Interesting, but take a moment and do a youtube search on Robinson. Robinson was more than a star. There is no d-man in the history of the game that combined offensive ability with his toughness and leadership. He was intimidating to a level that put him in a group with only Denis Potvin and Scott Stevens, those are guys that were skilled, nasty, and ALWAYS in the mind of the opposition.
Having seen all play in their primes I would argue for Robinson being in a larger conversation about the best *overall* defenseman of all time.
BTW I brought up Serge, but I did not mean to say he was 'better' than Larry. It's like comparing Gold to Platinum...both are perfect. I just thought Serge should not be left out of the conversation...
They were all great. I'm old enough to have seen them play:
- Gainey was a testament to a true defensive player. Before him there were many solid defensive players, like Claude Provost (who practically invented the job), Don Marcotte (who tried to shadow Lafleur), Jim Roberts...But Bob defined the job by being a physical presence at the same time. He was fast, mean in his hitting (some of the nastiest hits in the league at the time were made by Bob, and I mean nasty), and was a great shadow to the best on the other side. Only problem: couldn't score if his life depended on it. Man, did he have hands of stones sometimes.
- Robinson: the great big one. He was tall, lanky, could kick some ass when needed (go ask Schultz), and had great hands for a defenceman. The most spectacular defenceman on the team.
- Savard: one word: a metronome. The guy was the best defenceman to bring the puck to center ice. The best in the league. People think that the opposition were on Robinson's back all the time. Truth of the matter was: coaches were putting Savard's name ahead of Robinson's on their chalk boards because Serge was the puck carrier. Serge was the best weapon against the trap, because he could carry the puck for miles without losing it. Incredible. He was intelligent with the puck. Larry was sometimes erratic in his offensive flashes. Not Serge. He was HUGE. Serge wasn't small. He was a tough cookie too. Kicked some Philly ass himself.
- Lapointe: the PP dynamo, the most offensive of the three. He would have been the best 2-way forward in the game had he developped at that position. Offensively, he was the most gifted. And he wasn't a 'moumoune' either.
- I remember when they were playing: They would be playing about 25 minutes each regularly, with the 4th guy (sometimes Chartraw, sometimes Nyrop or Englom or another solid defenceman) just filling up a spot when one of the three was tired. That was it. Bowman had the easiest job.
- Lafleur: by far the most spectacular player on the team, the most talented, the most blessed by nature. Always in movement, always improvising (he couldn't hold on to a system at all), Guy was one step ahead of everybody. Watch the tapes and when you would see number 10 pick up the puck, it was as if the rest of the game was in slow-motion. My God, was it exciting. The guy had such flair for excellence. Incredible! To think the guy was smoking on the bench while playing!!! One year, they had an endurance test done to him and other pro athletes around the world to find out who had the best stamina. Well, Guy and Bjorn Borg won. Guy's heart (litteraly) was so strong that he wouldn't even break a sweat after the tests. The guy was a machine. And was the biggest smoker there was in sports!!! Guy, though, trained hard. Was the first at the Forum every game (4 PM), was the last to leave the ice during practice, and worked his ass off all the time. He lived life at its fullest all the time. No wonder he drove some copters.
I can continue, but I won't. To me, essentially, the 4 cups were because of 3 defencemen and one superstar forward. I'm exagerating here but you get my drift. Imagine Carey Price having to face 18-21 shots a game, most of them from the outside, with few rebounds, imagine the results. Not saying Dryden wasn't good. He was. But he had the greatest defence corps in the history of the league. Imagine that Rod Langway was about the 5th or 6th D-man on the blue line when he broke in the league.