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2nd Best Defenceman Of The 80s

View Poll Results: 2nd Best Defenceman Of The 80s
Denis Potvin 23 24.21%
Paul Coffey 49 51.58%
Chris Chelios 4 4.21%
Rod Langway 3 3.16%
Al MacInnis 2 2.11%
Doug Wilson 0 0%
Mark Howe 5 5.26%
Scott Stevens 2 2.11%
Larry Robinson 0 0%
Other 7 7.37%
Voters: 95. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
10-08-2013, 12:46 PM
  #51
TheDevilMadeMe
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Originally Posted by jkrx View Post
I don't remember him being horrible. He wasn't Bourque, that's for certain but he did a good job during his first season with the Devils. He started playing poorly when they brought in Kasatonov.

I've never given any excuses for players who couldn't play with other players but this one was a terrible move by the Devils. They basically signed the guy that Fetisov had a feud with, add to that, that he was already in a bit of decline after the car accident that killed his younger brother.
Fetisov was playing poorly before they brought in Kasatonov. Kasatonov was brought in to try to get Fetisov to play better. It obviously didn't work.

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10-08-2013, 12:48 PM
  #52
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post

The fall of Communism helped as well. That was the main reason
This had nothing to do with why the Green Unit came over. Well, Perestroika did... in other words, relations thawed enough where the Soviets let their past-their-prime players play in the NHL, which they wouldn't have at the height of the Cold War. The point is though that the Soviets let every member of the Green Unit play in the NHL because they were too old for the National Team. Younger players were still prohibited from playing in the NHL; that's why Mogilny had to defect.

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10-08-2013, 01:02 PM
  #53
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This had nothing to do with why the Green Unit came over. Well, Perestroika did... in other words, relations thawed enough where the Soviets let their past-their-prime players play in the NHL, which they wouldn't have at the height of the Cold War. The point is though that the Soviets let every member of the Green Unit play in the NHL because they were too old for the National Team. Younger players were still prohibited from playing in the NHL; that's why Mogilny had to defect.
Right, but he was losing his (Tikhonov) grip on the team as well. The book about the Canada Cup in 1987 "Gretzky to Lemieux" goes into great details about this and just shows how early it was that the KLM unit was trying to get into the NHL. It was before 1989. As tensions thawed, so did Tik's grip on these guys. He didn't want them to go even when they went. It was a long, long time before they finally made up with him.

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10-08-2013, 01:41 PM
  #54
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10-08-2013, 01:46 PM
  #55
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Fetisov was playing poorly before they brought in Kasatonov. Kasatonov was brought in to try to get Fetisov to play better. It obviously didn't work.
I would rather say that he wasn't meeting the expectations on him and that he had a bit of a problem adapting to life outside of soviet hockey. I think horribly and poorly is a bit too strong of words to describe his play though. His transition to NHL hockey would have been a lot smoother if not for the Kasatonov signing.

As soon as he came to the Wings he became a better player in both ends.

But this thread should be about his play in the '80s which I believe most here didn't witness at any extent except maybe when Soviet were playing Canada.

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10-08-2013, 04:06 PM
  #56
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Originally Posted by jkrx View Post

But this thread should be about his play in the '80s which I believe most here didn't witness at any extent except maybe when Soviet were playing Canada.
But that's just it isn't it? We really don't have a lot to go on to determine just how good he was.

That was Phil's point to begin with. We KNOW what Bourque did, we KNOW what Coffey did.
What we do know is that Fetisov played on a very elite line on an elite team that generally played against inferior competition.
And then when they actually do play vs the best of the best, they go into it with the advantage that these players have been playing together with tons of chemistry for a long time vs other elite teams that have been slapped together a week or two previously.

Then, once he does actually come to the NHL, he pales greatly in comparison to Ray and Paul.

So is the answer to this that he was just burned out by the 90's or (as Phil is hinting at) is it that maybe he wasn't as good as he was made out to be or is it maybe (as you're hinting at) because of being in a new environment or was it due to the car accident OR maybe, just maybe, what I am leaning towards, it's a bit of everything.

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10-08-2013, 04:14 PM
  #57
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Originally Posted by Rhiessan71 View Post
But that's just it isn't it? We really don't have a lot to go on to determine just how good he was.

That was Phil's point to begin with. We KNOW what Bourque did, we KNOW what Coffey did.
What we do know is that Fetisov played on a very elite line on an elite team that generally played against inferior competition.
And then when they actually do play vs the best of the best, they go into it with the advantage that these players have been playing together with tons of chemistry for a long time vs other elite teams that have been slapped together a week or two previously.

Then, once he does actually come to the NHL, he pales greatly in comparison to Ray and Paul.

So is the answer to this that he was just burned out by the 90's or is it that maybe he wasn't as good as he was made out to be or is it maybe because of being in a new environment OR just maybe, what I am leaning towards, it's a bit of everything.
It is a bit of both worlds I think. This doesn't take a thing away from Fetisov either. I do agree that the adjustment at 31 would be tough and being in the Soviet system would burn anyone out. But if you look at the 1989-'90 season he pales in comparison to Bourque or Coffey. That's fine, give him time to adjust. But it never happens, not the next year, not the year after that, nothing. Coffey wins the Norris in 1995 and Bourque is an all-star again that year. Coffey is teammates with Fetisov by then. The difference in the two was very noticeable and that's being generous. So how he does in the 1990s does tie a bit into how he MAY have done in the 1980s.

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10-08-2013, 04:17 PM
  #58
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Originally Posted by Rhiessan71 View Post
But that's just it isn't it? We really don't have a lot to go on to determine just how good he was.

That was Phil's point to begin with. We KNOW what Bourque did, we KNOW what Coffey did.
It's not like games featuring the USSR in the 1980s were never filmed.

Quote:
What we do know is that Fetisov played on a very elite line on an elite team that generally played against inferior competition.
And then when they actually do play vs the best of the best, they go into it with the advantage that these players have been playing together with tons of chemistry for a long time vs other elite teams that have been slapped together a week or two previously.
This might have been a valid complaint in the 1970s, but by the 80s, it is largely overblown. The 1981 Canada Cup contained a more-or-less intact unit from the Islanders dynasty, when the Green Unit hadn't even been together for a year. The 1984 Canada Cup was mostly members of the Oilers and Islanders dynasties.


Quote:
Then, once he does actually come to the NHL, he pales greatly in comparison to Ray and Paul.
He was considered past his prime when he went to the NHL, then had to learn a completely new system on top of it. I know some people would prefer to ignore that fact because it doesn't fit a certain narrative, but it is there.

Fetisov was also a few years older than Bourque or Coffey, and he was already breaking into the National Team in the late 1970s when they were still in juniors.

Quote:
So is the answer to this that he was just burned out by the 90's or (as Phil is hinting at) is it that maybe he wasn't as good as he was made out to be or is it maybe (as you're hinting at) because of being in a new environment or was it due to the car accident OR maybe, just maybe, what I am leaning towards, it's a bit of everything.
IMO, you guys are diminishing the accomplishments of Team Canada by diminishing the quality of their opponents like this.

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10-08-2013, 04:42 PM
  #59
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
He was considered past his prime when he went to the NHL, then had to learn a completely new system on top of it. I know some people would prefer to ignore that fact because it doesn't fit a certain narrative, but it is there.

Fetisov was also a few years older than Bourque or Coffey, and he was already breaking into the National Team in the late 1970s when they were still in juniors.
There isn't that much of a difference. Fetisov was 2 years older than Bourque, three older than Coffey. Not enough to say "well, he was finished." Coffey himself had played a ton of hockey in the 1980s as well yet didn't seem as burned out. I think that if take everything into account and even give Fetisov the benefit of the doubt I still think he should have narrowed the gap a bit better once they were in the same league.

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10-08-2013, 04:46 PM
  #60
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
There isn't that much of a difference. Fetisov was 2 years older than Bourque, three older than Coffey. Not enough to say "well, he was finished." Coffey himself had played a ton of hockey in the 1980s as well yet didn't seem as burned out. I think that if take everything into account and even give Fetisov the benefit of the doubt I still think he should have narrowed the gap a bit better once they were in the same league.
I would tell you to look at the Soviet training regime (11 months of military style training), the fact that it was incredibly rare for a Soviet player to play productive hockey past the age of 30, and the fact that the USSR hockey brass considered players too old to play as they entered their 30s and transferred them from playing to coaching. But I feel like you've seen all of this already.

It's not like Potvin or Coffey lasted that much longer as an elite defenseman than Fetisov, anyway.

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10-08-2013, 05:03 PM
  #61
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I would tell you to look at the Soviet training regime (11 months of military style training), the fact that it was incredibly rare for a Soviet player to play productive hockey past the age of 30, and the fact that the USSR hockey brass considered players too old to play as they entered their 30s and transferred them from playing to coaching. But I feel like you've seen all of this already.

It's not like Potvin or Coffey lasted that much longer as an elite defenseman than Fetisov, anyway.
For sure, I am taking that into account as well. The only thing I can say is that it is very hard to judge the non-NHL Soviets and measure how they would perform. I wish we had a way to do it flawlessly.

However, I think there is a significant difference in how long Bourque and Coffey lasted as elite defensemen though. Fetisov wasn't really ever one in the NHL. While Bourque and Coffey both had plenty of elite years from 1989-'90 onwards. Both winning Norrises in the mid 1990s. Bourque being elite pretty much until the end. Coffey until 1996.

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10-08-2013, 05:10 PM
  #62
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
For sure, I am taking that into account as well. The only thing I can say is that it is very hard to judge the non-NHL Soviets and measure how they would perform. I wish we had a way to do it flawlessly.

However, I think there is a significant difference in how long Bourque and Coffey lasted as elite defensemen though. Fetisov wasn't really ever one in the NHL. While Bourque and Coffey both had plenty of elite years from 1989-'90 onwards. Both winning Norrises in the mid 1990s. Bourque being elite pretty much until the end. Coffey until 1996.
I'm going to ignore Bourque because nobody can touch him in terms of longevity as an elite player, but Coffey? Fetisov was 3 years older than Coffey and, again, was breaking into the National Team in the late 1970s. As early as 1978, Fetisov was named the best defenseman at the World Championships, and finished 3rd in Soviet Player of the Year voting. Fetisov was an elite player from 1978-1988 (11 years). Coffey an elite player from 1982-1996 (15 years) - it really isn't that big a difference when you consider the disadvantages Fetisov had.

Heck, look at Denis Potvin - a postseason All-Star for the 1st Time in 1975 and for the last time in 1984 - a 10 year difference.

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10-08-2013, 05:16 PM
  #63
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I'm going to ignore Bourque because nobody can touch him in terms of longevity as an elite player, but Coffey? Fetisov was 3 years older than Coffey and, again, was breaking into the National Team in the late 1970s. As early as 1978, Fetisov was named the best defenseman at the World Championships, and finished 3rd in Soviet Player of the Year voting. Fetisov was an elite player from 1978-1988 (11 years). Coffey an elite player from 1982-1996 (15 years) - it really isn't that big a difference when you consider the disadvantages Fetisov had.

Heck, look at Denis Potvin - a postseason All-Star for the 1st Time in 1975 and for the last time in 1984 - a 10 year difference.
But he still didn't age as well as Coffey, for whatever reason, I am just going by the play on the ice that we actually saw and can compare.

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10-08-2013, 06:07 PM
  #64
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I think I would take both Slava Fetisov and Paul Coffey over Ray Bourque in the time frame given.

Does that mean I should vote Coffey as 2nd to Fetisov?
I choose Fetisov. To Me, Coffey was a rover and only played Defense by name only.

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10-08-2013, 06:44 PM
  #65
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I choose Fetisov. To Me, Coffey was a rover and only played Defense by name only.
Word.

But man, do rovers look good! (Lumme, Housley, Bure, etc).

I personally would like to see international-sized rinks with the rover added back into the game: more jobs for the NHLPA, more dynamic skating, passing and team strategies, more sustained rushes, speed and heck, even more of the ever-increasing ads in the ice. Make it so.

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10-08-2013, 07:35 PM
  #66
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10-08-2013, 08:21 PM
  #67
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I choose Fetisov. To Me, Coffey was a rover and only played Defense by name only.
Yeah but you're a Flyers fan, by the time he played for you guys he was a shadow of his former self. This was the same player that roasted you during two Cup finals in the 1980s. I've said it before, how often in important games did Coffey significantly blow a defensive assignment?

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10-08-2013, 08:48 PM
  #68
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Soviet system mostly put emphasis on the peak and the prime, rather than career; they tried to squeeze the absolute best out of its players and very few lasted into their thirties. It's ridiculous to expect all-world performance out of Soviet players pass their prime. In fact, it's amazing that Makarov and Fetisov lasted as long as they did, on a reasonably high level, and Larionov was one-of-a-kind aberration. And I don't care what they say: Fetisov was still very much elite with the Russian Five. In fact, he was never the liability in his own end, unlike Coffey.

In the 80s I don't think it's a contest. Fetisov was far superior to Coffey on D.

Bourque
Fetisov
Potvin
Coffey

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10-08-2013, 09:15 PM
  #69
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I would vote Fetisov the best defenseman of the 1980s too, but let's not sugarcoat his NHL career too much. He was horrible in his first NHL stint in NJ before finally finding his niche in Detroit.
It's pretty clear that those who think highly of him on the all time list do so because of what he did in the 80's, his career post Russia, even for his age probably isn't even top 100 of all time material, pretty average at it's best.

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10-08-2013, 10:07 PM
  #70
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Word.

But man, do rovers look good! (Lumme, Housley, Bure, etc).

I personally would like to see international-sized rinks with the rover added back into the game: more jobs for the NHLPA, more dynamic skating, passing and team strategies, more sustained rushes, speed and heck, even more of the ever-increasing ads in the ice. Make it so.
We don't need 7 guys on the ice, even if it international size, what we really need is smaller goalie equipment.

Yes Coffey was more like a rover and despite Phil's efforts to point out a game here or there he was lousy defensively when he is being compared to other top 10 Dmen for the 80's in terms of defensive play.

despite his great teams, after the peak with Wayne, Coffey still put up points but wasn't a force at ES, when taking into account team dynamics and support, Coffey really stand out as being horrible offensively compared to the other 9 guys.

Put another way, Coffey was a great offensive force by his impact was greatly diminished in the sense that he had to be sheltered, all of the other top guys being mentioned, Ray, Denis, Fetisov, heck even Mark Howe played elite at both ends of the ice.

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10-08-2013, 10:13 PM
  #71
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Yeah but you're a Flyers fan, by the time he played for you guys he was a shadow of his former self. This was the same player that roasted you during two Cup finals in the 1980s. I've said it before, how often in important games did Coffey significantly blow a defensive assignment?
well for this metric it's his entire 80's sample of games so many many times.

Being the best in any 10 year period means more than just showing up defensively for one game or play as you pointed out earlier, it's all about being consistently good.

Paul and his defensive body of work in the 80's is really weak when compared to the other guys here.

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10-09-2013, 01:43 AM
  #72
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Originally Posted by Rhiessan71 View Post
What we do know is that Fetisov played on a very elite line on an elite team that generally played against inferior competition.
And then when they actually do play vs the best of the best, they go into it with the advantage that these players have been playing together with tons of chemistry for a long time vs other elite teams that have been slapped together a week or two previously.
What about when the Soviet national team or CSKA faced NHL teams, like in 1982-83 and 1985-86, respectively? Or is there the 'NHL teams didn't care' argument? Always catch-22?

Darryl Sittler, who was a color guy at the 1984 Canada Cup, called Fetisov "the best defenseman in the world" during the broadcast for the USSR vs. CAN semifinal. He and play-by-play man Ron Reusch were talking about how Fetisov's absence had affected (negatively) the Soviet team. Was Sittler just hyping/deliberately 'taking a little swing' at Bourque, Potvin, Langway, Coffey, Howe etc.? Anyway, I know that's just one opinion, but there are many other players, writers, whatnot too. Wayne Gretzky singled Fetisov out of all the Team USSR players, when he played for Team Canada in the 1982 World Championships. Is it really that hard to recognize a great player, even if "he's playing on an elite line" that has great chemistry? Heck, Coffey always played with elite lines/great players.

I've seen some theories that because the Soviets didn't have too many great defensemen, it made people overrate Fetisov. BUT Fetisov was actually widely considered to be the best player on Team USSR, not just their best defenseman. Some might have preferred Makarov, but as far as I can remember, most people thought that Fetisov, along with Tretiak (until 1984), was easily the most important player on the team. No one who watched him or played against him during the Eighties is going to say that he was not a great player. The same with Vladimir Krutov - whatever their NHL careers suggest.

Feeling a bit dj vu (this discussion has been going on before and will probably continue to do so in the future)


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10-09-2013, 08:40 AM
  #73
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Hey listen, I wouldnt even argue against Fetisov being ranked above Bourque in 84 (Ray was good, very good in fact by 84 but still hadnt even hit his full stride yet either) but the problem is that were talking about the entire 80s decade here. Fetisov dropped off noticeably long before the decade came to an end.

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10-09-2013, 08:55 AM
  #74
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you had me all of the way up to Krutov, but what you say otherwise has alot of validity for this thread.

For me the top 3 where Ray, Fetisov and Potvin and then the next group was a step down.

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10-09-2013, 08:56 AM
  #75
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But he still didn't age as well as Coffey, for whatever reason, I am just going by the play on the ice that we actually saw and can compare.


Are you joking? His prime didn't last as long as Coffeys but I think anyone would take a 39 year old Fetisov over 36 year old Coffey.

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