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Ron Grahame and Rogie Vachon

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12-14-2012, 09:20 PM
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cam042686
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Ron Grahame and Rogie Vachon

What happened to both Ron Grahame and Rogie Vachon in 1978-79?

Grahame was an outstanding WHA goalie from 1974-75-1976-77. Twice he was the WHA's top goalie and he won one Avco Cup. He then had a very good 1977-78 season with Boston as their number one goalie. He then gets traded to the LA Kings and seems to have forgotten how to play goalie. He was awful with them. They traded him to Quebec and he stunk with them as well.

Vachon was a top NHL goalie for years. When Detroit signed him as a free agent in the summer of 1978 they thought they were getting one of the goalies in the NHL. Like Grahame he was ghastly. The Red Wings went from an up and coming young team who had scared Montreal in the 1978 playoffs back to the depths of the league. And Rogie was a big reason for that collapse.

Any thoughts on why these two seemingly fine netminders just suddenly "lost it?"

Craig Wallace

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12-14-2012, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cam042686 View Post
What happened to both Ron Grahame and Rogie Vachon in 1978-79?

Grahame was an outstanding WHA goalie from 1974-75-1976-77. Twice he was the WHA's top goalie and he won one Avco Cup. He then had a very good 1977-78 season with Boston as their number one goalie. He then gets traded to the LA Kings and seems to have forgotten how to play goalie. He was awful with them. They traded him to Quebec and he stunk with them as well.

Vachon was a top NHL goalie for years. When Detroit signed him as a free agent in the summer of 1978 they thought they were getting one of the goalies in the NHL. Like Grahame he was ghastly. The Red Wings went from an up and coming young team who had scared Montreal in the 1978 playoffs back to the depths of the league. And Rogie was a big reason for that collapse.

Any thoughts on why these two seemingly fine netminders just suddenly "lost it?"

Craig Wallace
I don't think either guy 'lost it'.

Goaltender numbers are largely team-dependent and both switched teams to clubs that were substantially worse (and worse defensively) than the ones they were playing for previously.

Any goalie could have put up great numbers for the 1977-78 Boston Bruins. Few goalies could have put up great numbers for the 1978-79 LA Kings.

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12-15-2012, 08:19 AM
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I don't know..........wear and tear as well perhaps? Vachon had played a lot of hockey before 1978. He played all those years on some suspect Kings teams and did rather well, actually he did great. Won some Cups with Montreal before that too. He was 33 by 1978. Not old, but definitely on the decline a bit. Superman couldn't have helped the Detroit Red Wings (Nicknamed Dead Things) back then. Rogie did somehow have 4 shutouts for the Red Wings in 1979-'80 if you can believe it before settling in with Boston to close his career. He's a guy I have vastly supported for the Hall of Fame.

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12-15-2012, 09:35 AM
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Vachon was in many ways the NHLs first high-priced free agent bust. His signing looked like it would be the missing piece that could vault a promising young Detroit team to becoming a contender. But by the last part of the season Jim Rutherford had taken over as the teams #1 goalie, while Vachon was made available on waivers for any team who wanted him and his salary. Nobody took him.

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but years ago I tried doing a save percentage recreation for the 77-78 season, and noticed that Vachon's numbers that year with L.A. started out fantastic then got progressively worse as the season went along. So I wonder if there was an injury or some other factor that caused his play to regress that last year with L.A., and maybe that was the reason they let him sign with Detroit?

Ron Grahame was acquired by Boston with the intention of having him as Gerry Cheevers backup, so they could trade Gilles Gilbert (who wasn't getting along with Don Cherry). But Cheevers struggled with injuries a lot that season, so all three goalies were kept around. I wouldn't say Grahame was their #1 goalie; he just played more minutes due to injuries. The save percentages for that season were: Cheevers .889, Gilbert .886, Grahame .874. So it's no surprise that Grahame ended up being the one who got traded to L.A. to replace Vachon. It certainly worked out well for Boston, getting the draft pick that ended up being Bourque in return.

There were some players who were stars in the WHA, but couldn't stay at that level in the NHL. Grahame may have been just another example.

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12-15-2012, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning View Post
Ron Grahame was acquired by Boston with the intention of having him as Gerry Cheevers backup, so they could trade Gilles Gilbert (who wasn't getting along with Don Cherry). But Cheevers struggled with injuries a lot that season, so all three goalies were kept around. I wouldn't say Grahame was their #1 goalie; he just played more minutes due to injuries. The save percentages for that season were: Cheevers .889, Gilbert .886, Grahame .874. So it's no surprise that Grahame ended up being the one who got traded to L.A. to replace Vachon. It certainly worked out well for Boston, getting the draft pick that ended up being Bourque in return.
For Grahame, this is basically it. Other than win-loss, Grahame's numbers in 1977-78 were abysmal. For Boston's three main goaltenders that year, this was how they performed relative to the mean (save percentage):

Grahame: 1.4 standard deviations below the mean
Gilbert: 0.3 standard deviations below the mean
Cheevers: 0.1 standard deviations below the mean

And in 1978-79:
Grahame: 2.1 SD below the mean
Gilbert: 1.0 SD below the mean
Cheevers: 1.7 SD below the mean

(Disclaimer: I'm not here to argue about the merits of save percentage, and I do understand its limitations as a statistic).

It's interesting (to me) at least that the Boston goaltenders were consistently below average in this metric both years.

As far as Vachon is concerned, his last four Los Angeles seasons were 4.8, 0.2, 1.8, and 0.4 standard deviations above the mean (the 1974-75 performance being truly generational). His final four NHL seasons were 2.3, 1.2, 1.4, and 1.3 standard deviations below the mean.

I think it's a combination of Vachon reaching the age of 33, not being as comfortable in the Detroit/Boston systems, and other things that aren't accurately reflected in save percentage.

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12-15-2012, 12:36 PM
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Regarding Grahame, it's also a good example where the stats used at the time (W-L-T and GAA) didn't tell the story.

The Kings likely wouldn't have sent a high first-rounder to Boston for a subpar goaltender, and may have ridden with the rookie Lessard (Doug Keans was probably not ready to backup as a 21-year-old, so I'm not sure where they would have gone for a #2).

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12-15-2012, 05:43 PM
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Interesting

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Originally Posted by Taco MacArthur View Post
For Grahame, this is basically it. Other than win-loss, Grahame's numbers in 1977-78 were abysmal. For Boston's three main goaltenders that year, this was how they performed relative to the mean (save percentage):

Grahame: 1.4 standard deviations below the mean
Gilbert: 0.3 standard deviations below the mean
Cheevers: 0.1 standard deviations below the mean

And in 1978-79:
Grahame: 2.1 SD below the mean
Gilbert: 1.0 SD below the mean
Cheevers: 1.7 SD below the mean

(Disclaimer: I'm not here to argue about the merits of save percentage, and I do understand its limitations as a statistic).

It's interesting (to me) at least that the Boston goaltenders were consistently below average in this metric both years.
As far as Vachon is concerned, his last four Los Angeles seasons were 4.8, 0.2, 1.8, and 0.4 standard deviations above the mean (the 1974-75 performance being truly generational). His final four NHL seasons were 2.3, 1.2, 1.4, and 1.3 standard deviations below the mean.

I think it's a combination of Vachon reaching the age of 33, not being as comfortable in the Detroit/Boston systems, and other things that aren't accurately reflected in save percentage.
Interesting indeed since we are talking about a team that had Stanley Cup potential both years.

Would be interesting to apply this metric to a longer sampling of seasons and see if there is a relation with the smaller Boston ice surface.

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12-15-2012, 06:24 PM
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The scorekeepers at the Boston Garden in the late-70s and 80s had a reputation for undercounting the shots against Boston (as well as inflating the B's shots for). The totals would make the team look better, but would end up making the goalies save percentages look worse.

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12-15-2012, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning View Post
The scorekeepers at the Boston Garden in the late-70s and 80s had a reputation for undercounting the shots against Boston (as well as inflating the B's shots for). The totals would make the team look better, but would end up making the goalies save percentages look worse.
I've heard this as well. Has this been documented (or is it founded)?

I don't know whether or not there are enough old Bruins games available that someone could do an audit of the official totals.

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12-15-2012, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco MacArthur View Post
The Kings likely wouldn't have sent a high first-rounder to Boston for a subpar goaltender
Unfortunately for L.A. fans, the Kings of that era always traded their first round picks for veterans that they thought could be a short-term fix to ensure a playoff spot. Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay, Pierre Mondou, Ron Duguay, Ray Bourque, Phil Housley, Tom Barrasso and Ed Olczyk are among the first rounders that were selected with picks the Kings traded away.

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12-15-2012, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco MacArthur View Post
I've heard this as well. Has this been documented (or is it founded)?

I don't know whether or not there are enough old Bruins games available that someone could do an audit of the official totals.
Years ago I tried doing a shot total tally for the 78-79 season, and found that Boston gave up 21.5 shots per game at home, and 28.0 shots per game on the road.

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12-15-2012, 07:09 PM
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Shots Taken

Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning View Post
Years ago I tried doing a shot total tally for the 78-79 season, and found that Boston gave up 21.5 shots per game at home, and 28.0 shots per game on the road.
How were the Bruins shots taken numbers, home and away?

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12-16-2012, 06:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckoning View Post
Years ago I tried doing a shot total tally for the 78-79 season, and found that Boston gave up 21.5 shots per game at home, and 28.0 shots per game on the road.
Do you mean these are the numbers you came up with from actually observing the games? Because I think that's what Taco is referring to - going back and visually reviewing each game to come up with an objective for/against shots total as opposed to the alleged highly-subjective shot totals recorded by Bruins scorekeepers.

But if you just tallied game summaries, that's still a good enough barometer for possible bias by Boston scorekeepers if there was that much of a differential between home and road

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