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The History of Hockey Relive great moments in hockey history and discuss how the game has changed over time.

Howe or Lemieux

View Poll Results: Who was better?
Gordie Howe 52 46.85%
Mario Lemieux 59 53.15%
Voters: 111. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
02-24-2007, 01:05 PM
  #76
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
This debate is sort of surprising to me honestly. Other than longevity and grit, Howe had nothing about his game that was ahead of Lemieux. Lemieux, on the other hand, was capable of numerous things, offensively, that Howe couldn't touch. Skating, shot accuracy, puck handling, vision, passing. Lemieux was vastly superior in all of these.
First, unless you've seen Howe play for most of his career, it's hard to say who had superior puckhandling, vision, etc.

Second, when we compare players, results are what matter. Skills are important, only to the extent that they contribute to those results. Lemieux was more skilled than Gretzky, but the latter had a better peak and a better career. Pavel Brendl and Alexander Daigle are probably more skilled than half of the members of the Hall of Fame; but it doesn't matter because they didn't actually perform at a high level. I'd actually agree with you that Lemieux was the most skilled player of all time, but Howe had better performance at the NHL level.

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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
Now I'm sure some will counter with "Those are all offensive attributes. Howe was better at both ends!". And yes that's true. But these guys are forwards folks. Defensive ability is a nice little bonus but the reality is that their primary function is offense. Why is it that if two guys are competing for the Selke, one who is great defensively and puts up points, and the other is just great defensively, the award will always go to the guy with points? Why is that the case if the award is about being the best defensive forward? Because as a forward, your primary job every time you step on the ice is still to attack offensively. The same thing applies to defensemen. A guy like Sergei Gonchar, no matter how many points he may put up, will never win the Norris. Why? Because as a defenseman, the primary focus, at the root, is still defense. Offense is only a great plus. Players are put into positions for a reason. And it's because they have attributes that apply to the expectations of that particualr position. Thus, when comparing two forwards, offensive ability should be the primary focus. And Lemieux was worlds ahead.
Completely false. See the post I made here (#52). Howe was at least as good offensively as Howe.

Since Howe was at least as good offensively, then other factors like defense and physical play become important. Howe has the clear edge here.

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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
And the longevity argument is silly to me. Players should be judged on what they were capable of at their best. It amazes me that people, in regards to all sports, put so much weight on numbers. Numbers tell very little. If longevity and numbers were such a factor, would we all be calling Howe better than Bobby Orr? Messier better than Lemieux? I really doubt that.
I agree with you that a player's peak is more important than their longevity. But Howe has more Hart trophies than Lemieux and the same number of Art Rosses. Post #52 shows that Howe was at least Lemieux's offensive equal; considering the other intangibles, I'd take Howe in his prime over Lemieux.

I'm not trying to bash Lemieux in any way; he's the second-best player I've ever seen live. It's too bad that so many people have the misconception that Howe was really never "dominant" in the same way that Lemieux, Gretzky and Orr were.

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02-24-2007, 01:06 PM
  #77
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Originally Posted by Ogopogo View Post
You must be relatively young. It sounds like you know very little about Howe. Start your research by looking at the scoring races for 1950-1953. That alone should tell you that Howe was more dominant than Lemieux.
My grandfather and father both saw both of them play and both agreed that it wasn't even close. Take a look at best plays Howe made and I guarantee Lemieux could do them and do them quicker, faster, and with more ease. Now take some of Lemieux's best moments and can you envision Howe pulling them off? Shot between the legs with a guy draped on him? Splitting the defense in such a dominant fashion against Minnesota in the finals? I cannot imagine Howe making plays like that. Also, and I know this is a sore subject for some, but the league, like anything else, has evolved over time. To beat a goalie in 1990 was a hell of a lot harder than it was in 1952. Don't agree? Take a look at old footage. Guys didn't even have to lift the puck to score in those days. Now I don't know about you, but I don't see too many goals being scored like that in the modern day NHL. So forgive me if I don't put a lot of stock in the numbers back then. Besides, what difference does it make what scoring races Howe won and how much he won them by? He didn't win them over Lemieux so I fail to see what relevance those accomplishments are. If anything it just points to two things: One, yes, Howe was the dominant player of his time. And two, the competition was not nearly as stiff in those years. I'll leave it up to you to decide which of those you believe to be the truth. But this much is for sure, either way, it has very little bearing on his comparison to Lemieux. You're talking about numbers and I'm talking about what they could actually do on the ice. Big difference.

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02-24-2007, 02:38 PM
  #78
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
You're talking about numbers and I'm talking about what they could actually do on the ice. Big difference.
You're talking about evolution. Watch the NHL in 30 years, those players will make Lemieux look like a peewee.

It is all relative.

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02-24-2007, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Ogopogo View Post
You're talking about evolution. Watch the NHL in 30 years, those players will make Lemieux look like a peewee.

It is all relative.
That's absolutely fair enough. I firmly believe that the best players of the current era are better than the best players of the past. And I will always believe that. And you're right, the skills of the best players 30 years from now will probably surpass the guys of today. And I very much like that. I think it's a shame that people don't stop to enjoy the evolution of the game and instead rail against it. There's a difference between appreciating the past, and living in it. That isn't directed at you though.

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02-24-2007, 04:04 PM
  #80
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
That's absolutely fair enough. I firmly believe that the best players of the current era are better than the best players of the past. And I will always believe that. And you're right, the skills of the best players 30 years from now will probably surpass the guys of today. And I very much like that. I think it's a shame that people don't stop to enjoy the evolution of the game and instead rail against it. There's a difference between appreciating the past, and living in it. That isn't directed at you though.
True but, in a thread like this the question was who was better Lemieux or Howe. Now, if you approach it as an evolutionary question, it is not fair to ask. You could probably say that Shawn Horcoff is better than Howe if you want to look at the evolution of the professional athlete.

A question like this is more appropriately framed by the context of "Which player dominated his own era to a greater extent?" That is the only fair way to compare players across eras because, based on evolution it is no comparison at all.

A player shouldn't have his accomplishments discounted simply because he was born at the wrong time. Howe dominated the best hockey players in the world at the time, nobody could be expected to do any more than that.

I think that might explain some people's love for the old time players.

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02-24-2007, 04:21 PM
  #81
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Originally Posted by Ogopogo View Post
...I think that might explain some people's love for the old time players.
Good post. And I agree that it is important to appreciate the players of the past. And yes the evolution of the game does not diminish past accomplishments of the greats. They played against the best the world had to offer the same way the guys today do. But I guess my problem is when people try to question who was actually the better player. That's silly. As a hockey player, Mario Lemieux was better. If it were possible to travel through time and put Lemieux into the game in 1952, he would put up numbers that are absurd. The people that deny who exactly is better at the game of hockey are the ones that aggravate me. They're denying the wonderful progress the sport has made. Was Howe more dominant over his peers than Lemieux? Possibly. Was he better at the game of hockey than Lemieux? No way...

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02-24-2007, 04:26 PM
  #82
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
Good post. And I agree that it is important to appreciate the players of the past. And yes the evolution of the game does not diminish past accomplishments of the greats. They played against the best the world had to offer the same way the guys today do. But I guess my problem is when people try to question who was actually the better player. That's silly. As a hockey player, Mario Lemieux was better. If it were possible to travel through time and put Lemieux into the game in 1952, he would put up numbers that are absurd. The people that deny who exactly is better at the game of hockey are the ones that aggravate me. They're denying the wonderful progress the sport has made. Was Howe more dominant over his peers than Lemieux? Possibly. Was he better at the game of hockey than Lemieux? No way...
I disagree.

Put Mario into the years that Howe played and Howe would win hands down.

Mario complained bitterly about defensive hockey and being checked. Try playing in the Original Six era when Howe was dominaing - good luck Mario - he would have joined the PGA.

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02-24-2007, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Wetcoaster View Post
I disagree.

Put Mario into the years that Howe played and Howe would win hands down.

Mario complained bitterly about defensive hockey and being checked. Try playing in the Original Six era when Howe was dominaing - good luck Mario - he would have joined the PGA.
You're glorifying the past and letting it cloud your judgement a little I think. Face it, in the 40 years between Howe's best years and Lemieux's best years, the game changed and advanced drastically. Hell even Gordie Howe himself has been quoted saying how much bigger, stronger and quicker the players are now as compared to when he played in his prime. Most of the legendary players have said as much actually. The things he did would simply not have flown in Lemieux's era. I'm sorry but I can't imagine Patrick Roy being beaten by that amazing forehand-backhand-slide it along the ice and into the net move that worked wonders in the 50's. I can, however, imagine Lemieux blistering a shot to the top corner working in the 50's. Call me crazy. If you don't think so, then I don't know what to tell you.

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02-24-2007, 05:25 PM
  #84
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jiggs 10 and Darth Masao basically covered my response to this thread.

How do you define "better"? And the debate raging above brings up the time issue. Better today? or Better yesterday? Who's to say Howe at his peak would even be an Eric Lindros at his peak in today's game? He might be nothing more than an Iginla.


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02-24-2007, 05:26 PM
  #85
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
You're glorifying the past and letting it cloud your judgement a little I think. Face it, in the 40 years between Howe's best years and Lemieux's best years, the game changed and advanced drastically. Hell even Gordie Howe himself has been quoted saying how much bigger, stronger and quicker the players are now as compared to when he played in his prime. Most of the legendary players have said as much actually. The things he did would simply not have flown in Lemieux's era. I'm sorry but I can't imagine Patrick Roy being beaten by that amazing forehand-backhand-slide it along the ice and into the net move that worked wonders in the 50's. I can, however, imagine Lemieux blistering a shot to the top corner working in the 50's. Call me crazy. If you don't think so, then I don't know what to tell you.
Well if Howe was born in 1965 he'd be that much stronger and faster to go along with his allready amazing skill set. Don;t you think he'd find a way to dominate the league? Because today's players are stronger and faster donesnt mean they are better hockey players than players of the past, it just means theyre stronger and faster. and its because they've grown up in an era of intensive training and upgraded equipment. Look at any era and you'll see that not all of the great players are the ones who are the fastest biggest and strongest.

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02-24-2007, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
You're glorifying the past and letting it cloud your judgement a little I think. Face it, in the 40 years between Howe's best years and Lemieux's best years, the game changed and advanced drastically. Hell even Gordie Howe himself has been quoted saying how much bigger, stronger and quicker the players are now as compared to when he played in his prime. Most of the legendary players have said as much actually. The things he did would simply not have flown in Lemieux's era. I'm sorry but I can't imagine Patrick Roy being beaten by that amazing forehand-backhand-slide it along the ice and into the net move that worked wonders in the 50's. I can, however, imagine Lemieux blistering a shot to the top corner working in the 50's. Call me crazy. If you don't think so, then I don't know what to tell you.
so boyes is better than howe? i don't see your point. if lemieux played in 50's, he would have played like others did, not how players did in 90s. if howe played in 90s, he would have played like players did in 90s, not as he did in 50s.

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02-24-2007, 07:06 PM
  #87
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
Good post. And I agree that it is important to appreciate the players of the past. And yes the evolution of the game does not diminish past accomplishments of the greats. They played against the best the world had to offer the same way the guys today do. But I guess my problem is when people try to question who was actually the better player. That's silly. As a hockey player, Mario Lemieux was better. If it were possible to travel through time and put Lemieux into the game in 1952, he would put up numbers that are absurd. The people that deny who exactly is better at the game of hockey are the ones that aggravate me. They're denying the wonderful progress the sport has made. Was Howe more dominant over his peers than Lemieux? Possibly. Was he better at the game of hockey than Lemieux? No way...
Not sure why you are in the History of hockey forum criticizing the game of the past, Most of us are here to celebrate it.

I really don’t like people using the word evolve in describing the changes in hockey over time, Evolve indicates that things have improved but that is not always the case. Changed is a better word. Some changes are for the better, some for the worse. The fact that the least skilled players are probably better skaters today is a positive. The fact that teams & rosters have increased and we have more fringe players is a negative. That most players have better slap shots today maybe is a positive but the fact that the basic skills of stick handling & passing are worse is a negative.. More good Europeans are a positive but good European players almost didn’t exist in the original 6 days. Thank God, they are available in the 30 team league.. As for the defensive systems that have been introduced (like the trap), they have only hurt the game to the extent that the NHL has to instigate massive rule changes that IMO further hurt the integrity of the game.

The original 6 isn’t called the golden age of hockey for nothing. No helmets & face masks. You could recognize every player & there was no need for names on their sweater. Three forward lines & 2 sets of defense. The best players got lots of ice time. Played each opponents 14 times a year with great rivalries, back to back games & grudges. Every team had superstars.

Ask your father & grandfather which they prefer. If they like today’s hockey better, they are in the minority.

As far as Lemieux & Howe, I am a great fan of both. Lemieux would have been great in the 50’s & Howe would have been great in the 80's-90's. I voted for Lemieux in this poll but after watching some old Howe games have changed my mind. Howe had fantastic skills.

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02-24-2007, 07:33 PM
  #88
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
You're glorifying the past and letting it cloud your judgement a little I think. Face it, in the 40 years between Howe's best years and Lemieux's best years, the game changed and advanced drastically. Hell even Gordie Howe himself has been quoted saying how much bigger, stronger and quicker the players are now as compared to when he played in his prime. Most of the legendary players have said as much actually. The things he did would simply not have flown in Lemieux's era. I'm sorry but I can't imagine Patrick Roy being beaten by that amazing forehand-backhand-slide it along the ice and into the net move that worked wonders in the 50's. I can, however, imagine Lemieux blistering a shot to the top corner working in the 50's. Call me crazy. If you don't think so, then I don't know what to tell you.
Did you watch hockey in the in the late 1950's through to 1967????

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02-24-2007, 08:44 PM
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Did you watch hockey in the in the late 1950's through to 1967????
Well being 22 years old, that's a definite no. But most people on here haven't. And more than that, the ones who did were probably very young. And much like anything else that is a childhood memory, it's being glorified. Besides, I'm basing my opinion off of footage and accounts from people who [I]did[I] watch the game during those years. And they agree that the game has changed and improved drastically. I don't know why it's so hard to accept that the players in the modern era can do things that the guys in the older eras couldn't. It's evolution. It's logical. And if you stop to think about it, it's a really good thing.

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02-24-2007, 08:49 PM
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the fact that the basic skills of stick handling & passing are worse is a negative..
I usually like your posts and respect your opinion because you seem to be very knowledgeable. But this statement is just ridiculous. You've got to be kidding me if you think the players of the "golden era" were better puck handlers than the guys of today. As I said, the moves that beat goalies back then were so simple that there is really not even a comparison to make.

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02-24-2007, 09:59 PM
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I would say that the players generally are bigger, stronger and faster. While I don't think the fastest skaters are faster than 50 years ago (Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull and Yvon Cournoyer are every bit as good of skaters as anyone in today's game) the average speed of the players is better. The average shooting and stickhandling abilities are also better, although, again, there are very few players, if any, who are better shooters than Hull or Tim Horton, or stickhandlers better than Max Bentley.

But those are things you can teach a kid. There's an old saying: you can't teach offence. You can teach a kid how to shoot. But you can't teach a kid instincts, anticipation or hockey sense. You can't teach a kid that nose for the net.

Wayne Gretzky isn't the greatest offensive player because of the things you could teach. He was an above average skater at best. He didn't have an overpowering shot, but he had an arsenal of shots and tremendous accuracy. Gretzky's the best offensive player because he saw and thought the game at another level. He saw the little holes in a goalie that nobody else could see, and he seemed to know what an opponent was doing before the opponent knew it.

Are there players from the Original 6 who couldn't make it in today's NHL? Yes. The stars would still be stars. Doug Harvey and Red Kelly would be the top two defencemen in the game. Gordie Howe would be the best player. No doubt about it. You can't teach a kid to do what Gordie did. And you give him today's equipment, and the benefits of those things you can teach? He'd be unstoppable.

In the same breath, there are a lot of players in today's NHL who wouldn't last in the Original 6. Not just the third and fourth line forwards, third pairing defencemen and No. 1 goalies/back-up goalies who couldn't cut it because there were only six teams. A guy like Pierre Turgeon, even in his prime, would have had a short career in the Original 6. Way too soft. Fifty years ago, every player could hit, every player could fight, and every player was excellent defensively.

I would say a guy like Pavel Datsyuk wouldn't last (which he wouldn't, he's too soft) but he would have been trapped in the Soviet Union, and so that becomes a moot point.

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02-24-2007, 10:29 PM
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I usually like your posts and respect your opinion because you seem to be very knowledgeable. But this statement is just ridiculous. You've got to be kidding me if you think the players of the "golden era" were better puck handlers than the guys of today. As I said, the moves that beat goalies back then were so simple that there is really not even a comparison to make.
I guess we have to disagree on this one. I think the puckhandling was better in the golden age. I watched a DVD with highlights of the 1951 all star game recently (before my time but I can appreciate older eras), I was very impressed with the skill level, paticulatly the stickhandling of Max Bentley & Gordie Howe. Not so much about the moves to score goals but the ability to stixk handle through heavy traffic.

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02-24-2007, 10:36 PM
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Gotta agree with TheSniper26 on this…..the evidence is in watching the games. I just got done watching the summit series dvd and the overall play was worse…..especially compared to todays best of the best.

Here are some clips (the only youtubes I could find) from the late ‘50s/early ‘60s and the level of play is significantly worse. While there are a handful of nice plays, the majority of these goals would not go in today.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpsIXOlvuf0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWATMpwsA8A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2J81hiNvNQ


In addition, to verify the ‘evolution’ aspect of the game, watch this clip from the 1930 World Championships. Of course these guys weren’t the ‘elite’ players of their day, but it was still considered a very high level of play at that time. No disrespect but I think they’d be beat by the women’s Olympic teams today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9w8lzmHbcg

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02-24-2007, 10:53 PM
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Gotta agree with TheSniper26 on this…..the evidence is in watching the games. I just got done watching the summit series dvd and the overall play was worse…..especially compared to todays best of the best.

Here are some clips (the only youtubes I could find) from the late ‘50s/early ‘60s and the level of play is significantly worse. While there are a handful of nice plays, the majority of these goals would not go in today.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpsIXOlvuf0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWATMpwsA8A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2J81hiNvNQ


In addition, to verify the ‘evolution’ aspect of the game, watch this clip from the 1930 World Championships. Of course these guys weren’t the ‘elite’ players of their day, but it was still considered a very high level of play at that time. No disrespect but I think they’d be beat by the women’s Olympic teams today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9w8lzmHbcg
You gotta be kidding. You are basing your conclusion on these clips. Duff, Olmsted & stewart were just average players. (plus they played for the Leafs clutch & grabbers)Also, you have to watch complete games to get a good feel for the intensity back then. I watched a complete 65 playoff game between Detroit & Chicago recently & enjoyed it more than anything I have seen in the NHL recently.

As for the 1930 clips, those are rank amateurs. The Canadian team would have been senior A players at best. The British players were probably all canadians with a British parent or grandparent.

Do some real research & don't post mickey mouse clips from youtube.

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02-24-2007, 11:01 PM
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I don't know, Zine. I think you could find a modern example of each of those goals- obviously the goalie would play it differently, but the end result would be the same.

As for the '30s WCs beating the Olympic women? I really can't think of even any Tier III IIHF teams with modern equipment, tactics and training that wouldn't beat England or Canada. But put them in the same 'equipment' as those guys were playing in, put them outside, and give them the rules as they were then, and I think the gap is closer than you might think.

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02-24-2007, 11:20 PM
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You gotta be kidding. You are basing your conclusion on these clips. Duff, Olmsted & stewart were just average players. (plus they played for the Leafs clutch & grabbers)Also, you have to watch complete games to get a good feel for the intensity back then. I watched a complete 65 playoff game between Detroit & Chicago recently & enjoyed it more than anything I have seen in the NHL recently.
Of course not…..I’ve seen a lot of games from that era. I would have posted numerous clips to illistrate my point (or a whole game if I could) but those were the only ones I could find on the net. If you have any others you can add, by all means make yourself useful and go ahead.
Regardless, if Duff, Olmsted & Stewart were ‘just average players’ and making goalies look that foolish, it proves just how bad the competition really was back then.

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As for the 1930 clips, those are rank amateurs. The Canadian team would have been senior A players at best. The British players were probably all canadians with a British parent or grandparent.

Do some real research & don't post mickey mouse clips from youtube.
That does nothing to disprove the evolution of hockey argument. Compare the 1930 level of play to today's senior A players. They're still not even in the same universe. It would've been the exact same thing with the 1930's best compared to today's best.

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02-24-2007, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr Bugg View Post
I don't know, Zine. I think you could find a modern example of each of those goals- obviously the goalie would play it differently, but the end result would be the same.

As for the '30s WCs beating the Olympic women? I really can't think of even any Tier III IIHF teams with modern equipment, tactics and training that wouldn't beat England or Canada. But put them in the same 'equipment' as those guys were playing in, put them outside, and give them the rules as they were then, and I think the gap is closer than you might think.
I'm in no way saying guys like Howe couldn't compete in today's game - he'd still be one of the best. However, I don't think he'd be nearly as good as he was back then.....certainly nothing as good as Lemieux. The domanance Howe displayed was against inferior competition.

Just imagine the destruction Lemieux, Jagr or Crosby would've done in the 1950's, or think of a 163 pound Ted Lindsay stepping up to Chara or Laroque. It wouldn't be pretty.

Edit: By no means am I trying to 'taint' the players of the past. They ARE the all-time greats. But as said earlier, there's a difference between honoring the past and living in it.

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02-25-2007, 07:47 AM
  #98
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Originally Posted by Zine View Post
Of course not…..I’ve seen a lot of games from that era. I would have posted numerous clips to illistrate my point (or a whole game if I could) but those were the only ones I could find on the net. If you have any others you can add, by all means make yourself useful and go ahead.
Regardless, if Duff, Olmsted & Stewart were ‘just average players’ and making goalies look that foolish, it proves just how bad the competition really was back then.



That does nothing to disprove the evolution of hockey argument. Compare the 1930 level of play to today's senior A players. They're still not even in the same universe. It would've been the exact same thing with the 1930's best compared to today's best.
These were high-lite clips of certain players Of course they picked samples where they looked good. If they were high liting goalies they would show saves. By the way, even the best goalies of today are beat by average players on average plays. It happened in the 50's & it happens today.

No doubt hockey has changed (evolved is about monkeys). Some changes have been for the good and some have been detrimental. But using grainy youtube clips to prove a point, give me a break.

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02-25-2007, 02:17 PM
  #99
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Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
I guess we have to disagree on this one. I think the puckhandling was better in the golden age. I watched a DVD with highlights of the 1951 all star game recently (before my time but I can appreciate older eras), I was very impressed with the skill level, paticulatly the stickhandling of Max Bentley & Gordie Howe. Not so much about the moves to score goals but the ability to stixk handle through heavy traffic.
Where did you get that DVD? I would love to see Max Bentley in action.

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02-25-2007, 02:42 PM
  #100
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Originally Posted by TheSniper26 View Post
Well being 22 years old, that's a definite no. But most people on here haven't. And more than that, the ones who did were probably very young. And much like anything else that is a childhood memory, it's being glorified. Besides, I'm basing my opinion off of footage and accounts from people who [I]did[I] watch the game during those years. And they agree that the game has changed and improved drastically. I don't know why it's so hard to accept that the players in the modern era can do things that the guys in the older eras couldn't. It's evolution. It's logical. And if you stop to think about it, it's a really good thing.
I have actually watched - so I can give you my first hand observations.

Howe was a better hockey player than Lemieux. If you ever saw Howe fire pucks both right handed and left handed with equal force He had one of the heaviest and hardest shots in history (ask Bobby Baun's ankle) and he was deadly accurate on the forehand and back hand. He was was also a super ba passer

He was more dominant offensively over a longer period of time (20 straight years as a top five scorer) and he could play defensively as well as fight.

In 1968-69 (his 21st year in the league) he notched 103 points and was mid-boggling +45.

IMHO it is not even close.

It is the Holy Hockey Trinity of Orr, Howe and Gretzky and their rankings depend upon how you weight the criteria - everyone else is a level below.

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