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How good was Rod Langway?

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Old
02-18-2011, 10:37 AM
  #26
Zauper
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I don't have a ton of time, so I'm just going to respond to the post by overpass that was quoted in, specifically the following numbers:

Quote:
Washington in 1980-81 and 1981-82
Player | ESGF | ESGA | +/- | Ratio
Rick Green | 146 | 172 | -26 | 0.85
NoGreen | 276 | 308 | -32 | 0.90

Washington in 1982-83 and 1983-84
Player | ESGF | ESGA | +/- | Ratio
Rod Langway | 187 | 175 | 12 | 1.07
NoLangway | 266 | 200 | 67 | 1.33
There are some serious flaws with this analysis, unfortunately. Green only played 130 games over the prior two seasons (65 per), while Langway played all 160 games.

If we assume that Green had played the additional 30 games, it's (probably?) safe to assume the total GA of the Caps would have decreased. For the sake of comparison, I will adjust the numbers to reflect Green playing 20% more games (brings him to 156), and reducing the nogreen numbers by a corresponding amount (not correcting for 'quality' difference btwn Green and the #2 dman, though):

Quote:
Washington in 1980-81 and 1981-82
Player | ESGF | ESGA | +/- | Ratio
Rick Green | 176 | 207 | -31 | 0.85
NoGreen | 246 | 273 | -27 | 0.90

Washington in 1982-83 and 1983-84
Player | ESGF | ESGA | +/- | Ratio
Rod Langway | 187 | 175 | 12 | 1.07
NoLangway | 266 | 200 | 67 | 1.33
This change makes things look quite a bit different. Now we're looking at a 43 +/- swing, combined with a 32 GA reduction, and seeing additional GF for Langway. This raises another point: Langway, a primarily defensive dman, had a better ESGF than Rick Green, the Caps old #1 dman. This might indicate that Langway is receiving additional ES minutes, which could also help to account for the superior ESGA of NoLangway compared to NoGreen. Since we lack TOI numbers, there's not really a good way to check.

To sum: after merely adjusting for GP, we see that Langway's ESGA numbers resulted in a 32 GA improvement over two years compared to Green, and a 58 SHGA improvement compared to Green. Those are pretty substantial improvements over other #1 dmen. In spite of not having an offensive game, and being a defensive dman receiving the toughest assignments, Langway was a + player.

There is also the question of 'intangibles' -- why doesn't Langway, as the captain and best defensive player of the team receive any credit for the improving defensive play of his teammates, who are largely AHL quality dmen and rookies? Were they 'inspired' by his play?

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02-18-2011, 02:24 PM
  #27
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Originally Posted by Zauper View Post
I don't have a ton of time, so I'm just going to respond to the post by overpass that was quoted in, specifically the following numbers:

...

There are some serious flaws with this analysis, unfortunately. Green only played 130 games over the prior two seasons (65 per), while Langway played all 160 games.

There is also the question of 'intangibles' -- why doesn't Langway, as the captain and best defensive player of the team receive any credit for the improving defensive play of his teammates, who are largely AHL quality dmen and rookies? Were they 'inspired' by his play?
The GF numbers are bigger since 1981 is part of the sample. As such, the Caps offense is better with Langway. The GF differential between Langway on/off is proportionate to Green on/off. By your revised numbers, Green was on for 41.7% of Caps goals. Langway was on for 41.3%.

GA shows that Langway was on for 46.7% of team ESGA, Green for 43.1%. Langway probably did play a few extra ES mins a game.

Langway definitely deserves credit for Washington's resurgence, but perhaps he should not get 2 Norris Trophies worth of credit. Particularly in 1984, once Larry Murphy was acquired and Scott Stevens was improving. The improved 83 Caps PK is part of why I don't mind his 83 Norris, (even if he was even, and not a + player,) but in 1984 Coffey and Bourque had better two-way seasons.

Coffey was the top non-Gretzky scorer in the NHL, was part of a great PP, and an above average defender on a dangerous PK. In 84, Coffey had points on 57.5% of goals he was on-ice for.

Bourque was more balanced, posting 96 points, quarterbacking an effective PP, and playing on an effective PK. In 84, Bourque had points on 51.3% of points he was on-ice for.

Langway was still a fine defensive player, and was a central part of the Caps #1 PK. In 84, Langway had points on 29.5% of goals he was on-ice for. Unlike Bourque and Coffey, if Langway was a plus-player (marginally), his minimal offensive contribution had little to do with it. Even when he's on the ice, goals for were largely a result of his teammates' efforts, and not his own.

I am also low on time, (okay you got me, I'm lazy,) so this table will count SH goals for and against. So I call them Non-PP GF and Non PP GA instead of ESGF and ESGA. SH goals probably don't skew data that much for the Caps and Bruins, but with the Oilers it probably skews things terribly.

Season NPGF NPGA Plus/Minus Ratio
Coffey 83 150 98 52 1.53
No Coffey 188 128 60 1.47
Coffey 84 159 107 52 1.49
No Coffey 206 130 76 1.58
Bourque 83 97 48 49 2.02
No Bourque 163 175 -12 0.93
Bourque 84 121 70 51 1.73
No Bourque 133 135 -2 0.99
Langway 83 100 100 0 1.00
No Langway 131 130 1 1.01
Langway 84 94 80 14 1.18
No Langway 137 107 30 1.28

And my laziness haunts me immediately. Maybe Edmonton's numbers change when SHG are removed. With the second best +/- on the team, Coffey probably shouldn't have a lower ESG ratio than his team. If so, Gretzky may be the only Oiler who outperforms the team.

While it was easier for voters to compare the Caps without Langway to the caps with Langway, Bourque seems to have helped his team significantly when he was on the ice. He appears to have helped on both ends as well. The No-Bourque Bruins seem less 'inspired' than the No-Langway Caps, but that's okay since on-ice Bourque performs so well. Had Bourque not missed 15 games in 1983, he may have had a very good case to take the Norris.

Langway is helped by my laziness, since he didn't play on the PP very much, so the team has more SHGA than Langway. The team still out performs him slightly though. On defense, Rod Langway was among the best at stopping goals from happening. Unfortunately, it appears he also did well at preventing goals on offense.

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02-18-2011, 02:39 PM
  #28
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Originally Posted by blogofmike View Post
Langway definitely deserves credit for Washington's resurgence, but perhaps he should not get 2 Norris Trophies worth of credit. Particularly in 1984, once Larry Murphy was acquired and Scott Stevens was improving. The improved 83 Caps PK is part of why I don't mind his 83 Norris, (even if he was even, and not a + player,) but in 1984 Coffey and Bourque had better two-way seasons.
My personal take. Mark Howe should have won in 83 and Bourque in 84. Mark Howe joined the Flyers in 83 and Philadelphia's GA also improved dramatically and he also contributed significantly more on offense. Did Langway provide better defense than Howe in 83 and Bourque in 84? Yes, but the offense those two provided over Langway, is significantly more than the additional defense Langway provided. For whatever reason there was a backlash against d-men who scored because the two previous winners, Carlyle and Wilson, weren't considered defensively elite. To be honest, I've always thought the writers dropped the ball on their selections for the Norris in the years 81 to 86. They either went with offensive guys or defensive guys and ignored the great all-round d-men of the era in Howe, Bourque, Robinson and Potvin.

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02-18-2011, 03:02 PM
  #29
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Originally Posted by TheMoreYouKnow View Post
If you look at defense as you know defense and not "taking the puck and flying into the offensive zone with it", he has a solid argument for top 10.

Are you saying that Langway is one of the top 10 defensive Dmen of all time? Not sure how one can do that as it's very subjective but I would be interested to know who else is on that top 10 of all time defensive Dman list, and more importantly who isn't on it.


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Originally Posted by Psycho Papa Joe View Post
There were alot of key additions in the first two years that contributed to the Caps reducing their GAA so dramatically. Langway was a big part of it, but additions such as Jarvis, Engblom, Duchesne, Houston and Riggin also made significant contributions from the defensive standpoint. Langway was the Leader, no doubt, but it was the coaching staff and managment that were the keys to the transformation with a very solid building plan.

In addition, anybody who watched the Caps the year before the 'Trade', knew they were a team that was on the verge of a breakthrough. Trade or no trade, the Caps were going to improve. Obviously the trade made them improve by more than they were projected to.

Personally, I didn't think he was the best choice for either one of his Norris Trophies, since I think a number of the other contenders were much better all-round players, but there was a bit of a backlash against d-men who were scorers given the two previous winners, Carlyle and Wilson. People felt that defense wasn't being rewarded enough and Langway, being the best defensive d-man, was the beneficiary of the backlash. Funny thing is, Serge Savard, who at his peak IMO was better defensively than Langway, never finished very high in Norris Trophy voting.
I agree here and will add that Scott Stevens also had a very impressive rookie campaign with a plus 14 rating and a solid 25 points for an 18 yr old as well in 83. In 84 both Stevens and Larry Murphy who was flipped for Engblom were also keys on an ever improving defense for the Capitals. by the 85 season and possibly even in the 84 season Stevens was the best all around Dman for the Caps not Langway IMO.

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02-18-2011, 03:35 PM
  #30
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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Are you saying that Langway is one of the top 10 defensive Dmen of all time? Not sure how one can do that as it's very subjective but I would be interested to know who else is on that top 10 of all time defensive Dman list, and more importantly who isn't on it.
I wouldn't say defensive D-men only, just a list focused primarily on defensive prowess rather than offensive ability. If the main mission of a D-man is to keep the puck out of the net and more specifically to keep the opponent from getting quality scoring chances then that obviously would be the main measuring stick i.e. who is best at playing defense. A list that would include defensive D-men but wouldn't exclude all-rounders.

I mean Nick Lidstrom for example has had good offensive production throughout his career but nobody would suggest it came at the cost of defense. His positioning and decision-making in his own zone set him apart from other D-men. Guys like Doug Harvey or Eddie Shore were also guys who were known for D as well.

Any such list would be highly subjective but aren't all of them unless you base them directly on specific stats (which doesn't make very "good" lists if you know what I mean)? D-Men are the most complicated position to rate but it seems obviously flawed to me to go by points totals as many people seem to do.

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02-18-2011, 05:42 PM
  #31
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Originally Posted by TheMoreYouKnow View Post
I wouldn't say defensive D-men only, just a list focused primarily on defensive prowess rather than offensive ability. If the main mission of a D-man is to keep the puck out of the net and more specifically to keep the opponent from getting quality scoring chances then that obviously would be the main measuring stick i.e. who is best at playing defense. A list that would include defensive D-men but wouldn't exclude all-rounders.

I mean Nick Lidstrom for example has had good offensive production throughout his career but nobody would suggest it came at the cost of defense. His positioning and decision-making in his own zone set him apart from other D-men. Guys like Doug Harvey or Eddie Shore were also guys who were known for D as well.

Any such list would be highly subjective but aren't all of them unless you base them directly on specific stats (which doesn't make very "good" lists if you know what I mean)? D-Men are the most complicated position to rate but it seems obviously flawed to me to go by points totals as many people seem to do.
Agree with most of the stuff said in this post. One thing though is that there are a lot of Demn who play great defense who are never recognized for their play, usually playing on weaker teams and other factors, Doug Lidster comes to mind here.

He was a very good defensive Dman and decent all around player as well who played on the west coast for a poor franchise.

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02-19-2011, 10:50 AM
  #32
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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
One thing though is that there are a lot of Demn who play great defense who are never recognized for their play, usually playing on weaker teams and other factors, Doug Lidster comes to mind here....He was a very good defensive Dman and decent all around player as well who played on the west coast for a poor franchise.
Huh?. Lidster was an offensive-defenceman who quarterbacked the PP on the point, a transitionalist. His defensive game was decent enough, but he wasnt exactly a dependable stay at home player.

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02-19-2011, 11:48 AM
  #33
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Langway was an old school D-man. He hit the puck carrier, cleared the puck, battled in the corners and behind the net. I saw him play in person once. He controlled the tempo of the game and the puck. He was a good outlet passer and assisted on goals. He stopped that puck like a wall built across the ice. The Caps became a playoff team with him. Definitely in my top 25 NHL D-men of all time. No, he wasn't Orr or Potvin, but he did contribute on offense and he was a defenseman first.

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02-19-2011, 04:52 PM
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Langway was an old school D-man. He hit the puck carrier, cleared the puck, battled in the corners and behind the net. I saw him play in person once. He controlled the tempo of the game and the puck. He was a good outlet passer and assisted on goals. He stopped that puck like a wall built across the ice. The Caps became a playoff team with him. Definitely in my top 25 NHL D-men of all time. No, he wasn't Orr or Potvin, but he did contribute on offense and he was a defenseman first.
Good post.

I saw Langway play a number of times live, included a Canada Cup game against Canada in 1984. He was a dominant defensive player, like few others.

Wonder if anyone has ice time numbers for him. Seemed like he played most of the game when he was in Washington for the first few years.

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02-19-2011, 05:08 PM
  #35
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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Are you saying that Langway is one of the top 10 defensive Dmen of all time? Not sure how one can do that as it's very subjective but I would be interested to know who else is on that top 10 of all time defensive Dman list, and more importantly who isn't on it.




I agree here and will add that Scott Stevens also had a very impressive rookie campaign with a plus 14 rating and a solid 25 points for an 18 yr old as well in 83. In 84 both Stevens and Larry Murphy who was flipped for Engblom were also keys on an ever improving defense for the Capitals. by the 85 season and possibly even in the 84 season Stevens was the best all around Dman for the Caps not Langway IMO.
After the 84-85 season I would imagine hockey people were seeing that Stevens would be the better player in the future. But not in the previous season.

Though Stevens out scored Langway 65-26, he was still a big 20 year old kid running around looking for big hits and taking bad penalties (221 PIM). Most of his scoring came on the power play, including 16 of his 21 goals.

Langway was a second team all-star, Stevens was not. Even the next season, with Langway having injuries, he was a +27 while Stevens was an even.

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02-19-2011, 10:32 PM
  #36
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It's a nice accomplishment, but I do not feel it was warranted. The voters fell in love with the idea of a throwback defenceman in a ridiculously offensive era. Langway also benefitted from that trade, as people attributed Washington's improvement mostly to him, thus making his supposed "value" easy to see. I don't attribute Washington's improvement solely to Langway.
Well, to put it in perspective Washington's goalie was Pat Riggin in 1984. He was a 2nd team all-star that year. He did nothing of significance outside of the couple years he had Langway in front of him. No way does a goalie like Pat Riggin lead the NHL in shutouts in 1984 if Phil Housley is his best defenseman.

I'm just saying, it's been examined time after time, and the value Langway had to the Caps was very high. The voters who watched the NHL at this time believed this. Langway is a typical example of a guy who will be underrated the further time goes on because people will wonder how Coffey and Bourque could have been robbed of a Norris strictly based on their point totals. It's a rare time when stats tell not nearly the whole story. Langway prevented the opposition from scoring so well and gave his team such a turnaround that he was rewarded by the people who witnessed it. I see nothing wrong with that.

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02-20-2011, 01:53 AM
  #37
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Huh?. Lidster was an offensive-defenceman who quarterbacked the PP on the point, a transitionalist. His defensive game was decent enough, but he wasnt exactly a dependable stay at home player.

Lidster was never a PP QB, he was a guy who played on the PP (frankly because someone had to) in Vancouver until Reinhart came in to solve that problem. He was a very technical and good defensive Dman, who wasn't very physical and played on some pretty horrible Canuck teams.

He was definitive of how poor the plus/minus stat can be for some players on both poor and great teams. (Mike Green being the polar opposite)

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02-20-2011, 02:04 AM
  #38
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After the 84-85 season I would imagine hockey people were seeing that Stevens would be the better player in the future. But not in the previous season.

Though Stevens out scored Langway 65-26, he was still a big 20 year old kid running around looking for big hits and taking bad penalties (221 PIM). Most of his scoring came on the power play, including 16 of his 21 goals.

Langway was a second team all-star, Stevens was not. Even the next season, with Langway having injuries, he was a +27 while Stevens was an even.
It might very well be that Stevens was not as valuable as Langway in the 84 season, I didn't watch them every game and even close analysis of game tapes might not tell the whole story, I was just saying that it was possible.

At the very least Stevens was playing an ever increasing role on the team.

As for the all star selection, voters often give at least some sort of preference to reputation and guys who have been there before while many young players have to wait their turn (especially on Defense).

Just a general impression and not always the case but it is there often enough.

Plus minus is one stat that often has no meaning, In Langways first year in Washington he was an even zero while Stevens was a plus 14 and its extremely clear Langway was better than Stevens in every aspect of the game (except scoring goals maybe) in 83.

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02-20-2011, 10:12 AM
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It might very well be that Stevens was not as valuable as Langway in the 84 season, I didn't watch them every game and even close analysis of game tapes might not tell the whole story, I was just saying that it was possible.

At the very least Stevens was playing an ever increasing role on the team.

As for the all star selection, voters often give at least some sort of preference to reputation and guys who have been there before while many young players have to wait their turn (especially on Defense).

Just a general impression and not always the case but it is there often enough.

Plus minus is one stat that often has no meaning, In Langways first year in Washington he was an even zero while Stevens was a plus 14 and its extremely clear Langway was better than Stevens in every aspect of the game (except scoring goals maybe) in 83.
This is true.

But Stevens wasn't experienced enough to even be compared to Langway defensively in the years we are talking about.

Once again, Langway is one of those odd players that is hard to portray accurately and his numbers just don't do him justice.

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02-20-2011, 02:31 PM
  #40
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This is true.

But Stevens wasn't experienced enough to even be compared to Langway defensively in the years we are talking about.

Once again, Langway is one of those odd players that is hard to portray accurately and his numbers just don't do him justice.
No Langway can't be judged by his numbers, he was a very good toe excellent Dman for quite a while but his lack of offense holds him back in the all time rankings IMO.

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02-20-2011, 02:53 PM
  #41
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I've got no problem with people saying he's not one of the top 10 defensemen off all time. He simply didn't bring the offense to put him in that category, and as much as I love Langway, I agree. But I think he's clearly one of the top 10 defensive d-men of all time. For the hockey history buffs on here, how many d-men have ever won the norris without being in the top half of the league in points among d-men?

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02-20-2011, 08:18 PM
  #42
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I've got no problem with people saying he's not one of the top 10 defensemen off all time. He simply didn't bring the offense to put him in that category, and as much as I love Langway, I agree. But I think he's clearly one of the top 10 defensive d-men of all time. For the hockey history buffs on here, how many d-men have ever won the norris without being in the top half of the league in points among d-men?
Any such list wouldn't shed much light on the situation as guys like, Bourque, Lidstrom, Harvey, Potvin and Orr all were very good at defense as well as offense.

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02-21-2011, 04:58 PM
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I've got no problem with people saying he's not one of the top 10 defensemen off all time. He simply didn't bring the offense to put him in that category, and as much as I love Langway, I agree. But I think he's clearly one of the top 10 defensive d-men of all time. For the hockey history buffs on here, how many d-men have ever won the norris without being in the top half of the league in points among d-men?
I think a decent argument could be made that he was the Tim Horton of his era.

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02-21-2011, 08:22 PM
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He was like an octopus out there....

Anyone that saw him play in those years would never question him winning the Norris.

With that being said; he is definitely not a top 10 Dman all-time. Top 20 though.....

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02-22-2011, 03:29 PM
  #45
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FWIW, in the 1984 coaches poll, he was voted the best defensive dman in the league, and the second most valuable player (after Gretzky).

Presumably the coaches would be relatively knowledgeable about the relative value of players, and not just assign value based on a franchise's turnaround.

But yes, he is certainly not top-10 all time. Top 10 looking purely at defense? Maybe.

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02-22-2011, 06:00 PM
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But yes, he is certainly not top-10 all time. Top 10 looking purely at defense? Maybe.
Probably. Just basing it on guys I've seen, from a purely defensive standpoint, I think I've only seen 3 or 4 guys in his league and he might have the best peak. Serge Savard in the Habs dynasty years is the only guy who had a peak in the same range. I've seen everyone since the mid-70's so considering him a top 10 defensive d-man of all-time is not a reach at all. The argument is whether he might be a top 5 defensive d-man.

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He was like an octopus out there....
Reminded me of the way a peak Pronger played defense.

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02-22-2011, 06:31 PM
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Langway, as far as I'm concerned (and with my minimal knowledge), was a top 10 defenseman of all time at defending the opposition attack in his own zone. Absolutely dominant defender in an era where they were few and far in between.

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02-23-2011, 10:45 AM
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Reminded me of the way a peak Pronger played defense.
A regular season Pronger perhaps. Problem was he never raised his level come the postseaon. He also wasn't as mean as Pronger.

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02-23-2011, 11:00 AM
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I'm of the opinion that Langway is overrated due to those two (undeserved) Norris trophies.


Top 20 all-time defenseman ??? He's borderline top 20 post-expansion.

Just off the top of my head, the defenseman I'd take over Langway, post-expansion:

Chelios, Stevens, Bourque, Lidstrom, MacInnis, Coffey, Robinson, Fetisov, Blake, Neidermayer, Pronger, Howe, Leetch, Orr, Park, Potvin, Salming, Lapointe, and Savard

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02-23-2011, 11:26 AM
  #50
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I'm of the opinion that Langway is overrated due to those two (undeserved) Norris trophies.


Top 20 all-time defenseman ??? He's borderline top 20 post-expansion.

Just off the top of my head, the defenseman I'd take over Langway, post-expansion:

Chelios, Stevens, Bourque, Lidstrom, MacInnis, Coffey, Robinson, Fetisov, Blake, Neidermayer, Pronger, Howe, Leetch, Orr, Park, Potvin, Salming, Lapointe, and Savard
langway is certainly not top 20 all-time. but he was a game-changing d-man-- i would compare his impact to stevens in NJ, though stevens was better. of the list above, i'd put langway peak-to-peak ahead of blake, lapointe, and savard, and i think he could call niedermayer and salming peers.

but then lapointe, savard, and salming all peaked before my time, so i can't say for sure. but i do remember vividly being scared of langway, even after his norris-winning peak. he had an aura of invincibility to him, like your best offensive players were going to be shut down when you faced him.

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