at 28 points in 1932–33.[27] He was named to the Second All-Star Team that season,[10] but was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks in exchange for Teddy Graham.[27] Conacher was a key figure in the club's first-ever Stanley Cup victory that season. He finished second to the Canadiens' Aurel Joliat in the voting for the Hart Trophy and earned a spot on the NHL's First All-Star Team.[18]

On October 3, 1934, Conacher was involved in one of the largest transactions in league history. He was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens, along with Leroy Goldsworthy and Roger Jenkins in exchange for Montreal superstar Howie Morenz, Lorne Chabot and Marty Burke.[30] The deal was only part of a series of trades involving four teams that represented one of the biggest deals in NHL history. Immediately following the Chicago trade, Conacher was sent back to the Maroons, along with Herb Cain, in exchange for the rights to Nelson Crutchfield.[31] Conacher spent his last three NHL seasons with the Maroons and won his second Stanley Cup in 1935. He ended his hockey career after the team was eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Rangers on April 23, 1937. That final year he was runner-up to Babe Siebert in the 1937 Hart Trophy voting and was placed on the NHL Second All-Star Team.[18]

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12-16-2011, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
First impressions:
  • Eddie Gerard is a candidate for the top spot on my list. Others might disagree, but I have him as the second best defenseman of his generation after Sprague Cleghorn. Issues that people might have with Cleghorn - his excessive violence and occasionally putting himself over his team - do not apply to Gerard.
  • Bill Quackenbush another candidate for the top guy on my list. I think he was the best defenseman of the early Original 6 period and should be recognized. I like him better than Jack Stewart and a lot better than Butch Bouchard. I think he is similar to Mark Howe in a lot of ways, but I like him better than Howe because of his durablity, which gives Quack the advantage in All-Star Teams. 3 1st Teams, 2 2nds for Quack vs. 3 1st Teams, 0 2nds for Howe. 8-4 advantage in All Star games for Quackenbush.
  • I still like Jack Stewart more than Serge Savard or Rod Langway, but it's quite close.
  • While I respect Butch Bouchard's leadership (Jean Beliveau said he copied Bouchard's leadership style), we need to recognize that he was only a star calibre player for 5 seasons from 1944 to 1948 until his first major knee injury. After that, he was Doug Harvey's stay-at-home partner. He's an easy "not top 10" vote for me.
  • It seems too early for Lionel Conacher based on his resume as a hockey player. Maybe someone will sell me on him.
  • I still think it's too early for Niedermayer (I have him under Howe, and I have Howe under Quackenbush among two-way defensemen), but he has a good shot at getting my support next round.
  • Interesting case made for Marcel Pronovost. He won 5 Stanley Cups, but none of them as a #1 dman. In 1950, he was the #3 dman behind Red Kelly and Jack Stewart. In 52, 54, and 55, he was #2 behind Red Kelly and well behind Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Terry Sawchuk in terms of importance to the franchise. In 67, he was, at best the #2 dman behind Tim Horton and I'm not sure if he was more important than Allan Stanley. Definitely a guy worth talking about more.
  • I always go back and forth on Tremblay vs. Laperriere.
Eddie Gerard - I would agree there are no character issues, but his career is nothing close to Cleghorn's. Gerard played 10 seasons in the NHA/NHL, and only 6 as a defenseman. His 6 years were excellent though. Based on game reports, he seems to have played a similar style (compared to his peers) to Lidstrom.

Bill Quackenbush - Another Lidstrom-type defenseman. Had a reasonably long 13-year career stretch of being a quality defenseman, with a real good 7 or 8 year peak. He is probably the favourite to be 1st o my list.

Jack Stewart - Agreed. I definately like him more than Savard and Langway. He went head to head with Quackenbush, and lost, so I don't see how anyone can put him before Quack.

Butch Bouchard - I'll have to look which seasons he beat out which defensemen in voting, but his peak was in such a crap era that I can't really give it full value.

Lionel Conacher - His offensive totals might be off, since I did read that he spent significant time on forward during parts of his career - mostly in NY.

Scott Niedermayer - Might not have had the best career... I know I've slammed him more than most... but he was a major contributor to so many different championship teams. I think he's over-rated defensively, and never should have got the Conn Smythe or Norris, but he was still among the elite.

Marcel Pronovost - I don't get the hype. Wasn't really elite in any aspect.

Jacques Laperriere - Gets a lot of miliage out of one award....

J.C. Tremblay - I think we need to look as him as a "what if he stayed" player. Where would he have ranked among NHL defensemen if he stayed. Between 1966 and 1972, he was top-5 in Norris voting 5 times (2, 3, 4, 5, 5). 4 of those, including the 2nd, was behind Bobby Orr. 2 more, including the 3rd, was behind Orr and Park.

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12-16-2011, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Conclusion: Lionel Conacher's credentials as a defenseman should be judged the same way we judge other defensemen - All Star Teams, first-hand accounts of those who saw him play, etc. He should not get extra credit for being named "Canada's Athlete of the Half Century," which was based on his career as a multi-sport athlete.
The only issue I have with this conclusion is that we have already seen candidates' cases bolstered by their athletic performance other than time on defense. Conacher's ability as a baseball player is as relevant to his ranking as a defenseman as Clapper's career as a forward (ie, not relevant at all).

I agree that his performance in other areas should be discarded, but previous discussions have left that matter open to interpretation.

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12-16-2011, 03:59 PM
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All Star records of Quackenbush, Stewart, and Bouchard

I already did the work for this last week, so might as well repost:
  • Stewart played from 1938-39 to 1942-43, left for WW2, then played from 1945-46 to 1951-52
  • Quackenbush played from 1942-43 to 1955-56
  • Bouchard played from 1941-42 to 1955-56. His serious knee injury was in 1949.

This table shows the top 4 finishes in All-Star voting in order.

Year1st1st2nd2nd
1942-43Jack StewartEarl SeibertJack CrawfordBill Hollett
1943-44Babe PrattEarl SeibertEmile BouchardDit Clapper
1944-45Emile BouchardBill HollettBabe PrattGlen Harmon
1945-46Jack CrawfordEmile BouchardKenny ReardonJack Stewart
1946-47Kenny ReardonEmile BouchardJack StewartBill Quackenbush
1947-48Bill QuackenbushJack StewartKenny ReardonNeil Colville
1948-49Bill QuackenbushJack StewartGlen HarmonKenny Reardon
1949-50Gus MortsonKenny ReardonLeo ReiseRed Kelly
1950-51Red KellyBill QuackenbushJimmy ThomsonLeo Reise
1951-52Red KellyDoug HarveyHy BullerJimmy Thomson
1952-53Red KellyDoug HarveyBill QuackenbushBill Gadsby

Keep in mind that Jack Stewart (and many other great players) missed 43-44 and 44-45 due to the War. A few great players also missed 1942-43.

Taking competition into account, I like Quackenbush's record a little better than Stewarts. And I like both quite a bit better than Bouchard.


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12-16-2011, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
The only issue I have with this conclusion is that we have already seen candidates' cases bolstered by their athletic performance other than time on defense. Conacher's ability as a baseball player is as relevant to his ranking as a defenseman as Clapper's career as a forward (ie, not relevant at all).
I don't think it's the same. When we talk about centers, I think there's a big difference between giving Sergie Fedorov credit for playing a full season as an NHLer even though but some of it is on defense, and giving him credit for his golf game in the offseason.

I realize I just gave an absurd example.

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12-16-2011, 04:21 PM
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Bill Quackenbush

While Quackenbush might be the best defenseman available this round

Most of this is a repost from last round.
  • Quackenbush led all defensemen in All-Star voting in 1948 and 1949. To me, that's the equivalent of 2 Norris Trophies.
    • He was also a 2nd Team All Star in 1947
  • Unlike Jack Stewart, Quackenbush was an All Star into the early 1950s, when competition was much higher than in the 1940s.
    • Quack was a 1st Team All Star in 1951 alongside Red Kelly.
    • Quack was a 2nd Team All Star in 1953, after Kelly and Harvey, but with more votes than a young Bill Gadsby
  • Consistent recognition as a top player: Quackenbush was selected to play in the All-Star Game every season from 1947 to 1954, all of them based on merit.
  • Very good at both ends of the rink. Hardyvan earlier compared Quackenbush's offense to Brian Rafalski and I think that seems fair. But Quackenbush had a reputation to be even better defensively than he was offensively (something that nobody would ever say about Rafalski).
  • Excellent defensively without taking penalties.
  • Quackenbush accomplished all this, while playing a style of hockey that wasn't particularly suited for his day: In that era of hockey, it was unusual for nonphysical players to be successful at any position, let alone as a defenseman. I would also guess that his nontraditional style of play didn't do him any favors when it came time to vote for Postseason All Star Teams.

Here's a full profile of Quackenbush (most of the research done by seventieslord and EagleBelfour):
http://hfboards.com/showpost.php?p=3...2&postcount=37

From the profile, here are some stats on just how great Quackenbush's ability to avoid penalies was:
  • Quackenbush went 131 straight games without drawing a penalty, from 1948 to 1950
  • He won the Lady Byng in 1949 with 52 of 54 1st place votes (also finished 3rd, 4th, 4th, 4th in voting). The only other defenseman to ever win the Byng was Red Kelly (who was mentored by Quackenbush).
  • With a ratio of 0.12 PIMs per game, Quackenbush is far and away the least penalized defenseman of history

And remember, Quack managed to avoid penalties while still arguably being the best defensive defenseman in the league.

Quackenbush's durability allowed him to rack up a more impressive All-Star record than Mark Howe
  • Both men were 1st Team All-Stars 3 Times. But Quackenbush was also a 2nd Team All-Star twice (once against weak competition in 1947, once against strong competition in 1953).
  • Mark Howe only played in 4 All Star games - possibly due to inconsistency, but likely due to injuries. Quackenbush played in 8 straight All Star games from 1947-1954. I realize competition was stronger in Howe's time, but that's a big difference.

Playoffs: Quackenbush didn't win the Cup, but he was a finalist 4 times. His playoff numbers are pretty good but not spectacular.


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12-16-2011, 04:36 PM
  #24
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Jack Stewart

The case for Stewart over Savard

Black Jack Stewart was more promiment within his own era than Serge Savard. He was a 1st Team All Star 3 Times, and was viewed as the best defenseman in hockey in 1943 before he went off to fight in World War 2. True, it was a weaker era, but that's an awfully big difference in recognition. Stewart didn't contribute to as much team success as Serge did, but didn't get to play for the Canadiens. Stewart won 2 Cups and Legends of Hockey noted him as "A devastating hitter, Stewart was at his best in the hardest-fought games."

The case for Stewart over Langway

1) Greater longevity as an elite player relative to era. Stewart was a Postseason All Star for the first time in 1943 and for the last time in 1949. He last played the All Star game in 1950. Articles above indicate that he was still considered a star when he retired in 1951. This represents a 7-9 year period of elite play (interrupted unfortunately by the war). Pretty much all of Langway's accolades happened during the 6 seasons from 1981 to 1986 (all his all-star games, all his top 9 finishes for the Norris). And Langway played during an era when defensemen generally had longer primes.

2) Stewart contributed to more playoff success (#1 defenseman on the 1943 Cup winner, Red Kelly's partner on the 1950 Cup winner). However do note that articles were posted last time that indicated that Langway played very well in the playoffs even when his team lost.

Reposting overpass's research from last round:

Quote:
Originally Posted by overpass
Stewart had a very strong 1942-43 season. He led all defencemen in all-star voting.

From the stickied thread:
Quote:
DEFENSE: FIRST TEAM: RIGHT D: Earl Seibert, Chi 10; Flash Hollett, Bos 6; Jack Stewart, Det 5; Jack Crawford, Bos 4; Dit Clapper, Bos 1
LEFT D: Jack Stewart, Det 15; Babe Pratt, Tor 3; Flash Hollett, Bos 3; Jack Crawford, Bos 3; Earl Seibert, Chi 2
SECOND TEAM: RIGHT D: Earl Seibert, Chi 9; Jack Crawford, Bos 8; Jack Stewart, Det 4; Dit Clapper, Bos 2; Flash Hollett, Bos 2
LEFT D: Babe Pratt, Tor 9; Flash Hollett, Bos 5; Jack Crawford, Bos 3; Jack Portland, Mtl 3; Dit Clapper, Bos 2; Jimmy Orlando, Det 2; Earl Seibert, Chi 1; Art Wiebe, Chi 1; Alex Motter, Det 1
Total first-team voting points: Jack Stewart 20, Earl Seibert 12, Flash Hollett 9, Jack Crawford 7, Babe Pratt 3, Dit Clapper 1

And Stewart's Wings won the Stanley Cup that season.

Calgary Herald, Jan 23, 1943:
Quote:
Jack Stewart called Greatest N.H.L. Defender

Today Stewart ranks as one of the National League's most accomplished rearguards.

If you don't think so Manager Jack Adams will do his best to dispel all doubts.

"He's a manager's dream," Adams told reporters not long ago. "He's a very deceptive skater. He packs a terrific shot. He's an uncanny judge of a forward's play. He's one of the greatest of the game."

In fact, said Adams, summing up, he's the greatest defenceman in the game today.

There may be some mild rebuttals. Earl Seibert of Chicago Black Hawks, for instance, would be accorded high rating defensively by an impartial tribunal. Offensively, the Chicago star ranks second only to Walter (Babe) Pratt of Toronto Maple Leafs.

Seibert's value was sharply stressed early in December when an injury forced him to the sidelines. Bert Gardiner led all N.H.L. goalies at the time, but before Seibert returned the Chicago netminder was displaced by Johnny Mowers of Detroit. Without Seibert, the Chicago defence collapsed.
After seeing the quote above, I wondered if Stewart beat out Seibert in all-star voting in part because he played more games. But both played 44 of 50 regular season games, so that wasn't a factor.

A couple of articles from when Stewart retired:

Edmonton Journal, Jan 3, 1951:
Quote:
His retirement would mark the end of one of the longest and most valuable careers in N.H.L. history.

After 1 1/2 years with Pittsburgh in the American Hockey League, he went to Detroit, providing a tower of strength behind the blueline until last fall.

He was regarded as the policeman of the Wings and the avenger of wrongs done to younger or smaller teammates.

Away-from-home crowds loved to see the big watchdog shunted to the penalty box.

Never a prolific scorer, Stewart notched 30 goals in his league play with Detroit. His occasional scoring rush usually came at a crucial time. He bagged five in nine years of playoffs.
Quote:
Detroit fans loved the big Manitoban.

He is a member of Detroit's hockey Hall of Fame and was five times a member of one of the All-Star squads. He was the first defence player in N.H.L. history to win All-Star rating under the changed rules, both before and after the advent of the centre red line.
Dink Carroll - Montreal Gazette, Jan 4, 1951
Quote:
Black Jack was a good thing while he lasted and he lasted fairly long in a league where life is short. He was the best blue line belter in the history of the Detroit Red Wings, according to Jack Adams, over the nine seasons he played for them.

For a fellow who could hit such a terrific bodycheck he wasn't very big; his best playing weight was 185 pounds. But he was all bone and muscle. Jack Adams, to whom superlatives come so readily, called him "one of the strongest guys I have ever seen in a hockey uniform." He owns a wheat farm near Pilot Mound, Man., lives outdoors most of the time and is used to hard manual work, which probably accounts for his fine physique.
Quote:
It's amazing how little material there is in the files on him. That's because he is so quiet and unobtrusive off the ice.
Quote:
One of his distinctions is that he is the most stitched-up of modern hockey players. Among the souvenirs he will carry away from the N.H.L. are the 201 stitches required to close the 48 wounds in his physiognomy.

But Black Jack could play hockey. He was a good blocking defenceman, could clear the puck out of his own defence zone, rarely made a bad pass and he could skate faster than most spectators realized. He was a good ice general and was respected all around the league. He put plenty of gimp in that weak Chicago defence and pepped up the whole team. It was noticeable when he appeared here early in the season with the Black Hawks that their forwards were checking back, but they returned to their old careless methods the minute he was out of there.

Those percentage-minded fellows who make the odds paid him an unconscious tribute these last few days. Last week Detroit was 8-to-5 to win the Stanley Cup; Toronto 12-to-5, Rangers 8-to-1, Canadiens and Chicago 10-to-1, and BOston 12-to-1. When it became known that Stewart was all through as a hockey player the odds on the Black Hawks went to 15-to-1.
As with other star defencemen of his day and earlier, his qualities as an "ice general" were important. Rod Langway might be a modern player who would be considered an "ice general".

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12-16-2011, 04:56 PM
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The case for Stewart over Savard

Black Jack Stewart was more promiment within his own era than Serge Savard. He was a 1st Team All Star 3 Times, and was viewed as the best defenseman in hockey in 1943 before he went off to fight in World War 2. True, it was a weaker era, but that's an awfully big difference in recognition. Stewart didn't contribute to as much team success as Serge did, but didn't get to play for the Canadiens. Stewart won 2 Cups and Legends of Hockey noted him as "A devastating hitter, Stewart was at his best in the hardest-fought games."

The case for Stewart over Langway

1) Greater longevity as an elite player relative to era. Stewart was a Postseason All Star for the first time in 1943 and for the last time in 1949. He last played the All Star game in 1950. Articles above indicate that he was still considered a star when he retired in 1951. This represents a 7-9 year period of elite play (interrupted unfortunately by the war). Pretty much all of Langway's accolades happened during the 6 seasons from 1981 to 1986 (all his all-star games, all his top 9 finishes for the Norris). And Langway played during an era when defensemen generally had longer primes.

2) Stewart contributed to more playoff success (#1 defenseman on the 1943 Cup winner, Red Kelly's partner on the 1950 Cup winner). However do note that articles were posted last time that indicated that Langway played very well in the playoffs even when his team lost.

Reposting overpass's research from last round:
I hope people read overpass's research on Stewart this round. I was discouraged to see 9 people didn't vote for him at all last round. Not surprised though as several voters expressed a lack of knowledge on stewart.

I had both Quack & stew in my top 5 last round with Stewart slightly ahead. I am starting to become convinced that Quack should be ahead. Right now my top 2 are Quackenbush and Stewart.

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