Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by FakeKidPoker*, Dec 14, 2012.
It's what you said here...
And then attempted to use 93/94 as an example.
Those were two separate statements:
1. Yzerman didn't turn around the Wings immediately (within a couple years).
2. From the data available in his prime, the team didn't get worse when he was injured, but actually improved.
I'm not doubting that Yzerman was elite offensively or that he was a valuable player. However, I wonder how much of the myth was built on the team success and defensive play in his later years.
The "two-way player, playoff warrior" myth is supported much more by fact in the cases of Messier, Forsberg and Fedorov. Sakic outperformed more in the playoffs and at least his teams didn't generally improve when he was injured. Lindros turned a mediocre team into a division winner in his third season and had very strong ES data in his prime. Trottier's ES data is strong in his prime and I don't have with/without data to compare. In the case of Yzerman's prime, it appears the myth is largely just that... a myth.
so long as we're taking a fine-tooth comb to the value of franchise players to their teams' success, while lindros was undoubtedly a franchise-altering player, one notes that the flyers missed the playoffs his first two seasons. in '95, the flyers were 3-6-1 until the mark recchi trade, which gave the team a legit number defenseman and lindros his ideal linemate.
i mean, it makes sense that we can point to the recchi trade almost immediately turning a .333 team into a first place team, given the depth the flyers lost in acquiring lindros. but i thought i'd throw that out there for context.
I understand a lot of the evidence is circumstantial, which is why I prefer to look at multiple sources.
In Lindros' case, his ES data was very strong and the Flyers were substantially worse without him than with him.
If you'll pardon the pun, Yzerman doesn't have a leg to stand on, outside of his elite offensive production:
1. His teams improved slightly after his arrival, but they were still bad to mediocre for his first 8 seasons.
2. During his first 11 seasons, the best team Detroit beat in the playoffs had 76 points (and that was in the same, historically weak division).
3. Yzerman's ES data is rather "mixed" during his prime. It doesn't really compare well to other superstar players.
4. Yzerman wasn't what I would call an "underperformer" in the playoffs, but neither was he exactly an overperformer.
5. The data is limited during his prime (and no data for '86), but his teams didn't only drop a little or stay at the same level when he was injured... or even improve slightly, but had a significant improvement when he was out.
I don't know that any of these things is especially damning in and of themselves, but together they don't exactly paint a picture of him in his prime as a two-way superstar and playoff warrior that elevated his team to substantially higher levels. Hey, I like Yzerman, he was a fun player to watch. I definitely preferred him to players like Messier and Lindros, but I also can't ignore what the data tells us. I have to wonder how much of his later team success and defensive style is projected back to his prime.
You were talking about punishing Stevie for not being able to get his teams above the mediocre level.
The only time his teams were mediocre or lower was pre 91/92.
You then said you didn't have the data from 85/86 but did have the data from 87/88.
You then also brought up the data from 93/94 to back up your point which had absolutely nothing to do with your previous statement that Stevie couldn't get his teams above the mediocre as the 93/94 team was far from mediocre.
Bringing up the 93/94 data was completely irrelevant to the time frame you cited and shouldn't have even been mentioned.
At the end of the day you have a grand total of 16 whole games missed in 87/88, that equates to all of 3 points difference over 16 games, to base your entire "Redwings were better without him" hypothesis.
As Brave said, the stats are definitely pointing you in the wrong direction.
at the same time, I'm sure that you'd have guessed they would be absolutely horrible for those 16 games.
Too small of a sample size. They could have played 4-5 games vs the Leafs and Stars in that small sample.
I generally don't give much weight to regular season sample sizes under 25-30 games.
there was a post floating around for a while, but I can't find it, that shows Messier's with/without during his Edmonton/NYR/Vancouver days. It was pretty incredible.
I have little doubt, I remember something about that around here too.
I have Mess over Yzerman but I'm not going to sit by and let Stevie get slammed by a ridiculously weak and highly cherry picked argument.
Nice to agree on something. Must be the end days.
Right, and just to be clear, the reason I have no data from '86, is that game logs on HR only go back to '88. His missed time in '94 is relevant to how the team performed without him, since I think most would still consider it his prime.
I'm not trying to "penalize" Yzerman, but I also don't see much evidence that he was better than his offensive production... and in fact, there's evidence that he may not have even been as good as that.
Except that is NOT what you originally said that both Brave and I took exception to.
Do I need to quote it a third time?
And 16 games is hardly evidence of crap!
Just admit that including the 93/94 games missed with the statement that it's a negative that he couldn't get his teams past mediocre was a mistake and I'll move on.
I'm sorry if I wasn't clearer, but I used a conjunction ("and") to join two separate thoughts in one sentence. The first was that Yzerman's team remained bad/mediocre during his first 8 seasons. The second was that during the two seasons in his prime in which he missed the most time, Detroit had a better record without him.
To be fair, I looked at Yzerman's with/without from '88 to '02:
119 games missed
That's not so bad, but it's still the only superstar I've come across (in a very limited sample of about 12 players) with a worse record without the player than would be expected based on the team's records with the player.
I have Messier over yzerman but what some people don't understand one needs to look past stats and ask a simple question.Did the opposing coach make a game plan to stop either player?Was their players on redwings=to Steve or not and is it possible messier got more open ice due to opposing coaches trying to stop Gretzy and Coffey?Again I give edge to Messier but you need to ask questions.
That's a good point, and if Messier retired after ~'89 then we'd be stuck more with comparing players in very different situations. However, Messier did become the first line center on later teams and excelled for a while in that role.
The other problem is that Yzerman's line, outside of '88 & '89, didn't really create much or any ES advantage (neither a "raw" advantage, which is not unexpected on bad teams... nor an advantage in comparison to when he was off the ice at ES). I'd like to hear an explanation for this, but I can't think of one that doesn't involve A) he wasn't such a great two-way/possession player in his first 8 seasons and/or B) his team wasn't really that bad (at least at ES).
Really? Cause if I also cherry pick some stats I can go with Jagr with the Caps and Rangers in 03/04.
The Caps (.359 with, .361 without) weren't any worse after trading Jagr to the Rangers and the Rangers were worse with Jagr than they were before the trade (.480 without, .323 with).
So lets try and view the stats with some context.
That's all great, except during Jagr's prime, his teams were much worse without him than with him. If you want to use data from before/after a player was on the team, then take a look at the Pens' records before Jagr arrived and after he left. Or look at the Rangers not making the playoffs for 7 seasons in a row, and then immediately turning it around in his first full season.
All I'm saying is that the data available for Yzerman from '84 to '91 has more similarities to that of players like Dionne and Selanne (and they had better ES data) than someone like Messier. There's often talk of Yzerman's two-way play and intangibles, even in his prime, and I'm trying to head that off at the pass.
Like I said, that's why there has to be context with the stats.
Yzerman was a good 2-way player back then when asked but he wasn't asked. What he was asked to do was carry the offense and play on the offensive side of the puck.
However, he was one hell of a faceoff guy and a very, very strong PKer. He didn't PK like Gretzky, Lemieux or other superstars did. He was always strong positionally, blocked shots and didn't focus on trying to create offensive chances while doing it.
When Bowman came along and asked Stevie to play on the defensive side of the puck, that he didn't have to carry the offensive on his own anymore, he transitioned very easily.
You don't just learn how to play defensively overnight. He already knew how to play that way, it was just the first time he was asked to play that way other than on the PK.
Previous to 93/94, the only year that Stevie missed a large amount of games was 85/86 and the Wings were a decade worst 40 point team that season.
On the team winning thing in 86 Yzerman was injured in the 51st game after playing all before. It shouldnt be too hard to check the winning % on hockey reference. It is 6-21-1 without 11-36-4 with. But in this case im not sure it matters either way. They were having a terrible year before his injury were terrible after and Yzerman was himself having a terrible year.
In 88 Detroit went on a 8-0-1 run after the Yzerman injury (i guess you can say 7-0-1 as the 8th win was against Buffalo where Yzerman scored his 50th goal and had an assist in a 4-0 win). Then in the last 8 games they went 2-2-4. IMO the best explanation for this is that that year Detroit had a good team system going and Demers was at his height as a motivator plus the team hadnt tuned him out like after Goose Loonies. Either way im not sure why 88 is being used AGAINST Yzerman because Demers explicitly stated during the winning streak post injury that Yzerman single handedly won them games before and that now everyone was chipping in an extra 10% to make up for him. Then in 89 with all the troubles they had that had people predicting them to finish last in the Norris he carried them to 1st again.
In 94 i would say basically that Fedorov was asked to carry the load offensively as the #1 center and he responded with the best stretch of hockey in his career. You can probably factor in Primeau finally getting to play decent time as a center also (Primeau always *****ed about playing wing and generally sucked because he didnt try) but Fedorov alone has got to be your answer.
Oh and im not sure about the schedules in play here either which have got to factor in. For example Lidstrom has an insanely good with/without record even on a stacked team but you have to remember he missed a very small number of games and many of them were at the end of the year where he was rested along with other key players. There is also the February 08 losing stretch but remember that Lidstrom was playing for the first 6 losses of that stretch (he left early in the Colorado game they won).
For Yzerman the initial 8-0-1 stretch had wins over Boston and NYI which were top teams but the rest werent good and some were pretty low. Havent checked for 86 or 94.
The case for Yzerman's two way play is basically made on his own views of how his career was perceived by the media as compared to himself, his coaches' (Todd, Demers, Murray) views who coached at the time, and his teammates' (Gallant, Hanlon) views who played at the time. This is IMO the strongest case because it was the guys who watched/played with/coached him the most, and played in the same team environment with the same systems. Then you have reports here and there from other coaches and other players which is less valuable because they didnt see him as much but it is good for corroboration. Then you have general media/scouting reports here and there which is the least valuable IMO.
For the case for his "intangibles" back then (only big thing im thinking of is leadership) i guess you could go back to teammates/coaches. Read Bob Probert's book for example. Oh he was also strong for his size and fearless/scrappy what have you so you can count that too.
I dont think the with/without winning % say much about two way play or intangibles specifically. Or to be honest how valuable a player was. I have seen posted here that the Penguins did worse without Jagr then without Lemieux and Lemieux was clearly much better/more valuable.
It says something (not everything) about overall value IMO. It's difficult to interpret Lemieux's data, because he missed majorities of seasons at times. I don't think it's settled as to which player's absence affected the team more, nor which was the more valuable player at various times. I don't want to go into that right now, being that they aren't the subject of this thread.
I can buy that it tells us a little about how much a player meant to his team at that specific context but there are so many other variables that need to be accounted for (the Lidstrom example is the good one.)
For 86 the team sucked with or without Yzerman. Clearly worse without him recordwise, but it wouldnt even matter with him because he was having a terrible year himself and the team was going nowhere.
For 88 the Red Wings as a team had bought in to Demers since 87 and were improving in 88. 88 would be the zenith of the Wings and would remain that until 92 or 93. According to Demers own words his team took it up another level when their captain went down. Some teams respond to the adversity of losing their best player (in this case by far their best player) by folding. Demers obv got his team motivated enough to do otherwise. Then there is the scheduling thing. It seems that that big rally was against mostly bad teams. And even the rally seems to have lost steam at the end going 2-4-2.
And then in 89 the team was racked with internal discord as Demers started to lose the team and his system broke down, and several players including two key players in 88 in Probert and Klima who carried the team without Yzerman also had off ice issues that kept them off the ice. Despite this Yzerman carried the team to a 1st place position. And to note the impact of his play. As his wingers started to slow down in the last half eventually so did Yzerman and he went from a 70+ goal 160+ point pace in early March to his 65/155. His slow down also coincided with the team being well above .500 in early March to just at it.
And then in 90 when his poor November (not just the stats Yzerman himself noted that he was in a funk to the media that month) coincided with the Red Wings being way out of a playoff spot. Starting in January Yzerman began to get hot, and he got the Red Wings in a much closer race for the playoffs. Demers noted "We're in a little jeopardy and the captain is taking charge, That's a sign of leadership." They still missed it, but only very late in the ssn in the very last games thanks to a rally which Yzerman was most responsible for.
And in 94 the Red Wings started the year off very poorly. Yzerman played for 8 of the first 10 games when the Wings were 3-7 (and they lost the 9th and 10th game after Yzerman's injury. Fedorov really got the team going in Yzerman's absence, but when he came back, initially they were even better. Yzerman was red hot in Janurary and February, and the team was posting a ton of wins. The credit for the Wings hot streak since Yzerman's return was naturally the most prolific scorer since that time: Yzerman.
"The Red Wings are 8-1-2 since Yzerman returned from a neck injury on Dec. 23."
"Sergei Fedorov is a candidate for the Art Ross and Hart Memorial awards. Paul Coffey is in contention for the Norris Trophy.
But the one player who will surely become the focal point of Detroit's run for the most prestigious trophy - the Stanley Cup - is center Steve Yzerman. Yzerman, a seven-time All-Star, became a forgotten cog in the Motor City's offensive machine when he was lost after eight games because of a neck injury. He is back and remains an invaluable piece for the Wings' attempt at winning the Stanley Cup.
Yzerman has been one of Detroit's most consistent performers since his return on Dec. 27. In 17 games, he had eight goals and 17 assists and Detroit went 11-3-3 to close the gap on Central Division-leading Toronto.
''I was getting some knots, muscle spasms and nerve irritation in my neck for a while, but it hasn't bothered me for the last two or three weeks,'' said Yzerman, who has had at least 45 goals and 100 points in his last six seasons. ''We've played some tough games lately and that has really helped me get back into it. I didn't enjoy being out of the lineup for 2 1/2 months, but there is still a lot of hockey left to play. I'm having fun.''
And then in March and April, Yzerman's scoring slowed. The neck/back injury had not healed fully and it was once again bothering Yzerman. He would end the ssn slowly and miss the first half of the playoffs. After the playoffs he had surgery. In March and April the Red Wings had a poor record 9-10-3, which coincided with Yzerman's less spectacular play.
I think these examples show that there was more going on when Yzerman was hurt to not take these variables into account. Not only that but the team's performance was clearly linked the Yzerman's performance.
And yet, there are conflicting opinions within those who were closest to him regarding his defensive play. His GM Devellano for instance.
That opinion is a hindsight "He was terrible in comparison" opinion that was stated after he had won a Selke.
If you can find an opinion that is contemporary and not hindsight from Devellano or anyone else, that would be more convincing.
But the thing is this: there aren't any.
Well sure, and Holland to a lesser degree as well. And while you could argue the time those comments took place being well after the fact, or the context, being well after the transformation narrative, and in Devellano's case Yzerman's agent had somethings to explicitly argue against Devellano's opinion (see Douglas Hunter's book). Let's just take them for what they are and cast some doubt on the rest of the praise and tone it down a bit. The point remains pretty much the same as most people arent trying to defend something that Yzerman was elite defensively. However in this comparison im not sure how much it matters because most people also arent claiming Messier was ever elite defensively
And do you know why? Because forwards were not expected to be good defensively back then when they were offensive forces and thus, it was not a hot topic of discussion.
In any case, my opinion on Yzerman's defensive play back then is based on what I saw with my own two eyes.