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1980s vs. 1990s Scoring Study

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Old
01-03-2011, 11:53 PM
  #1
hfboardsuser
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1980s vs. 1990s Scoring Study

With all the talk on both this and the main board about the 80s impact on scoring totals, I decided to take a closer look at the real, provable scoring differentials between the 80s and 90s.

For my study, I chose to look at HHOF inductees/candidates who had their rookie seasons from 1980-81 to 1985-86 and played at least five seasons in the 1990s. My rationale was that "special" players are the ones we're arguing about here, so it only makes sense to look at what such players could do across eras. How Joe Blow did in 1985 versus 1995 doesn't matter because Mario Lemieux, for example, is a significantly better player.

There were 18 HHOFers from that period. However, I also included Wayne Gretzky and Adam Oates- Gretzky fell just outside the time period window, and Oates is the highest-scoring player not yet in the HHOF.

Note: In order to ensure consistency, the 90s data below was sampled according to the number of seasons a player played in the 1980s. ie Lemieux played six seasons in the 1980s, and therefore I took the first six he played in the 1990s.

Name1980s PPG1990s PPG% Diff
Mario Lemieux1.961.80-8%
Steve Yzerman1.351.27-6%
Doug Gilmour0.991.12+13%
Pat LaFontaine1.061.59+50%
Cam Neely0.831.22+47%
Adam Oates0.921.49+62%
Ron Francis1.151.09-5%
Dale Hawerchuk1.301.01-22%
Joe Mullen1.150.77-33%
Glenn Anderson1.110.67-40%
Ray Bourque1.040.91-12.5%
Jari Kurri1.380.71-49%
Denis Savard1.380.71-49%
Mike Gartner1.040.77-26%
Michel Goulet1.160.76-34%
Mark Messier1.220.96-21%
Dino Ciccarelli1.080.84-22%
Wayne Gretzky2.391.41-41%
Al MacInnis0.950.88-7%
Paul Coffey1.300.87-33%
Mean-----12%

Now, we can argue/fine tune the methodology further- maybe it doesn't make sense to include players from the first two or three years of the 80s due to age; by the time the mid-90s hit they were already 35+ and were bound to decline regardless of era.

But I think this rough analysis proves what many learned fans have been trying to tell the younger generation for a long time- the era change from the 80s to the 90s did not affect elite talent nearly as much. For comparison's sake, scoring in the NHL dropped from 7.77 GPG in 1984-85 to 5.97 in 1994-95- a decline of 23%.

Would a "normal" player dropped from the 80s struggle to produce in the 90s? Sure, and probably by almost a quarter of their 1980s production. But we've always known HHOFers are different. That's why they're in the Hall. It's not unreasonable to believe exactly what's shown above- that today, Gretzky's scoring would suffer by just 12% (or less).

How does that change Gretzky's career, for example?

SeasonAdj GoalsAdj AssistsAdj Pts
1980-814896144
1981-8281106187
1982-8362110172
1983-8477103180
1984-8564119183
1985-8646143189
1986-8755106161
1987-883596131
1988-8948100148
1989-903590125
Career78717272514

Goals is obviously the biggest difference; Gretzky would dip just under Howe but still remain a solid 2nd place in history. The Great One would still comfortably retain the career assist mark- bolstered by the fact players 2-7 on the list also played in the 80s- and would still be 900+ points clear of anyone else in that category.

Most of all, while the above doesn't prove anything conclusively, it should reinforce the idea that when it comes to challenging Gretzky/Lemieux, 150 points just isn't going to do it- and neither will 160, 170. Only a player with multiple 180-point seasons would be worthy, and there's no one in the league today who could come close.

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01-04-2011, 12:24 AM
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Kudos for putting in the work on this, and the idea of looking at top talent only is a good one.

I think some of your findings have to do with the way you aggregated the data. A few players - Lafontaine, Neely, and Oates - had their numbers increase quite a bit more than anyone's numbers decreased, and their high percentage changes skew the average. The median change in scoring among these 20 players was -22%. And the average change of the middle 10 players - after removing the top 5 and bottom 5 - was -19%

I'm not sure that defencemen should be included with forwards either. They score a higher percentage of their points on the power play, and power play scoring didn't drop as much as even strength scoring in the 1990s. Although that doesn't appear to change the results.

Just a nitpick - Gilmour isn't a HHOFer.

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01-04-2011, 01:24 AM
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I Hate Chris Butler
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He should be.

Also, just a suggestion, but I think you should compare stats from when the DPE started and not just the start of the decade because 93 was up there with any season in the 80s.

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01-04-2011, 10:08 AM
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seventieslord
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All valid concerns brought up so far.

I think all these players' point totals need to be compared to historical career paths for high-caliber players as well - raw numbers don't do it. for example, of course Gretzky is going to see a drop in the 90s - he's in his 30s now, not his 20s. But that's normal for most players. So how much of his drop was due to a league-wide drop in scoring, and how much was due to him aging? There needs to be a benchmark created that says, "a star player generally scores about x% less at ages 30-34 than they do at ages 26-29" or a curve that you can follow. Someone has probably already done something like this, that you can work from.

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01-04-2011, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
All valid concerns brought up so far.

I think all these players' point totals need to be compared to historical career paths for high-caliber players as well - raw numbers don't do it. for example, of course Gretzky is going to see a drop in the 90s - he's in his 30s now, not his 20s. But that's normal for most players. So how much of his drop was due to a league-wide drop in scoring, and how much was due to him aging? There needs to be a benchmark created that says, "a star player generally scores about x% less at ages 30-34 than they do at ages 26-29" or a curve that you can follow. Someone has probably already done something like this, that you can work from.
That's very true that you'd need an estimate of how much you would expect an average star player to drop off at each age. On the other side of the coin you'd need the average ramp up as well.

I think Gretzky will suffer more due to age than the average star because he was such a massive outlier to begin with.

Still a good start at the issue though.

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01-04-2011, 12:31 PM
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First couple of years in the 90's was comparable to late 80's, it wasn't until after 92/93 when the scoring significantly dropped (with the exception of 95/96 season). I believe that if you divide it not by 1990, but by 1993, the difference would be more significant.

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01-04-2011, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cermi View Post
First couple of years in the 90's was comparable to late 80's, it wasn't until after 92/93 when the scoring significantly dropped (with the exception of 95/96 season). I believe that if you divide it not by 1990, but by 1993, the difference would be more significant.
Still none of the seasons in the 90's was as high scoring as the lowest scoring season in the 80's(86-87 7.34gpg)

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01-04-2011, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bugg View Post
Note: In order to ensure consistency, the 90s data below was sampled according to the number of seasons a player played in the 1980s. ie Lemieux played six seasons in the 1980s, and therefore I took the first six he played in the 1990s.
If you use that logic to for example Neely his point differential drops down to 13% (using only his last 3 seasons of the 80's since he only played 231 games in the 90's)

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01-04-2011, 01:05 PM
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80's-NHL was at its offensive peak strategy wise.
90's-NHL was at its defenseive peak strategy wise.

Great goalies used to be important back then now you can have success with average goalies.

The way the game is played had a huge factor in why the scoring was higher or lower in those 2 decades.

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01-04-2011, 01:35 PM
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seventieslord
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straka91 View Post
80's-NHL was at its offensive peak strategy wise.
90's-NHL was at its defenseive peak strategy wise.

Great goalies used to be important back then now you can have success with average goalies.

The way the game is played had a huge factor in why the scoring was higher or lower in those 2 decades.
I agree with this, and too often people want to say that it had so much to do with all these top-end talents that just aren't there now.

Higher scoring reflects worse players, not better. History's results demonstrate this.

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01-04-2011, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straka91 View Post
80's-NHL was at its offensive peak strategy wise.
90's-NHL was at its defenseive peak strategy wise.

Great goalies used to be important back then now you can have success with average goalies.

The way the game is played had a huge factor in why the scoring was higher or lower in those 2 decades.
While there is definitely truth in this, goalies were at their worst in the 80's, best in the 90's and somewhere in between but closer to the 90's currently. The 90's saw the primes of Roy, Hasek, Belfour, Khabbibulin, Richter, etc. Put the 90's goalies in the 80's and you have a whole different story. The position was revolutionized by Roy and others.

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01-04-2011, 01:55 PM
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Another attempt. Maybe it's been done before, but I've tried to figure out how many goals the top 10 scorers each season scored in total. I started with 1974 (increase of the schedule to 80 games). To prevent "freaks of nature" from distorting the picture, I also give the total amount of goals barring the Nr. 1 scorer.

74/75:
Phil Esposito 61, Guy Lafleur 53, Richard Martin 52, Daniel Grant 50, Marcel Dionne 47, Bobby Orr 46, Reginald Leach 45, Joseph Pronovost 43, Steve Vickers 41, Rene Robert 40.
Total: 489 Goals. Total without Esposito: 428 Goals.

75/76:
Leach 61, Lafleur 56, Pierre Larouche 53, Pronovost 52, Bill Barber 50, Daniel Gare 50, Martin 49, Stephen Shutt 45, Gilbert Perreault 44, Charley Lefley 43.
Total: 503 Goals. Total without Leach: 442 Goals.

76/77:
Shutt 60, Lafleur 56, Dionne 53, Richard MacLeish 49, Lanny McDonald 46, Wilf Paiement 41, Perreault 39, Darryl Sittler 38, Peter McNab 38, Guy Charron 36.
Total: 456 Goals. Total without Shutt: 396 Goals.

77/78:
Lafleur 60, Mike Bossy 53, Shutt 49, McDonald 47, Bryan Trottier 46, Sittler 45, Perreault 41, McNab 41, Barber 41, Pat Hickey 40.
Total: 463 Goals. Total without Lafleur: 403 Goals.

78/79:
Bossy 69, Dionne 59, Lafleur 52, Guy Chouinard 50, Trottier 47, David Taylor 43, McDonald 43, Esposito 42, Brian Sutter 41, Ronald Sedlbauer 40.
Total: 486 Goals. Total without Bossy: 417 Goals.

79/80:
Charles Simmer 56, Blaine Stoughton 56, Gare 56, Dionne 53, Wayne Gretzky 51, Bossy 51, Lafleur 50, Larouche 50, Leach 50, Shutt 47.
Total: 520 Goals. Total without Simmer: 464 Goals.

80/81:
Bossy 68, Dionne 58, Simmer 56, Gretzky 55, Rick Kehoe 55, Wayne Babych 54, Jacques Richard 52, Dennis Maruk 50, Kent Nilsson 49, Mike Gartner 48.
Total: 545 Goals. Total without Bossy: 477 Goals.

81/82:
Gretzky 92, Bossy 64, Maruk 60, Dino Ciccarelli 55, Richard Vaive 54, Stoughton 52, Rick Middleton 51, Trottier 50, Dionne 50, Mark Messier 50.
Total: 578 Goals. Total without Gretzky: 486 Goals.

82/83:
Gretzky 71, McDonald 66, Bossy 60, Michel Goulet 57, Dionne 56, Alan Secord 54, Vaive 51, Middleton 49, Messier 48, Glenn Anderson 48.
Total: 560 Goals. Total without Gretzky: 489 Goals.

83/84:
Gretzky 87, Goulet 56, Anderson 54, Tim Kerr 54, Jari Kurri 52, Vaive 52, Bossy 51, Michael Bullard 51, Larouche 48, Middleton 47.
Total: 552 Goals. Total without Gretzky: 465 Goals.

84/85:
Gretzky 73, Kurri 71, Bossy 58, John Ogrodnick 55, Goulet 55, Kerr 54, Dale Hawerchuk 53, Bobby Carpenter 53, Gartner 50, Dionne 46.
Total: 568 Goals. Total without Gretzky: 495 Goals.

85/86:
Kurri 68, Bossy 61, Kerr 58, Anderson 54, Goulet 53, Gretzky 52, Mario Lemieux 48, Paul Coffey 48, Dennis Savard 47, Hawerchuk 46.
Total: 535 Goals. Total without Kurri: 467 Goals.

86/87:
Gretzky 62, Kerr 58, Kurri 54, Lemieux 54, Ciccarelli 52, Goulet 49, Hawerchuk 47, Joe Mullen 47, Luc Robitaille 45, Doug Gilmour 42.
Total: 510 Goals. Total without Gretzky: 448 Goals.

87/88:
Lemieux 70, Craig Simpson 56, James Carson 55, Robitaille 53, Joe Nieuwendyk 51, Håkan Loob 50, Steven Yzerman 50, Stephane Richer 50, Goulet 48, Michael Bullard 48.
Total: 531 Goals. Total without Lemieux: 461 Goals.

88/89:
Lemieux 85, Bernie Nicholls 70, Yzerman 65, Gretzky 54, Mullen 51, Nieuwendyk 51, Robert Brown 49, Carson 49, Kerr 48, Robitaille 46.
Total: 568 Goals. Total without Lemieux: 483 Goals.

89/90:
Brett Hull 72, Yzerman 62, Brian Bellows 55, Cam Neely 55, Pat LaFontaine 54, Robitaille 52, Gary Leeman 51, Richer 51, Messier 45, Lemieux 45.
Total: 542 Goals. Total without Hull: 470 Goals.

90/91:
Hull 86, Yzerman 51, Theoren Fleury 51, Neely 51, Gartner 49, Joe Sakic 48, Robitaille 45, Tomas Sandström 45, Nieuwendyk 45, John MacLean 45.
Total: 516 Goals. Total without Hull: 430 Goals.

91/92:
Hull 70, Kevin Stevens 54, Jeremy Roenick 53, Gary Roberts 53, LaFontaine 46, Yzerman 45, Lemieux 44, Robitaille 44, Mark Recchi 43, Mullen 42.
Total: 494 Goals. Total without Hull: 424 Goals.

92/93:
Teemu Selänne 76, Alexander Mogilny 76, Lemieux 69, Robitaille 63, Pavel Bure 60, Yzerman 58, Pierre Turgeon 58, Stevens 55, Hull 54, Dave Andreychuk 54.
Total: 623 Goals. Total without Selänne: 547 Goals.

93/94:
Bure 60, Hull 57, Sergei Fyodorov 56, Andreychuk 53, Brendan Shanahan 52, Ray Sheppard 52, Adam Graves 52, Mike Modano 50, Neely 50, Roenick 46.
Total: 528 Goals. Total without Bure: 468 Goals.

94/95:
Left out, Season shortened due to lockout.

95/96:
Lemieux 69, Jaromír Jágr 62, Mogilny 55, Peter Bondra 52, Sakic 51, John LeClair 51, Paul Kariya 50, Keith Tkachuk 50, Eric Lindros 47, Messier 47.
Total: 534 Goals. Total without Lemieux: 465 Goals.

96/97:
Takchuk 52, Selänne 51, Lemieux 50, LeClair 50, Žigmund Pálffy 48, Jágr 47, Shanahan 47, Bondra 46, Kariya 44, Hull 42.
Total: 477 Goals. Total without Tkachuk: 426 Goals.

97/98:
Selänne 52, Bondra 52, Bure 51, LeClair 51, Pálffy 45, Tkachuk 40, Nieuwendyk 39, Rod Brind'Amour 36, Jágr 35, Jason Allison 33.
Total: 434 Goals. Total without Selänne: 382 Goals.

98/99:
Selänne 47, Jágr 44, Alexei Yashin 44, Tony Amonte 44, LeClair 43, Sakic 41, Fleury 40, Lindros 40, Miroslav Šatan, 40, Kariya 39.
Total: 422 Goals. Total without Selänne: 375 Goals.

99/00:
Bure 58, Owen Nolan 44, Amonte 43, Jágr 42, Kariya 42, Shanahan 41, LeClair 40, Modano 38, Robitaille 36, Milan Hejduk 36.
Total: 420 Goals. Total without Bure: 362 Goals.

00/01:
Bure 59, Sakic 54, Jágr 52, Bondra 45, Alexei Kovalyov 44, Mogilny 43, Hejduk 41, Markus Näslund 41, Jeff O'Neill 41, Patrik Eliáš 40.
Total: 460 Goals. Total without Bure: 401 Goals.

01/02:
Jarome Iginla 52, Mats Sundin 41, Glen Murray 41, Bill Guerin 41, Näslund 40, Bondra 39, Tkachuk 38, Eric Daze 38, Shanahan 37, Šatan 37.
Total: 404 Goals. Total without Iginla: 352 Goals.

02/03:
Hejduk 50, Näslund 48, Todd Bertuzzi 46, Marián Hossa 45, Murray 44, Daniel Heatley 41, Ilya Kovalchuk 38, Pálffy 37, Kovalyov 37, Hull 37.
Total: 423 Goals. Total without Hejduk: 373 Goals.

03/04:
Kovalchuk 41, Iginla 41, Rick Nash 41, Martin Saint-Louis 38, Eliáš 38, Hossa 36, Näslund 35, Hejduk 35, Guerin 34, Sakic 33.
Total: 372 Goals. Total without Kovalchuk: 331 Goals.

Synopsis: High scoring era 1979-1990, depression 1990-1992, high scoring era 1992-1996, depression 1996-2004.

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