Friday, July 30, 2004


THN: Hockey's Greatest Debates

Over at The Hockey News Website, the �Bible of Hockey� is asking the fans for their input into some of hockey�s greatest debates.

Since I�m great at giving my own opinion on anything, here�s how I would answer on some of these debates.

1. Who is hockey's best-ever player? Pure goal-scorer?

Well, I already covered the best-ever debate in an earlier post. I�m still torn between Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr, although Gretzky is certainly a good argument no matter how pillowy-soft he was.

As for �Pure� Goal-Scorer?

Well, Gretzky has the amazing records that you cannot ignore, but he piled up so many assists and generally looked to make plays, so he isn�t my idea of a �pure� goal scorer. The same could be said for Mario Lemieux.

Looking at Daryl Shilling�s study on Normalized Production (Production to adjust for the offensive environment of the day), Brett Hull holds the record for the best �Normalized� goal-scoring season with 89 in 1991 (The year he really scored 86).

Hull has always been seen as the typical sniper, setting up in the slot for one of his patented quick-release one timers. Hull has 741 career goals (compared to 649 career assists, a 1.14 ratio).

At the same time, Hull has rounded out his game in recent years and has become a good playmaker. Is he the best �pure� sniper?

Peter Bondra � In terms of goals-to-assist ratios, Bondra has one of the more lopsided ones that I�ve ever seen with 477 career goals compared to 362 career assists (a 1.31 ratio).

In the past few years, Bondra�s goals-to-assist ratios have been around 1-1. He also started his career in Washingon the same way.

Then, when he hit his peak, and was paired with playmakers like Adam Oates, Joe Juneau, and/or Michal Pivonka, Bondra became the quintessential �shooter�, and he would only get assists accidentally.

1994-95: 34 goals and 9(!) assists (The Strike season) (a 3.77 ratio!)
1995-96: 52 goals and 28 assists (1.85 ratio)
1996-97: 46 goals and 31 assists (1.48 ratio)
1997-98: 52 goals and 26 assists (2.00 ratio)
Overall, Bondra�s ratio during this period was 1.95 goals/assists.
Bondra has only ever had 1 season (93-94) in which he had more assists than goals.

Let�s compare this to Hull�s crazy peak-period

1989-90: 72 goals and 41 assists (1.75 ratio)
1990-91: 86 goals and 45 assists (1.91 ratio)
1991-92: 70 goals and 39 assists (1.79 ratio)
1992-93: 54 goals and 47 assists (1.14 ratio)

Overall, Hull has a 1.63 goals/assists ratio during this time.

Hull or Bondra? It depends on how you would define a �pure� goal scorer.

There is no question that Hull was a superior goal scorer to Bondra, putting up greater totals (real or normalized) throughout his career. On the other hand, Bondra was more �pure� in his goal-scoring efforts, if we are talking about overall offensive production.

(The strike-shortened season was amazing on its own, as Bondra was paired often with Joe Juneau, who finished the year with an equally lopsided 5 goals and 38 assists.)

Another interesting fact is that both snipers played with Adam Oates for a good chunk of their peak years. I don�t think Oates have even been given enough credit for the great work he did as a playmaking center. It�s hard to think of a better counterpart for snipers such as Brett Hull and Petr Bondra, and it�s no wonder why both canoneers put up the goal scoring totals that they did.

2. Should Brett Hull's 1999 Stanley Cup-winning goal have counted?

Answer: NO!


Hey, I know the toe-in-the-crease rule was one of the biggest follies of all time, and even the NHL acknowledged that, but a rule is a rule.

How many goals were called back that season because a toenail was in the crease before the puck arrived? It seemed every game had at least one, and there were probably 300 or so of these nullified goals (by my unscientific estimation).

It�s simple, the Stars scored the apparent winner in OT, and the refs and the league didn�t have the balls to stop the �moment� and review the goal like they did for every other instance of the same thing 300 times during the season.

Hull was in the crease before the puck, and the NHL screwed the Sabres like a Motomaster. It�s a pretty open and shut case.

3. What was a bigger moment for hockey? The 1972 Summit Series or the 1980 Miracle on Ice?

In Canada, it�s obviously the 1972 series, and vice-versa for the US and 1980.

The fact is, as we Canadians know all too well, the US is the center of the universe (sorry, Toronto), and anything that is big in the US trumps anything that is big in Canada.

There are 2 things that even non-hockey fans in the US know about hockey: One is Wayne Gretzky, and the other is the 1980 Miracle on Ice. When you get writers on ESPN (The ones who never care about hockey any other time) talking about the 1980 US victory, you know it�s huge.

When Disney makes a hit movie about the 1972 Summit Series, then we�ll talk.

4. Would the face of the NHL have changed if Eric Lindros had reported to Quebec?

Next to the Gretzky trade, the Lindros snub and subsequent trade had the biggest impact on the NHL as a whole.

Even disregarding the economic impact of Lindros walking away from Quebec (Bryan Berard and Ottawa) and signing a mega deal with the Flyers, the Lindros trade forever shifted the landscape of both the Western and Eastern conferences.

If Lindros had reported to Quebec...


Of course, the planets would have aligned differently and perhaps that infamous night where Patrick was left out to dry may never have happened. Montreal might have still been competitive for a few more years.


5. Who has hockey's best/worst hair?

Best = Kerry Fraser

Look at that �perfect� hair. Forget the mullets, the spiky comb-your-head forward crap that every boy band has, or the messy 70�s style mosh hair that whiny rockers like Finger 11, or NBA star Steve Nash possess.

Folks, Kerry Fraser has hair like man SHOULD have: Short, neatly kept, and able to deflect bullets. You wouldn�t see Fraser of the �Governator�, Arnold Schwarzenegger, looking any other way.

Fraser�s hair is so manly that other mortal men look like schoolgirls in comparison. It�s so perfect that he doesn�t even wear a helmet, lest he ruin its perfectness.

Worst = Brent Sopel

What the hell do you call his hairstyle, anyway? Even panhandlers in downtown Vancouver have better hair than Sopel.
You�d think a multi-million dollar athlete would be able to afford shampoo and a hairbrush. I wonder what kind of new bacteria have been generated in Sopel�s hair.

I think he�s the reason to blame for the Avian Flu that�s killed millions of chickens in the Lower Mainland.

Too bad - -apparently no one remembers Mike Bossy and Brian Trottier of the '82 to '85 NY ISLANDERS. Three in a row. Just before Wayne Gretzy started on his fabulous career. But for a bad back, thereis no telling what Bossy might have done!
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