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Explain Maurice Richard's greatness.

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Old
12-26-2013, 06:49 AM
  #1
MastuhNinks
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Explain Maurice Richard's greatness.

This isn't meant to rile people up, I'm genuinely ignorant as to why he's considered such an all-time great player. I'm not interested in hearing about how culturally significant he was, I'm talking strictly about on-ice performance.

I've never watched game tape from the 40s and 50s, so all I really have to go by is stats and awards and all that. To me it looks like he obviously had a good career, I'm just curious as to how a forward who never lead the league in scoring and won 1 Hart trophy is considered by many to be a top 5-10 forward of all time. Let alone the best Canadiens player over guys who seemingly had better careers (Beliveau, Morenz, Harvey, Roy, Plante, Dryden, Lafleur).

It seems to me like he's held in such a high regard because he was a cultural icon, but I'd love to be proven wrong and I figured this is the best place to do it. To be clear I'm not saying he wasn't a great player, just wondering why his all-time ranking is considered to be so high by so many people, when I don't even understand why he's higher than the Stan Mikitas and Phil Espositos of the World.

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12-26-2013, 07:42 AM
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It's in the eyes



Playoff hockey

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12-26-2013, 07:55 AM
  #3
Dennis Bonvie
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82 goals in 133 playoff games.

In the 40s and 50s.

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12-26-2013, 08:21 AM
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VanIslander
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1. The first to 50 NHL goals in 50 games.
2. Eight 1st team all-stars and six 2nd team all-stars = 14 times top two at his position!
3. Nine times top-5 in NHL goals; seven times top-3 in NHL points
4. Eight Stanley Cup championships; 122 playoff points in 121 playoff games (before his last two postseasons);
5. Thirteen consecutive all-star game appearances;
6. It's as unfair to compare his Hart trophy count in the Gordie Howe era as it is for anyone in the Gretzky era;
7. You have to consider Doug Harvey the second greatnest dman of all time AND Beliveau Top-3 center to even have a case of Richard as third fiddle;
8. Lafleur over Richard? Just comparing their all-star games, top-3 scoring and the fact that the seventies had Soviets and Czechoslovakians playing top flight hockery, not to mention the WHA poaching, compared to the besdt-on-best Original Six era (minus a few maybel marginals exceptions of could-have-beens);
9. The Rocket has had several bigger games than the Flower, among others;
10. If Richard ain't top-5 among wingers, top-10 among forwards, then please list who you think has achieved more, been more talented and is simply better at the position than he has been.


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12-26-2013, 09:09 AM
  #5
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I always had a feeling he was a bit overrated, by looking at his numbers alone. But I did enough iconoclasty (sp?) even without this one.

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12-26-2013, 09:33 AM
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mbhhofr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crosbyfan View Post


Playoff hockey
From the blue line in, there was never a more exciting player to watch and I had that pleasure.

http://www.greatesthockeylegends.com...istory-13.html


Last edited by mbhhofr: 12-26-2013 at 10:40 AM.
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12-26-2013, 11:14 AM
  #7
Killion
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.... and as great as the Habs became, before Richards arrival that was a franchise in deep trouble coming out of the 30's. The Depression had really taken a toll on Montreal. Suddenly here was this francophone Superstar who combined with Lach & Blake was setting the league on fire & re-igniting the dimming bulb of the Canadiens franchise. Richards record speaks for itself (all of the above). A total Power Forward, nothing fancy, but for sheer guts & determination I dont know that anyone before or since even comes close. The guy was absolutely unstoppable, a bulldozing machine, particularly so when he had his dander up & playing angry which was often as he was indeed targeted, flamed & chummed with buckets of bloody bait.

Earlier, Conn Smythe had essentially demanded Dick Irvin Sr.'s resignation as Coach of the Leafs despite some tremendous success in Toronto. Smythe & the NHL were rather worried about Montreals survival and its lack of on-ice performance. Irvin was more or less inveigled & nudged to take the Head Coaching position in Montreal, joined later in the decade by Frank Selke Sr. who had been the much of the brains behind Toronto's success but who had earned the enmity of Smythe like Irvin earlier and had to go. Between Irvin, Selke & Richard along with the great Toe Blake as team leader, the tracks & rails laid for a Dynasty that lasted into the late 70's. I unfortunately missed seeing him play in living color live or on TV but for the end of his career, but the human highlight reels live on in the archives, and Man, what a sight to behold. That guy was just a piston. He didnt split the defence on his way to the net, he'd more often than not knock one of them flying while controlling the puck, the last man back desperately launching himself onto The Rockets back & riding him right into the crease. The Goalies played it deep back then, so he had daylight to shoot at though more often than not he'd just bowl that puck in along the ice while turning the netminder into a pretzel. I dont know who you could even compare him to in terms of modern or contemporary players. Just a very unique talent.

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12-26-2013, 11:21 AM
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Sprague Cleghorn
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At first, I was also unimpressed at Richard due to his single Hart and no Scoring Titles. Since then I have become more educated in the history of the sport, and have fully appreciated his greatness.

Check out his AST berths, 14 as VanIslander mentioned. Now that's a lot! Also when he scored 50 in 50 in 1945, it would take 36 years later for someone to replicate the feat. I haven't seen this mentioned yet but he was also the first player to score 500 career RS goals.

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12-26-2013, 11:53 AM
  #9
MastuhNinks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanIslander View Post
1. The first to 50 NHL goals in 50 games.
2. Eight 1st team all-stars and six 2nd team all-stars = 14 times top two at his position!
3. Nine times top-5 in NHL goals; seven times top-3 in NHL points
4. Eight Stanley Cup championships; 122 playoff points in 121 playoff games (before his last two postseasons);
5. Thirteen consecutive all-star game appearances;
6. It's as unfair to compare his Hart trophy count in the Gordie Howe era as it is for anyone in the Gretzky era;
7. You have to consider Doug Harvey the second greatnest dman of all time AND Beliveau Top-3 center to even have a case of Richard as third fiddle;
8. Lafleur over Richard? Just comparing their all-star games, top-3 scoring and the fact that the seventies had Soviets and Czechoslovakians playing top flight hockery, not to mention the WHA poaching, compared to the besdt-on-best Original Six era (minus a few maybel marginals exceptions of could-have-beens);
9. The Rocket has had several bigger games than the Flower, among others;
10. If Richard ain't top-5 among wingers, top-10 among forwards, then please list who you think has achieved more, been more talented and is simply better at the position than he has been.

I knew people wouldn't like Lafleur over Richard. Again, I'm not trying to insult Richard in any way or anything, I genuinely want to know what separates him from guys like Beliveau, Esposito, Mikita, etc. I like to think that I know a decent amount about hockey history compared to the average joe, but I know my knowledge pales in comparison to most of the guys on this board. If you really want me to name 10 forwards I'd consider above him I'll give it a shot:
Wayne Gretzky
Gordie Howe
Mario Lemieux
Bobby Hull
Jaromir Jagr
Jean Beliveau
Howie Morenz
Phil Esposito
Stan Mikita
Bobby Clarke
Mark Messier
Guy Lafleur

That's 12, just based on my personal knowledge (which I have no problem conceding isn't as strong as a lot of you guys). I'm not saying he's astronomically below these guys, Messier and Lafleur are kinda iffy. I just don't understand what makes him so obviously above the forwards ranked 5-10. I don't doubt that he was a really exciting player or a cultural icon, and a top 15 forward of all time. I'm just not the type of person that automatically accepts popular opinion, I'm open-minded I just need to be convinced and so far I've yet to hear a convincing argument for Richard being a top 5 forward of all time.

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12-26-2013, 12:49 PM
  #10
mbhhofr
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Except for Howie Morenz, I've seen every one of the players on your list and if given the choice to see just one, it would be the Rocket.

Statistics be damned.

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12-26-2013, 01:04 PM
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I know it's not a popular opinion on these boards but I see no point in comparing post-1970 players to players as old as Richard, hockey was a completely different game back then.

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12-26-2013, 01:50 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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I think he's a curious case too. Maybe a combination of being overrated and underrated at the same time which makes him hard to place for those that never saw him play. Stats and awards aren't overwhelming. But his playoff record and list of outstanding games in the playoffs is very impressive. I think he had a great sense of timing and a flair for the big games. If you listen to the guys that saw him play, they rank him high. Like Morenz, we have to rely on the eye test and I don't think that gets enough respect these days in this age of stats. And as stated above, incomparable. If I were to compare him to anyone, it would be a blend of Messier, Lafleur and Neely with a dash of Lindros...head up of course.

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12-26-2013, 02:47 PM
  #13
TheDevilMadeMe
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No mention yet that he was the runner up for the Art Ross 5 times?

Richard = longevity and consistency as an elite player + playoffs.

Longevity and consistency

Only Gordie Howe has more top 6 goal scoring finishes. (Bobby Hull has just as many, and if you assume he had one more in him after jumping to WHA, he gets the edge.)

Only Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky have more top 7 points finishes.

Only Howe and Bourque beat out Richard's 14 consecutive years as a 1st or 2nd Team All Star. Gretzky was an All Star 15 seasons, but "only" 12 in a row.

Playoffs

I'll repost this mini-essay that I made during a past ATD:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Maurice Richard's playoff goal scoring

We all know that The Rocket's legend is based on his ability to score goals in the playoffs, so I thought I would examine just how much better than everyone else he was.

I think it's fair to consider only players who peaked before expansion, since playoff scoring was generally low during this period and the playoffs were only 2 rounds long.

I realize it might seem a bit hypocritical to consider only goal scoring, after my rants about how we need to consider a player's overall offense via points. To an extent, that might be true. But I'm also bit of a hockey traditionalist in how I view this. And there is a reason that the Hart Trophy basically tracks the Art Ross, while the Conn Smythe conversation is just as likely to follow the goals race as the points race - there is just something to be said for being able to finish things off in the playoffs, when the games are tighter and the pressure is higher.

Total career goals among pre-expansion players

1. Maurice Richard 82
2. Jean Beliveau 79
3. Gordie Howe 68
4. Bobby Hull 62
5. Stan Mikita 59

All these players played a number of seasons after expansion, except for Richard.

Top career GPG among pre-expansion players

1. Maurice Richard 0.617
2. Bobby Hull 0.521
3. Gordie Drillon 0.520 (only 7 seasons)
4. Jean Beliveau 0.488
5. Bernard Geoffrion 0.439
6. Gordie Howe 0.433 (includes a ton of post-prime seasons)

Maurice scored 16.6% more goals per game in the playoffs than Bobby Hull

Put it in context

To properly consider their goals per game averages, let's knock off the Rocket's 1944 and 1945 playoffs when he obliterated competition hurt by World War 2 to the tune of 18 goals in 15 games across both seasons. But to be fair, we should also knock off his 1959 and 1960 seasons (1 goal in 12 games), when he was injured and past his prime, and openly said that he would have retired if he didn't enjoy playing with his younger brother so much (and was used in a more defensive role FYI).

We are left with 63 goals in 103 career playoff games or 0.612 goals per game over a period of 13 seasons (including 11 playoff years).

In other words, in the playoffs, the Rocket averaged 4.3 goals per 7 game series over a sample size of 103 games over 13 years that took him through the lowest scoring period in NHL history (early 1950s) after the advent of the Red Line. Truly extraordinary!

Compare to Bobby Hull's 60 goals in 110 playoff games over 11 seasons after the age of 22 and before he left for the WHA - 0.545 goals per game.

Maurice Richard's scored 11% more goals per playoff game over 13 seasons (11 playoffs) than Bobby Hull did over his 11 season prime NHL playoff career (10 playoffs). If anything, these numbers are favorable for Bobby Hull, since he didn't play in the super low-scoring early 1950s.

Gordie Howe is a harder comparison because he played for so long, but his playoff peak appears to be the 16 season stretch between 1949 and 1965 (15 playoffs). In this time frame, Howe has 60 goals in 123 games - 0.488 goals per game. Note that I picked such a long stretch because the first and last year of the stretch actually bring the average up. Howe's average is dragged down by several seasons in the early 1960s.

Maurice Richard scored 20% more goals over his best 13 year (non-WW2) stretch than Howe did over his best 16 year stretch. Howe obviously had more assists and overall points, so it isn't a complete comparison of their offensive value, however, especially since Howe was arguably a better playmaker than goal scorer.

In conclusion

We've all heard statements that the Rocket was "the best ever from the blueline in" or "a highly specialized weapon." There has been a lot of emphasis over the past few years on what Maurice isn't an all-time great at - he's "middling" defensively, an unimpressive playmaker, and while he took more abuse than perhaps any other star player ever and never backed down, he wasn't one to really initiate body checking. But I think we've been forgetting just what the upside is - just how special the specialized weapon was.

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12-26-2013, 02:48 PM
  #14
TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rexor View Post
I know it's not a popular opinion on these boards but I see no point in comparing post-1970 players to players as old as Richard, hockey was a completely different game back then.
Let me guess; you picked 1970 because that's about when Europe became relevant?

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12-26-2013, 03:09 PM
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Rhiessan71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
82 goals in 133 playoff games.

In the 40s and 50s.
^This.

Find anyone today close to this let alone back in the 40s and 50s.
And GWGs, dont forget about them. It took what, like 40-50 years for anyone to catch his GWG record and look at the difference in the amount of games played it took for even that to happen.

The Rocket was the Rocket. Thats all you need to know.

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12-26-2013, 03:47 PM
  #16
Psycho Papa Joe
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Additionally, until Howe took the titles, Richard was the nhl 's all time leading goal and point getter. The numbers may not seem all that impressive now, but when he got those records, the were considered awe inspiring.

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12-26-2013, 05:40 PM
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Sens Rule
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Additionally, until Howe took the titles, Richard was the nhl 's all time leading goal and point getter. The numbers may not seem all that impressive now, but when he got those records, the were considered awe inspiring.
Yes for sure.

To me he is fifth all-time because he was truly the Babe Ruth of hockey. He was THE near unanimous choice of the best ever during his prime. Some may have had Shore in the argument, which is fair, but he played a different position. Morenz too had a place. Then Howe was so dominant he got a place in the "Big Four" of the time. There was the argument of who was better Howe or Richard for quite a long time, until the sheer length of Howe's career dwarfed Richard's quite long career.

I rate Shore and Richard high on all-time lists because they were the best ever at one point. That is very important. To me anyway.

And of course playoffs. Playoffs Richard has a very good argument as the best playoff player EVER. I rank him after Gretzky among non-goalies.

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12-26-2013, 05:58 PM
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IMO, if you want a good comparaison to The Rocket, it is Alexander Ovechkin.

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12-26-2013, 07:23 PM
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Doesn't AO need to accomplish a lot more in the post-season to be compared to Richard?

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12-26-2013, 07:24 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
No mention yet that he was the runner up for the Art Ross 5 times?

Richard = longevity and consistency as an elite player + playoffs.

Longevity and consistency

Only Gordie Howe has more top 6 goal scoring finishes. (Bobby Hull has just as many, and if you assume he had one more in him after jumping to WHA, he gets the edge.)

Only Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky have more top 7 points finishes.

Only Howe and Bourque beat out Richard's 14 consecutive years as a 1st or 2nd Team All Star. Gretzky was an All Star 15 seasons, but "only" 12 in a row.

Playoffs

I'll repost this mini-essay that I made during a past ATD:
I appreciate your effort in your mini-essay. It speaks volumes to how great he was and certainly does not make the eye test as necessary. Good work.

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12-26-2013, 07:26 PM
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Killion
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.... article from 1949.

Conn Smythe. Blank check for Richards Contract.

http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/exhib...rokt484e.shtml

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12-26-2013, 10:36 PM
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MastuhNinks View Post
This isn't meant to rile people up, I'm genuinely ignorant as to why he's considered such an all-time great player. I'm not interested in hearing about how culturally significant he was, I'm talking strictly about on-ice performance.

I've never watched game tape from the 40s and 50s, so all I really have to go by is stats and awards and all that. To me it looks like he obviously had a good career, I'm just curious as to how a forward who never lead the league in scoring and won 1 Hart trophy is considered by many to be a top 5-10 forward of all time. Let alone the best Canadiens player over guys who seemingly had better careers (Beliveau, Morenz, Harvey, Roy, Plante, Dryden, Lafleur).

It seems to me like he's held in such a high regard because he was a cultural icon, but I'd love to be proven wrong and I figured this is the best place to do it. To be clear I'm not saying he wasn't a great player, just wondering why his all-time ranking is considered to be so high by so many people, when I don't even understand why he's higher than the Stan Mikitas and Phil Espositos of the World.
I wish more people would come to this board with your combination of honest curiosity and willingness to learn. Too many people have their opinion already made up and then spend their time trying to convert others to that opinion.

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12-26-2013, 10:51 PM
  #23
TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L4vK View Post
IMO, if you want a good comparaison to The Rocket, it is Alexander Ovechkin.
The Rocket never had any down years like Ovechkin did, and he was a playoff legend. Not that Ovechkin has been bad in the playoffs, but you know...

I'm not even sure if it works stylistically, because Ovechkin was such a physical force a few years ago. Stylistically, Bure might be most similar to the Rocket, though not of as high quality.

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12-26-2013, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
I appreciate your effort in your mini-essay. It speaks volumes to how great he was and certainly does not make the eye test as necessary. Good work.
Thanks. I generally operate under the assumption that the eye test (or conventional wisdom as you have it) is usually right and that the first use of statistics in hockey should be to try to prove the correctness of conventional wisdom, rather than prove it wrong

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12-26-2013, 11:02 PM
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crosbyfan View Post


Playoff hockey
I agree he was a playoff beast but then again so was Feds and man he gets a real lack of respect at times.

Let's face reality here, part of the Richard mystic is his eyes and pure determination, as well as playoff goal scoring and the 50 in 50, even if it was a war year , his regular season inconsistency is often over looked and everything about him is put in the best possible light.

His being a top 5 player of all time should be seriously questioned and frankly he is a top 5 RW of all time, but not player IMO.

I would take Howe, Jagr, Makarov ahead of him off the top of my head of post WW2 guys and Bossy and Bure should be considered as well IMO.

Richard was a serious playoff guy and a great goal scorer but IMO he is often over rated at times.

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