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Tom Paton, Olde Tyme Game Accounts, and How To Evaluate Pre-Cup Goaltenders

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Old
08-31-2012, 01:44 AM
  #1
tarheelhockey
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Tom Paton, Olde Tyme Game Accounts, and How To Evaluate Pre-Cup Goaltenders

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
Surely the man is more than that one season, especially when he has so many. Record books are of little use, because they have no context built into them. Even without being sheltered, Hainsworth's season in 27/28 isn't the greatest once context is considered.
That's certainly a conversation we should have before all is said and done. My only point in bringing up his 1928 was to illustrate that GAA and wins can send the wrong signals about a goaltender's individual performance, even over an extended period. More information is needed -- and unfortunately there is very little other information about Paton.

The fact that Paton had a strong GAA and lots of wins in a string of seasons doesn't eliminate the (likely) possibility that ANY goalie of the era would have had a strong GAA and a lot of wins behind Montreal AAA. We're talking about a team that outscored its opposition 152-74 during his career -- that doesn't happen unless there is a major discrepancy between the quality of teams in the league. And when there's a huge gap between the quality of teams, you're almost automatically going to see the top-team goalie on top of the W and GAA list.

So the question with Paton is, outside of W and GAA count, how do we measure the quality of his play? The only thing we come back to is his reputation as the most successful goalie of the era, which is of course... team-based.

I mean, I realize that after a certain point we just give up and accept that Paton has the best case for himself out of the tiny group of opponents he faced. But that case, in and of itself, is so flimsy that it wouldn't fly for anyone else. It's full of rather large holes that can't be filled due to plain-and-simple lack of information. And while "I guess he was as good as it got" works for some purposes, I don't think it works when ranking goalies on an all-time basis.

In your blog, you advanced the theory that Montreal AAA pioneered an aggressive style of defense that kept other teams bottled up in their own end. Frankly, I think that explanation is a much more feasible explanation for Paton's success than that he was a brilliant goalie whose team happened to have 400-500% goal scoring margins.

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08-31-2012, 05:49 AM
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Anyone know how old Tom Paton was when he started playing hockey? He was 29 years old at the time of the 1883 Wonter Carnival, which I've seen referred to as the first really competitive hockey tournament. So he was 29 when he started playing competive hockey. He was 38 in 1892 when he won the first ever Stanley Cup.

I really also wish posters would stop using the ATD or MLD consensus as some form of evidence - it makes our project look less credible to outsiders. The profiles are great, they are basically info dumps.

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08-31-2012, 05:53 AM
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So the question with Paton is, outside of W and GAA count, how do we measure the quality of his play? The only thing we come back to is his reputation as the most successful goalie of the era, which is of course... team-based.
Basically. The evidence of the greatness of the post-1900 generation of Percy Leseuer, Riley Hern, and Paddy Moran is much better established. Still wish someone would profile John Bouse Hutton

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08-31-2012, 07:41 AM
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Tom Paton

Interesting discussion to date about Tom Paton. The point about the Montreal AAA being the first team to use an aggressive forecheck is valid. This tactic has survived the test of time and is evident in defensive hockey thru the ages to today.

This fact also raises the following questions about Tom Paton. Paton was there during the formative years of hockey so he had an opportunity to influence how the position of goaltender was played.

So far we know that he was effective clearing the puck. Long before the icing rule was introduced, this would have been an important advantage to a team that favoured an aggressive forecheck. However while the aggressive forecheck endured the test of time, a goalie clearing the puck in a similar fashion did not. Often, in the history of the NHL goalies were not encouraged to handle the puck.

Tom Paton, from reports, seemed to have an effective catching hand but again there is no evidence that this attribute became imitated or was considered an important attribute for goalies of the era or their successors.

We know very little or nothing about Tom Paton's stance, his positioning - deep in the net or out to varying degrees, his movement, his skating when compared to other contemporary goalies or better yet skaters.

Given the questions outstanding, basing decisions on raw stats or team determined results is far from adequate.

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08-31-2012, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jagorim Jarg View Post
Stan Fischler isn't a guy you want to name drop.
Hey, Fischler's opinions are really wonky sometimes, everyone knows that. But the guy is older than most dirt, and his abilities to collect, retain and relay information are pretty well-established. So unless we're talking about his placement of players on all-time lists or something, we should take him somewhat seriously.

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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
whose team happened to have 400-500% goal scoring margins.
what do you mean by this? Didn't you just quote 152-74 earlier in your post?

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08-31-2012, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Hey, Fischler's opinions are really wonky sometimes, everyone knows that. But the guy is older than most dirt, and his abilities to collect, retain and relay information are pretty well-established. So unless we're talking about his placement of players on all-time lists or something, we should take him somewhat seriously.
I agree.

Quote:
what do you mean by this? Didn't you just quote 152-74 earlier in your post?
I had the 18-4 season in mind when I wrote those numbers, but it would be illustrative to go ahead and list out the margins for each season he played.

1885 - ?
1887 - ?
1888 - 23-9 (255%)
1889 - 21-7 (300%)
1890 - 33-17 (194%)
1891 - 18-4 (450%)
1892 - 9-21 (42%)
1893 - 38-18 (211%)


Total - 142-76
This is odd. it wasn't until I did this that I realized that the Wikipedia page "Montreal Hockey Club" lists different GF/GA totals than if you go through each individual AHAC season page. I have no idea what to make of that.

So either a 187% or 205% lifetime differential, depending on which sources you trust. We can just say an even 200% for the sake of rounding the number.


This is why it's not out of the question that Paton received "unpredecented" sheltering from his teammates -- his team scoring margins were themselves unprecedented by post-1900 standards, so it would only make sense that the on-ice performances would reflect that fact.

To illustrate how extreme these scoring margins are, compare them to the best margins in NHL history. Here are the 7 best margins ever put up by the Canadiens:

1927-28 (116-48, 242%) - I lol'ed at the Hainsworth connection here
1943-44 (234-109, 215%)
1944-45 (228-121, 188%)
1972-73 (329-184, 179%)
1975-76 (337-174, 194%)
1976-77 (387-171, 226%)
1977-78 (359-183, 196%)

Total - 1990-990, 201%


So over his career Paton was as sheltered as if he had the ability to jump in a time machine and travel to the weakest periods of competition in NHL history and only play for the very best teams. I realize that sounds like hyperbole, but that's the extent of the information we have available. The fact that his ENTIRE career resembled a WII-era NHL (or worse) in terms of parity, well, I think we can draw some pretty obvious conclusions from what it meant to play for Montreal AAA at that time.

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08-31-2012, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
I agree.



I had the 18-4 season in mind when I wrote those numbers, but it would be illustrative to go ahead and list out the margins for each season he played.

1885 - ?
1887 - ?
1888 - 23-9 (255%)
1889 - 21-7 (300%)
1890 - 33-17 (194%)
1891 - 18-4 (450%)
1892 - 9-21 (42%)
1893 - 38-18 (211%)


Total - 142-76
This is odd. it wasn't until I did this that I realized that the Wikipedia page "Montreal Hockey Club" lists different GF/GA totals than if you go through each individual AHAC season page. I have no idea what to make of that.

So either a 187% or 205% lifetime differential, depending on which sources you trust. We can just say an even 200% for the sake of rounding the number.


This is why it's not out of the question that Paton received "unpredecented" sheltering from his teammates -- his team scoring margins were themselves unprecedented by post-1900 standards, so it would only make sense that the on-ice performances would reflect that fact.

To illustrate how extreme these scoring margins are, compare them to the best margins in NHL history. Here are the 7 best margins ever put up by the Canadiens:

1927-28 (116-48, 242%) - I lol'ed at the Hainsworth connection here
1943-44 (234-109, 215%)
1944-45 (228-121, 188%)
1972-73 (329-184, 179%)
1975-76 (337-174, 194%)
1976-77 (387-171, 226%)
1977-78 (359-183, 196%)

Total - 1990-990, 201%


So over his career Paton was as sheltered as if he had the ability to jump in a time machine and travel to the weakest periods of competition in NHL history and only play for the very best teams. I realize that sounds like hyperbole, but that's the extent of the information we have available. The fact that his ENTIRE career resembled a WII-era NHL (or worse) in terms of parity, well, I think we can draw some pretty obvious conclusions from what it meant to play for Montreal AAA at that time.
Interesting. Those are all powerhouse offensive teams though, weren't they? Was MAAA a powerhouse? I'm asking because I honestly don't know. I'm just wondering if the offensive strength of a team is being accidentally used against him. (i.e. was it 200% because they really scored that much? or was it because they were so good defensively?)

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08-31-2012, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
So over his career Paton was as sheltered as if he had the ability to jump in a time machine and travel to the weakest periods of competition in NHL history and only play for the very best teams. I realize that sounds like hyperbole, but that's the extent of the information we have available.
Isn't the reasoning "he must have been sheltered because his team greatly outscored the opposition" just as faulty as "he must have been a great goaltender because his team allowed so few goals"?

You're completely discounting the possibility that one of the main reasons his team did outscore the opposition by such a great amount was his play. If you have an amazing netminder, it's that much easier to outscore your opponents by a great degree.

You need something more than the fact that his team outscored the opponents by a great degree to say he was sheltered.

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08-31-2012, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Interesting. Those are all powerhouse offensive teams though, weren't they? Was MAAA a powerhouse? I'm asking because I honestly don't know. I'm just wondering if the offensive strength of a team is being accidentally used against him. (i.e. was it 200% because they really scored that much? or was it because they were so good defensively?)
A bit of both I'd say. In Paton's years I'd estimate that their offence was about 45% of their success, and their defence 55%. So they certainly tended towards defence but were still very good offensively.

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08-31-2012, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Interesting. Those are all powerhouse offensive teams though, weren't they? Was MAAA a powerhouse? I'm asking because I honestly don't know. I'm just wondering if the offensive strength of a team is being accidentally used against him. (i.e. was it 200% because they really scored that much? or was it because they were so good defensively?)

Based on Iain's article, it might be both. If MAAA were innovating the use of defensemen in an aggressive, offensive role it may be that opponents (who were just rushing without forward passing or modern combination play) were feeding the MAAA offense with turnovers and a lack of ability to react on a strategic level to that kind of two-way defensive play. They didn't even have coaches, or an established history of how to play the game, so one can certainly imagine a bunch of amateurs getting steamrolled by a team that knew what it was doing and had the athleticism to achieve it.

Using Wikipedia's record (which I can't vouch for accuracy), one gets the sense that there was an ebb and flow of talent in the AHAC that didn't affect MAAA nearly as much as other clubs:

1888
Team GP WLT GF GA
Montreal Hockey Club 6510236
Montreal Victorias 6510249
Montreal Crystals 62401814
McGill University 6060440

Other than the college kids from McGill being overmatched by grown men, this looks like a typical spread of talent in any given league. Two good teams, one average, one bad. The fact that the goal-scoring margins are out of whack may have more to do with McGill than anything -- subtract that one team from the standings and both MAAA and the Victorias have a more reasonable 10-6 margin.

1889
Team GPW L T GF GA
Montreal Hockey Club 7610269
Montreal Crystals 63301716
Montreal Victorias 3120711
Quebec Hockey Club 101023
McGill 101048
Halifax Chebuctos 2020210

A year later, it feels slightly more top-heavy. MAAA won 3 challenges against the Crystals, Quebec and Victorias by scores of 4-0, 3-2 and 6-1 respectively.

1890
TeamGPWLTGFGA
Montreal Hockey Club 77002813
Quebec Hockey Club 101015
Montreal Dominions 3030315
Montreal Victorias 303048
(for some reason these stats don't include exhibition games)

To a point, the numbers here speak for themselves. As a whole the MAAA team was the only serious competitor left in the AHAC, seeing as nobody could beat them. BUT, and this is a window of opportunity to defend Paton, their games were actually pretty closely played. They had 4 wins by a single goal (including an exhibition not included above) and 2 more by two goals. In those games, Paton could conceivably have been the difference. It would be excellent to get our hands on some first-hand accounts of those games, to see if that was "Paton in his prime pulling wins out of the fire" or not.

1891
TeamGP WLTGFGA
Montreal Hockey Club 8800287
Ottawa Hockey Club 101003
Montreal Shamrocks 202029
Montreal Victorias 202026
Montreal Crescents 2020310
Quebec Hockey Club 101000
(challenge games only)

This season on the other hand was pure domination by MAAA. After losing an exhibition game to the Crescents (which must have been quite a shock) their scores for the rest of the season were 4-1, 4-1, 2-1, 2-1, 3-0, 5-1, 8-2. A couple of games where Paton could have played a role in the win, but for the most part it was a matter of men vs boys in this league.

1892
TeamGPWLTGFGA
Ottawa Hockey Club 7610239
Montreal Hockey Club 6141921
Montreal Shamrocks 101038
Montreal Britannias 100122
Quebec Hockey Club 202036

I'd love to know what happened here. Certainly there's a new sheriff in town as Ottawa becomes the first legit challenger to MAAA in years. Ottawa wins their first matchup narrowly, 4-3, and then in the rematch they take the whuppin' stick to Montreal to the tune of 10-2. AAA then breaks a 9-game winning streak over the Victorias with an 8-4 drubbing. What the hell? And then on the fourth try, Montreal finally beats Ottawa 1-0 in the final challenge of the season. Clearly the games are a lot less predictable in 1892 than in any year beforehand.

1893
Team GP WLTGF GA
Montreal Hockey Club 87103818
Ottawa Hockey Club 86204922
Montreal Crystals 83502534
Quebec Hockey Club 82512346
Montreal Victorias 81612035

In Paton's final season, things are still a bit top-heavy but the results are definitely getting less predictable (theory: opposing teams are older and more organized, therefore more competitive). If you remove Quebec from the equation, as they were prone to preposterous results like 14-0 in their final game, the GF/GA numbers for Montreal and Ottawa even out to more reasonable levels.




Hopefully that provides some perspective on the ebbs and flows of talent in the league. There were times when MAAA was clearly and unequivocally the best team in the league in all facets, and others when they had at least a bit of moderate competition. We need to get down to the dirty details of the latter if we are to know how good Paton really was.

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08-31-2012, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
Isn't the reasoning "he must have been sheltered because his team greatly outscored the opposition" just as faulty as "he must have been a great goaltender because his team allowed so few goals"?

You're completely discounting the possibility that one of the main reasons his team did outscore the opposition by such a great amount was his play. If you have an amazing netminder, it's that much easier to outscore your opponents by a great degree.

You need something more than the fact that his team outscored the opponents by a great degree to say he was sheltered.
The problem is precisely that both arguments are equally valid. That's THE problem with judging Paton. He might have been great, or maybe he wasn't. Wins and GAA aren't going to tell us.

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08-31-2012, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
And when there's a huge gap between the quality of teams, you're almost automatically going to see the top-team goalie on top of the W and GAA list.
Anyone advancing a goaltender's Wins in support of his quality needs to be slapped, really. That's the last "goalie" stat you should be looking at. Well, that and shutouts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
So the question with Paton is, outside of W and GAA count, how do we measure the quality of his play? The only thing we come back to is his reputation as the most successful goalie of the era, which is of course... team-based.
It's a team that had an extended run of dominance, and whose defensive corps (Paton, Cameron, Stewart) remained pretty constant while the forward lineup turned over much more.

And again, although the defence and wins are team-based, we can't just discount players because of that. He was one of seven players on those teams, and so must be given some portion of the credit that the team as a whole deserves. If he was an unremarkable goaltender, would the team have been able to be so dominant?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
In your blog, you advanced the theory that Montreal AAA pioneered an aggressive style of defense that kept other teams bottled up in their own end. Frankly, I think that explanation is a much more feasible explanation for Paton's success than that he was a brilliant goalie whose team happened to have 400-500% goal scoring margins.
Note that I was only commenting on the defensive players, not the forwards. I didn't find any information that the AAA forwards were particular good defensively, or that they forechecked aggressively. My comments were based on what the defensive players did when the opponents were in the attacking zone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Interesting discussion to date about Tom Paton. The point about the Montreal AAA being the first team to use an aggressive forecheck is valid. This tactic has survived the test of time and is evident in defensive hockey thru the ages to today.
Again to be clear, I didn't find any evidence of an aggressive forecheck. I found that the defenders (point/cover-point) played aggressively in their own end, which is of course not the same thing.

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08-31-2012, 02:19 PM
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Scanning the Montreal Gazzette archives. Infuriatingly, the winter months of 1887, 1889, and 1890 are all missing from the archive

From AAA's 2-1 win over the Victorias, 2/27/1888:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette
[after a rush of AAA offensive play] ... at least Arnton raised the seige, and gave Stewart and Cameron a taste of the defence game, but in the first half time the puck never stayed any great length of time in the vicinity of the M.A.A.A. poles.
...
[The author switches into "highlight reel" mode] One of those grand runs for which Campbell [Vics] was famous was spoiled by a hard check from Hodgson [MAAA], Campbell's wrist being struck and he losing his stick; it seemed a certainty of a goal for the Vics.... The next dangerous piece of work was done by Ashe, he dashed through nearly the whole M.A.A.A. team and brought [the] puck with him; a clean, swift, straight shot for the centre of the goal, a magnificent stop to Paton's credit and the M.A.A.A. fortress was saved.
...
The checking, which had been heavy enough in all conscience in the early part of the game, now got heavier...
...
A remarkable feature of the game was the almost faultless stopping at short range of almost everyone on both teams, and it seemed impossible to send the puck for an instant to any point where there was not someone waiting for it so well was the rink covered.
... [MAAA makes it 2-0, and the Vics rally a final offensive push]
... and with a rush like the charge of forlorn hope Paton's fortress was stormed, but it did not fall just yet, and Lowe added another fine run to his credit; but in this third game a change came o'er the spirit of the house, and it was the M.A.A.A's turn to play on the defensive, and a bad spell they had of it, too. Barlow was the lucky man of the Victoria team, and at last he shot the puck past Paton amid tumultuous cheering.
The author then waxes even more lyrical about the final scrambling moments, and abandons the narrative which gave us so much detail. He doesn't mention any shots by the Vics as they pushed for a tie, just rushes and counter-rushes. He finishes with by saying every player on both teams played well, which tells us nothing.

That's not much, but it's a glimpse of MAAA's only one-goal win of the season. Every mention of defense by MAAA or shots by the Vics is quoted above. By the sound of things, there wasn't a whole lot of successful offense on either side, just two good defensive teams stalemating in the middle of the rink aside from a few noteworthy individual rushes. Paton is mentioned as making one good, potentially game-winning save.

I also found their game from February 16, 1888, a 3-1 win over the Crystals. The author spends the majority of the article complaining about the Crystals' goonery, so here is everything it has to say about Paton, MAAA defense, and Crystals offense:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette
With the exception of Paton nearly every member of M.A.A.A. team sustained injuries which, if the rules had been properly adhered to, would not have been the case.
...
When the game was started the Crystals assumed the aggressive, but this was only momentarily, and after five minutes give and take play Virtue [MAAA] scored the first goal.
...
The second game was more open for a time, each goal in turn being assailed. Elliott and McQuisten [both Crystals] made strenuous efforts to score, but without success. Shortly after this half time was called.
...
[in the second half] The Crystals looked dangerous, but Paton sent it aside, W. Hodgson [MAAA] got it and wound up a nice run by scoring.
...
[after MAAA scored again] The fourth game was more open, long shots being exchanged by the backs. ... Elliott [Crystals] was playing with dash and pluck, but was not backed up; finally Drysdale [Crystals] obtained an opening and scored the first and last game. [ed: "game" meant "goal in this era"]
...
For the victors, A. Hodgson played a magnificent game. Stewart should not forget his position is point, he has a disposition to get too far away from his place, he should be farther back and give the goalkeeper a little more assistance.
And that's it. Paton made it through the game healthy, made at least one direct save and was shot at on a few other occasions, and the game was relatively back-and-forth compared to their tight checking affair against the Vics. Paton wasn't mentioned as being a direct benefit or hindrance to the team, though there's an implication he wasn't getting as much help as he should have from Stewart.

Tough to judge the goaltenders at all from these narratives. The more I see, the more I'm getting the sense that goalies' influence on outcomes was not as important as it would be in the near future. Which makes sense when you consider the nature and frequency of offensive rushes (uncoordinated, and not very frequent) which would imply very low shot totals, combined with the assumption that save percentages were MUCH lower in an age where there was no specialized equipment and no known technique. It sounds like the ability to simply get shots on goal was the main factor in game outcomes.

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08-31-2012, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
Anyone advancing a goaltender's Wins in support of his quality needs to be slapped, really. That's the last "goalie" stat you should be looking at. Well, that and shutouts.
I agree. But wins are a major factor in point allocation, aren't they?


Quote:
It's a team that had an extended run of dominance, and whose defensive corps (Paton, Cameron, Stewart) remained pretty constant while the forward lineup turned over much more.
Nothing about this leads us to an inevitable conclusion that the goalie must be a star. There's a correlation/causation issue with concluding that the guys who remained constant must have been the ones responsible for all their success (not to mention a real issue with explaining the 1892 season under this rationale).


Quote:
And again, although the defence and wins are team-based, we can't just discount players because of that. He was one of seven players on those teams, and so must be given some portion of the credit that the team as a whole deserves. If he was an unremarkable goaltender, would the team have been able to be so dominant?
For one thing, nobody is saying he was unremarkable. There are a lot of remarkable goalies who aren't even going to enter our discussions for this list.

That aside, no, there is no rule that every player on the defense "must" be given credit for good outcomes. That's correlation-vs-causation coming back into play. A lack of goals against is not direct evidence that a goaltender has had an extraordinary individual performance.


Quote:
Again to be clear, I didn't find any evidence of an aggressive forecheck. I found that the defenders (point/cover-point) played aggressively in their own end, which is of course not the same thing.
Right, and I think you nailed a very good reason to believe that the MAAA could have steamrolled most of their opponents with even just an average goalie in net. Their defensemen were not only good hockey players, but also employing a forward-thinking offensive strategy that probably left the majority of amateur teams in the dust. Simply having the puck more often than the opponent is one way to prevent goals against.

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08-31-2012, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Scanning the Montreal Gazzette archives. Infuriatingly, the winter months of 1887, 1889, and 1890 are all missing from the archive

From AAA's 2-1 win over the Victorias, 2/27/1888:



The author then waxes even more lyrical about the final scrambling moments, and abandons the narrative which gave us so much detail. He doesn't mention any shots by the Vics as they pushed for a tie, just rushes and counter-rushes. He finishes with by saying every player on both teams played well, which tells us nothing.

That's not much, but it's a glimpse of MAAA's only one-goal win of the season. Every mention of defense by MAAA or shots by the Vics is quoted above. By the sound of things, there wasn't a whole lot of successful offense on either side, just two good defensive teams stalemating in the middle of the rink aside from a few noteworthy individual rushes. Paton is mentioned as making one good, potentially game-winning save.

I also found their game from February 16, 1888, a 3-1 win over the Crystals. The author spends the majority of the article complaining about the Crystals' goonery, so here is everything it has to say about Paton, MAAA defense, and Crystals offense:



And that's it. Paton made it through the game healthy, made at least one direct save and was shot at on a few other occasions, and the game was relatively back-and-forth compared to their tight checking affair against the Vics. Paton wasn't mentioned as being a direct benefit or hindrance to the team, though there's an implication he wasn't getting as much help as he should have from Stewart.

Tough to judge the goaltenders at all from these narratives. The more I see, the more I'm getting the sense that goalies' influence on outcomes was not as important as it would be in the near future. Which makes sense when you consider the nature and frequency of offensive rushes (uncoordinated, and not very frequent) which would imply very low shot totals, combined with the assumption that save percentages were MUCH lower in an age where there was no specialized equipment and no known technique. It sounds like the ability to simply get shots on goal was the main factor in game outcomes.
I am getting what you're getting, too. as far as whether it can be used as any kind of indictment against Paton, I don't think it can (nor do I get the impression you think so) - it seems to be more about the gameplay at the time. Paton had the ability to be as important as any other goalie based on how the game was played at the time. So if we're making the attempt to judge all players on an equal timeline, he should not be dismissed by saying "yeah, but goalies weren't as important to the play back then", but my original stance remains unchanged, that is, that he is a really tough sell for the top-40.

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08-31-2012, 02:32 PM
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by the way, great job finding these articles. I searched the specific days of and after many games of the era, and found little to nothing. Iain implied it was quite difficult and might not be worth the effort. You gave me hope that anything is possible.

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08-31-2012, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
I am getting what you're getting, too. as far as whether it can be used as any kind of indictment against Paton, I don't think it can (nor do I get the impression you think so) - it seems to be more about the gameplay at the time. Paton had the ability to be as important as any other goalie based on how the game was played at the time. So if we're making the attempt to judge all players on an equal timeline, he should not be dismissed by saying "yeah, but goalies weren't as important to the play back then", but my original stance remains unchanged, that is, that he is a really tough sell for the top-40.
I agree, particularly if we're going to apply that standard to all other positions. Otherwise we could say that all current goalies are more important than their predecessors.

The next step, once all avenues of information on Paton are exhausted, would be to try and identify other goalies of the era and see how they performed on a game-by-game basis. That might be even more challenging, considering MAAA at least has the benefit of having been well-covered by the Gazette.

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by the way, great job finding these articles. I searched the specific days of and after many games of the era, and found little to nothing. Iain implied it was quite difficult and might not be worth the effort. You gave me hope that anything is possible.

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08-31-2012, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
I agree, particularly if we're going to apply that standard to all other positions. Otherwise we could say that all current goalies are more important than their predecessors.

The next step, once all avenues of information on Paton are exhausted, would be to try and identify other goalies of the era and see how they performed on a game-by-game basis. That might be even more challenging, considering MAAA at least has the benefit of having been well-covered by the Gazette.



That might be so, but as you can see, in a couple of those "seasons", all games played included MAAA, so there should be commentary on whatever other goalies played back then.

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09-01-2012, 07:10 PM
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I agree. But wins are a major factor in point allocation, aren't they?
In the sense that team wins are used to determine how many points are to be allocated to the players of a particular team, since the point of hockey is to win hockey games. But even that isn't quite accurate, because I use goal differential rather than wins.

Wins, as an individual goaltender stat, are not used at all.

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Nothing about this leads us to an inevitable conclusion that the goalie must be a star. There's a correlation/causation issue with concluding that the guys who remained constant must have been the ones responsible for all their success (not to mention a real issue with explaining the 1892 season under this rationale).
It's certainly not a point against him. And as for a bad season, remember how few games they played in a season. In 1892 Ottawa was terrific, and the AAA played most of their games against Ottawa. I'd hesitate to evaluate any team based on 5 games.

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That aside, no, there is no rule that every player on the defense "must" be given credit for good outcomes. That's correlation-vs-causation coming back into play. A lack of goals against is not direct evidence that a goaltender has had an extraordinary individual performance.
Not saying it is. But I would suggest that as a null hypothesis, that if you want to take defensive credit away from a particular player, you should have a solid reason to do so.

Considering that there were only seven players on a team, and that the defensive players in particular were pretty constant on a very good team over a number of years, I do think you must give a certain amount of defensive credit to all of them, unless you have a good reason not to.

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Right, and I think you nailed a very good reason to believe that the MAAA could have steamrolled most of their opponents with even just an average goalie in net. Their defensemen were not only good hockey players, but also employing a forward-thinking offensive strategy that probably left the majority of amateur teams in the dust.
I'm confused by the reference to amateur teams, since all teams were amateur.

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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Simply having the puck more often than the opponent is one way to prevent goals against.
Notice the references to Paton "sending it back", which necessarily implies giving the puck back to the opponents, since otherwise it would result in an offside.

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09-01-2012, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
I am getting what you're getting, too. as far as whether it can be used as any kind of indictment against Paton, I don't think it can (nor do I get the impression you think so) - it seems to be more about the gameplay at the time. Paton had the ability to be as important as any other goalie based on how the game was played at the time.
You could argue that goaltenders were less important than they are now, but can you say they were significantly less important? They were certainly important enough to exist as a position; hockey had not just been invented, they didn't put a man there just to have a man there. Surely if the goaltender had little or nothing to do, he would have become a second point man rather than a goaltender?

I mean, as posted on my blog we have this from the Jan 30 1893 Gazette:

At the start the puck was carried down to the Montreal end of the ice and shot after shot was made at the goal, but Paton stopped them with his hands, stick or feet. He seemed to be in every part of the goals at once, and every time the puck was shot in it was as speedily returned, and finally Cameron scooped it up to the other end of the rink.

Having a reference to "shot after shot" being sent at the Montreal AAA goaltender, during a season in which they were one of the best teams, doesn't support your idea that the goalie was there just in case someone happened to get a shot through. And this would have been in a game with Quebec, one of the doormats that season. If a poor team can get shot after shot on a great defensive team, then one expects many shots were made at the time in general.

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09-02-2012, 03:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
It's certainly not a point against him.
Nor is it a point for him, which is the point. It's not anything at all, because there is no evidence of a causative connection.


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And as for a bad season, remember how few games they played in a season. In 1892 Ottawa was terrific, and the AAA played most of their games against Ottawa. I'd hesitate to evaluate any team based on 5 games.
5 games is what we have to work with.

The question remains -- why is it that the first terrific team to challenge MAAA's outstanding defense not only beat them, but pounded the bejeezus out of them?

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Not saying it is. But I would suggest that as a null hypothesis, that if you want to take defensive credit away from a particular player, you should have a solid reason to do so.
A better stance would be to reject assigning unsupported credit to any individual, and acknowledge that the TEAM as a whole was defensively successful. Leaping from "we know that the team was successful" to "we assume that all individuals were equally successful" is not sound logic in the absence of supporting evidence.


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I'm confused by the reference to amateur teams, since all teams were amateur.
Emphasizing the point that the teams were for the most part uncoached and untrained, not to mention largely unorganized. One group of experienced players getting together and innovating strategy could like have quite easily dominated here-today-gone-tomorrow club squads.


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Notice the references to Paton "sending it back", which necessarily implies giving the puck back to the opponents, since otherwise it would result in an offside.
I'm not sure why you mention it.


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Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
You could argue that goaltenders were less important than they are now, but can you say they were significantly less important? They were certainly important enough to exist as a position; hockey had not just been invented, they didn't put a man there just to have a man there. Surely if the goaltender had little or nothing to do, he would have become a second point man rather than a goaltender?
Common sense would dictate that you want a guy in front of the net.

I wonder if we can get some account of unofficial save totals from that era. Even just a ballpark estimate based on newspaper narratives. Given how exacting the sportswriters were to make a note of every important play, I think it's telling that entire game summaries only record a few saves on either end of the ice.

Even this:

Quote:
At the start the puck was carried down to the Montreal end of the ice and shot after shot was made at the goal, but Paton stopped them with his hands, stick or feet. He seemed to be in every part of the goals at once, and every time the puck was shot in it was as speedily returned, and finally Cameron scooped it up to the other end of the rink.
Doesn't indicate a massive number of shots. "Shot after shot" could add up to 5.

Quote:
Having a reference to "shot after shot" being sent at the Montreal AAA goaltender, during a season in which they were one of the best teams, doesn't support your idea that the goalie was there just in case someone happened to get a shot through. And this would have been in a game with Quebec, one of the doormats that season. If a poor team can get shot after shot on a great defensive team, then one expects many shots were made at the time in general.
The final sentence is a large, questionable assumption.

How did the rest of that game go? Did Quebec have a lot of extended offensive flurries, or just that one at the beginning of the game?


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09-02-2012, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
The question remains -- why is it that the first terrific team to challenge MAAA's outstanding defense not only beat them, but pounded the bejeezus out of them?
And then why did the AAA turn around and beat Ottawa for the championship the following season? Quite possibly because we're dealing with a small number of games.

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A better stance would be to reject assigning unsupported credit to any individual, and acknowledge that the TEAM as a whole was defensively successful.
A team is not an independent entity, it is made up of its players. If a team was good defensively, we know that a certain amount of defensive credit must be given to its players.

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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Emphasizing the point that the teams were for the most part uncoached and untrained, not to mention largely unorganized. One group of experienced players getting together and innovating strategy could like have quite easily dominated here-today-gone-tomorrow club squads.
You're not considering the distinct possibility that it was not merely strategy or tactics, but that the players in question had the ability to play that way, while others did not.

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I'm not sure why you mention it.
Because you mentioned one way to prevent goals is to be in possession of the puck. If you're often throwing the puck back to the opponents, you're not maintaining possession.

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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Common sense would dictate that you want a guy in front of the net.
Common sense would dictate that if very few shots on goal were taken (when the goal itself is quite small), you do not need a dedicated goaltender, who stands in front of the flags and waits for that rare shot to come. If this group of players was so far ahead of other teams tactically, surely they would have realized this as well. A second point-type player would have allowed to reduce those shots on net even further.

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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
I wonder if we can get some account of unofficial save totals from that era. Even just a ballpark estimate based on newspaper narratives. Given how exacting the sportswriters were to make a note of every important play, I think it's telling that entire game summaries only record a few saves on either end of the ice.
Every important play, perhaps. Is every single shot an important play? Would a routine save get mentioned? Saves that would, had the goaltender not been there, result in a goal?

I'd also dispute your characterization of sportswriters being exacting. In fact the quality of game reporting varied immensely from game to game and paper to paper. Sometimes you'd get a detailed description of most of the play, other times you get "so-and-so played well" and that's about it.

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Doesn't indicate a massive number of shots. "Shot after shot" could add up to 5.
Wait, you find a couple of game reports that don't mention a lot of saves, and use it as evidence that goaltenders did not face many shots? Both working from a limited amount of evidence, and also inferring from negative evidence? But a game report that does mention a number of shots is dismissed?

My point is, if you're going to assert that hockey was significantly different than we know it to be even just a decade later, you're going to need much more evidence that you've presented.

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09-02-2012, 12:13 PM
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And then why did the AAA turn around and beat Ottawa for the championship the following season? Quite possibly because we're dealing with a small number of games.
I think the best way to answer these questions is to do the research and establish a clear narrative of player movement, tactical changes, injuries, dumb luck, and whatever else factored into the results.

The whole point is that we can't just take game scores as gospel. It leads to conclusions that don't make sense, such as MAAA being a juggernaut defense in 1891, beatable in 1892, and back to juggernaut in 1893, with the same group of defensive players. Clearly we need more evidence to figure out what was going on.


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A team is not an independent entity, it is made up of its players. If a team was good defensively, we know that a certain amount of defensive credit must be given to its players.
Not necessarily. Stepping away from the stats and using our hockey sense, there are ways to get good defensive results without having superstars in the lineup.


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You're not considering the distinct possibility that it was not merely strategy or tactics, but that the players in question had the ability to play that way, while others did not.
Sure, that's a possibility. Can you prove it?


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Because you mentioned one way to prevent goals is to be in possession of the puck. If you're often throwing the puck back to the opponents, you're not maintaining possession.
I wasn't talking about Paton's puckhandling when I said that. One way to prevent goals against is for your skaters to maintain possession of the puck. Again, that's just hockey common sense. In a one-sided league, the goalie on the best team is going to put up some GAA numbers that aren't necessarily connected to a great individual performance.


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Common sense would dictate that if very few shots on goal were taken (when the goal itself is quite small), you do not need a dedicated goaltender, who stands in front of the flags and waits for that rare shot to come. If this group of players was so far ahead of other teams tactically, surely they would have realized this as well. A second point-type player would have allowed to reduce those shots on net even further.
This is ignoring the context of hockey evolution, in which the goaltender position was inherited from other sports. In any case, say there were 10 shots on goal in an average game -- would you really want them all going into the net? I don't see where you're going with this point to prove anything about Paton individually.


Quote:
Every important play, perhaps. Is every single shot an important play? Would a routine save get mentioned? Saves that would, had the goaltender not been there, result in a goal?
I'm sure you've read enough of those summaries by now to know that, yes, some of them appear to account for EVERY offensive possession in play-by-play format.

Quote:
I'd also dispute your characterization of sportswriters being exacting. In fact the quality of game reporting varied immensely from game to game and paper to paper. Sometimes you'd get a detailed description of most of the play, other times you get "so-and-so played well" and that's about it.
I'm obviously talking about the former.


Quote:
Wait, you find a couple of game reports that don't mention a lot of saves, and use it as evidence that goaltenders did not face many shots? Both working from a limited amount of evidence, and also inferring from negative evidence? But a game report that does mention a number of shots is dismissed?

My point is, if you're going to assert that hockey was significantly different than we know it to be even just a decade later, you're going to need much more evidence that you've presented.
Which is why I didn't make a definitive statement but suggested a direction for further research before drawing any conclusions:

"I wonder if we can get some account of unofficial save totals from that era."

The common theme in all of these mini-arguments is that we don't have enough information to determine Paton's individual level of play with any confidence. At the very least, we need to take time to find his game summaries -- there aren't many -- and attempt to rate his performances based on the quality of opposition and what the opposing goaltender was doing. That's just doing our due diligence in my opinion.

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09-02-2012, 12:13 PM
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I really don't find the characterization that game reporting was generally detailed at the time to be accurate. Certain very important games were reported in a great deal of detail. But most games are more like this one, from the first game of the 1893 season between the Ottawa HC and Montreal Victorias.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 9 Jan 1893
It was a surprise for both sides when the match was over Saturday night and the Victorias had won the first match of the hockey series. The Ottawas were confident and they had every reason to be so, when it is considered that they were supposed to be going up against a junior club. It was really a junior club, as far as the Victorias were concerned, but they player in the beginning like old timers. The question, outside the immediate friends of the Victorias, was not whether Ottawa would win or not, but how much would Ottawa win by, and all the people who saw the team out on the ice wondered how the light Victorias would stand in front of the heavy men from the Capital. That sort of an idea was dissipated in the first half. The Vics went on with a spurt, and before the visitors had rightly settled down to business had surprised them by scoring two goals. The first game was taken by Drinkwater, after some clever passing on the part of the Victorias and some muffing on the part of the Ottawas. Five minutes afterwards Victoria scored again, and the white jerseys looked more astonished than frightened. But the men from Ottawa gathered themselves together, used their weight to perfection and crowded the lighter men. They were just waking up to the possibilities, and they made a big, long stride for them. They were a good deal heavier than the Vics, even if they did not get much the best of the checking, and play could safely be put down as rough, but the little fellows could give the visitors a point or two on skating.

In the first half it looked as if the earth and the fulness thereof belonged to the Victorias, for they started off with a rush and scored two games before the Ottawas had properly felt the ice with their sticks. Then the men in white woke up and rushed things so hard that before half time was called the game was even up, both sides having scored two games each.

In the second half the Ottawas had decidedly the best of the play and from all appearances should have won the match. The puck was kept all the time in the vicinity of the Victorias and only twice in the whole half hour did it look dangerous for the visitors. But, just two minutes before time was called the rubber got in Victoria territory and a clever shot evened things up and made the score a tie. It was a little rough on Ottawa, who decidedly had the best of the second half; but it gave the Victorias great hopes, and when the final game was started the home team, encouraged by success, made a rush and scored the winning games. The first game was scored by Drinkwater, and the second by Davidson for the Vics. The third and fourth were scored by Russell and Kerr for Ottawa. The fifth game fell to Bradley's share, and Ottawa was one in the lead, and then just before time was called Ranking for the puck through for Victoria and saved the battle by making a tie on time. The Vics were on good luck now, and scored the winning game inside of five minutes.

Of course all Montrealers are glad the Victorias won, but they can thank good luck more than good player. The officials were:-

Referee-T.L. Paton
Umpires-A.Cameron and H.J. Fraser

The teams were:-
Ottawa............Position............Victoria
A. Morrell............Goal.........R.W. Jones
H.N. Russell........Point...........W. Pullan
W.C. Young.......Cover............R. Elliott
C. Kirby..........Forwards...........E. Irwin
H. Kirby..........................S. Davidson
R. Bradley..........................N. Rankin
J. Ker..........................G. Drinkwater
Not a single save is mentioned. Should we infer from that that no saves were made? Even the goals themselves are not described in detail (although in many game reports they are).

This game report is of a common type, where it described the play in general (Ottawa used their size, Victorias were better skaters, Ottawa dominated play in second hald but the Vics lucked out a couple of goals to win), and mentions who scored the games (goals), but comes far short of describing every rush and every play.

It's also interesting to note that Tom Paton and Allan Cameron were two of the three game officials, players from the team hoping to unseat the Ottawas from their perch that season. That was, of course, common in those days. Most officials were players from other teams.

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09-02-2012, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
The whole point is that we can't just take game scores as gospel. It leads to conclusions that don't make sense, such as MAAA being a juggernaut defense in 1891, beatable in 1892, and back to juggernaut in 1893, with the same group of defensive players. Clearly we need more evidence to figure out what was going on.
A big part of the problem, to my mind, is thinking about a season as if it means the same thing it means now. Montreal played 5 matches in 1892 (Paton missing one and Stewart missing two). Focusing on a "season" as if it must be examined separately from others is misguided, I think. Why would you focus on a "season" of 5 games instead of looking at a few seasons together, which gives you something approaching a significant number of games to draw conclusions from.

It's never a good idea to try to draw conclusion from 5 games. It doesn't matter if it's 1893 or 1993, that's not enough to draw solid conclusions from.

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Sure, that's a possibility. Can you prove it?
I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm rebutting your apparent positive assertions, which seem to have little or nothing behind them.

I do think it's a reasonable assumption that, if a team is excellent defensively over a significant number of matches, chances are the defensive players on that team are good. Unless you have specific reasons to believe otherwise, that's a reasonable position.

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This is ignoring the context of hockey evolution, in which the goaltender position was inherited from other sports.
Are you sure about that? Can you prove that? What other sports did hockey inherit the goaltender from?

And again, if the claim is that the AAA were so far ahead of the other teams tactically, why wouldn't they realize the tactical advantage of a second point player rather than a goaltender in a game featuring few shots on goal?

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In any case, say there were 10 shots on goal in an average game -- would you really want them all going into the net? I don't see where you're going with this point to prove anything about Paton individually.
I'm not discussing Paton individually, but all goaltenders from his time, as you said. If there were 10 shots per game playing with one point, how many would there be with two points? And even something that extreme would be unlikely - I'm just suggesting the possibility that the goaltender would not be restricted to the net, he'd be more like a point/goal player, challenging opponents away from the net but retreating when necessary for one of those rare shots.

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I'm sure you've read enough of those summaries by now to know that, yes, some of them appear to account for EVERY offensive possession in play-by-play format.
The only ones I've read (and I've basically read all of them) that I could honestly describe this way would be certain Stanley Cup matches a bit later in time.

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Which is why I didn't make a definitive statement but suggested a direction for further research before drawing any conclusions:

"I wonder if we can get some account of unofficial save totals from that era."
That's an easy one: no, we can't. Not this far back. Most game summaries don't even describe goals in detail, much less describe every play. To get a reasonable estimate, you'd need at least most game providing detail on at least most of the play. We don't have anything close to that.

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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
At the very least, we need to take time to find his game summaries -- there aren't many -- and attempt to rate his performances based on the quality of opposition and what the opposing goaltender was doing. That's just doing our due diligence in my opinion.
Isn't that what I'm doing? I'm responding now to unsupported claims that goaltenders of that time were simply not very important.

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