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Famous "What Ifs" in hockey history

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01-16-2012, 12:56 PM
  #1
BillyShoe1721
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Famous "What Ifs" in hockey history

There have been plenty of players that have had something happen to them in the course of their playing career that has impacted their legacy left on the sport. My question is, what player had such an event that effected his playing career the most? Basically, if these events had not happened, what player would have moved up the most in terms of the conversation of all time great players? Some candidates:

Eric Lindros(concussions)
Valeri Kharlamov(car crash)
Pelle Lindbergh(car crash)
Milt Schmidt(how many more accolades would he have if he didn't go to WWII?)
Ace Bailey(Eddie Shore incident, premature end to his career)
Hobey Baker(died in WWI)
Lennart Svedberg(3x WC All Star team, died in a car crash at 28)

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01-16-2012, 01:00 PM
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agentblack
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Lindros

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01-16-2012, 01:06 PM
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Hobnobs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyShoe1721 View Post
There have been plenty of players that have had something happen to them in the course of their playing career that has impacted their legacy left on the sport. My question is, what player had such an event that effected his playing career the most? Basically, if these events had not happened, what player would have moved up the most in terms of the conversation of all time great players? Some candidates:

Eric Lindros(concussions)
Valeri Kharlamov(car crash)
Pelle Lindbergh(car crash)
Milt Schmidt(how many more accolades would he have if he didn't go to WWII?)
Ace Bailey(Eddie Shore incident, premature end to his career)
Hobey Baker(died in WWI)
Lennart Svedberg(3x WC All Star team, died in a car crash at 28)
I feel Schmidt and Svedberg could be the biggest what ifs on that list. Svedberg could easily have been Lidström before Lidström.

I don't consider Lindros that big of a what if. His game was figured out and thats why he had the concussions. We saw what wouldve happened if he had any sense of how to adapt.

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01-16-2012, 01:12 PM
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the classic lemiuex not getting hurt

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01-16-2012, 01:23 PM
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agentblack
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I don't consider Lindros that big of a what if. His game was figured out and thats why he had the concussions. We saw what wouldve happened if he had any sense of how to adapt.[/QUOTE]

He had other health issues besides his concussions. But i will agree the way he played the game made him a huge risk. Its hard to play that way and have a 1000+ game career one would expect of a hall of famer. Even if he adapted after his first, guys were targeting him left and right. And you have to think even if he just won one cup in philly he'd probably have the entire region clamoring for him to be in the hall

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01-16-2012, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agentblack View Post
I don't consider Lindros that big of a what if. His game was figured out and thats why he had the concussions. We saw what wouldve happened if he had any sense of how to adapt.
He had other health issues besides his concussions. But i will agree the way he played the game made him a huge risk. Its hard to play that way and have a 1000+ game career one would expect of a hall of famer. Even if he adapted after his first, guys were targeting him left and right. And you have to think even if he just won one cup in philly he'd probably have the entire region clamoring for him to be in the hall [/QUOTE]

He was targetted because he liked to target people. His whole game put a bullseye on the back of his jersey and it was only a matter of time. A bigger what if would be Bobby Orr or Chyzowsky(sp?).

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01-16-2012, 01:36 PM
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My guess would be Lindbergh, although I cannot really comment on some of the players mentioned. My reasoning can be summarized as follows:

Eric Lindros(concussions) - While he lost a significant part of his prime due to injuries, he still was able to collect some accomplishments and a distinct reputation as an elite player. His style of play also was rather prone to physical attrition, so we should consider a shorter career span for him anyway. I'd say he rises a lot in those all-time standings, but still less than Lindbergh.
Valeri Kharlamov(car crash) - He is already revered as an outstanding and near-generational player. Even a prolonged career would not have wiped out doubts about his ability to show an elite performance in the NHL. I do not see him rising very far.
Pelle Lindbergh(car crash) - His career had really taken off before he died and his prime could have lasted for more than five additional years. His death is often named as the reason, why the Flyers did not win the Cup again. Furthermore, he might have attracted additonal buzz as being the first elite European goalkeeper. Thus I think Lindbergh's reputation would have increased the most.
Milt Schmidt(how many more accolades would he have if he didn't go to WWII?) - Most of his accolades came after his return (which is often deemed as an era with lower talent due to the death toll of WWII). As he is already ranked very high by many pundits, I see little room for improvement.
Ace Bailey(Eddie Shore incident, premature end to his career) - Judging by the numbers, his best seasons were already a few years away, when he was injured by Shore. During that era, careers often ended, when players reached their mid 30ies.
Hobey Baker(died in WWI) - He only played in amateur leagues, which makes it impossible for me to make any guess.
Lennart Svedberg(3x WC All Star team, died in a car crash at 28) - It usually does not help any player's reputation, if he does not play in the NHL - which Svedberg might not have done anyway. To think of him as a player which would have garnered enough international recognition (like Kharlamov did), I would expect him to have been inducted into the IIHF HOF even in spite of his shortened career.

Gruß,
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01-16-2012, 01:43 PM
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I am not sure if I like the idea, because you can create "what if" for every player in the world.

I would kill for watching Neely at full health during 90s.

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01-16-2012, 01:44 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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What if Lafleur had taken care of himself and played the three years he missed?
What if Orr had good knees?
What if Lemieux had been healthy?
What if Lindros had been a Nordique?

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01-16-2012, 01:50 PM
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agentblack
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What if Lindros had been a Nordique?[/QUOTE]

Wasnt that an article in a Hockey News? I think the said the team would have stayed in quebec for a couple more years.

Yeah a healthy Orr and Neely would have probably gotten BOS some more banners at least

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01-16-2012, 03:38 PM
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Yankwood
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Dick Gamble said that Howie Young was potentially the greatest hockey player he had ever been on the ice with based on his skills and skating ability. Trouble is he would miss entire weekends and would be found passed out drunk in alleys.

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01-16-2012, 03:40 PM
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If Kharlamov makes the list despite already being a proven player, then Konstantinov.

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01-16-2012, 03:54 PM
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Inkling
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For Senators fans, the big what-if is always regarding Hasek and his injury in 2006.

While big for Sens fans, that's perhaps a small footnote in the entire history of hockey.

Some bigger ones are what if Tikhonov did not replace Tretiak with Myshkin in 1980? What if WHA players like Hull and Cheevers were eligible to play for Canada in 1972?

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01-16-2012, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yankwood View Post
Dick Gamble said that Howie Young was potentially the greatest hockey player he had ever been on the ice with based on his skills and skating ability. Trouble is he would miss entire weekends and would be found passed out drunk in alleys.
What if Bryan Fogarty was not a drunk?

EDIT: It makes me think relative to Jan Suchy, that eastern-euro defensmen could handle alcohol better

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01-16-2012, 04:01 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hobnobs View Post
I feel Schmidt and Svedberg could be the biggest what ifs on that list. Svedberg could easily have been Lidström before Lidström.

I don't consider Lindros that big of a what if. His game was figured out and thats why he had the concussions. We saw what wouldve happened if he had any sense of how to adapt.
I doubt it. From what I've read about Svedberg, he never showed anything close to Lidstrom's defensive game:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Most experts regard Lennart "Lill-Strimma" Svedberg to be the most talented Swedish defenseman ever. He was an exceptionally creative defenseman and a dazzling puck handler who was a joy to watch.
...
His unpredictable moves and effortless skating made him extremely hard to stop. He was a Paul Coffey type of player in regards of skating and offensive play. He didn't score many goals, but he set up a lot and created havoc in the offensive zone with an attacker's mentality. He had his weaknesses in his defensive play, which of course wasn't strange considering the fact that he had been a forward for over 15 of his formative years.

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01-16-2012, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I doubt it. From what I've read about Svedberg, he never showed anything close to Lidstrom's defensive game:
It's not like Lidstrom showed his dominant defensive game until much later either.

Who's to say that Svedberg doesn't take the same path as Andrei Markov, who was also a forward turned D-man late.
Markov, when healthy, is the closest to Lidstrom's clone as there is in the league today.

There's an old adage and imo it's quite true. You can teach defense, you can't teach offense.


Either way, the biggest what if is Orr. There wouldn't even be an argument as to who is the best ever and the Norris record wouldn't be just 8, it would be something silly like 12 or 14.

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01-16-2012, 04:22 PM
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Ovechkin is putting a big what if on the what if imo.

We will see, but maybe Ovechkin will not have a elite career after all, but with no major injury or any exterior factor explaining it.

And yet if Ovy have a debilitating injury during the 2010 olympics or before, he would have been one of the biggest what if (with the question, how many goals in ovy career if he stay heatly, 650 ?, 700 ?, 750 ?, etc...)

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01-16-2012, 04:29 PM
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What if Montreal never hired Frank J. Selke?

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01-16-2012, 04:43 PM
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Not as big as many of the the ones already posted but; what if Roloson didn't get injured in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals? Would the Oilers have won the cup? As an Oiler fan this one will always stick with me.

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01-16-2012, 04:50 PM
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What if Frank McGee had two eyes and didn't die in WW1?

What if Hod Stuart picked a better place to dive into the lake?

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01-16-2012, 04:50 PM
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Would the Oilers have won the cup?
Yes, I believe so.

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01-16-2012, 06:55 PM
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What if Wayne Gretzky had stayed with the Oilers?

What if Gretzky got a penalty for his slash on Gilmour?

What if Bure and Bossy had played out their careers injury free?


There is another guy who died in a car crash. I believe he was drafted by Calgary sixteenth overall. I forget his name though.

And the guy drafted by the Rangers who's heart failed during a game.

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01-16-2012, 07:52 PM
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What if Bill Barilko never went on that fishing trip?. What kind of a career would he have had and would Tim Horton, his replacement the following fall, have had the career he did?.

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01-16-2012, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redarmynative View Post
What if Wayne Gretzky had stayed with the Oilers?

What if Gretzky got a penalty for his slash on Gilmour?

What if Bure and Bossy had played out their careers injury free?


There is another guy who died in a car crash. I believe he was drafted by Calgary sixteenth overall. I forget his name though.

And the guy drafted by the Rangers who's heart failed during a game.
I thought of Luc Bourdon when I read this. I guess you are thinking of George Pelawa?

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01-16-2012, 08:33 PM
  #25
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What if Dominik Hasek had accepted Bob Pulford's offer in 1987 and stayed in North America with the Chicago Blackhawks?

What if the NHL did not have exclusive rights to the Stanley Cup in 2004-05 (Adrienne Clarkson; London Knights vs. Philadelphia Phantoms)?

What if the Canadian military allowed Maurice Richard to become a machinist during the war, preventing him from scoring 50 goals in 50 games?

What if Guy Lafleur hadn't gotten into his accident, and Ken Dryden had continued playing into the 1980s?

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