Who was better- Lemieux or Howe?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by JonathanK, Aug 2, 2005.

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  1. JonathanK

    JonathanK McOptimistic

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    I personnally think that Lemieux was way better
     
  2. Wetcoaster

    Wetcoaster Guest

    Having seen both play, Howe takes it hands down.

    The top three all time are Howe, Gretzky and Orr. Depending upon your critieria (all around skills, ability to dominate, stats, etc.) the order is debatable.

    Lemieux is in the next tier.
     
  3. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    To me there is no right answer in this question. Just like an Orr vs. Gretzky debate. Orr and Gretzky are 1-2 in any order. Howe and Lemieux are 3-4 all time in any order.

    Howe and Lemieux both won 6 Art Ross Trophies. Both were dominating in different ways. Lemieux did it mostly with offense, since he regularily won the scroing title while playing 10-15 less games then everyone. Howe was more dominant all around. While he still won scoring titles he also dominated physically and through intimidation. Lemieux was more offensively gifted but less physical.

    So its a coin flip really. Howe was in the top 5 in scoring for 20 straight years. Lemieux once won a scoring title during a year he had cancer. Both were very dominant and were thought of as the best players in the world in their prime.
     
  4. revolverjgw

    revolverjgw Registered User

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    Peak, Lemieux, of course. But there's something to be said for longetivity, I don't care what anyone says. Howe kicked too much ass, too often, too long. I put him above Mario in the grand scheme of things.
     
  5. neg marron

    neg marron Registered User

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    not fair

    had mario never had cancer then you could have a fair debate


    here's food for thought how good would orr be if he had healthy knees his entire career
     
  6. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest

    What a foolish question to ask.

    Howe by a wide margin.

    Even at their peaks, Howe was ahead. Gordie won two scoring titles by MORE THAN 25%. Lemieux never won a scoring title by that margin.
     
  7. Snap Wilson

    Snap Wilson Registered User

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    Wetcoaster, you saw Howe in his prime?

    It's an unanswerable question. Howe played a different game than Mario. How would Mario have done in the fifties? How would Howe have performed in the 80s and 90s?
     
  8. KOVALEV10*

    KOVALEV10* Guest

    Well Lemieux was one of those players who comes once in a lifetime and dominates the game of hockey. Same could be said about Howe. However Lemieux has the highest point per game as well as goals per game average in history and a lot better then Howe. Lemieux was clearly ahead in goal scoring whereas both were great playmakers. I dont know honestly who was better as I've not seen Howe play that much.
     
  9. MassiveHabs

    MassiveHabs Registered User

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    I just clicked em both, two totally different styles of game, but both were gods on their teams
     
  10. The Prodigy

    The Prodigy Registered User

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    Talent-wise, Lemieux was better than Howe, far better in fact.

    Both are legends, but Lemieux did things witht the puck only Valeri Kharmalov could do, and that's saying something.
     
  11. Crosbyfan

    Crosbyfan Registered User

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    !974 TEAM CANADA(WHA)vs TEAM SOVIETS
    Howe played Kharmolov even. (same points). Howe had less ice time and was 46 years old. Kharmolov was in his prime.
     
  12. Daryl Shilling

    Daryl Shilling Registered User

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    In terms of talent, yes, Lemieux was a prodigy. There's no doubt of it, but I don't think that it's really the issue here. There are people in homeless shelters, drug rehab clinics, and sleeping in cardboard boxes that are gifted people: geniuses that had the talent to do amazing things, but it doesn't change the fact that other people with less ability have accomplished much more.

    Luc Robitaille probably didn't have close to the amount of talent that any other number of guys had; players that didn't score close to the number of goals that he did. They certainly weren't better because they were more talented.

    This is one of those questions that gets answered in a talent vs contribution way. It happens a lot, in fact. If somebody asks who the best defensive defenseman is, many people will list a player's skills: how hard he hits, how well he poke checks, his ability to cover mobile forwards, etc. Those are all issues, I'm not saying that they don't count, but at a certain point a larger issue has to be addressed: have those skills translated to superior contribution?

    This is the same issue for me here, with Lemieux and Howe. Mario's ability notwithstanding, if Howe had retired after 15 years, then he and Lemieux would have about equal career value. However, Howe was good enough to play (and play well) for a lot longer afterwards, adding more value to his career.

    Daryl
     
  13. CH

    CH Registered User

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    But how much did Gordie Howe really contribute when he hung on well beyond his prime? Was Gordie really that great a player after the sixties ended? His entire comeback is protected by the fact he was in the weak WHA - he he been in the NHL in the 70's he would have been exposed as a has been very quickly and probably forced into retirement. But in the talent starved WHA, Gordie and sons was a travelling road show and people came out to see them. It didn't matter that Gordie was a shell of what he used to be.

    There is a difference between hanging on and padding your numbers and being a legitimate impact player.
     
  14. Daryl Shilling

    Daryl Shilling Registered User

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    I wasn't suggesting that Howe was great in the 1970s. Even if he finished his career after 1971, that's still a 23 year career, which is huge.

    There's a difference, I agree, though I wasn't even thinking about WHA numbers; solely Howe's further NHL time.

    Going by the fifteen year phase that I spoke about, Howe would have retired after the 1962 season... Looking also at years 1963 thru 1971, that's a 23 career if he stays retired at that point, and doesn't proceed to the WHA. Still an extremely long career.

    Year by Year, with age, and if he finished in Top 10 in category:
    1963 (35): G-1, A-3, PTS-1, Hart Trophy
    1964 (36): G-6, A-4, PTS-6
    1965 (37): G-3, A-2, PTS-3
    1966 (38): G-8, A-4, PTS-5
    1967 (39): G-7, A-5, PTS-6
    1968 (40): G-3, A-8, PTS-3
    1969 (41): G-5, A-3, PTS-3
    1970 (42): PTS-8
    1971 (43): Didn't finish in top 10 in any category
    1980 (52): Scores 15-26-41 playing about 10 minutes per night

    If Howe had played a 23 years career, ending after 1971, he was extremely relevant. If he just hung around and popped 20 goals and was nowhere near the league lead, I think it could be fairly said that he was just padding his numbers. However, since he was among the top 10 in every category except for 1970, when he "only" finished 8th in points, I don't think it's a fair tag to put on him. 1980, that's a stats-padding season, but not his NHL seasons before that.

    Daryl
     
  15. Masao

    Masao Registered User

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    Well what he did in 1993 in 60 games and playing 20 or so of those after chemo is more impressive than winning a scoring title by more than 25% IMO
     
  16. CH

    CH Registered User

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    OK. Then we are on the same page (somewhat). There is no question that Howe was a useful NHL player for more seasons than Lemieux was (Lemieux has yet to play enough seasons to catch up - which is something I doubt he will ever do). Even subtracting his WHA years that is true.

    The question is how do we value longevity vs. dominance? Howe lasted longer. Lemieux was more dominant in his prime. Was the amount longer Howe lasted worth more than the extra dominance Lemieux added in his prime or vice versa?

    I tend to argue that dominance over a period of a few years is more important (but would definitely rule the other way in certain cases - for example Dave Andreychuk was a better player than Kevin Stevens).

    Further, is there an "era adjustment"? Was hockey better in Lemieux's day then it was in Howe's day? I would say yes. By how much?

    In the end, I pick Lemieux. He was more dominant relative to his peers while playing in an NHL that was attracting players from several countries in the world over Howe who was a very good player for a long time, but not the clear number one guy in the NHL for as long as Lemieux and not my the margin Lemieux was while playing in an NHL that drew its players from Canada alone (nearly alone anyway). Further, I'd argue Howe played in a less physical NHL which made long careers easier to have then in Lemieux's day.

    It would be nice to have a firm sabermetrics answer to these questions - and I know you have tried - but hockey doesn't lend itself well enough to those problems. I think you could do a numerical study and show either of Lemieux and Howe was better - just depends on what you put into it. If we use career numbers as important Howe wins. If we say that dominance over the league in your best 3 or 5 (or some similar number of seasons) is important Lemieux wins. If we try to correct for the quality of opposition Lemieux wins.
     
  17. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest

    Lemieux was NOT clearly ahead in goal scoring. He simply played in a more offensive era so his goals per game and points per game numbers are skewed.

    If you look beyond the numbers to see what they really mean, this is how it shakes out:

    Goal Scoring:

    Howe #1, Lemieux #10

    Assists:

    Howe #2, Lemieux #5

    Points:

    Howe #2, Lemieux #3

    Playoff Scoring:

    Howe #2, Lemieux #21


    When you adjust the numbers for era and look at what they really mean, Howe is significantly ahead of Mario on the all time lists. If Mario had been healthier he might have fared better all time but, what ifs are completely worthless.
     
  18. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest


    I have to disagree with some points that you make. Howe dominated his era to a much greater degree than Lemieux dominated his. I have worked the numbers, it is very true.

    I have developed a system that adjusts for era and determines the most dominant players of all time. Here are some numbers to show where things shake out:


    Goal Scoring Leaders

    1 Gordie Howe 92.58
    2 Bobby Hull 83
    3 Maurice Richard 76
    4 Phil Esposito 56.5
    5 Wayne Gretzky 53
    6 Mike Bossy 45
    7 Cy Denneny 44
    8 Cecil Dye 40.5
    9 Nels Stewart 39
    10 Mario Lemieux 38
    11 Howie Morenz 37
    12 Jean Beliveau 36.83
    13 Charlie Conacher 36.5
    14 Brett Hull 34
    15 Roy Conacher 33.5
    16 Bill Cook 33
    Frank Mahovlich 33
    18 Ted Lindsay 31.75
    19 Pavel Bure 30.5
    Stan Mikita 30.5


    Assist Leaders


    1 Wayne Gretzky 137.75
    2 Gordie Howe 84.5
    3 Adam Oates 55
    4 Frank Boucher 51
    5 Mario Lemieux 50.5
    6 Andy Bathgate 50
    7 Phil Esposito 49
    8 Stan Mikita 48.5
    9 Bobby Orr 46.5
    10 Bill Cowley 40.75
    11 Jean Beliveau 39.25
    12 Ted Lindsay 37.5
    Elmer Lach 37.5
    14 Paul Coffey 34
    15 Jaromir Jagr 31
    16 Marcel Dionne 30.5
    17 Bryan Trottier 30
    Guy Lafleur 30
    19 Bobby Clarke 29.5
    20 Cy Denneny 28.75


    Points Leaders

    1 Wayne Gretzky 123.5
    2 Gordie Howe 102.5
    3 Mario Lemieux 57
    4 Phil Esposito 55.5
    5 Stan Mikita 52
    6 Maurice Richard 49
    7 Bobby Hull 48.5
    8 Cy Denneny 46
    9 Jaromir Jagr 45
    10 Jean Beliveau 44.5
    11 Andy Bathgate 41.5
    12 Bobby Orr 37
    13 Marcel Dionne 37
    14 Howie Morenz 36.5
    15 Ted Lindsay 35.5
    16 Guy Lafleur 35
    17 Babe Dye 31.5
    18 Bill Cowley 31
    19 Mike Bossy 28
    20 Joe Sakic 28



    Playoff Scoring Leaders

    1 Wayne Gretzky 56
    2 Gordie Howe 52
    3 Jean Beliveau 51.5
    4 Maurice Richard 48
    5 Bernie Geoffrion 42.75
    6 Guy Lafleur 31
    7 Mark Messier 30
    8 Joe Sakic 29.5
    Ted Kennedy 29.5
    10 Howie Morenz 28
    11 Cy Denneny 27.83
    12 Dickie Moore 27.75
    13 Phil Esposito 27.5
    14 Bobby Hull 27
    15 Alex Delvecchio 24.5
    16 Mike Bossy 24
    17 Jari Kurri 23.5
    18 Frank Boucher 23.35
    19 Frank Mahovlich 23
    20 Norm Ullman 22.5
    21 Mario Lemieux 22.2
    22 Ted Lindsay 22
    23 Bryan Trottier 21.5
    24 Punch Broadbent 20.75
    25 Marty Barry 20.6
     
  19. The Prodigy

    The Prodigy Registered User

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    It's a weak argument, at best. I don't judge a player's talent by looking at the box score.

    And I won't even go into the way the Canadians treated Kharmalov and the other Russian (more skilled) players. The Russians weren't going for Howe's legs every time he had the puck, and the same cannot be said of the Canadians.
     
  20. Luigi Lemieux

    Luigi Lemieux Registered User

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    the topic says "who was better?" not "who had a better career?". and to that question, i don't think howe ever reached the levels that lemieux did. there's a reason the press keep clamoring for crosby to be the next gretzky or lemieux, and not the next howe ; people want to see the next great offensive star with elite hockey sense.
     
  21. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest

    You need to do a little research on Howe. He DOMINATED his era to a greater degree than Lemieux did. If Lemieux had been fully healthy his whole career, perhaps he would have done the same. But, what ifs are worthless.

    People think that Howe just played a long time to put up huge numbers. Remember, he played during a more defensive era than Lemieux with less games on the schedule. The man was DOMINANT. Research it, he was amazing.
     
  22. Luigi Lemieux

    Luigi Lemieux Registered User

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    i looked at his stats, and there are a lot of 80-95 pts in 70 games. i'm certain that was great for his time, but mario put up seasons of 160 pts in 60 games, 161 pts in 70 games, and 199 pts in 76 games. There's no way scoring was that much less in gordie's era for their totals to be similar. Goals per game would have to be 3-4.
     
  23. Luigi Lemieux

    Luigi Lemieux Registered User

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    the 161 pts in 70 games was also in a season which had goals per game that was under the all time average. how do any of gordie's totals compare to that?
     
  24. revolverjgw

    revolverjgw Registered User

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    there's a reason the press keep clamoring for crosby to be the next gretzky or lemieux, and not the next howe

    Lemieux is still playing, Wayne retired a few years ago, Gordie retired a quarter century ago. People tend to forget, or more precisely, they never really knew.

    I agree with some of the points people are making in favor of Mario... two very different NHLs, European influx, etc. But you can only really gauge a player relative to their era. Gordie's dominance of his era was pretty close to absolute, AND you were guaranteed an entire year of his dominance, every year, unlike Mario. You're no good to your team if you're not playing. And Gordie would have been the best in the league even if Europeans were mingling with the North Americans, and that's what it's all about, being the best.
     
  25. revolverjgw

    revolverjgw Registered User

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    Scoring was low. VERY LOW. Gordie was putting up 90-100 points in an era where there was 5 goals a game (and they only played 70 games a year). That's lower than today's NHL.

    And looking past mere numbers, Howe > Lemieux in every other aspect of hockey
     
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