I see a lot of heated discussions about who are the best all-time players and inevitably someone says that if Player X from today was playing against competition from 30 years ago they would be twice as good because of advancements in training, equipment, etc...
Is it just me or does it go without saying that when comparing players from different eras it's a given that the game has changed over time and that dominance against other players from the same era is the best measuring stick?
Do people think other factors such as expansion and an increased base of players makes a signifigant difference in these discussions? For example, does the 1967 expansion to 12 teams mean the talent level was considerably watered down from the year before?
To answer the question, if expansion watered down the talent, I think they only had a small effect on dominance since basically all the players share the same environment. One could argue that an 'expansion' conference like they had in 1967-68 have distort our overall view on dominance but that effect may have have last very short in the end. I mean, Eddie Joyal isn't much of a legendary figure today.
Using dominance is the best way to compare players from different eras. Everyone is aware Morenz wouldn't compete with a player like Zetterberg but it only shows that the latter is better trained...not more talented. In the end, Morenz is still the greatest player by accomplishing thing Zetterberg hasn't.
That concept should really be a given. Too much bandwidth is lost arguing over this.
Rofl. Most sane people have already been having this argument with him to no avail. I am just grateful he was kicked out of the hockey history section permanently.
Basically, in order to compare players across Era's, you need to take everything into consideration.
Would Orr still lead the league in scoring in this day and age? Probably not because of the way the game is played. Would he still be the best player in the league? Highly likely. Hockey sense and Vision like his was timeless. Lemieux, Gretzky, Orr and Howe were a cut above the rest because of this inborn talent.
When comparing how players dominated their peers, you also need to take into account competition, era(scoring wise) and several other factors.
For example. Brad Park was a great defenseman. Likely universally regarded as better than, say, Pierre Pilote. Pilote has 3 Norris trohpies, Park has Zero, yet most knowledgeable hockey minds would choose Park first. Recognizing that Park would have 4 Norris trophies had his career not overlapped with Bourque.
The reverse effect comes into play with Lidstrom. He started winning his Norris trophies at a time when top defenseman were all retiring with nobody to fill their shoes. He likely would retire with only 3 Norris trophies had he begun his career in 1980 and ended in 2001, yet he would still be among the greatest of all time simply based upon his longevity and consistency.
The truth is, its all relative. Its impossible to just look at stats and assume.
Bobby Orr wouldn't look so good with those rushes in today's NHL. Defense is a lot better.
No, but he had a skillset and Vision+Hockey sense on par with Sidney Crosby, and would play at least as well as the kid does now while being a rock in his own end, and a fighter/hitter. His game would be different than it was in the 70's, but hey, Pavel Bure made his end to ends look ridiculous. Orr would be no exception