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Is there any meaningful way to compare Gretzky and Orr?

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Old
01-21-2017, 02:11 PM
  #1
Cursed Lemon
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Is there any meaningful way to compare Gretzky and Orr?

I'm doing a little project for a class of mine that's hockey related, and I was wondering if anyone could chime in on the subject of comparing Gretzky to Orr as a measure of who is the better player.

They both dominated so heavily, but they never shared the ice for a single season. A defenseman vs. a forward. What can we do to contrast them against each other?

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01-21-2017, 04:26 PM
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tazzy19
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Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon View Post
I'm doing a little project for a class of mine that's hockey related, and I was wondering if anyone could chime in on the subject of comparing Gretzky to Orr as a measure of who is the better player.

They both dominated so heavily, but they never shared the ice for a single season. A defenseman vs. a forward. What can we do to contrast them against each other?
The most fair thing to do is compare Gretzky's first 10 years to Orr's 10 years (apples to apples), which takes Gretzky's longevity out of the equation. Then compare their number of Hart Trophies, then their number of playoff MVPs, then their number of international MVPs.

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01-21-2017, 04:42 PM
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Orr was simply injured too much even during the shortened career he had. We never saw how good he could have been, just how brilliantly he played.

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01-21-2017, 04:52 PM
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Orr was simply injured too much even during the shortened career he had. We never saw how good he could have been, just how brilliantly he played.
I actually disagree with this. I think we saw exactly how good Orr was. Just go to his Wikipedia page and click on career achievements.

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01-21-2017, 05:16 PM
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Orr was simply injured too much even during the shortened career he had. We never saw how good he could have been, just how brilliantly he played.
While Orr's career was cut short due to injuries, it's not like he played only half seasons. He played full seasons almost every year of his career

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01-21-2017, 08:24 PM
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The Panther
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You know, there's too much talk about better/worse players. We should really talk about better/worse teams, which is what the sport is actually about.

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01-21-2017, 08:26 PM
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You know, there's too much talk about better/worse players. We should really talk about better/worse teams, which is what the sport is actually about.
Why not both? It's not like we're running out of Internet.

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01-21-2017, 08:33 PM
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The Panther
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Why not both? It's not like we're running out of Internet.
Yes, sorry for my moody moment. I just think there are 100 times more threads comparing X-player to X-player, when what really matters is teams. No individual wins games by himself.

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01-21-2017, 08:45 PM
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SmellOfVictory
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Why not both? It's not like we're running out of Internet.
Actually, I just got a letter saying that I will have to start rationing my Internet on a daily basis. The famine is coming.

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01-21-2017, 09:41 PM
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Gretzky's Oilers won twice as many Cups as Orr's Bruins, so that answer is perfectly clear, unless you want to compare their best seasons.

To me, 99 is better by a considerable margin. Never lost a Hart in his prime (certainly not to a teammate), played for twice as long, and was a far superior playoff performer.

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01-22-2017, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by bigbuffalo313 View Post
While Orr's career was cut short due to injuries, it's not like he played only half seasons. He played full seasons almost every year of his career
Wait a minute, his first two seasons in the league were cut short by knee injuries, 68-69 was cut in half. His first full season wasn't til his 5th in the league. Those well documented injuries early in his career impacted him the rest of the way. He only played two full seasons, 70-71 and surprisingly 74-75. Its a testament to his toughness, that he played as many game as he did. We have all heard the Canada Cup stories, he couldn't walk but somehow got on the ice and outplayed everyone.


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01-22-2017, 04:08 AM
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If Orr had played double the length he had, it would have been really interesting. Assuming he aged okay and benefited from some of the 80's action. Orr may have finished with 1600-1800 points, who knows.

Mario was a bit easier to compare, even with all the missed time, his sample size was enough.

Now if you took Gretzky's first 9-10 seasons and compared them to Orr's career, maybe? but your doing a disservice to Gretzky.

At the end of the day Gretzky's perfect storm and career are ahead of Orr's, shortened half career, no matter what measuring stick is used.

I wouldn't hold Orr's lack of cups against him or the Bruins. Those 70's Canadiens and Flyer teams were probably better pound for pound then anyone the Oilers beat (except the Islanders).

Could the Bruins or Hawks, with a healthy Orr, really compete against those late 70's Canadiens?

Anyhow, I think it is a tough comparison to make, different position, different eras.
Lets be honest how many people have actually seen peak Orr and peak Gretzky? I missed out on Orr.

It all comes down to personal preference, some people consider Orr the greatest of all time. Usually it's people actually witnessed him play.

For the record, Gretzky and his multiple 200+ point seasons, do it for me. I did see Coffey and his 138 points, I can only imagine Orr.

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01-22-2017, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by 4Orr View Post
Wait a minute, his first two seasons in the league were cut short by knee injuries, 68-69 was cut in half. His first full season wasn't til his 5th in the league. Those well documented injuries early in his career impacted him the rest of the way. He only played two full seasons, 70-71 and surprisingly 74-75. Its a testament to his toughness, that he played as many game as he did. We have all heard the Canada Cup stories, he couldn't walk but somehow got on the ice and outplayed everyone.
What I meant was that a majority of his seasons were full unlike other players affected by injuries

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01-23-2017, 12:05 PM
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Bobby's knee was injured in his first season, and again and again from then on so can we assume he was ever at 100%? Even in full years he was in pain a lot of the time.

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01-23-2017, 12:18 PM
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Sounds like the OP wants to figure out a way to compare an apple to an orange rather than their respective accomplishments. Other than opinions of "I like apples better".

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01-23-2017, 12:39 PM
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seventieslord
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If you want a really good grade, I'd do a "compare and contrast". Orr is the greatest "per game" player of all-time; Gretzky is not far behind and has longevity on his side. Demonstrate both of those factors (use GF/GA ratio or something to demonstrate Orr's overall offensive/defensive/possession advantage at their respective bests), and then show all the things Gretzky did past 1987 when he was the age at which Orr stopped playing full seasons. For extra credit, construct a two-sided argument for why it matters that Gretzky kept playing as a much lesser version of his old self, and why the only thing that should matter more is who was better at their respective bests.

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01-23-2017, 04:23 PM
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Sounds like the OP wants to figure out a way to compare an apple to an orange
That would be what I was asking, yeah. =P

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01-23-2017, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
If you want a really good grade, I'd do a "compare and contrast". Orr is the greatest "per game" player of all-time; Gretzky is not far behind and has longevity on his side. Demonstrate both of those factors (use GF/GA ratio or something to demonstrate Orr's overall offensive/defensive/possession advantage at their respective bests), and then show all the things Gretzky did past 1987 when he was the age at which Orr stopped playing full seasons. For extra credit, construct a two-sided argument for why it matters that Gretzky kept playing as a much lesser version of his old self, and why the only thing that should matter more is who was better at their respective bests.
This actually ends up being the main point I make at the end of the presentation (which is generally about who the greatest player of all time is), that Orr and Gretzky's respective youths are so close together that it becomes a matter of perspective and legend rather than a matter of stats; if Orr played until he was greying, some of the luster would be taken off of his mythical short career, somewhat like what happened to Gretzky.

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01-23-2017, 10:14 PM
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The most fair thing to do is compare Gretzky's first 10 years to Orr's 10 years (apples to apples), which takes Gretzky's longevity out of the equation. Then compare their number of Hart Trophies, then their number of playoff MVPs, then their number of international MVPs.
Your approach is so fair you neglect to count Gretzky's Norris trophies...

And I can hear the rebuttal: "Wait, that's not fair..Gretzky didn't play defense."

And if Gretzky did, would he have played defense at a Norris caliber while also winning the Art Ross in the same season as Orr did...more than once?

Bobby Orr dominated both ends at the highest level.

The Norris trophy was created essentially as a "Hart" for defensemen...with no defenseman before Orr ever sniffing one...nor has any defenseman won multiple Hart trophies since him. Using the Hart trophy counting game is disingenuous, unless you also want to talk Norris trophies as well.

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01-24-2017, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by 85highlander View Post
The Norris trophy was created essentially as a "Hart" for defensemen...with no defenseman before Orr ever sniffing one

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01-24-2017, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon View Post
I guess what he actually intended to say was:

The Norris trophy was created essentially as a "Hart" for defensemen...with no defenseman before Orr ever sniffing a Hart trophy...nor has any defenseman won multiple Hart trophies since him. Using the Hart trophy counting game is disingenuous, unless you also want to talk Norris trophies as well.

Which is not entirely correct since the Hart trophy was won a few times by Eddie Shore and a few other defencemen. But from 1945 on not a single defenceman won one until Bobby Orr came along and it's not like no defenceman had any Hart-worthy seasons during that period of 25 years. It's fair to say that the Hart basically became an award for forwards after WW2 and after a few years the Norris trophy was created as a "Hart for defencemen" to give them an individual trophy too, since they didn't have a real shot at the MVP award anymore. Bottom line is that comparing the number of Hart trophy wins by a defenceman (Orr) to those by a forward (Gretzky) isn't doing the former justice.

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01-24-2017, 06:39 AM
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I guess what he actually intended to say was:

The Norris trophy was created essentially as a "Hart" for defensemen...with no defenseman before Orr ever sniffing a Hart trophy...nor has any defenseman won multiple Hart trophies since him. Using the Hart trophy counting game is disingenuous, unless you also want to talk Norris trophies as well.

Which is not entirely correct since the Hart trophy was won a few times by Eddie Shore and a few other defencemen. But from 1945 on not a single defenceman won one until Bobby Orr came along and it's not like no defenceman had any Hart-worthy seasons during that period of 25 years. It's fair to say that the Hart basically became an award for forwards after WW2 and after a few years the Norris trophy was created as a "Hart for defencemen" to give them an individual trophy too, since they didn't have a real shot at the MVP award anymore. Bottom line is that comparing the number of Hart trophy wins by a defenceman (Orr) to those by a forward (Gretzky) isn't doing the former justice.
Yes, thank you for articulating this far better than I did - and for bringing additional historical context to the issue.

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01-24-2017, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
I guess what he actually intended to say was:

The Norris trophy was created essentially as a "Hart" for defensemen...with no defenseman before Orr ever sniffing a Hart trophy...nor has any defenseman won multiple Hart trophies since him. Using the Hart trophy counting game is disingenuous, unless you also want to talk Norris trophies as well.

Which is not entirely correct since the Hart trophy was won a few times by Eddie Shore and a few other defencemen. But from 1945 on not a single defenceman won one until Bobby Orr came along and it's not like no defenceman had any Hart-worthy seasons during that period of 25 years.

Bottom line is that comparing the number of Hart trophy wins by a defenceman (Orr) to those by a forward (Gretzky) isn't doing the former justice.
I don't think I can agree with this reasoning. You just said "No defenseman between WWII and Orr had Hart-worthy season." But it was entirely possible to win it, as Shore, Goodfellow, and Orr himself have proven. When Orr was the best player in the league, he received his Hart. Three times. At other times he was not unquestionably the best player in the league, so he lost. Sure, you can argue that he deserved one more, over Clarke, but it's still nowhere near Gretzky's territory. You could argue that Gretzky had weaker competition for Hart, but that's a real stretch.

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01-24-2017, 04:28 PM
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I don't think I can agree with this reasoning. You just said "No defenseman between WWII and Orr had Hart-worthy season."
No, I said the opposite.

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But it was entirely possible to win it, as Shore, Goodfellow, and Orr himself have proven.
And yet no-one won it between 1945 and 1970. You think that's a fair reflection of the performance of Doug Harvey and the other elite defencemen during that time?

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When Orr was the best player in the league, he received his Hart. Three times. At other times he was not unquestionably the best player in the league, so he lost.
Well, that's the part that is up to debate.

BTW, I'm not really making an argument here in my own right. I just wanted to clarify the argument another poster wanted to make.

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01-24-2017, 05:16 PM
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And yet no-one won it between 1945 and 1970. You think that's a fair reflection of the performance of Doug Harvey and the other elite defencemen during that time?
No, let's not forget that those years saw the prime of players like Howe, Beliveau, Hull, Mikita, who all won it multiple times. That doesn't take away what defencemen were doing these years, Harvey was in the top-5 for the Hart 5 times, Kelly in the top-10 7 times. Ironically, both were runner-up once, each time losing to a goalie.

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