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Esposito Without Orr

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Old
11-23-2012, 04:16 PM
  #1
Hawkey Town 18
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Esposito Without Orr

This was recently discussed in the Messier vs. Esposito thread, but I thought it deserved it's own thread for easy reference...Here is how Phil Esposito did scoring-wise in games that Bobby Orr did not play in compared to games that Bobby Orr did play in.

The last row of each table labeled "Season Total w/o Orr" uses the "w/o Orr" per game numbers to project a full season total.


1967-68*
GP G A Pts P/G
Without Orr 27 8 24 32 1.185
With Orr 47 27 25 52 1.106
Real Season Total 74 35 49 84 1.135
Season Total w/o Orr 74 21.9 65.8 87.7  
*Orr missed 28 games this season, but I was only able to identify 27 of them

1968-69
GP G A Pts P/G
Without Orr 9 5 9 14 1.556
With Orr 65 44 68 112 1.723
Real Season Total 74 49 77 126 1.703
Season Total w/o Orr 74 41.1 74.0 115.1  

1971-72

GP G A Pts P/G
Without Orr 2 0 0 0 0.000
With Orr 74 66 67 133 1.797
Real Season Total 76 66 67 133 1.750
Season Total w/o Orr 76 0.0 0.0 0.0  

1972-73
GP G A Pts P/G
Without Orr 15 12 12 24 1.600
With Orr 63 43 63 106 1.683
Real Season Total 78 55 75 130 1.667
Season Total w/o Orr 78 62.4 62.4 124.8  

1973-74

GP G A Pts P/G
Without Orr 4 3 2 5 1.250
With Orr 74 65 75 140 1.892
Real Season Total 78 68 77 145 1.859
Season Total w/o Orr 78 58.5 39.0 97.5  

1975-76
GP G A Pts P/G
Without Orr 12 6 10 16 1.333
With Orr 0 0 0 0 N/A
Real Season Total 12 6 10 16 1.333
Season Total w/o Orr 12 6.0 10.0 16.0  



Total Boston Career
GP G A Pts P/G
Without Orr 69 34 57 91 1.319
With Orr 556 425 496 921 1.656
Real Season Total 625 459 553 1012 1.619
Season Total w/o Orr 625 308.0 516.3 824.3  


Notes
- Data from http://hsp.flyershistory.com/
- Bobby Orr's injury history from http://bobbyorr.net/
- I did not have information as to any games where both Esposito and Orr did not play. Esposito barely missed any games, so if this occurred it did not happen a lot. The most likely case would be the 2 games in 1971-72. Orr sat out the last two games of the season. I have not found out if Esposito sat those out as well, but I did find evidence that he was playing through a knee injury, and we know that the Bruins had 1st place locked up at that point, so the motive is there. Here is what the Boston Career numbers would look like if you take out those 2 scoreless games...

Total Boston Career
GP G A Pts P/G
Without Orr 67 34 57 91 1.358
With Orr 558 425 496 921 1.651
Real Season Total 625 459 553 1012 1.619
Season Total w/o Orr 625 317.2 531.7 848.9  

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Old
11-23-2012, 04:21 PM
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Hawkey Town 18
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Something I meant to include in the OP but didn't...If you use Esposito's career numbers without Orr to project his scoring over a 78 game season his average season scoring line looks like this...

78GP - 39.6G - 66.4A - 105.9Pts

which rounds to

78GP - 40G - 66A - 106Pts


EDIT: This is using the data that does not include the 2 games in 1971-72, which is the more favorable scenario for Esposito.

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11-23-2012, 04:38 PM
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Hawkey Town 18
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For reference, here are some of the best non-Bruin seasons from 1967-68 to 1974-75, the years where Esposito finished 1st or 2nd in scoring.

121Pts, Marcel Dionne, 1974-75
119Pts, Guy Lafleur, 1974-75
117Pts, Pete Mahovlich, 1974-75
116Pts, Bobby Clarke, 1974-75
109Pts, Jean Ratelle, 1971-72
107Pts, Bobby Hull, 1968-69
106Pts, Vic Hadfield, 1971-72
104Pts, Bobby Clarke, 1972-73
103Pts, Gordie Howe, 1968-69
100Pts, Rick MacLeish, 1972-73
100Pts, Rene Robert, 1974-75

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11-23-2012, 04:48 PM
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This is probably more helpful than my last post. Here is the best non-Bruin scorer each year from 1967-68 to 1974-75.

1967-68: Stan Mikita, 87Pts
1968-69: Bobby Hull, 107Pts
1969-70: Stan Mikita, 86Pts
1970-71: Bobby Hull, 96Pts
1971-72: Jean Ratelle, 109Pts
1972-73: Bobby Clarke, 104Pts
1973-74: Bobby Clarke, 87Pts
1974-75: Marcel Dionne, 121Pts


Still likely that Esposito is a multiple Art Ross winner without Orr, but probably not as many, and by not such great margins.

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11-23-2012, 05:17 PM
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I will maintain that in two years (1971 and 1974) he is an Art Ross winner by even GREATER margins without Orr because the 2nd place finisher in each year was Orr and the next non-Bruin was a universe away.

I will say this as well because I am a big Esposito supporter, but the Bruins don't win two Cups without him. I doubt the Bruins beat the Rangers in 1972. Esposito had 24 points and then 27 points in 1970. It was a bit of an easier ride in 1970 so maybe they win without Esposito but they don't win in 1972. So really, if the stats you provided don't convince people that Esposito was an all-time great on his own merit than you should ask whether or not he was a cornerstone of a championship teams, and he was.

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11-23-2012, 05:18 PM
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Reciprocal

Still Orr/Esposito is a reciprocal arrangement - each created open ice for each other in the offensive zone as well as creating open ice in the offensive zone for the remaining three teammates.

Previously with Chicago, Esposito was the third forward behind Bobby Hull and Mikita with Pilote so the open ice benefits to him were secondary/tertiary.

Same effect was evident with Park and Jean Ratelle with New York and Boston, Islanders with Trottier and Potvin,Toronto Sittler and Salming, Montreal Lafleur and the Big 3 - defensive scoring stats spread out over 3, but was missing in Philadelphia with Bobby Clarke,Los Angeles with Marcel Dionne, Buffalo with Perreault - no strong offensive support from the defense.


Last edited by Canadiens1958: 11-23-2012 at 05:28 PM.
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11-23-2012, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
I will maintain that in two years (1971 and 1974) he is an Art Ross winner by even GREATER margins without Orr because the 2nd place finisher in each year was Orr and the next non-Bruin was a universe away.
This assumes that taking away Orr has no effect on Esposito's scoring. Why would you make that assumption after the seeing the above analysis?

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11-23-2012, 05:27 PM
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Nice job putting this all together, HT18.

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11-23-2012, 05:27 PM
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So what happened to Phil after 74-75? Suddenly got old or bad? Nope, stopped playing with #4. Second in scoring 74-75 and never in the top 10 again.

Playing w/o #4 for brief stretches is one thing, never playing with him is quite another.

His numbers away from #4 are approx. .880 ppg. Likely no Art Ross in there anywhere.

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11-23-2012, 05:33 PM
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The data presented is interesting, but it's just too small a sample size to conclude much of anything. At least half the sample, which would get it closer to a significant size, is from '68 which was the first season Orr & Espo were together and before Orr was near his peak form.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
I will maintain that in two years (1971 and 1974) he is an Art Ross winner by even GREATER margins without Orr because the 2nd place finisher in each year was Orr and the next non-Bruin was a universe away.

I will say this as well because I am a big Esposito supporter, but the Bruins don't win two Cups without him. I doubt the Bruins beat the Rangers in 1972. Esposito had 24 points and then 27 points in 1970. It was a bit of an easier ride in 1970 so maybe they win without Esposito but they don't win in 1972. So really, if the stats you provided don't convince people that Esposito was an all-time great on his own merit than you should ask whether or not he was a cornerstone of a championship teams, and he was.
Espo was an all-time great with or without Orr. However, I think various aspects of his career, team and the NHL at that time make his appear significantly greater than he was. I may be wrong about that, but that's what I believe. The question is whether he was closer to the Bobby Hull level of greatness than to the Bossy/Sakic level of greatness, and I tend to think he was closer to the latter level than the former.

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11-23-2012, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Still Orr/Esposito is a reciprocal arrangement - each created open ice for each other in the offensive zone as well as creating open ice in the offensive zone for the remaining three teammates.

Previously with Chicago, Esposito was the third forward behind Bobby Hull and Mikita with Pilote so the open ice benefits to him were secondary/tertiary.

Same effect was evident with Park and Jean Ratelle with New York and Boston, Islanders with Trottier and Potvin,Toronto Sittler and Salming, Montreal Lafleur and the Big 3 - defensive scoring stats spread out over 3, but was missing in Philadelphia with Bobby Clarke,Los Angeles with Marcel Dionne, Buffalo with Perreault - no strong offensive support from the defense.
I have read from opponents of the Bruins, that whenever Orr lined up on a faceoff, everyone's first job was to know where he was, no matter who else was on the ice. That had to give Esposito a lot more room than visa versa.

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11-23-2012, 05:40 PM
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Without Orr

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
This assumes that taking away Orr has no effect on Esposito's scoring. Why would you make that assumption after the seeing the above analysis?
Probably because the analysis is far from complete - overlooks Phil Esposito's scoring in Chicago as the third forward option, 1972 Summit Series - supported by Park, Lapointe and Savard,1976 Canada Cup with Orr and a cast of HHOFers, 1977 WHC with eliminated NHL support. New York with negligible support from defensemen.

Regardless of the circumstances, with/without Orr, Phil Esposito managed a quality offensive performance.

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11-23-2012, 05:47 PM
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Faceoff

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I have read from opponents of the Bruins, that whenever Orr lined up on a faceoff, everyone's first job was to know where he was, no matter who else was on the ice. That had to give Esposito a lot more room than visa versa.
How? The other center is right with Esposito after all.

True for any defenseman since the distance on a faceoff is constant since a faceoff is a static situation.

Game action created the reciprocal relationship.

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11-23-2012, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Probably because the analysis is far from complete - overlooks Phil Esposito's scoring in Chicago as the third forward option, 1972 Summit Series - supported by Park, Lapointe and Savard,1976 Canada Cup with Orr and a cast of HHOFers, 1977 WHC with eliminated NHL support. New York with negligible support from defensemen.

Regardless of the circumstances, with/without Orr, Phil Esposito managed a quality offensive performance.
Agree with the bolded, as I said earlier, he is still likely a multiple Art Ross trophy winner, and to elaborate I don't think it's just 2, I'm thinking 3 or 4, which is something few have done before. I just don't see how taking away the best player in the world is going to make his league scoring leads even bigger as the previous poster stated. That was the part I had an issue with.

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11-23-2012, 05:58 PM
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Savard did nothing for Lafleur in the offence Lapointe had one season over 50 pts in lafleur's big years.For Robinson he had one season over 80 pts.Lafleur had the two worse linemates compared to other greats.Shutt Lamaire give me a break yes they were very players but great not even close.

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11-23-2012, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
Agree with the bolded, as I said earlier, he is still likely a multiple Art Ross trophy winner, and to elaborate I don't think it's just 2, I'm thinking 3 or 4, which is something few have done before. I just don't see how taking away the best player in the world is going to make his league scoring leads even bigger as the previous poster stated. That was the part I had an issue with.
He was saying that in those years where Orr was second, taking away Orr may have actually increased Espo's margin due to that fact.

I agree that Espo almost certainly would have won 2 Rosses without Orr, and very possibly 3 or 4. However, he was very fortunate due to the lack of competition for the scoring title during most of his peak/prime. A few years earlier and he's going up against Hull, Mikita, Howe and Beliveau in much better form. A few years later and he's going up against Lafleur, Dionne, Trottier and Bossy. That's a rather stark difference compared to the offensive production of players such as Clarke and Ratelle. He might not have gotten shut out of the Ross, but even that's possible, and anything more than one or two seems quite unlikely IMO.

Also, most of Espo's ES GF/GA data is rather unimpressive. Aside from ~'69-'72, he didn't seem to be adding value defensively, either through actual two-way play or an effective possession game, and in fact was subtracting from his value due to being a defensive liability. It's more like post-peak/prime Gretzky or Lemieux, when they basically abandoned defense and traded chances, also getting a good portion of points on the power play.


Last edited by Czech Your Math: 11-23-2012 at 06:04 PM.
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11-23-2012, 06:00 PM
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Replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
Agree with the bolded, as I said earlier, he is still likely a multiple Art Ross trophy winner, and to elaborate I don't think it's just 2, I'm thinking 3 or 4, which is something few have done before. I just don't see how taking away the best player in the world is going to make his league scoring leads even bigger as the previous poster stated. That was the part I had an issue with.
Taking away Orr implies a replacement or replacements. Which is where it gets interesting. Give Esposito healthy and deep replacements like he had in the 1972 Summit Series and the numbers/Art Ross Trophies might have sustained or gone higher.

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11-23-2012, 06:27 PM
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... interesting if you delve into his history a bit more, as he did indeed show early promises of what was to eventually follow in Boston, starting with his pro career in the Central League where in 62-63 he had 90pts in 71Gs; the following season racking up 80pts in 43Gs before getting called up by Chicago. Playing on the 3rd line as mentioned earlier, 3 seasons of very respectable numbers for that era consisting of 23, 27 & 21 goals.

Often referred to as "The Happy Worrier", Phil did in fact worry about Billy Reay, who he honestly felt didnt really appreciate his talents, actually valid, branded an under performer, traded to Boston. The sort of all too common smug stupidity practised in Chicago & Toronto by the management of that day. I mean seriously, consider; 5X Art Ross Trophy Winner, 2 Harts, 2 Pearsons, 10X All Star, represented Canada in 72, 76 & 77; 40 or more goals in 7 and 50 or more in 5 straight seasons, Crowning Glory of course being that 76 Goal, 76 Assist season.

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11-23-2012, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marotte Marauder View Post
So what happened to Phil after 74-75? Suddenly got old or bad? Nope, stopped playing with #4. Second in scoring 74-75 and never in the top 10 again.

Playing w/o #4 for brief stretches is one thing, never playing with him is quite another.

His numbers away from #4 are approx. .880 ppg. Likely no Art Ross in there anywhere.
I think there is a little more to it than that. For some reason people like to treat the Espo/Orr tandem like a Lindros/Leclair or Lafleur/Shutt comparison. It isn't. Esposito truly busted out in 1967-'68 with 84 points, three points away from the Art Ross lead. Has anyone suggested that Esposito not being "the man" in Chicago may have hurt him a little bit in those early years? Look at what happened in his first season in Boston once he became "the man". He blossomed. Then the next year he took it up a notch. Both of those years should be enough sufficient evidence that Orr wasn't bouncing pucks off of Esposito's back end. These aren't small sample sizes they are two full seasons. Orr had 95 points in those two years while Esposito had 210. Come on, am I the only one to see a difference here? I know I am not because the people who actually watched the games back then favoured Esposito for the Hart by a longshot. By 1969-'70 Orr truly busted out and stayed that way until his knees got the best of him. He and Esposito were a wonderful tandem and both had become established stars on their own.

By 1975 Esposito was starting to age and this stuff happens. And by age I mean he was a regular 80 point guy until retirement. Not bad for a guy in his mid to late 30s.

Watch the 1972 Canada/Russia series and then watch the 1976 Canada Cup. Esposito is dominant and without a doubt the best player in that tournament. By 1976 he had slowed down and you noticed that although he was still a very good player in that tournament and overall. Esposito started to dwindle on his own, not because Orr wasn't there anymore. He just went to an awful team and he had to carry them solely on his own at 33 years old and he still cracked 83 points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
This assumes that taking away Orr has no effect on Esposito's scoring. Why would you make that assumption after the seeing the above analysis?
Simple. Take Orr away especially in 1971 and 1974. The second place finisher is Orr in those years and he's relatively close to Esposito. Without Orr we are talking about an even bigger gap. Here's what I mean:

1971 - Esposito 152, Orr 139
Take Orr away and the next best player is Bucyk at 115 if you even think he hits that without Orr. The best non-Bruin was Hull at 96. Even if Esposito "only" gets 130 points he is still 34 away from the next best scorer if Bucyk drops below Hull. You see what I mean? It isn't really a big issue, but it just is a way to debunk this idea that Esposito was who he was because of Orr, because if you look at it he was still head and shoulders above the rest of the NHL either way.

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11-23-2012, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Both of those years should be enough sufficient evidence that Orr wasn't bouncing pucks off of Esposito's back end. These aren't small sample sizes they are two full seasons. Orr had 95 points in those two years while Esposito had 210. Come on, am I the only one to see a difference here?
You're simply underestimating the value of an exceptionally strong possession and territorial game, which Orr drove.

Orr's on/off ratios in 1968 and 1969 weren't as dominant over Esposito as they were about to become, but over those two seasons, he was already 2.04/1.08 while Espo was 1.69/1.15.

Espo, being a forward, was getting more points on those goals, but Orr was already having a bigger apparent influence on both goals for and against.

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11-23-2012, 06:44 PM
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I'll make it more narrow. Orr breakouts with crazy numbers for a defenseman, Espo gets Art Ross. Espo never had one before or after playing with Orr.

Espo was 26, Orr was 20.

Who made on the impact on whom?

4 on 7.

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11-23-2012, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marotte Marauder View Post
I'll make it more narrow. Orr breakouts with crazy numbers for a defenseman, Espo gets Art Ross. Espo never had one before or after playing with Orr.

Espo was 26, Orr was 20.

Who made on the impact on whom?

4 on 7.
the counter to that is, Orr didn't have gaudy offensive totals to prove he was driving the offense, at least for the first two years, ergo, Espo proved he could do it "without" Orr.

But the truth in the underlying numbers is that Orr was almost as dominant a possession player as he was in the 70s, in 68 and 69. He tilted the ice away from Boston's net and towards the opposition's, and everyone benefitted.

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11-23-2012, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
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... interesting if you delve into his history a bit more, as he did indeed show early promises of what was to eventually follow in Boston, starting with his pro career in the Central League where in 62-63 he had 90pts in 71Gs; the following season racking up 80pts in 43Gs before getting called up by Chicago. Playing on the 3rd line as mentioned earlier, 3 seasons of very respectable numbers for that era consisting of 23, 27 & 21 goals.
What other elite forwards played in that league during that era? I know when I looked at OHA Jrs., Espo was outperformed by Orr and Mikita at younger ages, and by Ratelle at the same age (age being an important factor in Jrs.).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marotte Marauder View Post
I'll make it more narrow. Orr breakouts with crazy numbers for a defenseman, Espo gets Art Ross. Espo never had one before or after playing with Orr.
What about Pilote in Chicago? Also, doesn't that suggest that Espo was dependent on his d-men more than most other elite stars?

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11-23-2012, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
What about Pilote in Chicago? Also, doesn't that suggest that Espo was dependent on his d-men more than most other elite stars?
maybe, maybe not. I wouldn't read into it much, though. Pilote was "just" another great offensive defenseman. Orr was something completely different from anyone else.

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11-23-2012, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
What other elite forwards played in that league during that era?
Well, you have to first understand that Phil Esposito was a real outlier. Unusual & unique player. Road Less Travelled type. The Central Hockey League was owned by the NHL, successor to the old EHL, 4 of those teams founding members. Records on HockeyDB etc incomplete, but enough that you can certainly get the flavour of what it must have been like in terms of quality, a notch below the AHL/IHL. Good coaches, Fred Shero for example, players like Doug Harvey at 38 played in the CHL, Gary Dornhoefer, Harry Sinden post Whitby Dunlops I guess in one last Hurrah; bunch of well known goalies like Bob Champoux, Ernie Wakely... eclectic collection of "oddballs" quite frankly. Really, not all that surprising that Billy Reay didnt really know what to make of Esposito, that he was a prolific goal scorer no question but really, looked down his nose at him. Didnt exactly have the pedigree of what you might consider prime grade A beef huh? Bit choppy on the blades was Phil. Ganglee as a yoot.

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