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My theory on how much Lemieux, Gretzky and Orr really did influence scoring

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04-09-2012, 09:05 PM
  #1
Big Phil
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My theory on how much Lemieux, Gretzky and Orr really did influence scoring

Okay, Stamkos hit 60 goals the other day and I say good for him. The NHL is a better place when players hit those coveted-after flagship numbers. However, the first 60 goal season was in 1971 and it happened more often back then to the point where skeptics today assume it was an everyday thing. On the surface they are correct because there have been 39 players who have cracked 60 goals in NHL history and just two since 1996 (Stamkos, Ovechkin).

So I did a study, how many players were affected by the Gretzky and Lemieux inflation of point totals? When you use those two players, all of the sudden the 1980s isn't the high flying era as much. But as it stands there were 37 players who scored 60 or more from 1971-'96. However, watch what happens when you take away these players.

Gretzky had 5 seasons of 60+
Mario had 4 seasons of 60+
Orr had none

Then there are the players they influenced. Gretzky gave Kurri two years of 60+. I love Kurri, but he doesn't crack 60. Neither does Nicholls hit 70 or even 60 in 1989. That's three more for Gretzky. While he missed a lot of time in 1993, I still think Robitaille doesn't get 63 without Gretzky despite the fact he had a heck of a year.

Mario probably gives Jagr a boost in 1996 where he hit 62. I don't see him doing it otherwise.

Then there is Orr. I never like to downgrade Esposito's performances because I truly believe he was an elite goal scorer on his own. Maybe he cracks a season of 60 without Orr, but not 4 in my mind. Heck, Espo himself was just a dominant goal scorer you could almost put him a shade below Orr when it came to influence. So basically you can almost take away 4 for Esposito leaving the entire era from 1971-'96 with 19 60 goal men, rather than 37.

So take those three generational players out and there are far less 60 goal scorers. In fact, this is how it looks all-time:

Hull - 86
Mogilny - 76
Selanne - 76
Hull - 72
Hull - 70
Bossy - 69
Bossy - 68
McDonald - 66
Ovechkin - 65
Yzerman - 65
Bossy - 64
Yzerman - 62
Bossy - 61
Leach - 61
Bossy - 60
Lafleur - 60
Shutt - 60
Maruk - 60
Stamkos - 60
Bure - 60
Bure - 60

There are 21 60 goal men in the history of the NHL. 19 happening before 1996-'97 which certainly closes the gap from post 1996.

I think it just goes to show you that the influence these three players have. It is up in the air with Yzerman as well. He was constantly chasing Gretzky and Lemieux. Would he have reached 60 without superior players keeping him honest? Its a stretch, which is why I didn't take Yzerman off, but if you believe in the butterfly effect theory then all of the sudden it is a possibility.

But just food for thought here and I think its important to note that it is less about the era and more about the generational players that dominated it.

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04-09-2012, 09:54 PM
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BenchBrawl
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And at this point as far as goal scoring goes isn't Bossy an outlier?

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04-09-2012, 10:20 PM
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Big Phil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenchBrawl View Post
And at this point as far as goal scoring goes isn't Bossy an outlier?
.......or Hull. Those two are the exceptions it seems, which makes sense. Selanne, Mogilny, Leach, Shutt, McDonald, etc. are examples of spike years that they never duplicate. Bure might fit in closer to the Bossy/Hull category but still not quite as high. More in the middle.

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04-09-2012, 10:46 PM
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BenchBrawl
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Bure isn't an outlier at all , because I don't consider Stamkos to be one.

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04-09-2012, 10:55 PM
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I honestly believe Gretzky was responsible for the changes in goaltending. From the re-introduction of the butterfly style, the lighter and bigger equipment, to the specialized goaltender training which now begins with little kids. No one really copied Tony Esposito. Patrick Roy's game was a response to how Gretzky changed the scale of offensive hockey.

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04-09-2012, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobilus View Post
I honestly believe Gretzky was responsible for the changes in goaltending. From the re-introduction of the butterfly style, the lighter and bigger equipment, to the specialized goaltender training which now begins with little kids. No one really copied Tony Esposito. Patrick Roy's game was a response to how Gretzky changed the scale of offensive hockey.
Espo didn't play a strict butterfly though. More of a hybrid like Brodeur but less butterfly than Martin.
Daniel Bouchard was the first real strict butterfly goalie and as Roy has said many, many times is the guy he patterned his game after.

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04-09-2012, 11:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Okay, Stamkos hit 60 goals the other day and I say good for him. The NHL is a better place when players hit those coveted-after flagship numbers. However, the first 60 goal season was in 1971 and it happened more often back then to the point where skeptics today assume it was an everyday thing. On the surface they are correct because there have been 39 players who have cracked 60 goals in NHL history and just two since 1996 (Stamkos, Ovechkin).

So I did a study, how many players were affected by the Gretzky and Lemieux inflation of point totals? When you use those two players, all of the sudden the 1980s isn't the high flying era as much. But as it stands there were 37 players who scored 60 or more from 1971-'96. However, watch what happens when you take away these players.

Gretzky had 5 seasons of 60+
Mario had 4 seasons of 60+
Orr had none

Then there are the players they influenced. Gretzky gave Kurri two years of 60+. I love Kurri, but he doesn't crack 60. Neither does Nicholls hit 70 or even 60 in 1989. That's three more for Gretzky. While he missed a lot of time in 1993, I still think Robitaille doesn't get 63 without Gretzky despite the fact he had a heck of a year.

Mario probably gives Jagr a boost in 1996 where he hit 62. I don't see him doing it otherwise.

Then there is Orr. I never like to downgrade Esposito's performances because I truly believe he was an elite goal scorer on his own. Maybe he cracks a season of 60 without Orr, but not 4 in my mind. Heck, Espo himself was just a dominant goal scorer you could almost put him a shade below Orr when it came to influence. So basically you can almost take away 4 for Esposito leaving the entire era from 1971-'96 with 19 60 goal men, rather than 37.

So take those three generational players out and there are far less 60 goal scorers. In fact, this is how it looks all-time:

Hull - 86
Mogilny - 76
Selanne - 76
Hull - 72
Hull - 70
Bossy - 69
Bossy - 68
McDonald - 66
Ovechkin - 65
Yzerman - 65
Bossy - 64
Yzerman - 62
Bossy - 61
Leach - 61
Bossy - 60
Lafleur - 60
Shutt - 60
Maruk - 60
Stamkos - 60
Bure - 60
Bure - 60

There are 21 60 goal men in the history of the NHL. 19 happening before 1996-'97 which certainly closes the gap from post 1996.

I think it just goes to show you that the influence these three players have. It is up in the air with Yzerman as well. He was constantly chasing Gretzky and Lemieux. Would he have reached 60 without superior players keeping him honest? Its a stretch, which is why I didn't take Yzerman off, but if you believe in the butterfly effect theory then all of the sudden it is a possibility.

But just food for thought here and I think its important to note that it is less about the era and more about the generational players that dominated it.
If you're going to give Lemieux influence for Jagr in 96 that has to be a 2 way street and you can't count Lemieux's 60 as being solely his.

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04-09-2012, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish on The Sand View Post
If you're going to give Lemieux influence for Jagr in 96 that has to be a 2 way street and you can't count Lemieux's 60 as being solely his.
I didn't count Lemieux at all in this thread. He doesn't exist in this universe.

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04-10-2012, 12:27 AM
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What about those players who fall just short of that magic 60 goal number. is there really much difference between a player who gets 59 and and one who scores 60.

Example Bure As well as two 60 goal seasons he also had seasons of 59 and 58 goals.

Bure (59) (58)
Bossy (58)
Bobby Hull (58)
Dionne (59) (58)
Kerr (58) (58)
Turgeon (58)
Yzerman (58)

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04-10-2012, 12:08 PM
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So.................

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Okay, Stamkos hit 60 goals the other day and I say good for him. The NHL is a better place when players hit those coveted-after flagship numbers. However, the first 60 goal season was in 1971 and it happened more often back then to the point where skeptics today assume it was an everyday thing. On the surface they are correct because there have been 39 players who have cracked 60 goals in NHL history and just two since 1996 (Stamkos, Ovechkin).

So I did a study, how many players were affected by the Gretzky and Lemieux inflation of point totals? When you use those two players, all of the sudden the 1980s isn't the high flying era as much. But as it stands there were 37 players who scored 60 or more from 1971-'96. However, watch what happens when you take away these players.

Gretzky had 5 seasons of 60+
Mario had 4 seasons of 60+
Orr had none

Then there are the players they influenced. Gretzky gave Kurri two years of 60+. I love Kurri, but he doesn't crack 60. Neither does Nicholls hit 70 or even 60 in 1989. That's three more for Gretzky. While he missed a lot of time in 1993, I still think Robitaille doesn't get 63 without Gretzky despite the fact he had a heck of a year.

Mario probably gives Jagr a boost in 1996 where he hit 62. I don't see him doing it otherwise.

Then there is Orr. I never like to downgrade Esposito's performances because I truly believe he was an elite goal scorer on his own. Maybe he cracks a season of 60 without Orr, but not 4 in my mind. Heck, Espo himself was just a dominant goal scorer you could almost put him a shade below Orr when it came to influence. So basically you can almost take away 4 for Esposito leaving the entire era from 1971-'96 with 19 60 goal men, rather than 37.

So take those three generational players out and there are far less 60 goal scorers. In fact, this is how it looks all-time:

Hull - 86
Mogilny - 76
Selanne - 76
Hull - 72
Hull - 70
Bossy - 69
Bossy - 68
McDonald - 66
Ovechkin - 65
Yzerman - 65
Bossy - 64
Yzerman - 62
Bossy - 61
Leach - 61
Bossy - 60
Lafleur - 60
Shutt - 60
Maruk - 60
Stamkos - 60
Bure - 60
Bure - 60

There are 21 60 goal men in the history of the NHL. 19 happening before 1996-'97 which certainly closes the gap from post 1996.

I think it just goes to show you that the influence these three players have. It is up in the air with Yzerman as well. He was constantly chasing Gretzky and Lemieux. Would he have reached 60 without superior players keeping him honest? Its a stretch, which is why I didn't take Yzerman off, but if you believe in the butterfly effect theory then all of the sudden it is a possibility.

But just food for thought here and I think its important to note that it is less about the era and more about the generational players that dominated it.
Basically the scoring in the 1980`s is the product of junior hockey as it was played in the post sponsorship era, roughly 1967-68 to 1982-83. Offence and /or goon hockey filled the seats, so ........

During those years there were very few coaches or teams in the CHL, as it was, that could / would coach defensive hockey especially when it came to forwards. The only team that come to mind was Peterborough starting with Roger Neilson and a succession of coaches.

This started to change during the 1982-83 season when Jacques Lemaire coached the expansion Longueuil Chevaliers to the QMJHL finals. En route the Chevaliers beat Mario Lemieux and the Laval Voisins. Suddenly owners of junior teams started looking for coaches who take a nothing team - most junior teams are poor/fair/middling at best and extend the season into a profitable playoff run.

Gretzky, Lemieux in junior did not play against forwards who were sound defensively except for the odd game against a Peterborough or similar team.

Likewise the artificial 50 goal scorers - Maruk, Stoughton, Larouche, etc who basically disappeared when playing against defensive teams benefitted from the situation.


Last edited by Canadiens1958: 04-10-2012 at 12:10 PM. Reason: punctuation
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04-10-2012, 12:42 PM
  #11
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Phil, you've shown that 60 goals was no easy feat, even in the '80s.

The '80s were a high flying era though. If there's an illusion, it's that adjusted points were slightly more difficult to come by than in other eras, but points were still much easier to get than in any era except perhaps the 70s.

Look at 40 goal seasons:

Gretzky 12
Lemieux 10
Dionne 10
Bossy 9
Gartner 9
Esposito 8
Br. Hull 8
Robitaille 8
Ciccarelli 7
Goulet 7
Hawerchuk 7
Kurri 7
Lafontaine 7
Mullen 7
Selanne 7
Jagr 6
Kovalchuk 6
Lafleur 6
McDonald 6
Shanahan 6
Yzerman 6

18 of the top 21 played most of their prime from the early 70's to the early 90's. The three who didn't are not close to the top of the list, yet clearly better goal scorers than many above them.

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04-10-2012, 01:49 PM
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The big flaw here is that while you eliminated generational players as influences, you did not eliminate very good players as influences.

So Kurri is not legit because he happened to play with Gretzky. But Shutt, who played with Lafleur -- the best player in the game 1977 -- and the rest of that stacked Habs squad, is somehow more legit?

This is all very silly.

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04-10-2012, 03:28 PM
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Big Phil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saskganesh View Post
The big flaw here is that while you eliminated generational players as influences, you did not eliminate very good players as influences.

So Kurri is not legit because he happened to play with Gretzky. But Shutt, who played with Lafleur -- the best player in the game 1977 -- and the rest of that stacked Habs squad, is somehow more legit?

This is all very silly.
Well then tell me how Shutt would be affected by Orr not being there? In fact, Orr barely played for the Hawks the year Shutt scored 60 so he doesn't really apply here. Yes if you eliminate Clarke and Lafleur among others then Leach and Shutt don't hit 60 either, but neither of those players - while all-time greats - can match the impact Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr had. So if we start taking Lafleur out of the picture then where does it end right?

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04-10-2012, 08:04 PM
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I think that Phil has an interesting idea here but generational players isn't the only thing going on either.

It would be a much stronger argument in more things in the game remained static, ie, no expansion, no WHA and no European trickle in the early 80's but these things did happen and scoring was just generally easier in the 80's for everyone than in other time periods.

Czech Your Math's post is very revealing about the time period being just as or even more important than these 3 generational players IMO.

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04-10-2012, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirikanoir View Post
What about those players who fall just short of that magic 60 goal number. is there really much difference between a player who gets 59 and and one who scores 60.

Example Bure As well as two 60 goal seasons he also had seasons of 59 and 58 goals.

Bure (59) (58)
Bossy (58)
Bobby Hull (58)
Dionne (59) (58)
Kerr (58) (58)
Turgeon (58)
Yzerman (58)

Perhaps an argument can be made for the elder Hull to be included in this select group. He scored 50 or over numerous times when the majority of players weren't scoring 40, never mind 50. Take Hull out of the 60's and you have one 50 goal scorer - Boom Boom Geoffrion in 1960-61.

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04-11-2012, 01:42 AM
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60 was still a high number though

How many players a year scored 20 back then compared to now?

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04-11-2012, 05:11 PM
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BenchBrawl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Well then tell me how Shutt would be affected by Orr not being there? In fact, Orr barely played for the Hawks the year Shutt scored 60 so he doesn't really apply here. Yes if you eliminate Clarke and Lafleur among others then Leach and Shutt don't hit 60 either, but neither of those players - while all-time greats - can match the impact Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr had. So if we start taking Lafleur out of the picture then where does it end right?
In this case you can keep Lafleur but take out Shutt or any similar obvious scenarios.

Outliers aren't necessary at the top of the talent level , sometimes they're at the low-end of it.

Do you need an outlier to produce an outlier?

When you look at how Hull's insane goal production coincided with having Oates on his team , should you really take out Hull or should you just assume he would score less goals without Oates , stopping him from becoming an outlier?

In both cases the guy below him in goal scoring will either get a 1st or a 2nd , which is a big difference that might have been produced by Oates.Is Oates a playmaking outlier? This has no end , that's why outliers are not an exact science by any means.


Last edited by BenchBrawl: 04-11-2012 at 05:16 PM.
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04-12-2012, 04:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saskriders View Post
60 was still a high number though

How many players a year scored 20 back then compared to now?
The numbers I've got (which might contain one or two errors because working out these things makes your head spin) for the period 79-91 are as follows with average goals per game for each season in brackets:

106 (7.03)
135 (7.69)
133 (8.03)
121 (7.73)
128 (7.89)
123 (7.77)
128 (7.94)
116 (7.34)
107 (7.43)
117 (7.48)
117 (7.37)
101 (6.91)

From 2005-2011 the numbers are:

126 (6.17)
120 (5.89)
102 (5.57)
120 (5.83)
110 (5.68)
106 (5.59)

So we've gone from teams boasting on average five or six 20 goal scorers to three or four. I've not compiled any stats regarding the number of 20 goal defensemen in each era, but I'd imagine that the falloff would be drastic.

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04-12-2012, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stray Wasp View Post
The numbers I've got (which might contain one or two errors because working out these things makes your head spin) for the period 79-91 are as follows with average goals per game for each season in brackets:

106 (7.03)
135 (7.69)
133 (8.03)
121 (7.73)
128 (7.89)
123 (7.77)
128 (7.94)
116 (7.34)
107 (7.43)
117 (7.48)
117 (7.37)
101 (6.91)

From 2005-2011 the numbers are:

126 (6.17)
120 (5.89)
102 (5.57)
120 (5.83)
110 (5.68)
106 (5.59)

So we've gone from teams boasting on average five or six 20 goal scorers to three or four. I've not compiled any stats regarding the number of 20 goal defensemen in each era, but I'd imagine that the falloff would be drastic.
In my opinion this pretty much debunks the theory. Even with the addition of 9 teams since the 80's the number of 20 goal scorers has dropped slightly.

Of course, that could mean that 4th liners today are worse then back then, and they are pulling down scoring (considering the number of 20 goal scorers is similar).

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