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Crosby/Ovechkin: "Generational" Players?

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11-10-2010, 01:58 PM
  #1
Alan Jackson
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Crosby/Ovechkin: "Generational" Players?

I'm certain this topic has been discussed here, but after I quick search I didn't see anything straight away.

Do the hockey historians on this site consider these two as generational players? Is there a consensus definition to what a generational player is?

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11-10-2010, 02:03 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Depends on your definition of "generational talent."

If you mean "the type of player who transcends a generation," aka, that someone greater than your normal level superstar, that player who comes along once per generation on average, then probably not. Sometimes "generational talent" is code for "Howe/Orr/Gretzky/Lemieux, period."

If you mean, "generational defining superstars" then they probably fit. In a 30 team league with the modern worldwide talent pool, it is pretty tough to be top 5 in scoring consistently. And not only have these two done this consistently, but for the past few years, they seem to routinely be top 3 in scoring (with whatever flavor of the year can break into the top 3 with them - Malkin, Sedin, Stamkos?) On top of that, both men have remained incredibly productive in the playoffs in virtually ever series, which is very impressive for players this young.


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11-10-2010, 02:09 PM
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SidGenoMario
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To me, limiting a generational talent to the big 4 is foolish since that means the generation before Howe didn't have anyone, and generations in the future will likely not see someone that dominant. In the history of hockey there will likely be 4 "true" generational talents, and that seems like a very useless definition to keep using with it's limited use.

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11-10-2010, 02:12 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
To me, limiting a generational talent to the big 4 is foolish since that means the generation before Howe didn't have anyone, and generations in the future will likely not see someone that dominant.
I guess you could call Eddie Shore or Howie Morenz the generational talent before Howe, but say that they aren't ranked quite as highly because the talent pool before WW2 wasn't as good.

I don't think we'll see someone as statistically dominant as Gretzky or Lemieux in the modern game, but I think we'll see someone who dominates to a relative extent (regularly getting 140-150 points in the current league, for example).

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11-10-2010, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I guess you could call Eddie Shore or Howie Morenz the generational talent before Howe, but say that they aren't ranked quite as highly because the talent pool before WW2 wasn't as good.

I don't think we'll see someone as statistically dominant as Gretzky or Lemieux in the modern game, but I think we'll see someone who dominates to a relative extent (regularly getting 140-150 points in the current league, for example).
Yeah there is no quota for generational talents.

We just happened to be spoiled between Howe-Orr-Gretzky-Lemieux.

Now we're in a drought.

I have no doubt though that a true generational level forward would be a 140-160 point guy now.

So no, Sidney and Ovechkin are a notch down from that but still great players.

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11-10-2010, 03:12 PM
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Short answer: Yes. they definitely are.

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11-10-2010, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
... and generations in the future will likely not see someone that dominant.
So, lower the standards for greatness?

I file this under the category of those who talk of "mini-dynasties" and the like. You are either exceptional or not. You are either a dynasty of not. No lowering the bar, no lowering the SAT scores, so to speak, so "my generation" can feel better about its place in time.

Separately, I have no reason not to believe that another player will come along who will challenge for that highest tier of player ever. I look forward to seeing that player if/when he arrives.

TheDevilmademe nailed it in his first post, with regard to Crosby and AO. I personally would reserve the label for Crosby exclusively at this point, but that's me.

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11-10-2010, 04:17 PM
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This is a strange case, on a year to year basis, no. Over the course of their career, maybe.

What's strange is, that might mean we have to include Joe Thornton...

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...rder_by=points

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11-10-2010, 04:43 PM
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This is a strange case, on a year to year basis, no. Over the course of their career, maybe.

What's strange is, that might mean we have to include Joe Thornton...

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...rder_by=points
Interesting how they are always brought up as generational but meanwhile Joe is never mentioned in the same breath while being as good a producer as they are...

Marketing?

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11-10-2010, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
To me, limiting a generational talent to the big 4 is foolish since that means the generation before Howe didn't have anyone, and generations in the future will likely not see someone that dominant. In the history of hockey there will likely be 4 "true" generational talents, and that seems like a very useless definition to keep using with it's limited use.
I don't understand your logic.

You think that the definition of "generational talent" should change just because the 4 generational talents were too dominant?

That's kind of the whole point.

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11-10-2010, 04:52 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Interesting how they are always brought up as generational but meanwhile Joe is never mentioned in the same breath while being as good a producer as they are...

Marketing?
Playoffs more than marketing. What Crosby and Ovechkin have been able to do in the playoffs is amazing given their young ages.

Also, the gap in the above link looks smaller than it really is, since Thornton had his Art Ross year in 05-06, a significantly higher scoring season than the ones that followed (When Crosby and Ovechkin were rookies).

Cut out that season, and the gap in points widens and the gap in points-per-game is huge.

06-07 to present:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...rder_by=points

If you just look at 07-08 to present, Ovechkin has an amazing 1.42 PPG average, even better than Crosby's 1.39 average from 06-07 to present.

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11-10-2010, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Playoffs more than marketing. What Crosby and Ovechkin have been able to do in the playoffs is amazing given their young ages.

Also, the gap in the above link looks smaller than it really is, since Thornton had his Art Ross year in 05-06, a significantly higher scoring season than the ones that followed (When Crosby and Ovechkin were rookies).

Cut out that season, and the gap in points widens and the gap in points-per-game is huge.

06-07 to present:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...rder_by=points
I think huge is definitely overstating it. Even throwing away Thornton's best season to try and make the case we're talking of a .15 PPG gap. Thats 12 points a season having thrown out his best one. That makes them generational and Thornton not? I don't think so.

If we're talking about Ovechkin and Crosby being dominant in the Orr/Lemieux/Gretzky sense of being way out in front of their peers.. they aren't.

If we're talking about Ovechkin and Crosby being dominant in the Howe sense of being top 5 for an amazingly long time. They haven't played long enough.


Last edited by BraveCanadian: 11-10-2010 at 04:58 PM. Reason: wrong chart
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11-10-2010, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
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I think huge is definitely overstating it. Even throwing away Thornton's best season to try and make the case we're talking of a .15 PPG gap. Thats 12 points a season having thrown out his best one. That makes them generational and Thornton not? I don't think so.

If we're talking about Ovechkin and Crosby being dominant in the Orr/Lemieux/Gretzky sense of being way out in front of their peers.. they aren't.

If we're talking about Ovechkin and Crosby being dominant in the Howe sense of being top 5 for an amazingly long time. They haven't played long enough.
Nobody thinks they are that dominant (I hope not anyway...) But they have been a clear step above the rest of the league for a period of a few years now.

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11-10-2010, 05:15 PM
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I view the Big 4 as greater than generational talent.
Ovechkin and Crosby fit the bill in my definition of a generational talent.

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11-10-2010, 05:23 PM
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To me there are generational talents, and the cream of the crop of the generational talents. Obviously the 2nd group includes Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr and Howe. But what about the years that don't include those players? Shouldn't there still be "generational" talents in the 2000s? Or 1960s? In other words, if you are the best player in the game for a number of years, you are a generational talent. It is hard in any generation to be the best in the NHL.

So this is how I look at it, and the cream of the crop are bolded:

Morenz
Shore
Richard
Howe
Hull
Orr
Lafleur
Gretzky
Lemieux
Jagr
(a break where the likes of Thornton, Iginla, Forsberg were the best, none are generational though)
Crosby/Ovechkin

I'll take Crosby personally, but Ovy has been right there the whole time with him. Can't blame Beliveau for not making this list. It isn't his fault Howe played at the same time. Hull takes over in the 1960s after Howe "slowed" down to his standards. Also Esposito played parallel with Orr. What can you do?

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11-10-2010, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RabbinsDuck View Post
I view the Big 4 as greater than generational talent.
Ovechkin and Crosby fit the bill in my definition of a generational talent.
Generationnal has generation in it , and I think a generation is 25 years isn't it?
So that's 4 generationnal talents in less than 3 generations ( let's say 3 generations for the sake of discussion ) , that's fine , variance happens, we had 4 in 3 generations and we don't have any since Lemieux retired and please don't bring Lidstrom , but I don't understand why people are surprise if the number of generationnal talent is so low , the sport isn't that old , like maybe 5 generation old ( could be wrong on that one ) , so don't expect to have 19 generationnal talents.Why lower the standard?

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11-10-2010, 05:31 PM
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Generationnal has generation in it , and I think a generation is 25 years isn't it?
So that's 4 generationnal talents in less than 3 generations ( let's say 3 generations for the sake of discussion ) , that's fine , variance happens, we had 4 in 3 generations and we now don't have any , but I don't understand why people are surprise if the number of generationnal talent is so low , the sport isn't that old , like maybe 5 generation old ( could be wrong on that one ) , so don't expect to have 19 generationnal talents.Why lower the standard?
A player's prime usually only lasts about 10-15 years.

edit: I'm implying that a "Hockey generation" should be different than that of your traditional "baby boomers" etc. generation.

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11-10-2010, 05:33 PM
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A player's prime usually only lasts about 10-15 years.
In this case I fully agree with Big Phil's list and Crosby might become one and then you also have to highlight the fact that some of them ( 4 ) were clearly ahead of the others.

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11-10-2010, 05:43 PM
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A player's prime usually only lasts about 10-15 years.

edit: I'm implying that a "Hockey generation" should be different than that of your traditional "baby boomers" etc. generation.
My thoughts also - in fact, probably even less as a 15 year prime is very rare.

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11-10-2010, 05:46 PM
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It's too early to tell if Crosby and Ovechkin are generational "talents."

At this point, I say no to either of them. The last generational talents were Gretzky and Lemieux. They were head and shoulders more dominant by a large margin than everyone else on the ice. The game constantly revolved around their play. I can't say that about Crosby or Ovechkin. Crosby and Ovechkin remind me more of the tier that Yzerman and Sakic were in.

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11-10-2010, 05:46 PM
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My thoughts also - in fact, probably even less as a 15 year prime is very rare.
I thought that just as I posted it.

Side-effect of growing up watching Sakic.

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11-10-2010, 05:49 PM
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An average star hockey player's career will last about 15 years, so I think if you want to use the term "generational" earnestly there can only be one per generation. It's too early to say with them. They're not outscoring the rest of the league anywhere close to how past generational players were, but no one has for a while. So if we wait until near the end of their careers and notice no one has outpaced the league like Lemieux did, we can say it's a generation of parity and give it to the best player of the past 15 - 20. For now, I don't want to. I think up until this point we have Howe, Orr, Gretzky, and Hasek as generational and that's it.

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11-10-2010, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
To me, limiting a generational talent to the big 4 is foolish since that means the generation before Howe didn't have anyone, and generations in the future will likely not see someone that dominant. In the history of hockey there will likely be 4 "true" generational talents, and that seems like a very useless definition to keep using with it's limited use.
A generation doesn't have to have a generational talent by default. Sometimes a generation is much more loosely defined than that and is instead defined by a group of players or whatever.

And I think given that Howe came in during the late 40's, a lot of people write off the pre-WW2 times as not being part of the modern era in the same way people often don't include pre-merger players in the list of NFL greats. Maybe Shore was a generational talent but it's hard to compare a defenseman based on historical records where there wasn't as much information available and tapes are much harder to come by, and it would be even harder to evaluate back when we didn't have a forward pass and there was no offsides rule.

And in the end "generational talent" is a term that is very loosely defined and might mean something different to everyone. A lot of the popularity of it's use on HF comes from the HF prospect rankings which seems to indicate that it's someone on the level of Orr/Howe/Gretzky/Lemieux.

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11-10-2010, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
To me there are generational talents, and the cream of the crop of the generational talents. Obviously the 2nd group includes Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr and Howe. But what about the years that don't include those players? Shouldn't there still be "generational" talents in the 2000s? Or 1960s? In other words, if you are the best player in the game for a number of years, you are a generational talent. It is hard in any generation to be the best in the NHL.

So this is how I look at it, and the cream of the crop are bolded:

Morenz
Shore
Richard
Howe
Hull
Orr
Lafleur
Gretzky
Lemieux
Jagr
(a break where the likes of Thornton, Iginla, Forsberg were the best, none are generational though)
Crosby/Ovechkin

I'll take Crosby personally, but Ovy has been right there the whole time with him. Can't blame Beliveau for not making this list. It isn't his fault Howe played at the same time. Hull takes over in the 1960s after Howe "slowed" down to his standards. Also Esposito played parallel with Orr. What can you do?
This is very close to how I see the list of the players who were, at some point, regarded as the best active player. But why cannot Beliveau be included as well as Howe since Lemieux can be included as well as Gretzky and Crosby can be included as well as Ovechkin? If the list were regarded as a succession of best active players, it ought to include Beliveau between Richard and Hull. I've followed the NHL closely since 1953 (more closely earlier on than lately), and I can tell you that that this order of progression--Morenz to Shore to Richard to Beliveau to Hull--is the way most fans around at the time saw it. If you'd asked fans in, say, 1956 through the early 1960s who was now the best player in the NHL, they would have been most likely to say Beliveau, even though Howe was still going fairly strong and even though they might still regard Howe's overall career as greater.


Last edited by Peter9: 11-10-2010 at 06:37 PM.
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11-10-2010, 07:42 PM
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Absolutely. These two are consistently at the top of the league in scoring, year after year.

Crosby

05-06: 81 GP, 39 G, 63 A, 102 P (Sixth overall in scoring)
06-07: 79 GP, 36 G, 84 A, 120 P (First overall in scoring)
07-08: 53 GP, 24 G, 48 A, 72 P (Second overall in PPG)
08-09: 77 GP, 33 G, 70 A, 103 P (Third overall in scoring)
09-10: 81 GP, 51 G, 58 A, 109 P (Second overall in scoring)

Ovechkin

05-06: 81 GP, 52 G, 54 A, 106 P (Third overall in scoring)
06-07: 82 GP, 46 G, 46 A, 92 P (Thirteenth overall in scoring)
07-08: 82 GP, 65 G, 47 A, 112 P (First overall in scoring)
08-09: 79 GP, 56 G, 54 A, 110 P (Second overall in scoring)
09-10: 72 GP, 50 G, 59 A, 109 P (Second overall in scoring)

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