Best single-season team?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by kmad, Jun 5, 2011.

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  1. kmad

    kmad riot survivor

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    Four come to mind for me:

    1977 Canadiens
    1982 Islanders
    1984 Oilers
    1997 Red Wings

    I've seen discussion on one of the late 50s Canadiens teams possibly being the best but my knowledge of that era is limited.

    Which squad gets your nod?
     
  2. Gobo

    Gobo Stop looking Gare

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    The '86 Oilers are arguably better than the '84 Oilers or at least from what my dad tells me :laugh:.
     
  3. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    The 1930 Bruins are an obvious candidate. And before the "but they didn't win the Cup!" comments come in, the finals were a best-of-three. The Bruins' loss to an obviously inferior Habs team led to a change to best-of-five the nest season.

    They had some wacky playoff structures back then. The #3 teams in each division played off, as did the #2 teams (two games, total goals). The winners of these playoffs then played off in a semifinal (best of three), guaranteeing that one of these teams would make the final.

    The other semifinal was the #1 teams in each division, best-of-five. So it was impossible for the two #1 teams to meet in the final.
     
  4. Ohashi_Jouzu*

    Ohashi_Jouzu* Registered User

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    Just gonna toss out there that Richard, Lach, Blake, and Durnan led the '43/44 Habs to an even better win-loss record than the '77 Habs, and absolutely destroyed Chicago and Toronto in the playoffs to win the Cup that year, too.

    '77 is still my sentimental favourite though, as they won the Cup that year on the exact same day I was born. :)

    And he could be right. That's smack-dab in the middle of their dynasty, with every single one of the key players on the team firmly in their prime years. '84 gets a lot of nods, though (especially among Oilers fans), as it was the year they finally lived up to their billing as a top team and won their first Cup. I don't know if you're alluding to the '85/86 Oilers or the '86/87 Oilers, but if the '85/86 series against the Flames plays out differently in game 7 (3-2 game), we might talk about THEM as being the best Oilers incarnations.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  5. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    They certainly deserve consideration, though the league was very diluted that year due to military service, which the Habs largely avoided. That has to temper it a bit.
     
  6. Psycho Papa Joe

    Psycho Papa Joe Porkchop Hoser

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    1976-77 Habs without question. The best single season team I've ever witnessed.

    The next two best are the 1977-78 Habs and 1975-76 Habs who were only a touch below the 76-77 squads.
     
  7. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Superficial

    Two of the most interesting teams that are really part of this the debate should be viewed separately.

    1929-30 Bruins and 1943-44 Canadiens both had extremely successful seasons right after the introduction of significant rule changes that revolutionized the game by increasing the speed of the game.

    The 1929-30 Bruins were largely the result of liberalized forward passing rule changes without all the necessary adjustments in place to offside rules. For awhile goal-hanging and similar habits were the norm. - see Cooney Weiland. Once the liberalized forward passing had counter-balancing rules in place Cooney Weiland never reached the same scoring heights.

    http://www.hockey-reference.com/players/w/weilaco01.html

    Never before or after the 1929-30 season did Weiland attain scoring heights like he did during the 1929-30 season. Combining his totals from any other two seasons from his career leaves you short of that one season total.

    1943-44 season saw the introduction of the Red Line and the transition game followed. Like the 1929-30 season a team the Montreal Canadiens had roster charateristics that allowed it to dominate. The resulting increase in the speed of the game was not war dependent in any fashion.

    Linking the 1943-44 results to WWII circumstances is like linking 1929-30 results to the 1929 October stock market crash. Coincidental but no cause and effect connection.

    Significant rule changes often produce anomalous team results in sports 1972 Miami Dolphins perfect NFL season followed the NFL's reconfiguration of the playing field - distance between the hash marks was significantly narrowed impacting speed, strategies - changing the sweep, facilitating the zone, changing demands on QB arm strength, altering pass patterns, etc. However the Dolphins perfect 1972 season cannot be linked as resulting from the June 1972 Watergate break-in.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  8. Ohashi_Jouzu*

    Ohashi_Jouzu* Registered User

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    A bit, but like Canadiens1958 suggests, not much.
     
  9. jkrx

    jkrx Registered User

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    I'm just going to nominate the 52 Red Wings. They should be up there.
     
  10. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    A bit, but like I suggested myself, not much. That's why I said "a bit."
     
  11. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    1958 Canadiens

    The most intriguing - in my opinion of the 1950's Canadiens dynasty teams.

    Key star core players missed significant parts of the season - M.Richards missed 42 games, Geoffrion missed 28, Beliveau missed 15, Plante missed 13 yet the team performed at a high level raraly missing a beat. Players like Don Marshall and Dickie Moore emerged.

    A very successful post season transition - longtime players like Bert Olmstead, Dollard St.Laurent and Floyd Curry left yet an orderly transition to youth - Ralph Backstrom continued the dynasty for two more seasons.
     
  12. tony d

    tony d Registered User Sponsor

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    The 1976-1977 Canadiens
     
  13. Axxellien

    Axxellien Registered User

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    Dynasty!

    ..1951=52 Red Wings from Detroit City!...Overwhelming domination...59-60 Montreal were very strong..At the apex of their Dynasty...
     
  14. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    A rule change which affects every team in the league is a very different subject than massive roster losses that affect different teams in drastically different ways. 1943/44 had both, yet you attribute effects to only one.

    From their 1942/43 squad, the 1943/44 Habs lost Joe Benoit and Gordie Drillon to the military. Two good goal-scorers, but compared to the other teams, they had it easy.

    The champion Red Wings lost Sid Abel, Harry Watson, Eddie Wares, Jack Stewart, Alex Motter, Jimmy Orlando and goalie Johnny Mowers. That's basically half the team, and certainly more than half in terms of player value.

    Toronto lost Billy Taylor, Gaye Stewart, Syl Apps, Sweeney Schriner, Bud Poile and goalie Turk Broda.

    The Rangers lost Lynn Patrick, Hank Goldup, Alf Pike, Vic Myles, Bob Kirkpatrick and Scotty Cameron.

    Chicago lost Max Bentley, Red Hamill, Bob Carse and George Johnston. Other than Bentley, that's not bad. But losing Bentley alone would have been bad enough.

    Boston lost only one position player of import in Jack Shewchuk (and a lesser one in Jackie Schmidt), but also lost a fellow named Frank Brimsek.

    So Montreal had it easy with respect to player losses to the military. They also added Bill Durnan and Maurice Richard, of course, which by itself may have propelled them to the top of the league, but in terms of a historic season the sudden, drastic reduction in quality in most of the other teams has to be considered.

    And as I said in my post, it has "a bit" of an effect. So attempting to read this as me writing off the 1944 Canadiens is bizarre.

    See above. Two First-Team All-Stars and four Second-Team All-Stars from the previous season were in the military. Half of the league's starting goalies were in the military; those three were one-two-three in GAA in 1942/43. Three of the top six point scorers were in the military. None of these players were lost to the Canadiens; the great majority of the good players were lost to other teams. To suggest this has no effect on the game on the ice, particularly with respect to the best teams' relative performance, that it's mere coincidence, is nutty.
     
  15. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    The loss of talent from WW2 has to temper the all-time greatness of the 43-44 Canadiens a ton. The league they dominated was garbage. The large majority of under-28 players in the league were off serving on the war, and were largely replaced by career minor leaguers. For a variety of reasons, the Canadiens were less effected by the war than most teams, and basically got to beat up on competition full of players than should have been in the minor leagues. Not even goalies were spared - Frank Brimsek and Turk Broda both went off to serve and were replaced by scrubs. But Montreal got to keep Durnan.

    C1958 is right about 29-30 Boston. Led by Cooney Weiland's cheerypicking, they dominated the first half of the year after the forward pass was allowed but before the offsides rules were created. It would be interesting to see their W/L record before and after the introduction of offsides midseason.
     
  16. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    This is the one I would probably go with. The Habs were honouring my birth in the summer of 1976 with a performance for the ages. That's how I look at it, anyway.
     
  17. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Iain, don't forget the players who left for the war earlier than 43-44. For example, Milt Schmidt and the entire Kraut Line left halfway through 41-42 and were still gone in 43-44 of course.
     
  18. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    It looks like the rule was changed on Dec 21, 1929. Before that date, the Bruins were 11-2-0 in 13 games (.846), 53-37 in goals. After that date, they were 27-3-1 in 31 games (.887), 126-61 in goals.

    So the Bruins were better after the rule change than they were before. Their goals per game remained constant, and they cut 0.85 off their GA per game. They didn't lose in regulation (one OT loss) in their final 20 games that season.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  19. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    This is certainly true; I was only comparing the two seasons. Montreal had lost Johnny Quilty earlier though, and Ken Reardon.

    Just noticed that Montreal lost Terry Reardon in 1943/44 too, but he hadn't played much the year before.
     
  20. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    How'd you find it so fast? Those numbers make it look like the Bruins were not a product of the weirs season.

    You can't easily find Cooney Weiland's split before an after the rule change, can you?
     
  21. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Not Sure

    Perhaps a bit is even too generous.

    Consider. 1915 Vancouver Millionaires.. WWI, similarly the team was not impacted by the war but others were to various extents. Cyclone Taylor and the team had arguably their best season. Majot rule change preceeded the PCHA season. No body checking withing 10 feet of the boards. Speed and scoring increased especially the last few games of the PCHA season. SC final against Ottawa. NHA did not adopt the same rule. Compare the scores of the games under PCHA rules and NHA rules especially Benedict's performance. Rule changes impact independent of war.

    Red Line. Adopted in 1943-44 in the NHL, throughout minor pro hockey unless I missed some obscure league and throughout amateur and youth hockey in Canada. Changes came very quickly and the stream to the NHL from these sources did not change.

    The Red Line was not adopted by USA hockey or USA universities. The stream to the NHL from these sources virtually stopped. No goalies the quality of Brimsek or Karakas for more than a generation, no significant US developed player until Tommy Williams - post 1960 Olympics. The typical US player who appeared in the NHL post Red Line into the sixties was an emergency replacement goalie until a good effort by Jack McCartan. Players who were in the system and close to NHL ready when The Red Line was introduced or US born / Canadian trained types like Charlie Burns. WWII came and went but the impact of the rule change remained.
     
  22. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    It's what I do. :)

    That season's not on HSP, so it would not be an easy task at this point.
     
  23. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    Please illustrate which teams were affected by player losses. Of the 25 players who played regularly in the PCHA in 1913/14, by my count all but three of them also played regularly in 1914/15.

    The three who did not were Sibby Nichol, George Rochon and Allan Parr. If you're unfamiliar with these three, only Nichol was really a significant player. And he didn't join the military until 1917; he missed the 1914/15 season for another reason which I'm not sure of. SIHR has no record of the other two being due to military service, either.

    Nothing can be attributed to wartime player losses that year, because there were no wartime player losses in the PCHA that year.

    Attributing every difference in performance to rule changes also ignores normal variations in player performances etc., especially over the short seasons they played at the time.
     
  24. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Criteria

    Prior to WWII the declining Canadiens and declining Maroons were merged leaving the revised Canadiens with one serviceable player.- Toe Blake. WWII or no WWII the roster would have been changed drastically by 1943-44 and the changes would have reflected rule changes.

    All-Star teams. No evidence has ever been submitted to suggest that an All-Star under one set of rules is guaranteed to be an All Star under different rules and resulting strategies.

    Rule changes will shuffle performance from season to season in unique fashions causing ordinary players to outperform established stars. 1928-29 to 1929-30 players like Weiland(16), Clapper(30) Kilrea(25),Himes(28) jumped ( ) scoring slots to surpass or equal Morenz. Morenz.

    Great players are lost and replaced from season to season, or within season,for various reasons and the link to team performance is never guaranteed. How the loss is viewed and accounted for is another matter. The Canadiens did not add Maurice Richard for the 1943-44 season. They had him at the start of the previous season, 1942-43, but lost him after a very solid first 16 games to a season ending injury. This loss impacted team performance and the resulting jump in 1943-44 should be viewed in this context. If the Canadiens had lost Maurice Richard after 16 games in 1942-43 to the military instead of injury he would have been replaced in the same fashion. The Canadiens would not have performed differently nor would the composition or performance or the results generated by the rest of the league be different. Unless you are claiming and can prove that the Canadiens team performance and the rest of the resulting, performances throughout the league from players to team to league levels would have changed in any fashion by changing the loss of Maurice Richard from injury to military service the you should never again qualify another opinion as nutty.

    Other loses. Players like Bentley, Gaye Stewart, Harry Watson and others that were traded away in deals that proved to be lopsided one way or another. Rule changes historically influence trades as skills and need perceptions change.

    Doubtful if Jimmy Orlando would have been back after 1942-43 without WWII.

    No doubt that WWII removed players but the net loss or gain to a team may be replicated in different eras, different teams, different players. Combined with the fact that the impact is the same whether the loss is due to injury, military service or any other reason then the reliance on military service as even a bit of a factor is quaint.

    The difference in results due to rule changes are very difficult to replicate in a similar fashion nor can you readily claim that change in a team due to an injury would be the same is the change happened due to a rule change.
     
  25. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    Just to quantify this for everyone, the GPG went from 5.02 to 5.19, an increase of only 3%. With no rules changes the next season, it plummeted to 4.00 in 1915/16. So rule changes can't explain every variation in scoring. Seattle was added that year, and they were the lowest-scoring team in the league; in games not involving the Mets, though, the GPG was still only 4.24.

    It's not due to a dilution of the talent in the PCHA, either, since Seattle imported nearly their entire roster from the east. What's the easy answer to this one I wonder?
     

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