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NYR Top Defensemen of All-Time (Rules & Preliminary Discussion)

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Old
06-05-2013, 06:52 AM
  #126
Crease
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Hart Trophy finishes

Ching Johnson: 2, 5
Earl Seibert: 4
Hy Buller: 7
Doug Harvey: 2
Harry Howell: 5, 17
Jim Neilson: 14
Brad Park: 5, 8, 9
Barry Beck: 6
Brian Leetch: 11, 16, 23

* Doug Harvey received the most first place votes (53, 7) but finished second to Jacques Plante (40, 54)
* Excluded Brad Park's partial season (1975-76), where he finished 5th in Hart voting.

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06-05-2013, 06:59 AM
  #127
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Rangers Team MVP, as voted by the Professional Hockeywriters Association.

Player Year
Ott Heller and Bryan Hextall 1943-44
Hy Buller 1951-52
Bill Gadsby 1955-56
Harry Howell 1963-64
Brad Park 1973-74
Dave Maloney 1976-77
Barry Beck and Mike Rogers 1980-81
Barry Beck 1983-84
Brian Leetch 1988-89
Brian Leetch 1990-91
Brian Leetch 1998-99
Brian Leetch 2000-01
Brian Leetch 2002-03

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06-05-2013, 07:36 AM
  #128
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I am becoming a big fan of Ching Johnson.

A few notes:
* A career Ranger and his All-Star voting is as good as anyone else on the list
* The Rangers best defensemen for TWO Stanley Cup championships (1928 and 1933)
* In 1932 he loses the Hart by ONE vote to Howie Morenz. Led all players at all positions in total All Star votes
* TDMM awarded him the Retro-Norris in 1932. More here
* Beat out a PRIME King Clancey for 1st AST THREE times. Eddie Shore was the other 1st Teamer all three times
* Frank Boucher and Bun Cook put him on their all-time teams, along with Eddie Shore


Last edited by Crease: 06-05-2013 at 08:29 AM.
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06-05-2013, 07:40 AM
  #129
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Beck was voted 6th for the Hart? That's surprising. Don't know much about Ching Johnson, guess I'll have to look into him a bit more.

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06-05-2013, 07:44 AM
  #130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crease View Post
The implication being that he would have put up better defensive numbers on a better team, no? Otherwise, why bring up his supporting cast.
Simply saying he had a Norris-type season on a bad team. There's no way in hell he wins it with a squad like that on a team with a record like that, regardless of the year he had. I'm actually intrigued this year if Bob the Goalie will win the Vezina for a team that didn't make the playoffs.

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06-05-2013, 07:45 AM
  #131
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Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
Beck was voted 6th for the Hart? That's surprising.
Indeed he was. Interestingly, the top defensemen in Hart voting but finished 7th in Norris voting.

1981-82
HART: (567/567, 63-63-63)
Wayne Gretzky 315 (63-0-0)
Bryan Trottier 130 (0-41-7)
Mike Bossy 34 (0-10-4)
Peter Stastny 15 (0-2-9)
Dale Hawerchuk 13 (0-2-7)
Barry Beck 10 (0-3-1)

NORRIS: (567/567, 63-63-63)
Doug Wilson 177 (29-8-8)
Ray Bourque 80 (8-10-10)
Paul Coffey 55 (4-7-14)
Craig Hartsburg 54 (7-5-4)
Larry Robinson 50 (4-9-3)
Brian Engblom 31 (0-8-7)
Barry Beck 28 (3-3-4)

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06-05-2013, 09:08 AM
  #132
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Originally Posted by pbgoalie View Post
Seiling wasn't a guy that was always easy to like. Kind of like his era's version of Rozsival--or a lesser James Patrick. Good player--skill wise. Not very physical. Seemed to be happiest when the limelight was on someone else. Fans did not like him. They wanted more. Rangers fans have a history of jumping all over certain players. He was one of them.

Seiling played a lot on a pairing with Neilson. One of the problems with the fans
was he tended to be a dead end with the puck in transition to offense.
He was solid defensively, but seemed to disappear when the often injured
Neilson went down.

I was at a game at MSG when the fans made signs that hung from the Blue seats.

One of the best ever, read

"THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN. ELEPHANTS CLOWNS AND SEILING"

Even the players on the bench were laughing[/QUOTE]

Amazing how as a season ticket holder during Seiling's time in the blues, I never saw much of that. In my section the whipping boys were, first, Arnie Brown, and then tall, gangly Dale Rolfe.

Seiling had everyone's respect as a competent, intelligent, and dependable player who could be counted on in all situations. Sure, he wasn't physical and we all know how Ranger fans like the defensemen to be physical. Hey, I recall in the late 60s hearing older fans tell stories about how during the 1950s an ongoing chant in the old MSG was "hit em with your pocketbook, Harry," referring to Harry Howell whose number is rightfully retired, a HOFer, and surely in our top 10 discussion.

Seiling could play for my team any time, he was a very good hockey player.

Nice to mention Jim Neilson who played 12 years with the Rangers and who frankly I never remember being injured that much and never for any great length of time. Another very dependable player who has been forgotten but is surely in our top 20.

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06-05-2013, 09:11 AM
  #133
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1-10 on my preliminary list is starting to come together.

Any ideas on how to rank spots 11-20? Not asking for a list of specific names but rather a methodology. Won't be able to rely much on AST and trophy voting, but I also don't want it to be a list of compilers, sorted by points.


Last edited by Crease: 06-05-2013 at 09:32 AM.
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06-05-2013, 09:58 AM
  #134
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By the way, Howell is starting to fall in my preliminary list. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Howell had incredible longevity and a Norris (rare). Despite all those games played, he has one standout season (1967) and his teams didn't do much in the playoffs.

Conversely, Art Coulter had an impressive high-end 7 year stint with the Rangers. With Ching Johnson and Frank Boucher retiring, the Rangers traded for Coulter so that he could lead the franchise. He was captain and probably the best player on the 1940 Rangers team that won the Cup. He was Second Team All Star three straight seasons, finishing ahead of Earl Seibert all three times.

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06-05-2013, 10:07 AM
  #135
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Right now, I'm thinking of Howell at 4/5. At this point, I definitely have Ching ahead of him but I have WAY more research to do. Man, I need to stop being lazy and get back to my hockey-reference list.

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06-05-2013, 10:37 AM
  #136
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The Rangers during the first half of the 1960s were terrible, particularly on D. Just thinking of some of our D during that era, Larry Cahan, Don Johns, Al Langlois, makes me cringe and recall many a long night watching the Rangers being swamped by everyone but the Bruins.

Howell was our best D but it was hard for him to make an impact on such pathetically bad teams. Think of taking Dan Girardi and putting him on a team that misses the playoffs year after year. You would know that he was solid but never could have the impact he could have with a better team. If Howell had been on the Habs or Leafs during that era he would have been a near all-star every year. He would never have been as good as the top D of the era like Tim Horton or Jacques Laperriere but would have been in the next tier.

Our breakout year was 66-67 when Giacomin came into his own and the Ratelle- Gilbert-Hadfield line was coming into their prime years. We got to a fast start and had a tremendous first half led by Howell. The team faded to 4th but just making the playoffs was a tremendous accomplishment for such a downtrodden franchise. We were swept by the Habs, blowing a big lead in game 1. I think two of the games went to OT. I know game 4 did, one of best games I ever saw.

Recognition for Howell and the Norris came late in his career. When the Rangers were an elite team a few years later, he was passed his prime and gone. A solid hardworking guy, not physical but what we would today consider a 1st pair shut down D. For me, he is #3 after Leetch and Park which kind of sums up how he was: not elite but very, very good.

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06-05-2013, 11:17 AM
  #137
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Staying on the topic of Coulter....

The Rangers traded away Seibert for Coulter straight up, when both players were in their primes. That should say something, though Seibert had a reputation for being difficult to deal with during contract negotiations. Could that have been a factor as well?

The 1940 team used the following pairs:

Art Coulter - Muzz Patrick
Babe Pratt - Ott Heller

To protect leads they would bump Heller up to create a shutdown pair.

Clint Smith had this to say about Coulter:

Quote:
''Art Coulter was our best player,'' Clint Smith, a center on the 1940 team and a fellow Hall of Famer, recalled. ''He was a leader, like what you have now in Mark Messier.''


Last edited by Crease: 06-05-2013 at 11:39 AM.
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06-05-2013, 11:23 AM
  #138
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C. Michael Hiam describes the 1939-40 Rangers defense in his book Eddie Shore and That Old-Time Hockey:

Quote:
On defence, the Rangers had Babe Pratt, with his freight-handler's body and Girl Scout's face, Art Coulter, Ott Heller, who could weave through an entire opposing team, and Lester Patrick's twenty-four-year-old son Murray, known as "Muzz," a former Canadian amateur heavyweight boxing champion.

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06-05-2013, 11:33 AM
  #139
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Muzz Patrick's career was derailed by WWII. Three excellent seasons prior to being shipped overseas. Played one more season before hanging them up. So many careers were totally disrupted by the war. Neil Colville. Six years at center, then went off to war. Came back and played four more seasons on defense. Aside from Dit Clapper, the only player to be an AST selection at forward and defense.

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06-05-2013, 04:17 PM
  #140
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I'm having a real hard time ranking the 'old' rangers in Heller, Johnson, Coulter, Pratt, Seilberg; both in terms of how they stack up against each other, and then where they all fit (if the do) into the top 20.

Also having a hard time trying to rank Neilson and Maloney.

Hmm, guess I'm having a hard time ranking everyone , much more difficult than the centers project

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06-05-2013, 04:32 PM
  #141
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Hmm, guess I'm having a hard time ranking everyone , much more difficult than the centers project
What he said!

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06-05-2013, 04:53 PM
  #142
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike14 View Post
I'm having a real hard time ranking the 'old' rangers in Heller, Johnson, Coulter, Pratt, Seilberg; both in terms of how they stack up against each other, and then where they all fit (if the do) into the top 20.

Also having a hard time trying to rank Neilson and Maloney.

Hmm, guess I'm having a hard time ranking everyone , much more difficult than the centers project
IMO:

Neilson>Maloney


Tidbit - Jim Neilson is one of the few who can say he was teammates with Craig Patrick, Glen Sather and Wayne Gretzky.

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06-05-2013, 05:28 PM
  #143
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Tidbit - Jim Neilson is one of the few who can say he was teammates with Craig Patrick, Glen Sather and Wayne Gretzky.
2 out 3 ain't bad.

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06-05-2013, 05:39 PM
  #144
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Originally Posted by mike14 View Post
Hmm, guess I'm having a hard time ranking everyone , much more difficult than the centers project
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief View Post
What he said!
Heh. One of the reasons I chose Defensemen for the second project was because the research process is so different than for Centers. Wingers would have been too similar and I wanted to keep things fresh.

Point totals don't tell much of a story here because A) it ignores a crucial job responsibility of all defensemen and B) defensemen from the pre-War era simply didn't score all that much.

For the high-end guys in our universe I've been getting a pretty useful picture by comparing AST/Norris finishes. This approach has limited usefulness when trying to compare the guys who had solid but unspectacular careers. I haven't quite solved this problem yet so any suggestions are welcome.

Getting back to the high-end guys for a minute, another useful tactic is to compare relative competition. Take Eddie Shore out of the equation and Art Coulter suddenly has 4x AST recognition. Does Park win 2 or 3 Norrises in an Orr-less league? These are hypotheticals of course but I still think they are worth at least considering. By the way, the assumption I am operating with is that Norris and AST voting is a good indicator of defensive prowess, at least prior to the Orr era.

Finally we consider things like longevity, peak, and career value. Does 15+ years of very solid service outweigh 5 years of extraordinairy performance. How much does 1 Norris and a couple of AST compare to 3 AST and a Cup? I make these resumes up with no specific players in mind just to make the point: I think the Round 2 voting discussion for Defensemen is going to be more interesting and probably more contentious than Round 2 for Centers was because of the subjective nature of rating defensive players. I'm looking forward to it.


Last edited by Crease: 06-05-2013 at 05:47 PM.
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06-05-2013, 06:06 PM
  #145
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You're showing your knowledge by dropping a name like that. His name pops up a ton in the 1950s voting records. I think he'll definitely be considered.

The big pre-WWII names are Ching Johnson, Art Coulter, Ott Heller, Babe Pratt, and Hy Buller. I'm going to learn a lot during this one.
My knowledge of Gadsby is strictly because of my father, and a computer simulation game that I had for the 1957-58 season.

My father used to say that Gadsby was about a generation ahead of all the other defensemen in the league at the time. He was not a great defenseman, per se, but could move the puck and had a better sense of the offensive game than most defensemen of that era. Then Orr came into the league and the position was changed forever.

The Ranger D-corps for that season was Gadsby, Howell, Jack Evans, Fontinato, and Larry Cahan. Fontinato and Evans were nasty SOBs and would drop the gloves with almost anyone. That team finished second in the league to Montreal (who was pretty much unbeatable). The Rangers were upset by Boston in the first round. According to my father, if Dean Prentice was healthy for the whole season, they would have gotten past Boston and probably lost to Montreal in the Final.

The computer simulation I ran did just that. Rangers lost in 6 to the Canadiens. Gump Worsley was heroic in net keeping the Rangers in a few games and winning one by himself.

My father also said that Ranger/Garden management did not like the rough play from the team that year and sent guys like Evans away. He said that it hurt the team severely, and they didn't recover until Gilbert became a fixture in the lineup.

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06-05-2013, 06:15 PM
  #146
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Muzz Patrick's career was derailed by WWII. Three excellent seasons prior to being shipped overseas. Played one more season before hanging them up. So many careers were totally disrupted by the war. Neil Colville. Six years at center, then went off to war. Came back and played four more seasons on defense. Aside from Dit Clapper, the only player to be an AST selection at forward and defense.
Heck, the RANGERS were disrupted by WWII. If you look at the rosters and the standings pre-WWII, the Rangers were one of the best teams in the league. Obviously, they won the Cup in '40, and finished first in '41-'42. After the '42 season, over half the team was drafted into the Royal Canadian Armed Forces. The Rangers were gutted worse than any of the other six teams other than the Americans.

By 1945, the Ranger roster looked like this...a few washed up stars that had some kind of disability that kept them out of the Armed Forces, and guys that probably wouldn't be able to keep up in your Thursday night beer league. Heck, even Frank Boucher laced 'em up for a few games during the war. I can't imagine how some of the guys like Maurice Richard failed the physical for the Canadian Army though.

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06-05-2013, 06:15 PM
  #147
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IMO:

Neilson>Maloney


Tidbit - Jim Neilson is one of the few who can say he was teammates with Craig Patrick, Glen Sather and Wayne Gretzky.
Totally agree.

Loved the Chief.

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06-05-2013, 07:38 PM
  #148
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Remember that Rod Seiling was selected to Team Canada in '72 along with Park, Savard, Lapointe, Awrey, Bergman, and Stapleton. Not bad company for a "circus" performer! Should be worth something based on recognition from experts of the era.

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06-05-2013, 07:53 PM
  #149
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Didn't the New York papers basically say Brad Park was "overpaid and fat" before the trade? Ridiculous.

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06-05-2013, 09:59 PM
  #150
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Didn't the New York papers basically say Brad Park was "overpaid and fat" before the trade? Ridiculous.
Another amusing tidbit I found in some of the research I've been doing... From an SI article in 1974; a quote from our very own Glen Sather (talking about how the Rangers were the highest paid team at the time -- more than double the salary of any other team in the league, and yet still falling short of a cup season after season): http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...8259/index.htm

"Let's face it, the money had to make them a little complacent," says Glen Sather, a fiery left wing whom Francis had exiled to St. Louis.

--

HMMMMM... Funny you say that Glen, huh!?! Clearly a bright one we've got here.

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