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What was/is the problem with Al MacInnis?

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09-16-2011, 06:10 AM
  #1
plusandminus
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What was/is the problem with Al MacInnis?

I just noticed Al Macinnis was not rated among the top 70 players alltime, and became curious about why.

MacInnis was a top player season after season, placing high in scoring and having a great +/-. If I remember right, he's 3rd alltime in pts among defencemen, and it seems hockeyreference (no matter what one think of their methods) have him 3rd alltime in adjusted pts among defencemen.
If I interpret Overpass' thread about adjusted +/- since 1968 correctly
http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=591548
post #2 has MacInnis is approximately 4th among defencemen and 5th overall.

MacInnis only have 1 Norris (but also 1 Conn Smythe and 1 election as best defenceman in an "all the best players" tournament). That is in itself not comparable to Bourque or Lidstrom's achivements, or perhaps not even Chelios (3 Norris). MacInnis have 4 1st AST, and 4 2nd AST.

Why does guys like Bourque, Robinson, Potvin, Chelios and others be considered better alltime than MacInnis? What was his weaknesses?
If those guys were put in the same environment as MacInnis, is it pretty certain that they would have outplayed him? If on the same team, would he have received less icetime? How would you have coached such a team (ES, PP, SH, leading/traling near end of game)?

(I'm not saying MacInnis should be ahead of them. I just got interested reading you elaborate.)

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09-16-2011, 07:02 AM
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I've also wondered if MacInnis should be ranked higher. In addition to his excellent plus-minus, he's among the very best power play players ever. But I'll play devil's advocate here and throw out a couple of reasons why he isn't.

MacInnis was very good for a long time, but didn't have a standout peak. He was almost certainly more valuable over his career than Paul Coffey, IMO, because of his consistency. But Coffey had a dominant peak in the mid-80s, so he is usually ranked higher.

MacInnis probably wasn't used against top competition as much as other elite defenders, which would have helped his plus-minus. MacInnis started out as a power play specialist and didn't really become an all-around defenceman until 1989 or so. Later in his career, MacInnis was a very good all-around defenceman, but from 1997-98 on Chris Pronger was better and played the shutdown minutes. (MacInnis still had an outstanding season in 2002-03 when Pronger was injured.) Not that MacInnis was completely sheltered, but he wasn't used in a shutdown role like Chris Chelios, for example.

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09-16-2011, 07:08 AM
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tarheelhockey
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I think MacInnis is close on Robinson and Lidstrom. They're all kind of a tie in my mind unless I'm forced to split hairs and rank them.

Chelios is a tougher comparable because of his Howe-like longetivity and his contributions across eras and environments.

Bourque is simply a notch above, having been elite for 20 years and a Hart-level player at his peak.

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09-16-2011, 08:29 AM
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He shouldn't be ranked much lower than Pilote and Horton IMO.

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09-16-2011, 08:48 AM
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Canadiens1958
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Shot

Factor out the shot and the resulting rebound/deflection assists and you have a high very good defenceman named Al MacInnis or give Mark Howe the same shot and he is a first ballot lock for the HHOF.

Overlooked so far in the discussion amongst contemporaries. Brad Park, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe.

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09-16-2011, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Overlooked so far in the discussion amongst contemporaries. Brad Park, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe.
What makes these three players contemporaries of MacInnis?

Park played from 1968 until 1985.

Savard played from 1966 until 1983.

Lapointe played from 1968 until 1984.

MacInnis played from 1981 until 2004. As a contemporary, he's much more comparable to Chelios, Bourque, and Leetch.

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09-16-2011, 10:05 AM
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Perhaps he's more overlooked because he didn't play for a big-market team or a team that was consistently going deep into the playoffs.

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09-16-2011, 10:26 AM
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Hawkey Town 18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
I think MacInnis is close on Robinson and Lidstrom. They're all kind of a tie in my mind unless I'm forced to split hairs and rank them.

Chelios is a tougher comparable because of his Howe-like longetivity and his contributions across eras and environments.

Bourque is simply a notch above, having been elite for 20 years and a Hart-level player at his peak.
IMO Chelios is a pretty easy decision. They played their careers at the same time and Chelios has the better resume in terms of Norris and All Star voting even with MacInnis being the better player offensively (which tends to get extra credit among voters). MacInnis has the Smythe, but Chelios' 92' playoffs is at about the same level. Also, at their peak it seems pretty clear that Chelios was better, #1-2 defensive defenseman in the league while being top 3-5 offensively. If memory serves, Chelios has been proven to be one of the best PKers of all time as well.

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09-16-2011, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor No View Post
What makes these three players contemporaries of MacInnis?

Park played from 1968 until 1985.

Savard played from 1966 until 1983.

Lapointe played from 1968 until 1984.

MacInnis played from 1981 until 2004. As a contemporary, he's much more comparable to Chelios, Bourque, and Leetch.
Careers overlap. Potvin and Robinson who tend to be grouped with the seventies dmen as well were listed.

Like Park, Savard and Lapointe, MacInnis spent some time in the minors after junior because like Robinson and the others he was not NHL ready for various reasons. Chelios, Bourque,Leetch post NHL entry draft did not spend time in the minors.

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09-16-2011, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
IMO Chelios is a pretty easy decision. They played their careers at the same time and Chelios has the better resume in terms of Norris and All Star voting even with MacInnis being the better player offensively (which tends to get extra credit among voters). MacInnis has the Smythe, but Chelios' 92' playoffs is at about the same level. Also, at their peak it seems pretty clear that Chelios was better, #1-2 defensive defenseman in the league while being top 3-5 offensively. If memory serves, Chelios has been proven to be one of the best PKers of all time as well.
You're right that they line up well early on. I just have a bit of a hard time aligning their later careers, where Chelios played and played (and played and played and played) including roles in the "veteran mentor" role whereas MacInnis was cut short by his eye injury while he was still in his late peak. It leads into a certain degree of speculation about what we missed from MacInnis' twilight years, and whether Chelios' less productive late seasons amounted to something positive or negative. Just two very different ways to finish.

I still have Chelios ahead FWIW for the reasons you described above.

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09-16-2011, 10:39 AM
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vadim sharifijanov
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this is what i wrote the year macinnis was up for the HHOF for the first time. it was a different board, but the consensus was that it should be messier, stevens, larionov, and francis. i argued that there is no way macinnis is behind francis, and should be neck and neck with (or maybe even slightly higher than) stevens.

Quote:
i know, francis ended up with the second most assists of all time. but i think we're either overvaluing francis or underrating macinnis here. many scattered thoughts:

1.

macinnis -- one of five defencemen to ever score 100 points in a season, one top ten finish in points, conn smythe, cup, norris, 1st team all-star (4 times), 2nd team all-star (3 times), 3rd in scoring all-time among defencemen, 13th in assists all-time

francis -- three 100 point seasons in 23 years, two top ten finishes in points, two cups, no first or second team all-star selections, 4th all-time in points, 2nd all-time in assists, only major award: selke, but he finished his career -10 (a great two-way player, but his two-way prowess is what supposedly puts him in the same discussion as guys like oates and hawerchuk who routinely outscored him by a wide margin, and he finishes -10? joe sakic played all those years on a last place team in quebec, much worse than francis' whalers, and he has a career +40).

2.

early career: francis is the best player on an awful whalers team that won one round in his nine years there (think: hawerchuk in the '80s but without the great numbers). macinnis is a key component of a stacked calgary team that made it to the finals in '86 (he led the team in playoff scoring that year). two second team all-star finishes. EDGE: macinnis

prime: francis is a perennial selke nominee, won two cups as perhaps the best second line center the league had seen since messier was one in edmonton, had a few very good offensive years centering jagr, had one great offensive year on a line with jagr and lemieux (then easily the two greatest offensive talents in the league); macinnis wins a cup and the conn smythe, finishes third in assists in '91 (amazing for a defenceman), two first-team all-star finishes in two years (almost won the norris in '91, lost to bourque by a landslide in '90), was the consensus second best defenceman in the league 1988-1991 (behind bourque). EDGE: macinnis

late career: macinnis almost wins a second norris trophy at 40 carrying the st. louis blues while pronger's out all year. gets hurt in game 3 of the playoffs as his team falls apart and relinquishes a 3-1 series lead to vancouver. plays three regular season games the next season, then retires (as a high impact player). francis' last good year was at 39, when he was the second best player on a surprising carolina team that made it to the finals (ron francis was carolina's leader and the best skater, but come on, it was archie irbe who carried the team). floats around for a few years, is a solid defensive center, but offensive game takes a huge dive. retires (as an average player). EDGE: macinnis

3.

all-star games mean very little, but it has to say something that macinnis has thirteen all-star appearances and francis only has three. my point is that francis was very productive and for a very long time, but he was never (or only very briefly) a top 6 player. macinnis was top 6 for a very long time.

playoff stats: macinnis -- 160 points/177 games; francis -- 143 points/171 games

my conclusion: i'm oversimplifying, but let's say that there are five kinds of players we consider for the hall of fame--

category #1 (automatic first ballot HOF, top 3 at their position for at least a decade): gretzky, lemieux, messier, bourque, lidstrom

category #2 (clear first ballot HOF, top 6 players at their positions for a long period): robitaille, brett hull, sakic, chelios, macinnis, stevens

category #3 (clear HOF, rarely top 6 but great all-time stats, cups, sustained excellence, stats probably make them look more dominant than they actually were): francis, shanahan, larry murphy -- one could also make a case for nieuwendyk and gilmour here, though they are more borderline HOF

category #4 (borderline HOF, top 3 during their prime, shorter stay at the top than category #1 because of rapid decline or injuries): neely, bure, fedorov, lindros, forsberg

category #5 (doubtful HOF, rarely top 6, great career stats due to longevity, never really high impact players, never won anything except in a supporting role): ciccarelli, andreychuk, housley, pierre turgeon, sundin

so if we differentiate between:

macinnis -- murphy -- housley,

then we can also differentiate between:

hull -- francis -- andreychuk

francis was great, but there's a lot here saying he's not in the same class as macinnis.
macinnis is actually a good name for that other thread about greatest seasons that didn't end in an individual award. macinnis in 1991 was better than in his actual norris year, but he went up against bourque in his peak (and came really close to taking the norris home-- they basically split the first and second votes; if seven votes out of 63 went the other way, macinnis wins; not saying macinnis should have won that one, but coming that close to peak bourque is phenomenal).

weird career arc-- somewhat of a specialist early on, amazing two-year peak where he was the consensus second best defenseman in the league and took home a conn smythe, then a lull where he was still one of the six best d-men in the league for the better part of a decade, and an excellent late-career renaissance, including a norris year and that year that pronger was hurt (when he would have gotten my hart vote over forsberg, naslund, etc.)

one of the absolute greatest all time at one aspect of the game (PP QB), while still playing a very well-rounded game. didn't often play heavy shutdown minutes because he had guys like mccrimmon and pronger, but showed he could play that role with lidstrom-like efficiency, at least later on (that year he was paired with barrett jackman). led two stanleyc up finals teams in scoring as a defenseman (has anyone else else ever done this in the 3/4 round era? the most obvious candidates-- orr and bourque-- didn't.)

i don't participate, so i'm not sure why mac dropped from 64 to out of the top 70 between the two HOH top 100 lists, but i'd say, looking at his contemporaries also in the 60-75 range, that that should be the ball park for macinnis: around makarov, brett hull, kurri, stastny, and i would argue a little ahead of forsberg given his incredible longevity.

peak vs. peak though, chelios was better. chelios did take norrises away from peak bourque, as well as playing bigger (and tougher) minutes than macinnis.

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09-16-2011, 10:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
I think MacInnis is close on Robinson and Lidstrom. They're all kind of a tie in my mind unless I'm forced to split hairs and rank them.

Chelios is a tougher comparable because of his Howe-like longetivity and his contributions across eras and environments.

Bourque is simply a notch above, having been elite for 20 years and a Hart-level player at his peak.
Bourque>Chelios>MacInnis=Robinson=Lidstrom is certainly a learned and reasonable opinion. Lol

As to the OP: I don't think MacInnis gets overlooked at all. Most here have him ahead of Leetch, who has very similar accomplishments in the same era. He's not at a level with Bourque, Potvin, Robinson or Chelios simply because he was not nearly as good as them defensively.

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09-16-2011, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Careers overlap.
Yes, I understand that careers overlap. That doesn't make Al MacInnis a contemporary of Serge Savard in any real sense of the word.

Why you would list Savard as a contemporary, but not Bourque/Chelios/Leetch, is beyond me.

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09-16-2011, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Doctor No View Post
Yes, I understand that careers overlap. That doesn't make Al MacInnis a contemporary of Serge Savard in any real sense of the word.

Why you would list Savard as a contemporary, but not Bourque/Chelios/Leetch, is beyond me.
Because Bourques/Chelios/Leetch did not spend time in the minors whereas Savard did as did MacInnis.

Issue of when a player is NHL ready and how his career evolves.

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09-16-2011, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by RabbinsDuck View Post
Bourque>Chelios>MacInnis=Robinson=Lidstrom is certainly a learned and reasonable opinion. Lol

As to the OP: I don't think MacInnis gets overlooked at all. Most here have him ahead of Leetch, who has very similar accomplishments in the same era. He's not at a level with Bourque, Potvin, Robinson or Chelios simply because he was not nearly as good as them defensively.
That's it in a nutshell....MacInnis had to learn his defensive skills over his first few years and just wasn't quite as good as his competitive peers.He was also a main cog on Calgary teams that were notorious underachievers. That said I would have him quite a bit higher than 64. He had that great shot but that shot shows his other offensive talents as well. You have to have the agility and hockey sense to score whether you have a howitzer or not.. You also have to respect a player who loved the game as much as Al Macinnis did. That let him learn more over a longer period than many defensmen.

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09-16-2011, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Because Bourques/Chelios/Leetch did not spend time in the minors whereas Savard did as did MacInnis.

Issue of when a player is NHL ready and how his career evolves.
I think the issue Dr. No has here is the word "contemporary." Contemporary refers specifically to being of the same time period or age. Savard and MacInnis were not contemporaries.

C1958, you have a valid point about their career arcs and how a comparison between the two can be made. You just used the wrong word. I think "comparable" would be a more appropriate word to use in this situation.

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09-16-2011, 01:36 PM
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The best defensive defensemen like Scott Stevens, Chris Pronger, Chris Chelios, Nicklas Lidstrom are strictly matched by their coaches against the best lines of their opponents. MacInnis was certainly not sheltered, but he wasn't matched either.

You sort of get an idea of how MacInnis was used over his career by how he was used on special teams. He killed 39% of his team's penalties over his career, basically a career 2nd pairing PKer. Compare to Scott Stevens (56% over his career, even higher in NJ only) or Chris Chelios (58%).

MacInnis was good defensively over his career, but not great. He's in the same tier as Scott Stevens and Chris Pronger overall IMO - better than them offensively, worse defensively. No way was he as good as Chelios. Chelios had a much better Norris record, despite the fact that the Norris tends to be more biased towards offensive guys.

Chelios was beating prime Bourque for his Norris trophies. MacINnis didn't get his until the other guys slowed down just a tad.


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09-16-2011, 01:39 PM
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Perhaps he's more overlooked because he didn't play for a big-market team or a team that was consistently going deep into the playoffs.
And MacInnis's role in that team not going as deep.

MacInnis had some amazing playoffs overall. But other defensemen were consistently better. Scott Stevens, for example, was the best playoff performer on the closest thing the modern era has seen to a dynasty.

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09-16-2011, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
And MacInnis's role in that team not going as deep.

MacInnis had some amazing playoffs overall. But other defensemen were consistently better. Scott Stevens, for example, was the best playoff performer on the closest thing the modern era has seen to a dynasty.
Um... perhaps we need another thread to address this

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09-16-2011, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
And MacInnis's role in that team not going as deep.

MacInnis had some amazing playoffs overall. But other defensemen were consistently better. Scott Stevens, for example, was the best playoff performer on the closest thing the modern era has seen to a dynasty.
He played for the Red Wings?

But yeah, I agree with you about MacInnis

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09-16-2011, 01:45 PM
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Um... perhaps we need another thread to address this
One game 7 loss away from 3 Cups in 4 years.

Anyway, what the Devils and Red Wings did in the post-dynasty era is just as impressive as being a dynasty in the Original 6 IMO. There's really no need for it to be a Devils vs. Red Wings pissing match.

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09-16-2011, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkey Town 18 View Post
I think the issue Dr. No has here is the word "contemporary." Contemporary refers specifically to being of the same time period or age. Savard and MacInnis were not contemporaries.

C1958, you have a valid point about their career arcs and how a comparison between the two can be made. You just used the wrong word. I think "comparable" would be a more appropriate word to use in this situation.
That's precisely it - thank you.

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09-16-2011, 02:52 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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As for the adjusted plus/minus, it needs to be interpreted properly.

MacInnis's 1999-00 is one of the highest adjusted plus/minus seasons of any player ever. That, of course, was the season that MacInnis's teammate Chris Pronger won the Hart and Norris, playing on a different pairing for MacInnis.

So MacInnis's high adjusted plus minus can be accurately looked at in part as a product of beating up on lesser competition, while guys like Pronger (and Stevens, Chelios, and Lidstrom) faced the toughest competition.

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09-16-2011, 03:10 PM
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tarheelhockey
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Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
didn't often play heavy shutdown minutes because he had guys like mccrimmon and pronger, but showed he could play that role with lidstrom-like efficiency, at least later on (that year he was paired with barrett jackman).
Also noteworthy, and easily forgotten, that Jackman won the Calder while paired with MacInnis.

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09-16-2011, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
As for the adjusted plus/minus, it needs to be interpreted properly.

MacInnis's 1999-00 is one of the highest adjusted plus/minus seasons of any player ever. That, of course, was the season that MacInnis's teammate Chris Pronger won the Hart and Norris, playing on a different pairing for MacInnis.

So MacInnis's high adjusted plus minus can be accurately looked at in part as a product of beating up on lesser competition, while guys like Pronger (and Stevens, Chelios, and Lidstrom) faced the toughest competition.
Pronger had a much better plus minus than MacInnis in 2000. Are you thinking of 1999?

I agree with your overall point. Comparing the plus minus of MacInnis and Chelios is not apples to apples.

I wonder about Paul Coffey MacInnis had the better plusminus, and Coffey wasn't a shutdown defender either. MacInnis killed more penalties, and was arguably better on the power play.

Coffey's case is peak+playoffs. And hockey fans tend to put a lot of weight on those categories, so there you go.

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