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Orr and Coffey - Switch them!

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Old
09-09-2011, 08:38 PM
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RabbinsDuck
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Orr and Coffey - Switch them!

Pretty ideal situations for a defenseman who excels offensively?

How many points would Orr put up with the 80s Oilers, and how many points would Coffey net with the 70s Bruins?

I think off-hand Coffey would have similar numbers w/ the Bruins that Orr had (though much lower +\-), but Orr probably could have hit 150+ pts a couple of times with the Oilers.

Also - how about other defensemen substituted into these ideal situations?

Could Potvin have had Orr like numbers on that Bruins team? Or Bourque on that Oilers team?

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09-09-2011, 10:13 PM
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Also - how about other defensemen substituted into these ideal situations?
Ok. How bout "Wild Thing"?. I give you...... Al Iafrate', "The Human Highlight Reel". At his peak, Im thinkin he'd have been a terror with the Oilers, unfortunately, he wound up with the Leafs (not for Toronto, for him). Another Leaf, Wendel Clark who was converted to forward, wouldve been incredible as a vintage Bruin defenceman circa 67-79.

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09-09-2011, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by RabbinsDuck View Post
Pretty ideal situations for a defenseman who excels offensively?

How many points would Orr put up with the 80s Oilers, and how many points would Coffey net with the 70s Bruins?

I think off-hand Coffey would have similar numbers w/ the Bruins that Orr had (though much lower +\-), but Orr probably could have hit 150+ pts a couple of times with the Oilers.

Also - how about other defensemen substituted into these ideal situations?

Could Potvin have had Orr like numbers on that Bruins team? Or Bourque on that Oilers team?
I think Coffey's numbers would have decreased playing with the 70's Bruins. Reason being is Gretzky was more responsible for the numbers Coffey put up, whereas Orr was more responsible for the numbers Esposito put up. Coffey had Kurri to help him a lot defensively, in Boston, Orr basically was the defense... and the offense.

Switch their situations and I'd say Coffey's numbers go down about 10-15%, as well as Esposito's, while their +/- would have suffered dramatically.

Put Orr with Kurri and Gretzky, let Kurri take a bit more of the defensive responsibility, allowing Orr to free wheel more than he did in his day (hockey was more suited for the rush type of style in the 80's than in the 70's), then have him playing give and go with Gretzky and we would see 230+ points for Gretzky, 150+ points for Orr, +/- numbers of over 130 for Orr and over 100 for Gretzky. Orr wouldn't have beaten his own record +/- of 128 by much, due to better parity in the 80's, but Gretzky's would likely have beaten his personal +/- record by a fair bit just by having Orr behind him instead of Coffey.

I couldn't imagine how unfair that would have been for other teams to have Gretzky and Orr playing together for multiple years in each of their respective primes, as if Gretzky and Coffey wasn't unfair enough to the opposition.

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09-09-2011, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Chrono Trigger View Post
I think Coffey's numbers would have decreased playing with the 70's Bruins. Reason being is Gretzky was more responsible for the numbers Coffey put up, whereas Orr was more responsible for the numbers Esposito put up. Coffey had Kurri to help him a lot defensively, in Boston, Orr basically was the defense... and the offense.

Switch their situations and I'd say Coffey's numbers go down about 10-15%, as well as Esposito's, while their +/- would have suffered dramatically.

Put Orr with Kurri and Gretzky, let Kurri take a bit more of the defensive responsibility, allowing Orr to free wheel more than he did in his day (hockey was more suited for the rush type of style in the 80's than in the 70's), then have him playing give and go with Gretzky and we would see 230+ points for Gretzky, 150+ points for Orr, +/- numbers of over 130 for Orr and over 100 for Gretzky. Orr wouldn't have beaten his own record +/- of 128 by much, due to better parity in the 80's, but Gretzky's would likely have beaten his personal +/- record by a fair bit just by having Orr behind him instead of Coffey.

I couldn't imagine how unfair that would have been for other teams to have Gretzky and Orr playing together for multiple years in each of their respective primes, as if Gretzky and Coffey wasn't unfair enough to the opposition.
I think Coffey would do better than your opinion (he was something special, offensively), but strongly agree with your impressions of Orr with the Oilers. I have a hard time seeing Gretzky/Orr losing a single Series in their prime. 6 straight Cups at the very least.

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09-09-2011, 11:04 PM
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Ok. How bout "Wild Thing"?. I give you...... Al Iafrate', "The Human Highlight Reel". At his peak, Im thinkin he'd have been a terror with the Oilers, unfortunately, he wound up with the Leafs (not for Toronto, for him). Another Leaf, Wendel Clark who was converted to forward, wouldve been incredible as a vintage Bruin defenceman circa 67-79.
Just to put out a number on it, I'd say Iafrate would be a 30 goal, 80 pt defenseman on that Bruins team.

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09-09-2011, 11:18 PM
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Does Coffey even put up the numbers he does without Orr revolutionizing the sport? Does Coffey revolutionize the game if this happens, or is Orr still the icon for this?

There is so many if's but assuming that no external factors are changed and coaches are open to having a player like Orr on the back end the way he played with the B's in the 70s, then I legitimately think Orr would be the only defenseman ever to hit 50 goals and the only defenseman to ever hit 150 points, modern science (well, more advanced at least) and general circumstance he would have a much longer career and in a later time period would have been more recognized and not so underground and would probably be more popular in hockey circles than Wayne Gretzky really, IMO.

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09-09-2011, 11:33 PM
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There is so many if's but assuming that no external factors are changed and coaches are open to having a player like Orr on the back end the way he played with the B's in the 70s, then I legitimately think Orr would be the only defenseman ever to hit 50 goals and the only defenseman to ever hit 150 points, modern science (well, more advanced at least) and general circumstance he would have a much longer career and in a later time period would have been more recognized and not so underground and would probably be more popular in hockey circles than Wayne Gretzky really, IMO.
Interesting points & hypothesis Reverend. Orr of course hit at a time when the game was in flux (expansion). The game was changing, Big Time. A phenom from a young age. If Coffey (for eg., there are others we could compare to Orr) had resembled same, started playing Junior at 14-15, ran up the numbers while being responsible in his own end, I suppose its possible/probable that had Orr never existed he or someone else could be wearing that mantle as we look back on it in retrospect. The game was changing, Orr was in the right place at the right time, a natural evolutionary extension of Shore, Horton (early in his career a proto-typical rushing defenceman), Harvey. I might add in closing that within many hockey circles, Orr is rated & ranked as the best ever, beyond #99, and that would include me. Maybe its an age or generational thing?.

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09-09-2011, 11:54 PM
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Does Coffey even put up the numbers he does without Orr revolutionizing the sport? Does Coffey revolutionize the game if this happens, or is Orr still the icon for this?

There is so many if's but assuming that no external factors are changed and coaches are open to having a player like Orr on the back end the way he played with the B's in the 70s, then I legitimately think Orr would be the only defenseman ever to hit 50 goals and the only defenseman to ever hit 150 points, modern science (well, more advanced at least) and general circumstance he would have a much longer career and in a later time period would have been more recognized and not so underground and would probably be more popular in hockey circles than Wayne Gretzky really, IMO.
At the same time, what could Gretzky have done in place of Esposito, or with Orr instead of Coffey on the Oilers.

I do not find it hard to imagine at all that an Orr/Gretzky combination could yield 150 pts from Orr and 250 pts from Gretzky. But I'm not sure which is better?

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09-10-2011, 12:40 AM
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Coffey is still cracking 100 points as a Bruin in the 1970s. He had too much talent not to. Esposito would still be the one leading the team (and the NHL) in scoring for the most part. Espo did this with Orr on his team so he'd do it with Coffey too. I think there is a good chance Coffey leads the NHL in points just once in the 1970s. My thought is the main competition Coffey would face was from Esposito. You'd think there might be a time when Coffey outpoints him. Coffey wasn't quite as offensive as Orr though so it could just be a dream.

Orr puts up 150 points as an Oiler. Coffey cracked as much as 139. Orr and Gretzky would be marvelous but since both liked to carry the puck so much would they offset each other that way? We'll never know

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09-10-2011, 12:58 AM
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Orr and Gretzky would be marvelous but since both liked to carry the puck so much would they offset each other that way? We'll never know
Thats what jumped into my numbskull when it was first suggested. Both Orr & Gretzky played a puck possession game to a large extent. They feathered passes to open players, went to where the puck was going, saw 10' over everyone elses heads, but still. Very different creatures. Im sure they would have found an unbelievable synergy on the PP but it was in both of their best interests to be playing the role of conductor. It would certainly be interesting.

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09-10-2011, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Chrono Trigger View Post
(...)Orr was more responsible for the numbers Esposito put up.
Ya?

1968-69: Bobby Orr scores 64 points in 67 games while Phil is one goal shy of 50 goals and sets an all-time record with 126 points in a season.

Like it or not, Esposito was a freak of nature.

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09-10-2011, 08:18 AM
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Ya?

1968-69: Bobby Orr scores 64 points in 67 games while Phil is one goal shy of 50 goals and sets an all-time record with 126 points in a season.

Like it or not, Esposito was a freak of nature.
I'm aware of that. I still think Orr's ability to control the play was second to none, and even though he did not reach the point totals he later did in his career, I still think he helped Esposito tremendously despite the fact that Espositio doubled him in points. Yeah, Espo was an amazing player, one of the best ever of course... however he benefited more from his situation than anyone in the history of the game IMHO. Look at his before and after seasons with the Blackhawks and Rangers. I know there's the whole argument that he wasn't in his prime yet in Chicago, and was past it in New York, I just find it a bit fishy that he entered his prime as soon as he joined Boston, and exited it as soon as he left. How much did the player himself actually change? He was a big slow guy who never relied on too much on physical attributes, just strength, and hockey sense. Many share this opinion, and that one season doesn't change my mind about him.

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09-10-2011, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Passchendaele View Post
Ya?

1968-69: Bobby Orr scores 64 points in 67 games while Phil is one goal shy of 50 goals and sets an all-time record with 126 points in a season.

Like it or not, Esposito was a freak of nature.
1968-69. Teams had to spread their defence to account for Orr up high and Esposito down low. Offence was still geared at getting the puck down low so Esposito was the initial beneficiary of the extra space created down low.

1969-70. Teams adjusted to Esposito allowing Orr more space up high. Orr produced 120 points winning the Ross, while Esposito dropped to 99.

1970-71 onwards Orr and Esposito were in full synch exploiting whatever open space was created.

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09-10-2011, 11:23 AM
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I'm guessing Coffey is a forward if he breaks in when Orr did. If he does break in as a d-man, he would have to take care of his defensive responsibilities much more than he did on the Oilers teams and hence his numbers would ultimately suffer. In addition, Park would end up with the bulk of those Orr Norris trophies, not Coffey.

The reason Coffey was able to do what he did, was because of the path blazed by Orr. No Orr and Coffey probably never becomes the offensive d-man he did.

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09-10-2011, 12:38 PM
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The reason Coffey was able to do what he did, was because of the path blazed by Orr. No Orr and Coffey probably never becomes the offensive d-man he did.
Certainly Coffey wasnt the phenom Orr was as a kid nor through Junior, though he did put up some decent numbers 78-79 & 79-80 but nowhere near the dominating factor Orr was with Oshawa & the Bruins. Id therefore agree with you that had he come up in the late 50's & 60's, drafted in 66 like Orr instead of 1980, had he remained on defence he'd have been a different player, trained to be far more conservative, but with those wheels, a Coach somewhere along the line likely wouldve' converted him to forward. No Orr, no Coffey, however, no Harvey or Shore, Orr still bursts onto the scene & blazes the trail. He was that good and that special.

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09-10-2011, 02:12 PM
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Bob Ertel and the Kitchener Rangers

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Certainly Coffey wasnt the phenom Orr was as a kid nor through Junior, though he did put up some decent numbers 78-79 & 79-80 but nowhere near the dominating factor Orr was with Oshawa & the Bruins. Id therefore agree with you that had he come up in the late 50's & 60's, drafted in 66 like Orr instead of 1980, had he remained on defence he'd have been a different player, trained to be far more conservative, but with those wheels, a Coach somewhere along the line likely wouldve' converted him to forward. No Orr, no Coffey, however, no Harvey or Shore, Orr still bursts onto the scene & blazes the trail. He was that good and that special.
Bob Ertel one of the greats of the CHL, from coach to president of the Kitchener Rangers mid 1970's onwards, reputation for developing defencemen - Paul Reinhart, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis amongst a large group. If the player could skate backwards and had talent he would play defence. Bob Ertel would have moved him back.

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09-10-2011, 02:40 PM
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I think the way Orr revolutionalized the position, based solely on his immense talent and ability, as well as how the Russians played the game, as a 5man unit with Fetisov an integral part of the offense - that truly paved the way for a guy like Coffey.

I think Coffey was an incredible talent, one of the most talented defenseman to ever play the game (offensively anyway) - but being able to put up those kinds of numbers was a direct result of Wayne Gretzky, to a lessor extent, Kurri, Messier, Anderson and the way that team played.

I believe Orr DEFINED that role and LED those teams.

I believe Coffey was more of a benefactor of his circumstances, without taking too much away from his ability to capitalize, have personal and team success, on more than one team.

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09-10-2011, 03:59 PM
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Bob Ertel one of the greats of the CHL, from coach to president of the Kitchener Rangers mid 1970's onwards, reputation for developing defencemen - Paul Reinhart, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis amongst a large group. If the player could skate backwards and had talent he would play defence. Bob Ertel would have moved him back.
In the mid-to-late 70's sure, if Bob had gotten him a lot earlier & Coffey was playing up-front. . Ertel as you know was Head Coach in Kitchener from 77-80, followed by Orval Tessier & then Joe Crozier, several Memorial Cups from 81 onward, Scott Stevens another one of their "products". Ertel was one of those "salt of the earth" types, a career minor league & senior player through the 50's & early 60's. Finestkind.

I still say had Coffey been brought up in the 50's & early 60's during Orrs' generation, he'd have been converted to a Forward, probably a Center. If we look at his Junior career, he started in the OPHL Jr.A with the North York Rangers; moving on to the OHA's Kingston Canadiens' later that season; a year in the Soo followed, then in his last year, split the season between the Soo & Kitchener under Ertel for app. 50-52 games. How much of an impact Bob had on Coffey's game is questionable as by that time his path & strengths were well formed, the tail end of his days in Junior.

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09-10-2011, 04:46 PM
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Doubtful

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In the mid-to-late 70's sure, if Bob had gotten him a lot earlier & Coffey was playing up-front. . Ertel as you know was Head Coach in Kitchener from 77-80, followed by Orval Tessier & then Joe Crozier, several Memorial Cups from 81 onward, Scott Stevens another one of their "products". Ertel was one of those "salt of the earth" types, a career minor league & senior player through the 50's & early 60's. Finestkind.

I still say had Coffey been brought up in the 50's & early 60's during Orrs' generation, he'd have been converted to a Forward, probably a Center. If we look at his Junior career, he started in the OPHL Jr.A with the North York Rangers; moving on to the OHA's Kingston Canadiens' later that season; a year in the Soo followed, then in his last year, split the season between the Soo & Kitchener under Ertel for app. 50-52 games. How much of an impact Bob had on Coffey's game is questionable as by that time his path & strengths were well formed, the tail end of his days in Junior.
The Canadiens converted J.C. Tremblay from a forward to a defenceman in the late 1950's before Bobby Orr was on the hockey radar. Also Carol Vadnais played forward in his minor hockey days in Montreal starting the conversion process to defence during his junior days in the Canadiens organization NDG --> Junior Canadiens when Orr had just started in Oshawa and it was not a given that hockey would be changed by Bobby Orr.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...vadnaca01.html

Larry Robinson, pre Bob Ertel days in Kitchener arrived as a forward from Brockville and within a season was a dman.

Going back to the Toronto area Red Kelly-St.Mike's and Jim Morrison - out of Montreal via Barrie, Boston sponsored were not converted to forwards. One of the considerations, especially on weak junior teams was that as a dman your best player, could easily play beyond 30 minutes per game, especially in the old two pairings days. This allowed weak teams to be more competitive.

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09-10-2011, 05:28 PM
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One of the considerations, especially on weak junior teams was that as a dman your best player, could easily play beyond 30 minutes per game, especially in the old two pairings days. This allowed weak teams to be more competitive.
Yep, thats very true & good examples. My reasoning for being convinced Coffey wouldve' been moved up is primarily based on his incredible skating skills and of course his naturally offensive propensities & inclinations. Much would've depended on who he had Coaching early on. I think he'd have buckled under the restrictive yoke of laneway defensive play. Maybe used on the point in PP situations, a sort of "utility" type but quite possibly a top line superstar type center, not to mention his obvious phrenological superiority in being a left handed shooter with a right thinking brain no?.

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09-10-2011, 05:53 PM
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Coaching

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Yep, thats very true & good examples. My reasoning for being convinced Coffey wouldve' been moved up is primarily based on his incredible skating skills and of course his naturally offensive propensities & inclinations. Much would've depended on who he had Coaching early on. I think he'd have buckled under the restrictive yoke of laneway defensive play. Maybe used on the point in PP situations, a sort of "utility" type but quite possibly a top line superstar type center, not to mention his obvious phrenological superiority in being a left handed shooter with a right thinking brain no?.
Comes back to coaching and organizational philosophies. The various examples attributed to the Canadiens all stemmed from Sam Pollock and his influence on their junior teams from the post WWII era onwards. Jim Morrison developed in the Canadiens backyard but left for Barrie - Hap Emms, Boston junior system, who did interesting things with dmen pre Bobby Orr - Doug Mohns was a hybrid LW/D, Red Kelly via St. Mike's to Detroit an organization that converted Marcel Pronovost from a forward to defence.

Interesting to find out how these decisions were made in various parts of Ontario and the rest of Canada or in other organizations. BTW, Bob Ertel and Orval Tessier came-up thru the Canadiens junior system when Pollock was running it.

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09-10-2011, 07:26 PM
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I think Coffey's numbers would have decreased playing with the 70's Bruins. Reason being is Gretzky was more responsible for the numbers Coffey put up, whereas Orr was more responsible for the numbers Esposito put up. Coffey had Kurri to help him a lot defensively, in Boston, Orr basically was the defense... and the offense.

Switch their situations and I'd say Coffey's numbers go down about 10-15%, as well as Esposito's, while their +/- would have suffered dramatically.

Put Orr with Kurri and Gretzky, let Kurri take a bit more of the defensive responsibility, allowing Orr to free wheel more than he did in his day (hockey was more suited for the rush type of style in the 80's than in the 70's), then have him playing give and go with Gretzky and we would see 230+ points for Gretzky, 150+ points for Orr, +/- numbers of over 130 for Orr and over 100 for Gretzky. Orr wouldn't have beaten his own record +/- of 128 by much, due to better parity in the 80's, but Gretzky's would likely have beaten his personal +/- record by a fair bit just by having Orr behind him instead of Coffey.

I couldn't imagine how unfair that would have been for other teams to have Gretzky and Orr playing together for multiple years in each of their respective primes, as if Gretzky and Coffey wasn't unfair enough to the opposition.
While i agree with the spirit of your post and the 10-15% decline for points for Coffey and Phil not sure Wayne could have ever topped the 230 or Orr the 150 point mark, maybe once each but man those totals would have been very hard to get to IMO.

Wayne's peak seasons were 215,212 and 205

Orr's were 139,135 and 120

Coffey's were 138, 125 and 121

but who knows maybe in a perfect seasons and storm Orr finds 11 more points and cracks 150 and Wayne finds 15 more points and cracks 230 but that would be over their best perfect season already and I think it would be highly unlikely.

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09-10-2011, 07:27 PM
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I'm aware of that. I still think Orr's ability to control the play was second to none, and even though he did not reach the point totals he later did in his career, I still think he helped Esposito tremendously despite the fact that Espositio doubled him in points. Yeah, Espo was an amazing player, one of the best ever of course... however he benefited more from his situation than anyone in the history of the game IMHO. Look at his before and after seasons with the Blackhawks and Rangers. I know there's the whole argument that he wasn't in his prime yet in Chicago, and was past it in New York, I just find it a bit fishy that he entered his prime as soon as he joined Boston, and exited it as soon as he left. How much did the player himself actually change? He was a big slow guy who never relied on too much on physical attributes, just strength, and hockey sense. Many share this opinion, and that one season doesn't change my mind about him.
That's a big factor in my opinion. Espo was 25 when he played for the Bruins. That's the beginning of a players prime especially when you are talking about big players that need time in the NHL to adjust. Remember now, Esposito finished 7th in scoring in 1966-'67 on the Blackhawks. And in 1967-'68 he finished 2nd in scoring with 84 points while Orr missed half the season and only had 31 points. The 1969 season has already been covered as well and after that Orr hit his true stride and he and Esposito made music together until 1975.

Keep in mind one thing here, in the 1974-'75 season Espo was turning 33. On the surface he scored 127 points but he was starting to slow down a bit 5-on-5 and this is during Orr's most prolific offensive season arguably. After his trade to NYR in 1975-'76 he was not only starting a slow decline (like everyone does at 33 years old) but he was on an awful team and still managed 80 points a year until his last season. What he did in 1979 was pretty amazing considering he was old and wasn't in "Kansas" anymore if you know what I mean.

Plus what he did without Orr or Hull in the 1972 Summit Series was special. I've always wondered how that doesn't abort all this talk about Espo being a leech but it doesn't. Either way you have to respect a guy who won a Hart in 1974 against a prime Orr - his own teammate.

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09-10-2011, 07:59 PM
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Relative Strengths

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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
While i agree with the spirit of your post and the 10-15% decline for points for Coffey and Phil not sure Wayne could have ever topped the 230 or Orr the 150 point mark, maybe once each but man those totals would have been very hard to get to IMO.

Wayne's peak seasons were 215,212 and 205

Orr's were 139,135 and 120

Coffey's were 138, 125 and 121

but who knows maybe in a perfect seasons and storm Orr finds 11 more points and cracks 150 and Wayne finds 15 more points and cracks 230 but that would be over their best perfect season already and I think it would be highly unlikely.
Comes down to relative strengths. Coffey was not the master of the offensive blue line that Orr was. Esposito did not control the area behind the net or red line the way Gretzky did. The hockey world saw the way Esposito and Orr combined to create space for scoring opportunities within the slot and back to the blueline and the resulting ability of Orr to roam the perimeter or drive the net.

Combining Orr with Gretzky would create more open space from the blue line to behind the red line with both generating more chances. Esposito was basically a closer, Coffey could generate and close but not at the Orr level, whereas Gretzky and orr could generate and close at the highest level.

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09-10-2011, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Comes down to relative strengths. Coffey was not the master of the offensive blue line that Orr was. Esposito did not control the area behind the net or red line the way Gretzky did. The hockey world saw the way Esposito and Orr combined to create space for scoring opportunities within the slot and back to the blueline and the resulting ability of Orr to roam the perimeter or drive the net.

Combining Orr with Gretzky would create more open space from the blue line to behind the red line with both generating more chances. Esposito was basically a closer, Coffey could generate and close but not at the Orr level, whereas Gretzky and orr could generate and close at the highest level.
Agreed... Orr and Gretzky were innovators, they were creative, highly adaptive and possess two of the highest on-ice intelligences in hockey. Both would be able to adapt and excel with each other, just as they did with much lesser linemates. It's more of a challenge to think of what they couldn't do together than what they could.

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