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Evolution of skating

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Old
09-06-2010, 04:07 PM
  #1
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Evolution of skating

Read through an old thread about Bobby Orr and his skating ability to see what attribute or attributes put him atop the best skater ever category, where I think most people have him from what I gather. Was it his top end speed? Edge control? Acceleration? Lateral movement?

Also, pn page 2 of this thread,

http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t...ht=best+skater

a poster says that he isn't so sure that Orr would be as dexterous of a skater today if he skated in modern skates. That got me curious as to how skating itself has evolved with the evolution of skates. Are strides different today versus 10, 20, 30, etc years ago? Is edge control different? Easier acceleration? Also, would a Bobby Orr or Bobby Hull be a better skater in a pair of Bauer Total Ones than the skates they wore in their era?

Essentially, has skating improved, worsened, or stayed essentially stagnant with the improvements in equipment, skating schools, etc.?


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09-06-2010, 05:14 PM
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The Difference

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Originally Posted by clevelandcrusaders82 View Post
Read through an old thread about Bobby Orr and his skating ability to see what attribute or attributes put him atop the best skater ever category, where I think most people have him from what I gather. Was it his top end speed? Edge control? Acceleration? Lateral movement?

Also, pn page 2 of this thread,

http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t...ht=best+skater

a poster says that he isn't so sure that Orr would be as dexterous of a skater today if he skated in modern skates. That got me curious as to how skating itself has evolved with the evolution of skates. Are strides different today versus 10, 20, 30, etc years ago? Is edge control different? Easier acceleration? Also, would a Bobby Orr or Bobby Hull be a better skater in a pair of Bauer Total Ones than the skates they wore in their era?
Interesting topic.

First regarding Bobby Orr. The answer would be all of the listed attributes and more - skate backwards, equal abilities to either side,etc combined with the ability to execute in a smaller space and faster than others while doing and seeing everything fundamental to playing hockey at a higher level.

Yesterday and today.

Yesterday and today. Comes down to four core issues that overlap. Equipment, coaching, technology, ice time.

Equipment is better but it is better for everybody. In theory some of the advances since the 1950's - lighter, form fitting skates, should enhance skating ability.

Coaching including the teaching of skating. Overall much better - the you will grow into them pair of skates for beginners went by the wayside a long time ago. On the other hand would a young skater be discouraged from trying some of the moves that Bobby Orr tried?
Very likely.

Technology - beyond equipment you have the medical, training and teaching technology all can be used to improve skating, limit or rehab injuries, correct technical flaws.

Ice time. Paradoxical. Youngsters learning to play hockey today have access to greater ice time, year round in most instances, but it is almost always controlled ice time where every minute is dedicated to specific hockey related activities. Creativity or experimentation are no longer part of the mix.

In terms of a Bobby Orr type talent it is far from certain that all the stars would align today the way they did in the 1950's.

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09-06-2010, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Interesting topic.

First regarding Bobby Orr. The answer would be all of the listed attributes and more - skate backwards, equal abilities to either side,etc combined with the ability to execute in a smaller space and faster than others while doing and seeing everything fundamental to playing hockey at a higher level.

Yesterday and today.

Yesterday and today. Comes down to four core issues that overlap. Equipment, coaching, technology, ice time.

Equipment is better but it is better for everybody. In theory some of the advances since the 1950's - lighter, form fitting skates, should enhance skating ability.

Coaching including the teaching of skating. Overall much better - the you will grow into them pair of skates for beginners went by the wayside a long time ago. On the other hand would a young skater be discouraged from trying some of the moves that Bobby Orr tried?
Very likely.

Technology - beyond equipment you have the medical, training and teaching technology all can be used to improve skating, limit or rehab injuries, correct technical flaws.

Ice time. Paradoxical. Youngsters learning to play hockey today have access to greater ice time, year round in most instances, but it is almost always controlled ice time where every minute is dedicated to specific hockey related activities. Creativity or experimentation are no longer part of the mix.

In terms of a Bobby Orr type talent it is far from certain that all the stars would align today the way they did in the 1950's.
I think overall skating has improved and one of the reasons Orr looks like such a better skater than everyone else is that he was back in the late 60's and 70's when he played.

The gap between the top skaters and worse skaters in the league (NHL) has narrowed considerably thus making it seem that the top skaters today aren't as earth shattering as Orr was in his time or Howie Morenz way back.

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09-06-2010, 08:09 PM
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Agreed. Kids like John Tavares get crap for being poor skaters but does anyone remember how Ron Francis skated? There was a hideous sight.

I think the standardization of skating techniques has also robbed the league of something. No coach would let Pavel Bure's knee destroying stride go nowadays.

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09-07-2010, 12:04 AM
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Highly Doubtful

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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
I think overall skating has improved and one of the reasons Orr looks like such a better skater than everyone else is that he was back in the late 60's and 70's when he played.

The gap between the top skaters and worse skaters in the league (NHL) has narrowed considerably thus making it seem that the top skaters today aren't as earth shattering as Orr was in his time or Howie Morenz way back.
Highly doubtful. Will draw a few comparables based on the 2009-10 season and the O6 era.

Forwards.Comparisons have been made between Bobby Hull(O6) and Alexander Ovechkin(2009-10). Keeping it simple let's say each represents the best skating winger from their respective era. 2009 - 10 worst skating forwards. Georges Laraque and Derek Boogaard would definitely be up for consideration. The gap between them and Alexander Ovechkin would be such that you would never consider playing either in a role responsible for Alexander Ovechkin. Conversely two of the weakest skaters from the O6 era - Jim Roberts and Bryan Watson were used at times in roles where they were responsible for Bobby Hull.Even if we go to the next level, today's so-called energy player, third liner or cagey veteran I seriously doubt that such a player would be assigned defensive responsibility for Alexander Ovechkin. The skating ability of a Bill Guerin or a Dustin Byfuglien is simply not there. Straight ahead speed they might have a slight chance but anything requiring movement, turns, change of direction, beyond straight ahead speed would be very iffy.

Defensemen. Use the Canucks in the playoffs against the Blackhawks the last two seasons.The Canucks have reasonable defensemen, above average, against a North/South game. But against the Blackhawks East/West game blended with a North/South game their skating lagged tremendously. An O6 defense collectively regardless of the caliber of the team would be equally proficient against both styles.

Skating is more than straight ahead speed and while the modern player player may have certain advantages in regard to straight ahead speed,the overall diversity of skating skills that each NHL player has, has not kept pace across the board.

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09-07-2010, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Highly doubtful. Will draw a few comparables based on the 2009-10 season and the O6 era.

Forwards.Comparisons have been made between Bobby Hull(O6) and Alexander Ovechkin(2009-10). Keeping it simple let's say each represents the best skating winger from their respective era. 2009 - 10 worst skating forwards. Georges Laraque and Derek Boogaard would definitely be up for consideration. The gap between them and Alexander Ovechkin would be such that you would never consider playing either in a role responsible for Alexander Ovechkin. Conversely two of the weakest skaters from the O6 era - Jim Roberts and Bryan Watson were used at times in roles where they were responsible for Bobby Hull.Even if we go to the next level, today's so-called energy player, third liner or cagey veteran I seriously doubt that such a player would be assigned defensive responsibility for Alexander Ovechkin. The skating ability of a Bill Guerin or a Dustin Byfuglien is simply not there. Straight ahead speed they might have a slight chance but anything requiring movement, turns, change of direction, beyond straight ahead speed would be very iffy.

Defensemen. Use the Canucks in the playoffs against the Blackhawks the last two seasons.The Canucks have reasonable defensemen, above average, against a North/South game. But against the Blackhawks East/West game blended with a North/South game their skating lagged tremendously. An O6 defense collectively regardless of the caliber of the team would be equally proficient against both styles.

Skating is more than straight ahead speed and while the modern player player may have certain advantages in regard to straight ahead speed,the overall diversity of skating skills that each NHL player has, has not kept pace across the board.
Good points.

Interested about the last part. Why do you think this is so? Is it a lack of emphasis on training in youth hockey, despite the number of skating schools out there? Or is it a natural progression with the emphasis on dump and chase hockey, using straight ahead speed to beat your man to the puck to make a play?

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09-07-2010, 01:40 AM
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Short Shifts

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Originally Posted by clevelandcrusaders82 View Post
Good points.

Interested about the last part. Why do you think this is so? Is it a lack of emphasis on training in youth hockey, despite the number of skating schools out there? Or is it a natural progression with the emphasis on dump and chase hockey, using straight ahead speed to beat your man to the puck to make a play?
Today the game is played in short sprint shifts 30-45 seconds long at the NHL level. The feeder system from minor hockey on up is played accordingly. A specific shift does not require much skating and skill diversity anymore.Even if the full range of skating skills are taught at skating schools and repeated in practice chances are they may not be necessary or applied in games regularly.

At the lower level in youth hockey this is very striking. The kids today change on the fly. Very often the fastest or greatest amount of skating that the kid does during the shift is getting into the play at the start of the shift or getting off the ice at the end of the shift. Ironically,after all this practice, too many men on the ice penalties are on the increase.

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09-07-2010, 01:58 AM
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The Tube Skate area vs today's skate blade is worth noting.

Did anyone here ever skate with Tube skates?

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09-07-2010, 02:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Highly doubtful. Will draw a few comparables based on the 2009-10 season and the O6 era.

Forwards.Comparisons have been made between Bobby Hull(O6) and Alexander Ovechkin(2009-10). Keeping it simple let's say each represents the best skating winger from their respective era. 2009 - 10 worst skating forwards. Georges Laraque and Derek Boogaard would definitely be up for consideration. The gap between them and Alexander Ovechkin would be such that you would never consider playing either in a role responsible for Alexander Ovechkin. Conversely two of the weakest skaters from the O6 era - Jim Roberts and Bryan Watson were used at times in roles where they were responsible for Bobby Hull.Even if we go to the next level, today's so-called energy player, third liner or cagey veteran I seriously doubt that such a player would be assigned defensive responsibility for Alexander Ovechkin. The skating ability of a Bill Guerin or a Dustin Byfuglien is simply not there. Straight ahead speed they might have a slight chance but anything requiring movement, turns, change of direction, beyond straight ahead speed would be very iffy.

Defensemen. Use the Canucks in the playoffs against the Blackhawks the last two seasons.The Canucks have reasonable defensemen, above average, against a North/South game. But against the Blackhawks East/West game blended with a North/South game their skating lagged tremendously. An O6 defense collectively regardless of the caliber of the team would be equally proficient against both styles.

Skating is more than straight ahead speed and while the modern player player may have certain advantages in regard to straight ahead speed,the overall diversity of skating skills that each NHL player has, has not kept pace across the board.
Man that's a weak comparison 2 forwards who are specific goons to 2 Dmen from the old NHL? I was talking overall as well, not just specific players, more like the top 10% of skaters versus the bottom 10% the gap is there and its huge from past times to today.

Also I live in Vancouver and saw every game in the 2 series that you are talking about here. The lack of depth ended up killing the Canucks this year with Salo and the "ruptured testicle incident"( that my daughters bug me about all the time..lol).

There was no department or direction that the Canucks were better at than the Hawks, the Hawks were simply a better team in all regards.

In the end skaters as a whole are better in all regards than their past counterparts, why is this so hard to understand just go back and watch some game film.


Last edited by Hardyvan123: 09-07-2010 at 02:35 AM. Reason: spelling
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09-07-2010, 02:52 AM
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Tube Skates

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Originally Posted by greatgazoo View Post
The Tube Skate area vs today's skate blade is worth noting.

Did anyone here ever skate with Tube skates?
Yes. Even remember cheese cutters.

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09-07-2010, 03:25 AM
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Not So

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Man that's a weak comparison 2 forwards who are specific goons to 2 Dmen from the old NHL? I was talking overall as well, not just specific players, more like the top 10% of skaters versus the bottom 10% the gap is there and its huge from past times to today.

Also I live in Vancouver and saw every game in the 2 series that you are talking about here. The lack of depth ended up killing the Canucks this year with Salo and the "ruptured testicle incident"( that my daughters bug me about all the time..lol).

There was no department or direction that the Canucks were better at than the Hawks, the Hawks were simply a better team in all regards.

In the end skaters as a whole are better in all regards than their past counterparts, why is this so hard to understand just go back and watch some game film.
Watson built his reputation for checking Bobby Hull while playing forward especially during the 1966 playoffs. Jim Roberts rarely played defense with the Canadiens. You are welcome to submit names as opposed to just percentages.

Conversely if you want to play with percentages top 10% vs bottom 10% you will run into various issues. Most interestingly present day bottom 10% would not be pro players in the NHL/AHL/WHL/CPHL sphere during the O6 era.

The top two teams in the O6 era were better in every regard than the non playoff teams. Yet they were not able to simply baffle the non playoff teams defense and expose their lack of overall skating by blending and East /West game with a North /South game.

Example. 1961 - 62 Detroit Red Wings had two HHOF caliber defensemen - Marcel Pronovost(31 year old) and Bill Gadsby(35 year old). Throw any type of offensive variant at them East/West, North/South, dump and chase and they could handle the skating requirements. 2008-09 Canucks your pick Willie Mitchell, Sami Salo, Matthias Ohlund, blend the East / West game with the North / south game and their skating is not sufficient. Yet over the course of the 2008-09 season the Hawks were just 4 points better than the Canucks.

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09-07-2010, 04:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greatgazoo View Post
The Tube Skate area vs today's skate blade is worth noting.

Did anyone here ever skate with Tube skates?
I most certainly did, when I wasn't playing goal.

I then went a long time without ever picking up a pair of player skates until a friend of mine invested in a new pair of light weight Vapor's in the 90's.
He was showing them to me and I was completely shocked at how little they weighed and shocked is not even accurate enough.
Skates went from weighing pounds to weighing mere ounces...crazy.

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09-07-2010, 04:53 AM
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Protection

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I most certainly did, when I wasn't playing goal.

I then went a long time without ever picking up a pair of player skates until a friend of mine invested in a new pair of light weight Vapor's in the 90's.
He was showing them to me and I was completely shocked at how little they weighed and shocked is not even accurate enough.
Skates went from weighing pounds to weighing mere ounces...crazy.
Yet which ones offered more protection? The new.

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09-07-2010, 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Yet which ones offered more protection? The new.
Oh yeah, bigtime.
Kevlar vs leather, no contest.
Don't even get me started on the differences between the goalie skates I wore in the late 70's compared to what I was wearing a few years ago, ridiculous.

This is almost identical to what I wore in the late 70's through most of the 80's...


Compared to what I was more or less wearing a few years ago...


Not even close in weight, comfort or especially protection.
In addition to all that, the money those older skates cost me in sticks was insane. The point on them was just down right dangerous and the normal motion of kicking the back of your stick wrecked 'em pretty quickly.


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09-07-2010, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Conversely if you want to play with percentages top 10% vs bottom 10% you will run into various issues. Most interestingly present day bottom 10% would not be pro players in the NHL/AHL/WHL/CPHL sphere during the O6 era.
So let me get this straight, today's bottom 10% of players 9with the larger pool available from Europe and Us colleges) couldn't play in the WHL or CPHL. That's a huge stretch IMO.

Go look at hockey tapes, as recently as 1975 when Red Army played the Habs in the "greatest tie ever". I watched that game as an 8 yr old and thought wow these guys are the fastest most skilled guys ever.

Well they were for their time but the time and space they have in the RINK which never changes tells us that it was played at a much slower pace than today's games.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQtFk7III7I

it's pretty evident to anyone who watches the game from the past to current times that the speed and pace and skating is much faster than back then period.

Every 1/10th of a second makes a huge difference at the highest level in terms of time and space to control and create offense..

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09-07-2010, 11:35 PM
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Comparables

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So let me get this straight, today's bottom 10% of players 9with the larger pool available from Europe and Us colleges) couldn't play in the WHL or CPHL. That's a huge stretch IMO.

Go look at hockey tapes, as recently as 1975 when Red Army played the Habs in the "greatest tie ever". I watched that game as an 8 yr old and thought wow these guys are the fastest most skilled guys ever.

Well they were for their time but the time and space they have in the RINK which never changes tells us that it was played at a much slower pace than today's games.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQtFk7III7I

it's pretty evident to anyone who watches the game from the past to current times that the speed and pace and skating is much faster than back then period.

Every 1/10th of a second makes a huge difference at the highest level in terms of time and space to control and create offense..
Comparables.

Basic math.(TEAMS/PLAYERS) O6 era NHL(6/120), AHL(9/180), WHL(7/140), CPHL(6/120) 1966-67 league structure with 20 players per team. Total 28 teams, 560 player spots.
Today 30 teams, 23 players per = 690 player spots bottom 10 % = 69 players top 90% = 621 players which take the 560 player spot leaving 130 outside the four main leagues including the CPHL and the WHL. The bottom 10 % are left out, playing semi pro.

1975 Soviet / Canadiens. Adjust the shift length to today's 30-45 second lengths, adjust for rule changes, equipment and the difference would be hardly perceptable.

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09-07-2010, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
So let me get this straight, today's bottom 10% of players 9with the larger pool available from Europe and Us colleges) couldn't play in the WHL or CPHL. That's a huge stretch IMO.

Go look at hockey tapes, as recently as 1975 when Red Army played the Habs in the "greatest tie ever". I watched that game as an 8 yr old and thought wow these guys are the fastest most skilled guys ever.

Well they were for their time but the time and space they have in the RINK which never changes tells us that it was played at a much slower pace than today's games.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQtFk7III7I

it's pretty evident to anyone who watches the game from the past to current times that the speed and pace and skating is much faster than back then period.

Every 1/10th of a second makes a huge difference at the highest level in terms of time and space to control and create offense..
That is not how he means it. He is basically saying that the bottom 10% of the O6 NHL is much closer in talent to the top 10% of the O6 NHL than the bottom 10% of today's league is to the top 10% of today's league, which (considering what is known about the level of competition for roster spots in the O6 era) is probably correct.

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09-07-2010, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Comparables.

Basic math.(TEAMS/PLAYERS) O6 era NHL(6/120), AHL(9/180), WHL(7/140), CPHL(6/120) 1966-67 league structure with 20 players per team. Total 28 teams, 560 player spots.
Today 30 teams, 23 players per = 690 player spots bottom 10 % = 69 players top 90% = 621 players which take the 560 player spot leaving 130 outside the four main leagues including the CPHL and the WHL. The bottom 10 % are left out, playing semi pro.

1975 Soviet / Canadiens. Adjust the shift length to today's 30-45 second lengths, adjust for rule changes, equipment and the difference would be hardly perceptable.
You are kind of glossing over the actual player pool point as in the original 6 had virtually no players from the US college system or Europe.

Seriously you have to be kidding about the 75 game?

The pace has nothing to do with shift length, maybe a small degree in rule changes, and yes equipment does make the modern player faster.

Skating has just gotten better as a whole in the league but I guess
I'm not going to convince the filter you are looking through with this topic, nothing personal just an observation.

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09-08-2010, 12:14 AM
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Bourque/Stevens/Chelios

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You are kind of glossing over the actual player pool point as in the original 6 had virtually no players from the US college system or Europe.

Seriously you have to be kidding about the 75 game?

The pace has nothing to do with shift length, maybe a small degree in rule changes, and yes equipment does make the modern player faster.

Skating has just gotten better as a whole in the league but I guess
I'm not going to convince the filter you are looking through with this topic, nothing personal just an observation.
Ray Bourque, Scott Stevens, Chris Chelios all started in the NHL during an era when shift lengths were much longer than when they finished their careers yet they kept pace as the shift length grew shorter to today's length. So unless you can show that a 40 year old Ray Bourque was faster than a 19 year old Ray Bourque your point simply does not have legs.

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09-08-2010, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
You are kind of glossing over the actual player pool point as in the original 6 had virtually no players from the US college system or Europe.

Seriously you have to be kidding about the 75 game?

The pace has nothing to do with shift length, maybe a small degree in rule changes, and yes equipment does make the modern player faster.

Skating has just gotten better as a whole in the league but I guess
I'm not going to convince the filter you are looking through with this topic, nothing personal just an observation.
I don't see how you can state that shift length has nothing to do with pace. It seems like a fairly simple concept to grasp.

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09-08-2010, 10:18 AM
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Just want to say, great thread topic and responses.

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09-09-2010, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greatgazoo View Post
The Tube Skate area vs today's skate blade is worth noting.

Did anyone here ever skate with Tube skates?
I remember reading a comment by Harry Howell after he tried the new blades (I guess he was about 60 or so at the time?) He said there was no comparison - the new ones are much faster than the old tube skates.

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09-09-2010, 10:53 AM
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One comment I will make is that I'm always amazed by how many people confuse forward rushing capability with being a good skater.

Compare Nicklas Lidstrom to Pavel Bure. Most people would say that Pavel Bure was the better skater. Unless you consider that Lidstrom never stands still waiting at the blue line like Bure. Lidstrom is ALWAYS moving, constantly repositioning himself to always be a factor in the play. To me, that makes him the supreme skater.

Hockey unfortunately doesn't have a "distance travelled" stat like soccer, but it wouldn't surprise me if Lidstrom skated twice the distance as Bure during a game.

Another stat that would be interesting is backwards skating speed. Sometimes it seems like Lidstrom is skating faster backwards than the attackers are skating forward. However, I suspect that this might be explained the same way Johan Cruyff explained his speed: "the easiest way to look fast is to start earlier than others". Hockey sense and anticipitation always beats pure speed.

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09-09-2010, 11:41 AM
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Skating Efficiency

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve141 View Post
One comment I will make is that I'm always amazed by how many people confuse forward rushing capability with being a good skater.

Compare Nicklas Lidstrom to Pavel Bure. Most people would say that Pavel Bure was the better skater. Unless you consider that Lidstrom never stands still waiting at the blue line like Bure. Lidstrom is ALWAYS moving, constantly repositioning himself to always be a factor in the play. To me, that makes him the supreme skater.

Hockey unfortunately doesn't have a "distance travelled" stat like soccer, but it wouldn't surprise me if Lidstrom skated twice the distance as Bure during a game.

Another stat that would be interesting is backwards skating speed. Sometimes it seems like Lidstrom is skating faster backwards than the attackers are skating forward. However, I suspect that this might be explained the same way Johan Cruyff explained his speed: "the easiest way to look fast is to start earlier than others". Hockey sense and anticipitation always beats pure speed.
Skating efficiency would be the optimum measure - looking at speed, movement, appropriate choice, etc. combined with the various hockey related skills.

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09-09-2010, 12:18 PM
  #25
Jarick
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I don't really buy that argument about modern skaters not being as good as old time skaters. Throwing out technology and the "watering down" of the league, today's players spend a lot of time taking power skating classes which are all about mobility, transitions, tight turns, crossovers, proper stride, etc. That specialized training really started after the Soviets were winning with their style in the 1970's.

Whether or not today's skaters use that agility as much in a faster game doesn't mean that the skaters can't execute those maneuvers, especially if you throw out the handful of sideshow goons like Boogaard.

And I don't think you can compare the skating of Lidstrom and Bure at all. Bure had unbelievable north-south speed while Lidstrom is a phenomenally agile skater. But Bure was a scoring winger while Lidstrom is a great defensive and puck-moving defenseman.

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