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Round 2, Vote 4 (HOH Top Goaltenders)

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Old
11-21-2012, 01:37 PM
  #201
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Get the goalie moving in a fashion where the skates leave the ice and he cannot cover low. A roofed shot he can still get to with his catching glove or blocker.
... ya, absolutely. Thing is, as a Goaltender, your taught early, indeed, its hammered right into you that you dont (Stand-up, contemporaneous to the era in terms of context) leave your feet if even playing deep, and if you do, you fall into a Butterfly. Back upright, stick flush to the ice covering the five hole; blocker & catcher out. You DO NOT remain in a low gravity crouch, dancing the light fantastic across the goal line. Absolutely suicidal.... so, any idea what kind of sticks were available to/used by the Soviets & Czech's circa 50's & 60's that may well have influenced their seeming propensities to fire low (the late bit we understand as old Antatoli Tarasov's philosophies involved tripling the number of passes made by ones opponents, seeking the perfect opening, playing patience, keep away) and late.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ContrarianGoaltender View Post
....or whether he would have been able to last without adjusting, but if his long-time backup could put up above-average stats on a bad team then it stands to reason that Holecek would have been pretty good in North America, with some proper coaching and perhaps an adjustment period.
... excellent points. As for "explaining Crha", for starters, the poor S.O.B. would up in Toronto playing for Ballard. Isnt that enough right there? No one, not Bower, Plante, Parent, Palmateer, not one of them was ever good enough for Pal Hal. I do indeed remember Crha (and quite fondly). Fundamentally he had all the tools, good glove, quick feet, pretty good with his stick, however, whether it was a language issue or whatever, there was a lack of communication with his defence, combined with Ballards meddling, phone ringing behind the bench telling Coach to pull poor Jiri early & often. Revolving door in the crease.

Palmateer always "worried me", as he tended towards showboating an awful lot; Larocque was basically a journeyman, a backup, solid but unspectacular; Ridley & Tremblay, well, no comment. I dont think Crha was handled properly at all, very much made to feel like a foreigner in foreign lands, confidence eroding over time, unhappy. Sure he was a long-time understudy & backup to Holocek, but he was his own Man, differed in several ways that "potentially" couldve worked in the NHL provided he'd had a guy like Plante or Hall working with him; Harold Ballard entirely removed from the equation.

In Holoceks case, whereby I project him as a Minor Leaguer, he was older, more set in his ways of unorthodox play, so ya, I stand by my contention that he wouldve been "figured out" and toute sweet in the NHL. No way could you have played that way & not been in that era, and if even moderately successful, the grind of the NHL schedule combined with such a high energy acrobatic style would have have exhausted him. Never mind giving Kinipshin Fits to Coaches & Team Mates who would be seriously wondering if Holocek hadnt arrived via a Time Portal, playing the position like it was 1948.

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11-21-2012, 01:56 PM
  #202
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post

In Holoceks case, whereby I project him as a Minor Leaguer, he was older, more set in his ways of unorthodox play, so ya, I stand by my contention that he wouldve been "figured out" and toute sweet in the NHL. No way could you have played that way & not been in that era, and if even moderately successful, the grind of the NHL schedule combined with such a high energy acrobatic style would have have exhausted him. Never mind giving Kinipshin Fits to Coaches & Team Mates who would be seriously wondering if Holocek hadnt arrived via a Time Portal, playing the position like it was 1948.
I enjoyed reading your perception of Leafs goalies, but I don't understand what you are saying here. What do you mean Holecek was "older?" Older when? We're evaluating the top goalies of all time based off their entire body of work. I'm not sure what the age at any given point in time means.

How did Holecek's style differ from Dominik Hasek's unorthodox style? As mentioned earlier, Holecek was Hasek's trainer and mentor:

Quote:
Originally Posted by International Hockey Legends
After his active playing career was over Holecek went on to train junior teams in the Czech Republic as well as the national team. He used to be Dominik Hasek's trainer in Pardubice.

"Yeah, I used to train him in Pardubice. It wasn't very far away from Prague and it was incredible to train such a talent," Holecek said. Hasek had Holecek as his mentor and childhood idol and used to wear Holecek's famous # 2 in Pardubice.

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11-21-2012, 01:58 PM
  #203
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Originally Posted by Sanf View Post

If I remember right Bobby Hull considered Holecek best goalie in the world. Of course that comment sounded pretty weird during Canada Cup but Hull had played against Holecek few times before.

They played against the WHA team in 74 and result was 3-1 to CSSR. Though in that game Holecek was changed (injured?) after 15 minutes (game was 2-0 then)

In Sebtember 75 Jets visited Praha. Results were CSSR win 6-1 (Holecek in goal) and 3-1 (Crha in goal).
Interesting. I'd be very interested to know more about how Holecek performed vs. the WHA. Based on those scores, it seems like he held his own. He definitely played against the WHA enough to have an impression of Bobby Hull:

Quote:
Originally Posted by International Hockey Legends
When asked who the best players were that he faced during his career Holecek said "That's very difficult to answer, but the Kharlamov-Petrov-Mikhailov line was awesome. The hardest shot that I ever faced was undoubtedly from Bobby Hull. It still hurts when I think about it And I liked Svedberg (Lennart "Lill-Strimma" Svedberg), he was the outstanding Swedish player."
http://internationalhockeylegends.bl...i-holecek.html

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11-21-2012, 02:03 PM
  #204
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Jiri Crha

Quote:
Originally Posted by ContrarianGoaltender View Post
If Holecek would have been taken to pieces immediately in the NHL, how do you explain Jiri Crha? I don't think we're guessing completely blindly in terms of projecting Holecek in the NHL because his long-time backup on the Czechoslovakian national team who had a similar style of play and in particular similar weaknesses did play for a couple of years in Toronto and acquitted himself fairly well.



Crha was also known for playing deep in his crease like Holecek did.



Crha's stats were very good for those two seasons. He posted a save percentage of .883, better than league average of .877 despite toiling for an awful team, and he way outplayed the other goalies in Toronto:

1979-80:

Jiri Crha: 8-7-0, 3.61, .909
Mike Palmateer: 16-14-3, 3.68, .875
Curt Ridley: 0-1-0, 4.36, .887
Paul Harrison: 9-17-2, 4.42, .872
Vincent Tremblay: 2-1-0, 5.11, .856

1980-81:

Jiri Crha: 20-20-11, 4.07, .875
Jim Rutherford: 4-10-2, 5.12, .851
Michel Larocque: 3-3-2, 5.22, .854
Curt Ridley: 1-1-0, 5.81, .831
Vincent Tremblay: 0-3-0, 6.71, .833

After that, I'm not really sure what happened. One poster on TMLfans.ca blames management, which in the Ballard era always seems like a reasonable thing thing to do:



It's possible that the team soured on Crha a bit after he got smoked in the playoffs for two seasons in a row, but so did Palmateer and Larocque. Maybe those playoff results suggest he was "figured out" to some extent in the NHL, although it's an extremely small sample size and I guess you'd have to also claim that the opposition had solved Palmateer and Larocque as well. It looks like Crha didn't really play much anywhere in the 1981-82 season, and eventually found his way back to Europe.

Overall, I think there is virtually no basis to claim that Holecek was AHL-level or could not have been successful in the NHL. I think question marks can certainly be raised about how well his style would have translated, or whether he would have been able to last without adjusting, but if his long-time backup could put up above-average stats on a bad team then it stands to reason that Holecek would have been pretty good in North America, with some proper coaching and perhaps an adjustment period.
Jiri Crha's NHL debut is available on Youtube, after the 2:00 mark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfqsNx3SFIo

Just in the few minutes we see a goalie that has the necessary puckhandling skills, twice leaving his crease to handle the puck. Second time he transitions the puck to a rush the other way, shows good lateral movement in the crease and an ability to direct shots to the corners or out of play. All skills that Jiri Holecek was lacking.

With the exception of Jim Rutherford,Mike Palmateer you list goalies that were AHL quality. Larocque was sheltered in Montreal, they needed a back-up while the others played in the NHL a bit due to the WHA removing goalies from the availability pool.

Crha's raw tools were vastly superior to Holecek's, better suited to the NHL game.

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11-21-2012, 02:26 PM
  #205
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This page has the Bobby Hull quote on Holecek:

Quote:
“Holecek is the best goalie in the world – better than (Vladislav) Tretiak, (Ken) Dryden or (Bernie) Parent.” — BOBBY HULL at the 1976 Canada Cup
http://www.goironpigs.com/?p=3919

Obviously, that isn't based on Holecek's play in the 1976 Canada Cup itself, which wasn't very good against Canada.

Seems the WHA vs. Czechslovakia games left quite the impression on Hull.

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11-21-2012, 02:36 PM
  #206
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I enjoyed reading your perception of Leafs goalies, but I don't understand what you are saying here. What do you mean Holecek was "older?" Older when? We're evaluating the top goalies of all time based off their entire body of work. I'm not sure what the age at any given point in time means.... How did Holecek's style differ from Dominik Hasek's unorthodox style? As mentioned earlier, Holecek was Hasek's trainer and mentor:
Holocek was born in 1944, Crha in 1950, but really there was more than just 6yrs between them in terms of a minor generational divide; different perspectives with respect to how they individually approached the game & played the position. Crha played bigger, challenged more, outside of the paint, was actually quite good with his stick, would wander out & transition the game from defence to offence, had a better glove hand, way better on his skates than Holocek etc. More economical, practical.

As for the differences in Holoceks style to that of Haseks, for starters, Dominic would play well outside of the crease in full standup positioning whereas Holocek would rarely wander beyond the top of his crease. Hasek was such an outlier that I sometimes think he considered his "crease" to be anywhere south of his own Blue Line, often times going full on sprawl, diving well into the faceoff circles. Far more aggressive than Holocek. Thirdly, Hasek was a good skater North South & East West; decent with his stick (like Crha) unlike Holocek.

I do understand that it may appear Im being hard on Jiri Holocek, but I mean no disrespect. His style for the time was very effective in playing against European & Russian teams of that era, and my contention is that it simply would not have translated, been effective in the NHL, quite likely not even in the AHL or IHL without some serious refinements & changes made.

Was he capable of doing so, reinventing his game? Absolutely, but he'd have had to have started from square one, the basics, as in improving considerably everything from skating to stickwork to positioning and angling, rebound control, communication with his defence & so on & so forth. Why would you invest that kind of time, attention & money in a player well into his 20's & or early 30's when you could just draft or sign a younger Crha already with those tools, some kid out of Major Junior or whatever who's that much farther along the curve?

As for actual "Overall Ratings" or rankings, you have to give Holocek his due. Just where he fits within the pantheon Im not exactly sure. We have some outstanding performances from him, no question about that, but as Im not participating in this draft type dealeo I'm cool with whatever ya'll decide, as I dont have any skin in the game. If you think he's better than Tretiak, superior to Cheevers, Parent, Fuhr or whomever, know what? Thats your problem, and apparently Bobby Hull's. Im just here to disrupt the proceedings. You know that TDMM. (wink emoticom plz)


Last edited by Killion: 11-21-2012 at 02:50 PM. Reason: afterthought...
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11-21-2012, 02:40 PM
  #207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Holocek was born in 1944, Crha in 1950, but really there was more than just 6yrs between them in terms of a minor generational divide; different perspectives with respect to how they individually approached the game & played the position. Crha played bigger, challenged more, outside of the paint, was actually quite good with his stick, would wander out & transition the game from defence to offence, had a better glove hand, way better on his skates than Holocek etc. More economical, practical.

As for the differences in Holoceks style to that of Haseks, for starters, Dominic would play well outside of the crease in full standup positioning whereas Holocek would rarely wander beyond the top of his crease. Hasek was such an outlier that I sometimes think he considered his "crease" to be anywhere south of his own Blue Line, often times going full on sprawl, diving well into the faceoff circles. Far more aggressive than Holocek. Thirdly, Hasek was a good skater North South & East West; decent with his stick (like Crha) unlike Holocek.

I do understand that it may appear Im being hard on Jiri Holocek, but I mean no disrespect. His style for the time was very effective in playing against European & Russian teams of that era, and my contention is that it simply would not have translated, been effective in the NHL, quite likely not even in the AHL or IHL without some serious refinements & changes made.

Was he capable of doing so, reinventing his game? Absolutely, but he'd have had to have started from square one, the basics, as in improving considerably everything from skating to stickwork to positioning and angling, rebound control, communication with his defence & so on & so forth. Why would you invest that kind of time, attention & money in a player well into his 20's & or early 30's when you could just draft or sign a younger Crha already with those tools, some kid out of Major Junior or whatever who's that much farther along the curve?
But then why did he perform so well against the WHA, a league that featured numerous NHL-quality players?

Crha himself was 30 when he made his NHL debut.

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11-21-2012, 03:11 PM
  #208
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
But then why did he perform so well against the WHA, a league that featured numerous NHL-quality players?

Crha himself was 30 when he made his NHL debut.
Small sample size situations can lend themselves to unexpected results with goaltenders. A goalie that "does it wrong" and is rarely seen before by North Americans can be frustrating for shooters because what normally goes in does not...it's the old reverse knuckleball. Instead of not understanding what's coming at them, the shooters don't understand what they're shooting at.

Given enough time, that has a way of working itself out unless serious team management protects a player. Look at a fraud like Roman Cechmanek...if we didn't know any better, we'd think he was the bee's knees, ankles and feet for this three years in Philadelphia. But in the playoffs, when teams have a chance to study him and figure him out, his save pct. goes from .923 down to .909 and he loses a lot. (and the one series he performed statistically well, vs. snake-bitten Ottawa, saw a scrub like Brian Boucher play a quarter of the series and put up the same numbers - not a ringing endorsement).

Dominik Hasek was never figured out because he could always adapt and had "them" figured out too well already. Any situation, Hasek gives you a chance because he's a cut above. For his era, even Martin Brodeur was a little different, but he was too smart to let you get the best of him usually. Tim Thomas - more in the Cechmanek category certainly - up and down consistency, was unable to hang on for a while...has made positive changes to his game, became more "in control" while using his strengths (lateral movement, reflexes) but has major technical flaws...some teams figure them out and you can tell by their adjustments and shot placement (Montreal is a team that has him generally figured out for instance - not sure if the numbers back me up on that or not...but I see the Habs as a team that are either coached on how to handle him or the players understand it themselves and it takes a strenuous and concerted defensive effort to stave off a weaker Montreal team over the last few seasons).

In goaltending today, you figure that so much of the league is butterfly, there's 82 games, you don't need to "figure out" a "weird" goalie because you spend 90% of the time playing against shooter tutors anyhow...you could spend an entire offseason learning to hit knuckleball pitchers, but what's it good for? 11 at-bats during the season? Why bother...

Sometimes you don't bother figuring it out because it's not worth it...which sounds poor to say, and maybe will be met with resistance...

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11-21-2012, 03:46 PM
  #209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Farkas View Post
Small sample size situations can lend themselves to unexpected results with goaltenders. A goalie that "does it wrong" and is rarely seen before by North Americans can be frustrating for shooters because what normally goes in does not...it's the old reverse knuckleball. Instead of not understanding what's coming at them, the shooters don't understand what they're shooting at.

Given enough time, that has a way of working itself out unless serious team management protects a player. Look at a fraud like Roman Cechmanek...if we didn't know any better, we'd think he was the bee's knees, ankles and feet for this three years in Philadelphia. But in the playoffs, when teams have a chance to study him and figure him out, his save pct. goes from .923 down to .909 and he loses a lot. (and the one series he performed statistically well, vs. snake-bitten Ottawa, saw a scrub like Brian Boucher play a quarter of the series and put up the same numbers - not a ringing endorsement).

Dominik Hasek was never figured out because he could always adapt and had "them" figured out too well already. Any situation, Hasek gives you a chance because he's a cut above. For his era, even Martin Brodeur was a little different, but he was too smart to let you get the best of him usually. Tim Thomas - more in the Cechmanek category certainly - up and down consistency, was unable to hang on for a while...has made positive changes to his game, became more "in control" while using his strengths (lateral movement, reflexes) but has major technical flaws...some teams figure them out and you can tell by their adjustments and shot placement (Montreal is a team that has him generally figured out for instance - not sure if the numbers back me up on that or not...but I see the Habs as a team that are either coached on how to handle him or the players understand it themselves and it takes a strenuous and concerted defensive effort to stave off a weaker Montreal team over the last few seasons).

In goaltending today, you figure that so much of the league is butterfly, there's 82 games, you don't need to "figure out" a "weird" goalie because you spend 90% of the time playing against shooter tutors anyhow...you could spend an entire offseason learning to hit knuckleball pitchers, but what's it good for? 11 at-bats during the season? Why bother...

Sometimes you don't bother figuring it out because it's not worth it...which sounds poor to say, and maybe will be met with resistance...
To me, the small sample size that is an outlier compared to the rest of his career seems to be Holecek's poor play in 2 games in the 1976 Canada Cup.

We know that the Soviets never figured Holecek out.

We also know that he played well in exhibitions against the 72 Summit Series Team, played well in exhibitions against the WHA (so well that Bobby Hull seemed to think he was the best goalie in the world at the time), and played well against NHLers who didn't make the playoffs in the 1978 World Championships. I'd like to know who was in net for the games in the 1977 World Championships against NHLers.

I don't know. The "he looks like a moron out there while making saves" was a criticism leveled at Hasek, too.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 11-21-2012 at 03:58 PM.
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11-21-2012, 04:20 PM
  #210
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But then why did he perform so well against the WHA, a league that featured numerous NHL-quality players? Crha himself was 30 when he made his NHL debut.
Crha in so far as Im concerned was far too old a dog and long in the tooth to seriously change up his game much more than he was forced into doing so upon his arrival, and North America, the NHL game simply did not agree with him. Didnt help that his checks were being signed by Harold E. Ballard either....

Hull was 38 years old when he played against the Czech's & Holocek in the 76 Canada Cup which as you know consisted of both NHL & WHA players, and lets face facts, not exactly the Golden Jet of the early to mid 60's. More an honorary selection than anything else. The Hull brothers, both Bobby & Dennis are notorious raconteurs, none too shy in splashing on the gaudy hyperbole bordering on Tall Tales for the sheer shock & entertainment value of whatever flight of fancy they might wanna take you on. Dennis in particular. Highly paid Rubber Chicken Circuit Speaker since retiring, much in demand, loved; beyond hilarious but I digress....

The WHA itself and specifically the Winnipeg Jets first played the Czech's in a series of pre-season games in 75. They met again in December 76, as the winners of the AVCO Cup were invited to the prestigious Izvestia Cup; again in 77 when a tour of Czech League Champions Poldi Kladno (along with Russian, Swedish & Finnish teams) toured the WHA in a series of Exhibition Games. In those games, my understanding was that Vladimir Dzurilla was the starter, not Holocek, the only time Hull facing Jiri being in 76 in the joint WHA/NHL Canada Cup, and Okee Dokee Bobby, Holocek was outstanding. One series does not elevate the guy to the heights to wit he ascribed. So he stood on his head & spun quite the bullet proof web. Fine. Lets see you do that consistently over a 76 or 84 games schedule in the NHL Jiri.... umm, dont think so.

Now, I dont know if you were around during the WHA years TDMM, ever watched games in person or were cognizant of its calibre of play, but despite the remonstrations by many that it was "equal to the NHL", Im afraid thats just not the case. No way no how. It was basically Slapshot meets the IHL. Strictly entertaining, rough & tumble, underaged phenoms, over the hill ex-NHL'rs & career minor leaguers. Yes, you had some great lines, Hulls in Winnipeg & so on, but overall? No. Just not on....

The WHA from its inception had global ambitions, a European Division of no less than 6 teams, Prague included. In 77-78, when the first Amalgamation talks began & stalled, the league was ready to move on establishing a beachead in Sweden (Stockholm) and elsewhere, prepared to keep on keeping on, however, Amalgamation was eventually consummated, their threats of going truly "World" rather worrisome to the NHL. As it was, the agreement was so one sided in the NHL's favour that it virtually guaranteed the extinction of the incoming teams, Hartford, Winnipeg & Quebec eventually falling, Edmonton very nearly moved to Houston, purportedly 15 minutes away from it back in the 90's. Took some time, but the extermination was complete.


Last edited by Killion: 11-21-2012 at 04:25 PM.
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11-21-2012, 05:06 PM
  #211
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I am not old enough to have watched the WHA live. I realize it was worse than the NHL, but it clearly well above AHL-quality based off the rosters and results.

Anyway, Holecek definitely started at least some games against Bobby Hull's Jets.

From post 200:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanf
They played against the WHA team in 74 and result was 3-1 to CSSR. Though in that game Holecek was changed (injured?) after 15 minutes (game was 2-0 then)

In Sebtember 75 Jets visited Praha. Results were CSSR win 6-1 (Holecek in goal) and 3-1 (Crha in goal).
Here's an article from the 1974 game that confirmes an injury to Holecek: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...+holecek&hl=en. Bobby Hull was credited with the Jets' only goal of the game (against Crha).

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11-21-2012, 05:21 PM
  #212
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Holocek was born in 1944, Crha in 1950, but really there was more than just 6yrs between them in terms of a minor generational divide; different perspectives with respect to how they individually approached the game & played the position. Crha played bigger, challenged more, outside of the paint, was actually quite good with his stick, would wander out & transition the game from defence to offence, had a better glove hand, way better on his skates than Holocek etc. More economical, practical.
Sure, Crha in the NHL challenged more and was better at puckhandling than Holecek, but as I pointed out above by his own admission he had never learned to do either of those two things before coming to North America. So why should we assume that Holecek could not pick those things up like Crha apparently did if given the same coaching and opportunity to work on them?

I think there might be an excessive focus on technique in the discussion on Holecek. Goaltending obviously has a strong technical element to it, but it's definitely about much more than just that. There's reaction time, athleticism, anticipation, improvisation, tracking the puck, compete level, mental toughness, strength, durability, etc., and there have been lots of guys with very good movement and technical ability who lacked those extra things and as a result ended up buried in the minors.

I think expecting guys from different countries who never had much specialized coaching to show off technically flawless games is expecting unrealistic things, and yet the evidence still shows that they got the job done many times against top-level shooters. I'll be honest, I think completely subjective evaluations that do not take results into account at all are very misguided when it comes to goaltending. At the end of the day it's whether you stop the puck or not that matters most.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
We also know that he played well in exhibitions against the 72 Summit Series Team, played well in exhibitions against the WHA (so well that Bobby Hull seemed to think he was the best goalie in the world at the time), and played well against NHLers who didn't make the playoffs in the 1978 World Championships.
I agree that Holecek's track record showed that he could handle top competition, but I still wonder if he really did do enough to stand out from the rest of the international goalie crowd or if he should be ranked closer to a guy like Dzurilla than to Tretiak. My biggest concern with the case for Holecek is that as far as I can tell, pretty much all the sources that rate him as the best in Europe or one of the best in the world come from 1976, around the time of the Canada Cup, which makes me really question how long the perception that he was Europe's best goalie actually persisted.

I can't help but wonder if the timing of the 1976 Canada Cup was absolutely perfect for Holecek's reputation, given that Holecek had just won a gold medal and a best goalie award at the '76 world championships, his third best goalie in four years. The Canadian press wouldn't have been very likely to cover European goalies in years where there aren't best-on-best tournaments, so the majority of coverage of European goalies in the North American press would have been from 1976 and would have been about a peak Holecek coming off of another hot run at world championships. As a result, the prevalence of those articles may be causing us to overstate a bit exactly how highly he was rated in Europe and for how long.

I also read a column from 1972 (at the time of another best-on-best international tournament) claiming that Jorma Valtonen was generally considered the best goalie in Europe ahead of Vladislav Tretiak. That seemed to be largely based on Valtonen's world championship performance that year, and again does call a bit into question whether European observers were doing much more than watching who played the best at the world championships.

If there are more sources that suggest Holecek was rated among the world's best outside of 1976, I'd love to read them. I think it's a major differentiating factor for Tretiak that you can find high praise for him pretty much anywhere from 1972 to 1984. And there's also the consideration that Tretiak was 8 years younger, and the fact that today everybody pretty much unanimously has Tretiak way higher than Holecek. Just makes me a bit skeptical of whether to view that contemporary opinion as a meaningful appraisal or as a brief snapshot in time based on a relatively small sample size.

Let's say the same guys who rated Holecek over Tretiak in 1976 were asked in 1979 what their opinion was on who was better between the two. Would they tell you that Holecek was better before but Tretiak had now surpassed him, or would they tell you that Holecek had a nice run there but Tretiak sort of proved that he was probably really the best all along? That would be interesting to know.

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11-21-2012, 05:31 PM
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If Holecek would have been taken to pieces immediately in the NHL, how do you explain Jiri Crha? I don't think we're guessing completely blindly in terms of projecting Holecek in the NHL because his long-time backup on the Czechoslovakian national team who had a similar style of play and in particular similar weaknesses did play for a couple of years in Toronto and acquitted himself fairly well.



Crha was also known for playing deep in his crease like Holecek did.



Crha's stats were very good for those two seasons. He posted a save percentage of .883, better than league average of .877 despite toiling for an awful team, and he way outplayed the other goalies in Toronto:

1979-80:

Jiri Crha: 8-7-0, 3.61, .909
Mike Palmateer: 16-14-3, 3.68, .875
Curt Ridley: 0-1-0, 4.36, .887
Paul Harrison: 9-17-2, 4.42, .872
Vincent Tremblay: 2-1-0, 5.11, .856

1980-81:

Jiri Crha: 20-20-11, 4.07, .875
Jim Rutherford: 4-10-2, 5.12, .851
Michel Larocque: 3-3-2, 5.22, .854
Curt Ridley: 1-1-0, 5.81, .831
Vincent Tremblay: 0-3-0, 6.71, .833

After that, I'm not really sure what happened. One poster on TMLfans.ca blames management, which in the Ballard era always seems like a reasonable thing thing to do:



It's possible that the team soured on Crha a bit after he got smoked in the playoffs for two seasons in a row, but so did Palmateer and Larocque. Maybe those playoff results suggest he was "figured out" to some extent in the NHL, although it's an extremely small sample size and I guess you'd have to also claim that the opposition had solved Palmateer and Larocque as well. It looks like Crha didn't really play much anywhere in the 1981-82 season, and eventually found his way back to Europe.

Overall, I think there is virtually no basis to claim that Holecek was AHL-level or could not have been successful in the NHL. I think question marks can certainly be raised about how well his style would have translated, or whether he would have been able to last without adjusting, but if his long-time backup could put up above-average stats on a bad team then it stands to reason that Holecek would have been pretty good in North America, with some proper coaching and perhaps an adjustment period.
Well said.

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I don't know. The "he looks like a moron out there while making saves" was a criticism leveled at Hasek, too.


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Now, I dont know if you were around during the WHA years TDMM, ever watched games in person or were cognizant of its calibre of play, but despite the remonstrations by many that it was "equal to the NHL", Im afraid thats just not the case. No way no how. It was basically Slapshot meets the IHL. Strictly entertaining, rough & tumble, underaged phenoms, over the hill ex-NHL'rs & career minor leaguers. Yes, you had some great lines, Hulls in Winnipeg & so on, but overall? No. Just not on.... .
He only said it had some NHL-caliber players, and that much is true.

No one is under the illusion that the WHA was equal to the NHL. No one in this section who is taken seriously, that is. I've seen some 70s romanticists claim as much, but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny at all.

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At the end of the day it's whether you stop the puck or not that matters most.

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11-21-2012, 05:58 PM
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All this talk about 70s Czechoslovakian goaltenders staying deep in their net as a rule is kind of baffling when you consider what the most enduring image of 70s Czechoslovakian goaltenders is for Canadians. Especially the fact that the "Cherry tip" suggests that Dzurilla's wandering was systemic.

Either way, I'm with the "results" crowd here, and think that these goaltenders' athleticism, flexibility, reflexes and mental makeups all helped them play a system designed to stop the shooters they were going to face, not some hypothetical shooters they never played against. And that's what we're ranking.

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11-21-2012, 06:00 PM
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I am not old enough to have watched the WHA live. I realize it was worse than the NHL, but it clearly well above AHL-quality based off the rosters and results.
Kind of OT, admittedly, but I've wondered about just how big the WHA/AHL gap really could have been, everything considered. Veteran former NHLers dictating style vs. upcoming NHLers dictating style must have looked very different, but both leagues can make strong points in favour of "calibre" as judged by both who was on the rosters, at what point they were in their careers, and how they produced in their situations.

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11-21-2012, 06:00 PM
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I am not old enough to have watched the WHA live. I realize it was worse than the NHL, but it clearly well above AHL-quality based off the rosters and results. ... Anyway, Holocek definitely started at least some games against Bobby Hull's Jets.
Thanks for the link to the article from a previous post.... In so far as the WHA being "better than the AHL/IHL" in its day, it effectively was the AHL/IHL. Those leagues got raided big time, the cream being skimmed off the top, becoming little more than glorified Central Hockey League / Eastern Hockey League with call-up's from those depths in order to fill their vacated roster spots.

Expansion in 67-68 had already depleted the NHL's reserves of talent, further exacerbated in 70 with the additions of Buffalo & Vancouver, followed by the Islanders & Flames etc. This of course precipitated the challenge to the Draft, Ken Linesman demanding the age of eligibility be lowered, launching suit as the NHL & WHA fought over the supply of talent. Though there are several shining examples, I believe lowering the age to 18 was in fact a mistake. Giving players 2 more years until age 20 to develop, mature as players, human beings far more conscionable.

I was around and playing top tier junior in those earliest years, absolutely ridiculous what was being tabled if you were 15 or 16, 17 years of age with what looked like a clear path to a professional career. Messed up a lot of people and did nothing to really improve the game. The echo's are still reverberating to this very day, rather salient & topical as its my belief the NHL in its current state of Lockout & tweaks to the contractual issues pursuant to RFA & terms is in fact looking to lower the boom with an even higher turnover of players on entry level contracts. Done by the age 23 or 24 unless absolutely stellar, or if re-signing, resume & character seriously ripped during negotiations.

... and oops, sorry TDMM, I see I've waiver'd way OT. Soo, back to Holocek & Hull, well, never mind. You get the drift.

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11-21-2012, 06:39 PM
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Sure, Crha in the NHL challenged more and was better at puckhandling than Holecek, but as I pointed out above by his own admission he had never learned to do either of those two things before coming to North America. So why should we assume that Holecek could not pick those things up like Crha apparently did if given the same coaching and opportunity to work on them?

I think there might be an excessive focus on technique in the discussion on Holecek. Goaltending obviously has a strong technical element to it, but it's definitely about much more than just that. There's reaction time, athleticism, anticipation, improvisation, tracking the puck, compete level, mental toughness, strength, durability, etc., and there have been lots of guys with very good movement and technical ability who lacked those extra things and as a result ended up buried in the minors.

I think expecting guys from different countries who never had much specialized coaching to show off technically flawless games is expecting unrealistic things, and yet the evidence still shows that they got the job done many times against top-level shooters. I'll be honest, I think completely subjective evaluations that do not take results into account at all are very misguided when it comes to goaltending. At the end of the day it's whether you stop the puck or not that matters most.



I agree that Holecek's track record showed that he could handle top competition, but I still wonder if he really did do enough to stand out from the rest of the international goalie crowd or if he should be ranked closer to a guy like Dzurilla than to Tretiak. My biggest concern with the case for Holecek is that as far as I can tell, pretty much all the sources that rate him as the best in Europe or one of the best in the world come from 1976, around the time of the Canada Cup, which makes me really question how long the perception that he was Europe's best goalie actually persisted.

I can't help but wonder if the timing of the 1976 Canada Cup was absolutely perfect for Holecek's reputation, given that Holecek had just won a gold medal and a best goalie award at the '76 world championships, his third best goalie in four years. The Canadian press wouldn't have been very likely to cover European goalies in years where there aren't best-on-best tournaments, so the majority of coverage of European goalies in the North American press would have been from 1976 and would have been about a peak Holecek coming off of another hot run at world championships. As a result, the prevalence of those articles may be causing us to overstate a bit exactly how highly he was rated in Europe and for how long.

I also read a column from 1972 (at the time of another best-on-best international tournament) claiming that Jorma Valtonen was generally considered the best goalie in Europe ahead of Vladislav Tretiak. That seemed to be largely based on Valtonen's world championship performance that year, and again does call a bit into question whether European observers were doing much more than watching who played the best at the world championships.

If there are more sources that suggest Holecek was rated among the world's best outside of 1976, I'd love to read them. I think it's a major differentiating factor for Tretiak that you can find high praise for him pretty much anywhere from 1972 to 1984. And there's also the consideration that Tretiak was 8 years younger, and the fact that today everybody pretty much unanimously has Tretiak way higher than Holecek. Just makes me a bit skeptical of whether to view that contemporary opinion as a meaningful appraisal or as a brief snapshot in time based on a relatively small sample size.

Let's say the same guys who rated Holecek over Tretiak in 1976 were asked in 1979 what their opinion was on who was better between the two. Would they tell you that Holecek was better before but Tretiak had now surpassed him, or would they tell you that Holecek had a nice run there but Tretiak sort of proved that he was probably really the best all along? That would be interesting to know.
Buried in the minors. Waiting for a list of such goalies. Actual names not hypothetical phantoms. Throw in the names of goalies that actually overcame the flaws that Holecek had, especially the skates leaving the ice.

Results, whether you stop the puck or not. When did this epiphany happen? Brodeur, Broda, Durnan all stopped the puck very well.

Equal or just behind Dzurilla.

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11-21-2012, 06:57 PM
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S


I agree that Holecek's track record showed that he could handle top competition, but I still wonder if he really did do enough to stand out from the rest of the international goalie crowd or if he should be ranked closer to a guy like Dzurilla than to Tretiak. My biggest concern with the case for Holecek is that as far as I can tell, pretty much all the sources that rate him as the best in Europe or one of the best in the world come from 1976, around the time of the Canada Cup, which makes me really question how long the perception that he was Europe's best goalie actually persisted.
It's worth searching for, but unfortunately most of the contemporary accounts of Holecek's play will be from Czechslovakia, the former USSR, Sweden, or Finland. In other words, not in English. So we are left with second hand accounts like Patrick Houda and Joe Pelletier (who wrote the entry from Greatest Hockey Legends that I've been quoting).

I do think the large gap in awards recognition is enough to rank Holecek well above Dzurilla though.

Domestic

Holecek:
•CSSR Golden Stick Top 10 Finishes: 1st (1974), 2nd (1975), 2nd (1977), 2nd (1978), 5th (1971), 5th (1972), 5th (1973), 8th (1977)
•All Star or Best Goalie in Extraliga (1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978)

Dzurilla:
•CSSR Golden Stick Top 10 finishes: 3rd (1972), 4th (1970), 5th (1969), 6th, (1977), 9th (1976),
•All Star or Best Goalie in Extraliga (1969, 1970, 1977)

I realize that Dzurilla was better than Holecek before 1969 when the awards were first given, so the gap isn't quite as big as the awards different looks. But Czechoslovak hockey in general was much weaker before 1968 or 1969 than it was in the 1970s.

International

Holecek:
•World Championships Best Goalie (1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978)
•World Championships All Star (1971, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1978)

Dzurilla:
•World Championships Best Goalie (1965)
•World Championships All Star (1965, 1969)


The Golden Age of Czechoslovak hockey (when they were about 0.500 versus the USSR over a large sample size) corresponds almost exactly to when Holecek was the primary starter of the national team.

Quote:
I can't help but wonder if the timing of the 1976 Canada Cup was absolutely perfect for Holecek's reputation, given that Holecek had just won a gold medal and a best goalie award at the '76 world championships, his third best goalie in four years. The Canadian press wouldn't have been very likely to cover European goalies in years where there aren't best-on-best tournaments, so the majority of coverage of European goalies in the North American press would have been from 1976 and would have been about a peak Holecek coming off of another hot run at world championships. As a result, the prevalence of those articles may be causing us to overstate a bit exactly how highly he was rated in Europe and for how long.
But wouldn't 1976 be a good time for Tretiak too? He won three straight Soviet League MVPs in 1974, 1975, and 1976 and Holecek was still considered better (in Europe).

Quote:
I also read a column from 1972 (at the time of another best-on-best international tournament) claiming that Jorma Valtonen was generally considered the best goalie in Europe ahead of Vladislav Tretiak. That seemed to be largely based on Valtonen's world championship performance that year, and again does call a bit into question whether European observers were doing much more than watching who played the best at the world championships.

If there are more sources that suggest Holecek was rated among the world's best outside of 1976, I'd love to read them. I think it's a major differentiating factor for Tretiak that you can find high praise for him pretty much anywhere from 1972 to 1984. And there's also the consideration that Tretiak was 8 years younger, and the fact that today everybody pretty much unanimously has Tretiak way higher than Holecek. Just makes me a bit skeptical of whether to view that contemporary opinion as a meaningful appraisal or as a brief snapshot in time based on a relatively small sample size.
Part of the reason it's so much easier to find praise for Tretiak is because the USSR was Canada's big international rival. CSSR was kind of an afterthought in North America. I would love to find articles from later than 1976 calling Holecek the best in Europe, but again, how many would be in English. I do think it says a lot that he was awarded both the Best Goalie and All Star at the World Championships 5 times in 8 years, when nobody else was awarded them more than once in this period and only Tretiak (3 times) has been awarded them more than twice.

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Let's say the same guys who rated Holecek over Tretiak in 1976 were asked in 1979 what their opinion was on who was better between the two. Would they tell you that Holecek was better before but Tretiak had now surpassed him, or would they tell you that Holecek had a nice run there but Tretiak sort of proved that he was probably really the best all along? That would be interesting to know.
Definitely would be interesting to know.


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11-21-2012, 07:14 PM
  #219
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Buried in the minors. Waiting for a list of such goalies. Actual names not hypothetical phantoms. Throw in the names of goalies that actually overcame the flaws that Holecek had, especially the skates leaving the ice.

Results, whether you stop the puck or not. When did this epiphany happen? Brodeur, Broda, Durnan all stopped the puck very well.

Equal or just behind Dzurilla.
I realize that you are one of those guys who prefers to judge goalies based on what you saw, and that's totally valid. But the thing is, unless you were somehow following Eastern European hockey from North America, you really weren't going to see a lot of these guys. So I really think it's worth taking into account what people who saw more of these guys seem to think.

Seems that your most vivid memories of Holecek were the 1976 Canada Cup, since it was the biggest stage in North American that he played on. And he was definitely outperformed by Dzurilla there. But that was probably the worst meaningful tournament of Holecek's career and I don't think it's really fair to judge him too much on it.

It wouldn't be fair to judge Bobby Orr largely on his 1971 playoffs or Wayne Gretzky largely on his performance versus the USSR in the 1981 Canada Cup, would it?

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11-21-2012, 07:15 PM
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Exact Record

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It's worth searching for, but unfortunately most of the contemporary accounts of Holecek's play will be from Czechslovakia, the former USSR, Sweden, or Finland. In other words, not in English. So we are left with second hand accounts like Patrick Houda and Joe Pelletier (who wrote the entry from Greatest Hockey Legends that I've been quoting).

I do think the large gap in awards recognition is enough to rank Holecek well above Dzurilla though.

Domestic

Holecek:
•CSSR Golden Stick Top 10 Finishes: 1st (1974), 2nd (1975), 2nd (1977), 2nd (1978), 5th (1971), 5th (1972), 5th (1973), 8th (1977)
•All Star or Best Goalie in Extraliga (1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978)

Dzurilla:
•CSSR Golden Stick Top 10 finishes: 3rd (1972), 4th (1970), 5th (1969), 6th, (1977), 9th (1976),
•All Star or Best Goalie in Extraliga (1969, 1970, 1977)

I realize that Dzurilla was better than Holecek before 1969 when the awards were first given, so the gap isn't quite as big as the awards different looks. But Czechoslovak hockey in general was much weaker before 1968 or 1969 than it was in the 1970s.

International

Holecek:
•World Championships Best Goalie (1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978)
•World Championships All Star (1971, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1978)

Dzurilla:
•World Championships Best Goalie (1965)
•World Championships All Star (1965, 1969)


The Golden Age of Czechoslovak hockey (when they were about 0.500 versus the USSR over a large sample size) corresponds almost exactly to when Holecek was the primary starter of the national team.



But wouldn't 1976 be a good time for Tretiak too? He won three straight Soviet League MVPs in 1974, 1975, and 1976 and Holecek was still considered better (in Europe).



Part of the reason it's so much easier to find praise for Tretiak is because the USSR was Canada's big international rival. CSSR was kind of an afterthought in North America. I would love to find articles from later than 1976 calling Holecek the best in Europe, but again, how many would be in English. I do think it says a lot that he was awarded both the Best Goalie and All Star at the World Championships 5 times in 8 years, when nobody else was awarded them more than once in this period and only Tretiak (3 times) has been awarded them more than twice.



Definitely would be interesting to know.
About .500. What was their exact record and what were the exact years - first and last?

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11-21-2012, 07:29 PM
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The WHA itself and specifically the Winnipeg Jets first played the Czech's in a series of pre-season games in 75. They met again in December 76, as the winners of the AVCO Cup were invited to the prestigious Izvestia Cup; again in 77 when a tour of Czech League Champions Poldi Kladno (along with Russian, Swedish & Finnish teams) toured the WHA in a series of Exhibition Games. In those games, my understanding was that Vladimir Dzurilla was the starter, not Holocek, the only time Hull facing Jiri being in 76 in the joint WHA/NHL Canada Cup,
Holeček was the starter in the first of the two game against Winnipeg in September 1975 which Czechoslovakia won 6-1. In the second game (3-1 Czechoslovakia) Crha was in the net. In the 1967-77 Izvestia Cup it was Kralík who played against Winnipeg and Crha who played in the other games. So Hull and Holeček faced off twice.

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I'd like to know who was in net for the games in the 1977 World Championships against NHLers.
Dzurilla, both games.

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11-21-2012, 07:30 PM
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About .500. What was their exact record and what were the exact years - first and last?
I'm checking the old thread on this, and it actually seems like CSSR was about 0.500 versus the USSR for several years before Holecek came around.

From 1966-1970 (before Holecek, Dzurilla was the primary starter I think), Czechoslovakia had 7 wins and 8 losses vs the USSR. Before 1966, the USSR dominated.

From 1971-1978 (Holecek was the primary starter), Czechoslovakia had 18 wins, 22 losses, and 4 ties versus the USSR.

After 1978 when both Holecek and Dzurilla left the national team, Czechoslovakia fell off quickly (probably partly due to defections to the NHL in the early 80s) and the USSR again dominated. Czechoslovakia had 2 wins, 26 losses, and 7 ties versus the USSR from 1979-1984.

From this thread: http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...d.php?t=688408

One thing to note is that the overall quality of European hockey is generally thought to be quite a bit higher in the 1970s than in the late 60s.

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11-21-2012, 07:44 PM
  #223
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At the end of the day it's whether you stop the puck or not that matters most.
... Life is a journey. How one comports oneself through trials & tribulations, actually "learning" along the way far more important than resting on ones laurels, making mistakes, correcting them & moving forward. "At the end of the day" a phrase most often used by Gamblers who rely more on luck than skill with only a superficial understanding of such precepts.

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He only said it had some NHL-caliber players, and that much is true... No one is under the illusion that the WHA was equal to the NHL. No one in this section who is taken seriously, that is. I've seen some 70s romanticists claim as much...
Re-read his post. Get back to me with your "interpretation". Pretty much black & white.

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Especially the fact that the "Cherry tip" suggests that Dzurilla's wandering was systemic.

Either way, I'm with the "results" crowd here, and think that these goaltenders' athleticism, flexibility, reflexes and mental makeups all helped them play a system designed to stop the shooters they were going to face, not some hypothetical shooters they never played against. And that's what we're ranking.
... Bingo!. Dzurilla & Holocek were facing the Mighty Red Machine. That was the team to beat. They played accordingly. Deep. Had they been magically transported to AAA Quebec or Ontario as Bantams or Midgets, with the same ambitions to be the best they possibly could, a real burning desire to play the game, the same love & passion for it as demonstrated through their acrobatic performances, highly probable they would have entered the pantheons of the greats. As it is, we just dont know. Technically, they both have "issues" that to an experienced & practiced eye would remove them from comparisons to even the top 50 of all time insofar as yours truly is concerned.... as for Don Cherry, that guy doesnt know **** from Shinola when it comes to Goaltenders.

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Buried in the minors.. Results, whether you stop the puck or not. When did this epiphany happen? Brodeur, Broda, Durnan all stopped the puck very well.
Damn straight they wouldve been, and as backups at that level.... this nonsense about "at the end of the day what matters is if you stopped the puck" is, well, utter nonsense. You could inject some guy off the street who'd never been on skates before with Conan Doyles 7% Solution, rig him up, throw him out there, and he'd probably stop everything shot at him while also witnessing the multi coloured contrails of the puck in flight in slow motion as its cruising in at 110mph. He's going to hug the posts, lean on the crossbar, fall to the ice like he's just been shot by a sniper in the upper galleries. How reliable is that over a 76 or 84 game schedule with exhausting travel? Lester Patrick goes out & stones the opposition in a playoff game. The frikin Coach. 40 (50?) somethin years old. Never played a lick in the net in his life. Maybe he's the Greatest Goalie of All Time... why not? After all, "at the end of the day", the Rangers won.

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11-21-2012, 07:48 PM
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Following European Hockey

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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I realize that you are one of those guys who prefers to judge goalies based on what you saw, and that's totally valid. But the thing is, unless you were somehow following Eastern European hockey from North America, you really weren't going to see a lot of these guys. So I really think it's worth taking into account what people who saw more of these guys seem to think.

Seems that your most vivid memories of Holecek were the 1976 Canada Cup, since it was the biggest stage in North American that he played on. And he was definitely outperformed by Dzurilla there. But that was probably the worst meaningful tournament of Holecek's career and I don't think it's really fair to judge him too much on it.

It wouldn't be fair to judge Bobby Orr largely on his 1971 playoffs or Wayne Gretzky largely on his performance versus the USSR in the 1981 Canada Cup, would it?
FYI international hockey was available on the CBC and CTV since 1960. Olympics, WHC, Canadian tours and tournaments especially during the Christmas/New Years period in the second half of the 1960s so the visual data was readily available to Canadian fans well before 1976.

The characterization of 1976 is simply false. 1976 is seen as the acme of Holecek's career. Coincides with what is available on Youtube - Olympic Final game and Canada Cup. So I presented what was available with an explanation.

Point about Orr in 1971 or Gretzky in 1981 does not apply. At no time in the 1971 playoffs or 1981 Canada Cup did Orr or Gretzky show that they could not skate well enough to compete in the NHL. Holecek in the 1976 clips shown, clearly is seen letting his skates leave the ice when moving in the crease. This is a flaw that did not arise just for the clips. It is a flaw that would have kept Holecek from making inroads in NA hockey.

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11-21-2012, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
..
... Bingo!. Dzurilla & Holocek were facing the Mighty Red Machine. That was the team to beat. They played accordingly. Deep. Had they been magically transported to AAA Quebec or Ontario as Bantams or Midgets, with the same ambitions to be the best they possibly could, a real burning desire to play the game, the same love & passion for it as demonstrated through their acrobatic performances, highly probable they would have entered the pantheons of the greats. As it is, we just dont know. Technically, they both have "issues" that to an experienced & practiced eye would remove them from comparisons to even the top 50 of all time insofar as yours truly is concerned.... as for Don Cherry, that guy doesnt know **** from Shinola when it comes to Goaltenders.
You seem to be making a judgement call that NHL hockey is all that matters when ranking players. Is that correct?

Quote:
Damn straight they wouldve been, and as backups at that level.... this nonsense about "at the end of the day what matters is if you stopped the puck" is, well, utter nonsense. You could inject some guy off the street who'd never been on skates before with Conan Doyles 7% Solution, rig him up, throw him out there, and he'd probably stop everything shot at him while also witnessing the multi coloured contrails of the puck in flight in slow motion as its cruising in at 110mph. He's going to hug the posts, lean on the crossbar, fall to the ice like he's just been shot by a sniper in the upper galleries. How reliable is that over a 76 or 84 game schedule with exhausting travel? Lester Patrick goes out & stones the opposition in a playoff game. The frikin Coach. 40 (50?) somethin years old. Never played a lick in the net in his life. Maybe he's the Greatest Goalie of All Time... why not? After all, "at the end of the day", the Rangers won.
I really don't understand the analogy between Lester Patrick's one legendary game in goal (in 1928 pre-forward pass in the deadest of dead puck eras for what that's worth) and Holecek's career as Czechoslovakia's top goalie during their golden age of hockey.

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