Ron Francis vs. Jean Ratelle

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Big Phil, Jul 13, 2007.

  1. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Who was a better player in your opinion. Here's the scoop:

    Francis:
    3 100 point seasons, 4th all-time in career points
    2 Stanley Cups
    1 Selke Trophy
    3 Lady Byng Trophies
    139 points in 159 playoff games
    Led the league in assists once
    top 10 scorer 5 times

    Ratelle:
    2 100 point seasons
    1 Pearson Award
    0 Stanley Cups, but three Cup finals appearances
    Member of 1972 victorious Canadian team
    2nd all-star team '72
    98 points in 123 playoff games
    top 10 scorer 6 times

    IMO its closer than people think. Some might immediately select Francis. But in his peak I'll probably take a '72 Ratelle over any of Francis' seasons. Like Francis he was quietly a superstar. No one noticed him really and he tends to fly under the radar. Just look at how many times he was a top 10 scorer. In '72 Ratelle got the Pearson award over Orr and Esposito. Not to be picky but there was never a time Francis got a major award over the likes of Yzerman or Jagr. It's closer than you think but I'll let you decide.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2007
  2. MS

    MS Registered User

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    One thing that has to be said about Ratelle is that he was an awful playoff performer for most of his career, in particular with the Rangers. 9 goals and 42 points in 65 playoff games as a Ranger from 1966-76, a period in which he averaged about 35 goals and 85 points/year. For a star player in his prime years, that's one of the worst playoff resumes ever, and it's even worse when you consider that the Rangers were an elite team for pretty much that whole period ... this wasn't a Marcel Dionne situation where being on poor teams playing powerhouse teams in the playoffs was an issue. The only time the Rangers did anything in the playoffs during that period was 1972, and Ratelle was injured and not a factor.

    Ratelle did have a couple strong playoffs as a Bruin in his late 30s, but his playoff record is still a major issue. Wasn't a huge factor in the 1972 Summit series either, with 1 goal while playing 6 of the 8 games.

    You have to wonder how Ratelle would be perceived if he played today (with so much more media spotlight and criticism) and put up that sort of playoff no-show over the course of a decade while playing in New York, especially given the exceptionally non-physical style he played.
     
  3. NOTENOUGHBREWER

    NOTENOUGHBREWER Registered User

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    Considering the Rangers didnt make the playoffs for so many years maybe no one would've noticed and the opposite would happen. He'd seem to be a great player stuck on a junk team as his playoff abilities were never exposed.
     
  4. Nalyd Psycho

    Nalyd Psycho Registered User

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    Thing is while the Rangers were a good team during that period, it was because of Ratelle, Park and Giacomin. Their 2nd line was essentially a really good checking line. So, teams could just shut down Ratelle and shutdown the Ranger's offence. So that really hurt him. I think it says alot about the relevance of playoff performance when you compair Ranger Ratelle to Bruin Ratelle. Either way he's 2nd or 3rd for playoff scoring in the 1970's, up there with Lemaire and Lafluer.

    My take.

    Ratelle is better offensively, but Francis has a more complete game, they are close, but Francis is a might bit better.
     
  5. MS

    MS Registered User

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    I don't know if I really buy that.

    Those Ranger teams were a lot better than you give them credit for - they were pretty much equal with Boston and Montreal during the regular seasons in the late 60s/early 70s. Rod Gilbert, Walt Tkaczuk, and Vic Hadfield were also pretty elite players, and they weren't as offense-challenged as you say, although they weren't on the level of Boston. Guys like Stemkowski, Fairbairn, and Balon were also pretty consistent offensive performers.

    There's just no excuse for 9 goals in 65 games when you're the superstar marquee player of a franchise for a decade-long period. Rod Gilbert scored 34 playoff goals over the exact same stretch with the same team, and Vic Hadfield scored 26.
     
  6. Nalyd Psycho

    Nalyd Psycho Registered User

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    Hadfield was nothing without Ratelle. Gilbert was good, but struggled just as much as Ratelle. Tkachuk was the only real offensive player on his line and as such was required to capitalize on his physical/defensive abilities.

    And yes, he was bad in the playoffs in New York, but, in 3 of his first 4 years in Boston, he was their leading playoff scorer. And that creates a dissonance that requires explanation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2007
  7. reckoning

    reckoning Registered User

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    Most playoff points in the 1970s:

    1. Guy Lafleur 120
    1. Jacques Lemaire 120
    3. Phil Esposito 102
    4. Jean Ratelle 93
    5. Brad Park 90
    6. Yvon Cournoyer 88
    7. Bobby Clarke 83
    8. Bobby Orr 82
    9. Rick MacLeish 80
    10. Johnny Bucyk 77
    10. Wayne Cashman 77

    Clearly a horrible playoff player :sarcasm:
     
  8. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Registered User

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    You answered your own question. He was a setup man first and foremost. Who do you think fed them the puck?
     
  9. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Hold on a minute. When you say it that way it sounds bad. 1 goal in 6 games isnt that good but dont forget he had 3 assists as well. Now saying 4 points in 6 games doesnt quite sound as bad, or as deceptive. Keep in mind in the most tension filled game in Hockey history (Game 8 of the '72 series) Ratelle racked up two assists. He was a big part of game 8 IMO.
     
  10. MS

    MS Registered User

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    He was decent in '72 but he wasn't one of the 6 forwards who played in every game, for whom that series was truly a feather in their cap. It helps his resume, but it isn't really a defining moment.

    His goals:assists ratio in New York was actually higher than Gilbert's and he put up 6 seasons over 30 goals in that stretch to Gilbert's 3. He wasn't 'just a playmaker' for Gilbert and Hatfield, and he scored substantially more goals that Hadfield as well over that stretch. Yet Gilbert outscored him 34-9 in the playoffs, and put up 50% more points as well. That's a major issue. His goal production in the playoffs as a Ranger was 1/4 of his regular season rate.

    Hadfield may have 'been nothing without Ratelle', and yet he put up two huge playoffs in New York without Ratelle doing much of anything to help.

    He redeemed himself somewhat with Boston, but it doesn't completely salvage what he did in New York.

    I'd be curious to know where he picked up those playoff points for the Bruins in the late 1970s. Was he actually producing in the Bruins' many losses to Montreal, or was he just piling up points against 15th-place teams before being shut down when it really mattered?
     
  11. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Well it wouldnt be hard to look that up. But I'll give a rough idea of what he did. In '76 the Bruins played LA and Philly. In '77 it was LA, Philly and then Montreal. In '78 it was Chicago, Philly and Montreal. In '79 it was Pittsburgh and Montreal. In those 4 years they never played a playoff series against a team with less than 83 points. Not to mention 3/10 of those series were against the Habs. I'm sure Ratelle didnt just rack up points against Pittsburgh and LA.
     
  12. Nalyd Psycho

    Nalyd Psycho Registered User

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    What's often ignored is the pick effect. Having one superior player on a line can lead to that player being shutdown, but, in doing so, they become a pick for the other players, the opposition focusses on Ratelle, thus allowing Hadfield to be at his best.
     
  13. Hockey Outsider

    Hockey Outsider Registered User

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    I'm sick and it's raining here so I decided to look into Ratelle's playoff performances.

    1976- LA series

    Game 1: Boston wins 4-0 vs LA. Ratelle dominates with 2 goals and 1 assist. He scored to make it 2-0 in the first period (a huge goal), assisted on the goal under a minute into the second period to make it 3-0 (another big point) and scored to make it 4-0 in the third (probably a meaningless goal).

    Game 2: LA upsets Boston 3-2 in overtime. Ratelle scores to give Boston a 1-0 lead then assists on Bucyk's goal to give Boston a 2-1 lead. However, Butch Goring scores 27 seconds into overtime to win it for LA. It's not Ratelle's fault as he delivered 2 pts in a crucial contest.

    Game 3: LA wins 6-4. I have a scoresheet but no write-up. Ratelle appears to be invisible (0 points) as Boston blows a 2-0 first period lead.

    Game 4: Boston wins 3-0 on the road to tie the series at two. Jean Ratelle scores a goal to make it 2-0 about 4 minutes into the second period.

    Game 5: Boston wins 7-1. Ratelle scores yet another goal. He assists on the game-winning goal, scored by Schmautz at 00:55 of the second period. He has 5 goals, 3 assists so far (as far as I can tell).

    Game 6: LA stays alive with a 4-3 win in overtime. Can't find anything about this game.

    Game 7: Boston wins 3-0 to advance to the third round (they had a 2nd round bye). Ratelle makes headlines with yet another dominating night. He records 2 goals and an assist. Ratelle scored the first goal on a 4-on-3 powerplay midway through the second period. Ken Hodge scored off a Ratelle rebound a few minutes later, and Ratelle scored on a breakaway to make it 3-0 six minutes into the third.

    Clearly, Ratelle was a dominant force against the Kings, with 7 goals and 5 assists (Globe & Mail, Tuesday, April 27, 1976) in the 7-game series. More importantly, he scored or assisted on many game-winners for the Bruins. He was a dominant force in at least 4 games in the series.

    1976- Philly series

    Ratelle is listed as the key to the series, and Boston's MVP, in the pre-series analysis.

    Game 1: Boston wins 4-2. Jean Ratelle assists on the game-winning goal in the third period as the Bruins take a 1-0 series lead.

    Game 2: Philadelphia wins 2-1 in OT. Ratelle assists on the game-tying goal in the third with under 7 minutes to go. Reggie Leach scored the OT winner because the puck took a bad bounce off of Ratelle and landed right on Leach's stick. Ratelle might deserve some blame here, but it was a fluky bounce from a Joe Watson shot.

    Game 3: Philadelphia wins 5-2. Ratelle scores a goal in the first period, tying the game at one. Philly scored 3 goals in the third to win. (Interesting side note: Bobby Clarke played 34:40).

    A newspaper article after game 3 says that Ratelle is "playing the best hockey of his career". (Tuesday, May 4, 1976, page 38). Don Cherry says that Ratelle is able to fit into the Bruins' tight defensive system more effectively than Esposito would have. (Ratelle and Park were traded for Espo earlier in the year). Boston's coach Don Cherry says that Ratelle "leads the team" and "people don't realize how good he is". Ratelle is "the same type of player as Jean Beliveau" and has "brought class to the team and the guys respect him".

    Game 4: Philadelphia wins 4-2. Jean Ratelle had to go to the dressing room due to an upper back injury. As far as I can tell, he was held scoreless. Don Cherry hinted that Ratelle would miss game 5. Ratelle is quoted as saying that the Bruins didn't match the Flyers' aggressiveness.

    Game 5: Philadelphia wins 6-3. Ratelle played but was in "obvious pain". He registered 1 assist. The Flyers' Leach scores 5 goals, and the Bruins season ends.

    Ratelle was somewhat less successful against the Flyers, with 1 goal and 3 assists in 5 games. He was playing through injury for 2 games though.

    Overall, Ratelle's playoff run in 1976 was an overwhelming success. He was regarded as a classy, veteran leader who bought into Cherry's defensive system. Ratelle played through injuries, was a dominant force versus LA, and a solid scorer against the Flyers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2007
  14. Hockey Outsider

    Hockey Outsider Registered User

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    1977- LA Series

    Game 1: Boston wins 8-3. The Bruins took a 5-0 lead in the first; Ratelle had 3 assists in the game on the 1-0, 3-0 and 5-0 goals. Bobby Schmautz got a hat trick and Ratelle assisted on all three goals.

    Game 2: Boston wins 6-2. Ratelle scored a breakaway goal to make it 4-0. He also assisted on Schmautz's 3-0 goal. Schmautz, whose most recent seasons were 21, 28 and 23 goals, has 5 goals in 2 games. Ratelle assisted on 4 of those.

    Game 3: Boston wins a shootout 7-6. No details available.

    Game 4: LA stays alive with a 7-4 win. Ratelle gets a goal cutting the deficit to 4-2.

    Game 5: LA wins 3-1. Ratelle is held off the scoresheet and Boston loses due to a fluky goal that deflects in off Park.

    Game 6: Boston advances with a 4-3 win. Ratelle is held scoreless.

    Information for this round is incomplete. Ratelle scored 2 goals and 4 assists in the 5 games I have info about. He clearly made Schmaultz a deadly goal-scoring threat during the playoffs. Granted, LA was a weak team, but this is another good playoff series for Ratelle.

    1977- Philly Series

    Game 1: Boston wins 4-3 in OT. Ratelle scores to make it 1-0 and assists on Schmautz's goal to make it 2-0. Parent fumbled an easy save 3 minutes in OT, and blamed himself for the loss.

    Game 2: Boston wins 5-4 in OT. In a marathon double OT game, Ratelle scores a breakaway goal to tie the contest at 4.

    Game 3: Boston wins 2-1. Ratelle assists on the game-winner roughly midway through the third period.

    Game 4: Boston wins 3-0. Ratelle scores the game-winner and assists on Don Marcotte's 2-0 insurance marker.

    Ratelle dominated a series against a very strong team, recording 3 goals and 3 assists in 4 games versus the Flyers. He continues to make Schmautz look good and contributed to 2 GWG and 1 GTG. (5 goals, 7 assists in 9 games so far).


    1977- Montreal Series

    Yes, these are the 1977 Montreal Canadiens, probably the greatest team in hockey history.

    Game 1: Boston loses 7-3. Ratelle has an assist. Montreal's depth players deliver as Lambert has a 4-point night.

    Game 2: Boston loses 3-0. Ratelle is obviously held scoreless; the Bruins don't get many quality chances in the third.

    Game 3: Boston loses 4-2. According to the paper, Cheevers played poorly. Ratelle is held off the scoresheet. On the positive side, this is the first time in 2 years he's held scoreless in back-to-back games. On the negative side, this is a really bad time to stop scoring.

    Game 4: Montreal wins the Cup with a 2-1 overtime win. Ratelle is held scoreless again.

    Well, this is Ratelle's first bad series (out of the five I've investigated). Then again, the '77 Canadiens are the greatest team in NHL history and they shut down everyone they faced.

    Ratelle still ended up with a good playoff run, though. He had 17 pts in 14 games and had a knack for scoring or assisting on big goals. He dominated a strong Flyers team and turned Bobby Schmautz from an average second-liner into a legitimate scoring threat with a very fluky, uncharacteristic 11 goals in 14 games.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2007
  15. jiggs 10

    jiggs 10 Registered User

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    These two are a good comparison. I think Ratelle is the better player by a small margin, but it's pretty close. I guess because I have never thought of Francis as a "great" player in the NHL at any point in time, merely a very good one for many years, then a good face-off man for 8 years.

    Ratelle played such a classy, quiet game that he didn't get the notice he should have. And that is saying something in NYC, where the Rangers cured cancer, AIDS, and personally put a man on the moon with no help from anyone! ;)

    This is the best one of these comparisons I've seen in a while, because they actually match up quite closely in style and substance.
     
  16. tony d

    tony d Registered User Sponsor

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    Ron Francis.
     
  17. John Flyers Fan

    John Flyers Fan Registered User

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    As for the Rangers not being a good team i nthe 70's, that certainly isn't true.


    I know that the Flyers considered them a better team than the Bruins in 1973-74. nly knock on them was the Flyers considered them a bit soft, but very talented.

    Flyers eliminated the Rangers in 7 games ... 4-3 in game 7, with the home team winning every game in the semifinals.

    Flyers beat the Bruins in six games without the benefit of home ice.
     
  18. mydogsparty

    mydogsparty Gordie Howe

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    I'm going with Jean Ratelle on this one. It's a good comparison. When I think of Ratelle I think of a great 2-way hockey player. Francis was a great 2-way player too but I don't think Ratelle gets the recognition he deserves in this regard. He certainly wasn't a physical force on the ice but he was responsible and effective backchecker. Offensively I like him a little better than Francis.
     
  19. MXD

    MXD James St. John Smythe

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    This total isn't great, but it's not awful either, considering era... and the fact the Rangers were basically a one man line + Brad Park (Walt Tckazuck sometimes) offensively.
     
  20. yada

    yada move 2 dallas 4 work

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    I really enjoyed the breakdown of ratelles playoffs thank you. As a 27 year old ranger fan who doesn't hear much about the old greats this is an awesome thread. Too bad those breakdowns came when ratelle was with the bruins.
     
  21. Mad Habber

    Mad Habber Registered User

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    As mentioned above, with the Rangers, Ratelle had as secondary scoring, guys like Tkachuk with Fairbairn Polis, then Vickers came around.

    With Boston, he could make a line with Middleton and Cashman, while a second line of O'Reilly, McNab and another 20 goal scorer. Bobby Schmautz Gregg Sheppard were also available.

    Kind of like Francis playing in Hartford then Pittsburgh. Most people forget about the Hartford Francis, because basically nothing happened, no one else was there etc. In pittsburgh, he puts up better points behind Mario with the help of Jagr, Stevens, Recchi, Tocchet, Coffey, Murphy etc.

    Very similar comparison between the 2.

    The main difference I see is in 72, when Ratelle was catching up with Esposito for points leader until he got injured.
     
  22. V-2 Schneider

    V-2 Schneider Registered User

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    I liked Ratelle and thought him more dangerous than Francis, and his gracefulness on the ice belied his excellent work ethic.Francis always made you aware of how hard he was working, and to many viewers and hockey writers, makes him more authentic, but in my mind, it doesn't make him better than a Jean Ratelle.
     
  23. Wings4Life

    Wings4Life Registered User

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    Ron Francis had the better peak, the better career, and most importantly, was a more complete player.
     
  24. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    It is worth noting Rattelle did not become a full time NHLer until he was about 25. Born 1940... first NHL season he did not play in the AHL as well was 1965/66. And he got shots every year from age 20 on... and while it was the original six and tough to make the NHL... he was on a very poor team.

    Francis immediately became the best player on his team and a PPG player at age 18 in his draft year.

    This is significant I think. Five partial up and down seasons for Ratelle tell a story to a degree. I am not saying Ratelle wasn't great... but having watched Francis from the start I doubt he gets the back and forth minors treatment for 5 years even in the original six if he was Rangers property.
     
  25. tomi2

    tomi2 Registered User

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    I'd take a prime Ratelle pretty easily over Francis. Ratelle was atleast sometimes in his career a top 3 player , whereas Francis imo was never even close to being a best player in the game.
     

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