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Absolutely advanced: an unadjusted team comparison through time

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Old
08-22-2015, 04:54 PM
  #1
Theokritos
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Absolutely advanced: an unadjusted team comparison through time

How far can you send a Cup winning team into the future (players not aging, same skates and sticks) until they meet an opponent they couldn't match anymore (in all likeliness)? The 1950s Canadiens: one of the best teams ever relative to their era, as opposed to the 1993 Canadiens or the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes (two random examples), but if they faced one of those two teams in a direct and unadjusted comparison, who would put his money on Toe Blake's team? So when does the advancement of the game reaches a point where the dynasty Canadians are left behind despite of their non-aging (as assumed for the purpose of this thread)? At some point prior to the 1967 expansion? With the advent of Bobby Orr's Bruins? With the Broad Street Bullies and the short shift game? With Bowman's almost undefeated 1970s Canadiens? And next up, Bowman's 1970s Canadiens, how far into the future can they keep on dominating if they don't age? Would they handle the Islanders? The Oilers? Where does it end?

So here is the challenge: Pick one Cup winning team from NHL history after the introduction of the red line (1943). Send them time travelling into the future in your thoughts. Only one year though. Would they still win the Cup that next season if they stayed exactly as they were while the world and the league around them (teams with their rosters and players, training, tactics, equipment etc, even hockey rules) moved on? For a lot of historically notable teams the answer is probably yes. So let's send them forward another year. Still winning the Cup? If yes, where does it end? If no, where does the reign of the new dominator ends?

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Old
08-22-2015, 06:19 PM
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The Panther
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I don't know the answer, for sure.

I do credit Edmonton in the 1980s for being the leading team to develop the NHL-style a lot in a short period of time.

If you watch, say, the 1979 Finals between NYR and Montreal, the pace/style is very different from today (of course). To me, this pace/style more or less continues into the early-ish 80s. There's a point, around 1985 to 1987, where the speed begins to very much resemble the current game. The only difference is that defensive systems are not as set as today -- the game was still more 'wild', but even then tightened up a lot in the playoffs.

A great game to go back and watch -- I think it's been pulled from YouTube but I have a download -- is the 1986 game 7 between Calgary & Edmonton. Obviously a super-intense game/series between great rivals and teams, but the pace of that game is incredible. I would argue that the level of skill from both teams and the pace of the game -- not to mention the outstanding goaltending -- rivals anything in the NHL today. I would say the same about game 7 between Philly and Edmonton in 1987. I don't see games from the 1970s or the early 1980s that I would put in that category.

So, my feeling is that once the NHL got over the regularly occurring (70s') expansion and WHA-wars (in 1979), and then took some time to adjust to the fallout as the 70s became the 80s became the mid-80s, the game begins to resemble the modern game. The Gretzky-Oilers were the top team then, molding Euro-style offense with stacked talent, and were able to tighten up and play defense in the playoffs.

I have no idea, though, if, say, the 1987 Oilers beamed into 2015 would be able to compete with Chicago or whatever-team. Not only is it a bizarre concept, it's incomprehensible because of the variant factors involved (would the '87 Oilers all have to change to new sticks and shoulder-pads?). But I do think they would be able to compete very well with today's teams, and I'm not sure I would say that about any previous great team/dynasty. Even the early/mid-80s Oilers I don't think would fare as well as the later-Oilers winners.

To me, there was a big forward shift in the progression of the game between the early 80s and the early 90s. The change over those 10 years is, I think, as big as the 40-year change from the 1940s to the early 1980s.

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08-24-2015, 10:09 PM
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Interesting thread idea. I'm guessing you won't get many responses though since a lot of people here are sensitive to the fact that hockey improves over time. I have always been very interested in the history of hockey and how it has changed over time. I watch as many old videos of the NHL as I can, from any available footage I can find. I have been recently going through that historic games on video thread watching as much old footage as I can.

To answer your question here would be impossible, but I will say this. Based on what I've seen, any good team from the 30's would get killed by a team from the 50's. From the video's I've seen from each of these time periods, I was amazed at how much better players in the 50's utilized each other with passing and how much more accurate they were with passes. This is probably due to the fact that the 30's came right after forward passing was allowed. They also could shoot the puck quite a bit harder it seemed, slapshots were actually in use, they were atleast able to raise the puck. Goalies also seemed quite a bit better as well. I'm confident that the best team from the 30's would get beat by a decent margin by even an average team from the 50's. However, I believe that a team from the 50's could compete pretty well with a team from the 70's. Hockey did not improve nearly as much from the 50's to the 70's as it did from the 30's to the 50's. This is partly due to expansion and the WHA diluting the overall talent in the 70's, and partly due to the fact that the game didn't appear to change all that much. Goalies didn't really appear to be any better, players didn't appear to be any faster, even the pace of the game was very similar. Lets look at the next 20 year jump, from the 70's to the 90's. I think your average team from the 90's would smoke Orr's Bruins in an actual game. Goaltending was on a whole other level by then, players as a whole were much faster and much more skilled, the game had simply evolved a ton in this time period. This time period probably saw a bigger overall change than from the 30's to the 50's. Tough to say for sure though. Now, from the 90's to today? I think a lot of the best teams from the 90's would compete very well with elite teams today, still probably lose more often than not, but would definitely compete. Hockey has improved since the 90's, but not by so much that the teams from the 90's wouldn't stand a chance (more specifically the late 90's). The late 90's Red Wings would likely have a tough time with the current day Blackhawks, but I have no doubt they could beat a modern day Sabres team in a 7 game series.

I say more than likely, a really good Stanley Cup champion could compete really well with the future Stanley Cup champions for up to about ten years, then it would start to get tough. Like for instance if the 88 Oilers faced the 97 or 98 Red Wings, my money would be on Detroit. I would probably choose the 96 Avalanche as well. Anything before that I wouldn't be too sure. I would love to see the 2002 Detroit team take on the current Chicago team, part of me thinks Chicago would take it in 4 or 5, but part of me thinks that Detroit could make it go the distance. It's impossible to know for sure but interesting to think about. Also, for the purpose of this thread, I agree with the players not aging thing, but I disagree that they should have to use the same skates and sticks. Why not allow them to use the equipment of their future opponents to make things fair?


Last edited by sleep easy: 08-24-2015 at 10:15 PM.
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08-24-2015, 11:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
I don't know the answer, for sure.

I do credit Edmonton in the 1980s for being the leading team to develop the NHL-style a lot in a short period of time.

If you watch, say, the 1979 Finals between NYR and Montreal, the pace/style is very different from today (of course). To me, this pace/style more or less continues into the early-ish 80s. There's a point, around 1985 to 1987, where the speed begins to very much resemble the current game. The only difference is that defensive systems are not as set as today -- the game was still more 'wild', but even then tightened up a lot in the playoffs.

A great game to go back and watch -- I think it's been pulled from YouTube but I have a download -- is the 1986 game 7 between Calgary & Edmonton. Obviously a super-intense game/series between great rivals and teams, but the pace of that game is incredible. I would argue that the level of skill from both teams and the pace of the game -- not to mention the outstanding goaltending -- rivals anything in the NHL today. I would say the same about game 7 between Philly and Edmonton in 1987. I don't see games from the 1970s or the early 1980s that I would put in that category.

So, my feeling is that once the NHL got over the regularly occurring (70s') expansion and WHA-wars (in 1979), and then took some time to adjust to the fallout as the 70s became the 80s became the mid-80s, the game begins to resemble the modern game. The Gretzky-Oilers were the top team then, molding Euro-style offense with stacked talent, and were able to tighten up and play defense in the playoffs.

I have no idea, though, if, say, the 1987 Oilers beamed into 2015 would be able to compete with Chicago or whatever-team. Not only is it a bizarre concept, it's incomprehensible because of the variant factors involved (would the '87 Oilers all have to change to new sticks and shoulder-pads?). But I do think they would be able to compete very well with today's teams, and I'm not sure I would say that about any previous great team/dynasty. Even the early/mid-80s Oilers I don't think would fare as well as the later-Oilers winners.

To me, there was a big forward shift in the progression of the game between the early 80s and the early 90s. The change over those 10 years is, I think, as big as the 40-year change from the 1940s to the early 1980s.
I agree with a lot of what you are saying here about how the game started to speed up from the early 80's to the late 80's, and how the change from the early 80's to the early 90's was almost as big as the change from the previous 40 years. I think a lot of that is due to the shorter shifts, the equipment getting much better, and goalies starting to use the butterfly. I have always noticed that the biggest 10 year jump in the pace of the game, and likely the improvement of the game overall was from the early 80's to the early 90's.


Last edited by sleep easy: 08-24-2015 at 11:21 PM.
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