Between 1980 and 1990, how good was Dave Babych?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by KristoLeblanc*, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. Pretty much everything in the title.
     
  2. MS

    MS 1%er

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    He was good, not great.

    He was a huge talent who had all the tools and was very good on the PP, but as a young player he wasn't great defensively and probably played more minutes than he should have because the teams he was on had such weak supporting casts on the blueline.

    His best 3 seasons were 9th, 11th, and 14th in post-season All-Star voting, which gives you a decent idea of where he stood. On the fringes of being a top-10 defender in the league (by virtue of his offensive skill) but certainly not top-5 at any point. Never even remotely in the Norris picture despite having the numbers of guys that were.

    When he was in Winnipeg, he was one of those 'don't make him mad' guys - was capable of being a physical force and threw huge hits on occasion, but was more of a naturally passive guy that you wanted to play meaner.

    Can actually draw a pretty strong comparison between him and Kevin Hatcher. Babych aged better than Hatcher, though, and learned how to play defense after the age of 30 ... was a very reliable veteran presence through his Vancouver years, although his skating and offensive game had fallen off considerably.

    Best Babych stat is that he was the highest-scoring defender on his team for 10 consecutive seasons ... would be curious if that's an all-time record. I'd guess Coffey beats it, but Lidstrom, Potvin, and Orr definitely didn't.

    Was excellent for Vancouver in the 1994 playoffs, played some of the best hockey of his career that spring. Also had a surprising renaissance in October of 1995, and was (IIRC) leading NHL defenders in scoring through the first month of the season before getting hurt.
     
  3. Plante

    Plante Devils Advocate

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  4. LeBlondeDemon10

    LeBlondeDemon10 BlindLemon Haystacks

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    Highly overrated. Not a number 1 defense man as he was chosen by the Jets to be, which is not his fault (a Ferguson pick). May have led the Jets in scoring for d-men for 10 years, but those Jets teams were pitiful, except for 2-3 seasons. Played his best for the Jets when he was with the Canucks.
     
  5. seventieslord

    seventieslord Student Of The Game

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    huh?
     
  6. Zil

    Zil Shrug

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    I believe he is saying that Babych helped the Jets most when he was making defensive gaffes playing for the Canucks. I never really saw Babych so I wouldn't know
     
  7. saskganesh

    saskganesh Registered User

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    When Babych was traded in the fall of 1985 for stonehands Ray Neufeld, the Jets took a steep plummet. That 85-86 season was incredibly disapointing for the team and its fans. A real plane wreck.

    And Hartford (with Babych as their big D) made the playoffs for the first time in six years.

    He may not have been a great D, but he was a very good D, and made a big difference to the teams that he was on.
     
  8. seventieslord

    seventieslord Student Of The Game

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    babych averaged 23.62 minutes per game in his career according to GF/GA-based estimates. But he was a major special teams specialist, and just 17.82 of that was at ES.

    He often finished 1st on his team's defense corps in TOI, but was far behind the leader in ES TOI.
     
  9. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    having seen him mostly in vancouver, hatcher is the last guy i'd think to compare babych to. but that comparison actually makes a lot of sense.

    kudos to him for reinventing himself as a very solid defensive guy after his injuries, when he was basically written off by hartford and left for dead. but it raises the question of how good he could have been if he'd invested that effort on both ends of the ice in his physical prime.

    hatcher i don't think had the brain and hockey sense to ever be anything but passable defensively. big hitter when he wanted to be, but he was a nightmare at reading the play.
     
  10. boltsfan*

    boltsfan* Guest

    He was weighed down by his Stashe. This is why he was so slow. But the good news is a young George Parros was watching ...........and well.............the rest is history.
     
  11. EpochLink

    EpochLink Canucks and Jets fan

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    You weren't kidding.

    The 84/85 Jets - 43-27-10
    The 85/86 Jets - 26–47–7

    The Jets were 8-9-2 when Babych was still with the team, after he got traded for Neufeld, they went 18-38-5. Somehow they still made the playoffs, last place finish though and a sweep from the Calgary Flames. That was one of the most stupidest trades the Jets ever made..Babych was still young at the time. Horrible trade.
     
  12. LeBlondeDemon10

    LeBlondeDemon10 BlindLemon Haystacks

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    The Jets were like that in the late 80's early 90's. Good year, bad year, good year...It didn't matter what players they had.
     
  13. MS

    MS 1%er

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    Yeah, that trade was an awful one for Winnipeg. They had two other good offensive defenders in Ellett and Carlyle, so maybe it made sense to trade from a strength, but the player they got back in Neufeld was crap - 3rd line type winger that Ron Francis had pushed up over 60 points a couple times.

    Apparently the biggest blow from that trade was internal, though. Babych was always a really popular dressing room guy and it's been reported that the team was really upset that he was moved.

    Agreed that in his prime he was a very good defender who could suck up a lot of minutes. He wouldn't dominate those minutes the way elite defenders would, but he was still a significant asset.


    His career numbers are skewed by his later years.

    In his Winnipeg years, he was top-5 in the league in defensive icetime pretty well every year between 1981 and 1986, probably up around 28 minutes/game.

    Yeah, Babych in Vancouver was nothing like the Babych from Winnipeg from 10 years earlier.

    When he broke in with the Jets, he was a monster physically. 6'2" 215 was *huge* for an NHL defender in 1980, and coupled with the skill to score 70 points and control games physically, everyone at the time had him pegged as a future Norris winner. He just never took the next step to be a truly elite player, although playing for crap teams probably played a big part in that.
     
  14. LeBlondeDemon10

    LeBlondeDemon10 BlindLemon Haystacks

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    When he broke in with the Jets, he was a monster physically. 6'2" 215 was *huge* for an NHL defender in 1980, and coupled with the skill to score 70 points and control games physically, everyone at the time had him pegged as a future Norris winner. He just never took the next step to be a truly elite player, although playing for crap teams probably played a big part in that.

    In theory. But he never controlled games physically. In fact, the play-by-play guys used to wonder why he didn't use his size more. Gretzky and the boys used to walk around him like a pylon. He was an average to below average defender who had a good shot and was good on the power play.
     
  15. EpochLink

    EpochLink Canucks and Jets fan

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    What's crazy about the Jets was that in their 17 year existence in Winnipeg, they only 2 season where they finished consecutive .500 back to back (91/92 - 92-93).

    Back on topic, Neufeld was a Manitoba boy and Jets management thought it would be great that they would trade one of their best defensemen for a hometown boy, who had tremendous offensive upside if put on a line with Hawerchuk. Neufeld was nothing more than a third liner and brought nothing but toughness which was nice but that couldn't replace Babych on the blue line.
     
  16. Blades of Glory

    Blades of Glory Troll Captain

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    Gretzky and the boys used to walk through everyone like they were pylons, so I would hardly use that against Babych.

    While you are right about Babych's size being so abnormal for a defenseman at that time, no one could have predicted the NHL changing the way it did because of the Oilers. Gretzky was Gretzky; he was going to dominate no matter what. But until 1981-82, the Oilers were still just a typical offensive team that just so happened to have Wayne. When Paul Coffey became a fixture on the blueline that year, Oilers hockey was born and the entire league changed. "Oilers hockey" featured speed, offense, and skating in a league that, since Bobby Orr retired, had been dominated by the defensive hockey of the Islanders and Canadiens. As a young defenseman in the Smythe Division during the early 1980's, Babych had no chance. The Jets played 16 games a year against Marcel Dionne's Kings and Gretzky's Oilers. Throw in the rise of the Flames once Al MacInnis developed into a dominant force on the blueline, and it's really not surprising that the Jets finished in third or fourth place in 15 of their 17 years in Winnipeg. It was a terrible time to be in a division with the Oilers, Flames, and Kings. Gretzky haunted that franchise. The hilarious part is that Jets entered the league with Gretzky in 1980, and in order to finally get out of the same division of him, they had to move to Phoenix, a long 17 years later. Gretzky spent only 2 months less in the Smythe Division than the Jets did.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  17. LeBlondeDemon10

    LeBlondeDemon10 BlindLemon Haystacks

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    Agreed. Any defenseman would have had a tough time in that division. By the way, Sather modeled Gretzky's Oilers after the late 70's Flying Frenchman and Winnipeg Jets. Sather played for the 1975 Canadiens.
     

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