Big 4: 2 Questions

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by MIAtoBKLYN, Mar 26, 2018.

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  1. MIAtoBKLYN

    MIAtoBKLYN Registered User

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    1a) Does/Do any other player(s) in the history of the sport have a legitimate claim to bump one of Gretzky, Orr, Howe or Lemieux off hockey's Mt. Rushmore? 1b) If so, who?

    2) What was the exact achievement that clinched each one's membership in this ultra exclusive group?
     
  2. Flamesss

    Flamesss Registered User

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    I don't see how really. If there was a 5th spot I would give it to Hasek personally, but I don't see anyone taking over their spot as of right now.

    Gretzky - Most records by a wide margin
    Lemieux - As dominant as Gretzky but health issues slowed his numbers down
    Howe - Top 10 in points for 2 decades straight or something like that
    Orr - Was a man among boys for the 8 seasons he played. He basically won the Norris for every close-to-full season he played.
     
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  3. MXD

    MXD Dead again

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    Patrick Roy, Doug Harvey, Jean Beliveau and (I guess) Dominik Hasek have a claim. Just not one that I'd make, and not one I'd touch with a 10-foot pole either)
     
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  4. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    i still believe it's a big three.

    as for #4, if you put rocket richard or beliveau there, i wouldn't argue. but i don't think any of those three really belongs in the same breath as orr, gretzky, or howe.
     
  5. quoipourquoi

    quoipourquoi Goaltender

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    You can't just add a 5th member. Gut says Jean Beliveau or Bobby Hull, Heart says Maurice Richard or Patrick Roy, Mind says Howie Morenz or Doug Harvey.

    Think of how long it took to find someone as good as Howie Morenz. For him to not be up there might be slighting the first 50 years of hockey. On the other hand, if we discount the big 4 as alien-like talent, Doug Harvey might be the human race's top contender - as transformative as he was talented.

    On paper, Patrick Roy has one of the better arguments: maybe the best player in Stanley Cup hockey (like Richard), first to 500 (like Richard), influenced a generation in a tangible way (like Richard), and the big 4 were all skaters so why not a goaltender.

    But if #4 is Mario Lemieux and #5 is Patrick Roy, you can't tell me that the Hockey Gods didn't put every ounce of their spirit into creating Mario on October 5th while Roy was just residual energy; that is the gap between those two.

    Beliveau or Hull seem right. Before Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, they were (like Richard) heralded as hockey's finest after Howe, so their position as such should not necessarily change.

    That there isn't a #5 is exactly why we get excited every time we think the Hockey Gods are about to give us one - and then comes the crushing disappointment that he's always broken or always moody or always outscored by his teammates when they win the Stanley Cup three times seriously how are you always being outscored by your teammates when you win you were supposed to be our #5 why does Phil Kessel outscore you in a four-round playoff Jaromir Jagr would never get outscored by Phil Kessel but you will are you kidding me.

    At the end of the day, we may not have a #5, but whatever order you put them in, there's a Medium 6 (Roy, Beliveau, Hull, Richard, Morenz, Harvey) that check all the boxes until our next Mario comes along.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
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  6. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    One of the issues with trying to rank and evaluate individual players is the distance between ability/potential and performance. And further, since this is entirely a team sport, there's also the matter of team improvement/performance, which I suppose ultimately is all-important but is also distinguishable (at least in theory) from individual accomplishments.

    While I do consider all the members of "The Big 4" to belong and to be entirely legit as such, I see Mario as a clear #4 because of my first point, above -- i.e., the distance between ability/potential and performance. No one in their right mind would deny Lemieux admittance to the "The Big 4" based on ability/potential. In fact, many of us, myself included, consider him the quintessential "hockey human" and perhaps the single most physically talented hockey player in the history of humanity. But in the area of performance, one could make the argument that Lemieux -- for all his obvious peaks and incredible displays -- didn't do anything that Gretzky didn't already do, better and more frequently, and much more consistently, for a longer period, and with more team success, just a few short years before Lemieux did them (even concurrently). That is why I'd have difficulty seeing his ranking higher than #4.

    I'd have no particular argument with anyone placing Howe, Orr, or Gretzky at #1. Even if Orr lacked longevity, all three of those guys were the undisputed best player of their eras. I suppose Howe, like Lemieux in his younger years, was occasionally overshadowed here and there by a peak season (Beliveau, Hull) of a rival player, but then Howe has 20 or 22 seasons in a row of elite performance, plus one of the five or six greatest peaks.

    So, in conclusion, I do think "The Big 4" is a legit and justifiable thing.
    _________________

    Another example of what I'm talking about in terms of a difference between ability/potential and performance: Consider, as a random comparison, Doug Harvey and, say, Chris Pronger. Obviously, I never saw Harvey play at all, so I'm not going to attempt to describe or evaluate his play. But, my question would be: Was there really an appreciable difference (in comparison to peers, in ability to control a game) between Doug Harvey and peak Chris Pronger? I don't know, but I suspect there isn't much of a difference. (Pronger in fact won the Hart trophy, which Harvey didn't.) I suspect that peak Harvey from around 1956 or whenever, and Pronger in one of his few peak seasons, are very even. The difference is not in ability/potential but in overall performance. Harvey had a much more consistent career, over several seasons in a row, of course.

    So, then, the matter of dispute when we sometimes try to evaluate players' is the classic peak/prime/career assessment problem. Another way to put it is: How many elite seasons does a player need to have so that (a) longevity and (b) lack-of-sustained prime are not issues of criticism? Those are important questions in trying to compare two or more elite players. On top of those questions, for me another highly important matter of consideration is consistency, the ability to bring it at elite level every night, every season, for a sustained prime.

    In the end, there's too much subjectivity in how each of us considers those points to arrive at any reasonable conclusions, but I do generally agree with "The Big 4" at least. And personally I don't see anybody at #5 being close to #4.
     
  7. BigBadBruins7708

    BigBadBruins7708 Registered User

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    yup, Howe had 20 straight seasons top 5 in points (14x top 5 in goals, 16x top 5 in assists...never out of the top 10 in either)

    and in that run had 6x Hart, 6x Ross, 5x Rocket. I think his career length hurts him with some fans because they focus on that instead of looking at the #s and realizing he dominated all 20 years. He is a lot like Bourque in that respect...unheard of sustained dominance.

    if we're saying Big 5, I'd make Hasek 5th. To me he is far and away the best goaltender ever and is a lot like Orr.

    That 8 year run he had in Buffalo was Orr like:

    6x Vezina
    2x Hart
    6x AS-1
    6x led in sv%
    2x led in gaa
    4x led in shutouts

    GSAA of 53.85, 43.28, 54.41, 54.49, 54.08...for comparison, Price's Hart year was 36.70.

    He not only led the league in these stats, but he was a step above anyone else...consider that "anyone else" includes both Roy and Brodeur.
     
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  8. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    Keep in mind Mount Rushmore aren't necessarily the 4 best presidents, they're the "founding" presidents, or most historically important ones.

    Mario Lemieux isn't that "important" to the history of the league. He may not even be top 10 in that regards. Someone like Rocket Richard might be a more historical figure in that sense. Plante for revolutionizing the goalie position. Etc.

    But if we're talking about the traditional best/top 4 all time in terms of career ranking - no there are 0 arguments to bump anyone outside of the top 4.

    You need 2 things. You need "ability" and "achievements".

    Orr/Gretzky/Lemieux stand alone - a big, big step up on everyone in hockey history - in terms of "ability". They were just better than any other player, by a significant difference, over a large majority of their careers. To talk in more recent times - how can you ever justify putting someone like Crosby or Ovechkin above Lemieux when Lemieux is simply so much better than them? It just seems silly.

    Some people will say Howe was also in that tier of "ability" with those 3 players. I don't think so, i think he was a tier down. But whether you place him in the same tier of ability or not, he's still in the big 4 because of the next category "achievements".

    Career Achievements. Gretzky/Howe are unmatched here. Career domination, over a long career. Unrivaled in terms of trophies (and unlike someone like Bourque or Lidstrom who also have a lot of trophies as best D - Gretzky/Howe have many trophies for best overall player). Despite being a step back in "achievements" - Lemieux/Orr still look good vs almost anyone outside of the big 4 in this category too. But they are slightly more vulnerable here, due to lack of longevity.


    So no - no one in the history of the game has a case to bump someone out of the big 4.

    Crosby could, theoritically. His career and resume is really strong and diversified. He's close on "ability" to maybe Howe, though a clear tier behind the other 3. But he could hypothetically make it up in "achievements". This doesn't mean because I say Crosby and not guys like Beliveau, Hull or Richard that I consider Crosby to be in a tier above those guys. It just means that he's still 30 and can still add to his career - so he's close enough to the right level that with a somewhat unrealistic next few years it could be plausible. Would take a lot though.
     
  9. BigBadBruins7708

    BigBadBruins7708 Registered User

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    Crosby vs Howe

    2x Hart...6x Hart
    4x AS-1...12x AS-1
    3x AS-2...9x AS-2
    2x Ross...6x Ross
    2x Rocket...5x Rocket
    4x top 10 goals...19x top 10 goals
    9x top 10 asst...22x top 10 asst
    10x top 10 pts...21x top 10 pts

    really isnt that close, at all. And dont forget when looking at Howe's season totals, he played in an era that was slightly lower scoring than current day NHL. Most seasons only 1-2 teams would crack 200 goals.
     
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  10. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    I agree he's not very close but he's the only active player whose somewhat close. Everyone else who was close is retired and their resumes are finalized. That's all I'm saying.

    If Beliveau or Hull were 30 and active I'd say the same about them.

    Also I think top 10 placements and 1st and 2nd All star teams shouldn't be taken at face value comparing a 6 team league to a 30 team league. Needs at least a bit of context/adjustment as there's a lot more competition in today for top 10 scoring then there was in a smaller league. Doesn't mean Howe isn't still ahead - just not by as much imo.
     
  11. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    You could also add that Howe led the playoffs in scoring 5 times, Crosby 1. And Howe led in scoring twice while his team won the Cup, which Crosby hasn't done yet.

    By the way, Howe also led his team in scoring 13 out of 14 seasons (the one missed he was injured or likely would have done it 14 straight), and 17 times overall.
     
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  12. Spirit of 67

    Spirit of 67 Registered User

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    1) Yes. Crosby has a chance. He's closing in on Howe I think. (I only saw Howe play at the very tail end of his career so it's hard for me to judge.

    2) Their careers.
     
  13. tony d

    tony d Registered User Sponsor

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    Crosby I think could approach the big 4 but for right now there's really noone that is close to eclipsing the big 4.
     
  14. Thenameless

    Thenameless Registered User

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    1) There is no legitimate claim to bump one of the Big 4.

    2) I don't think there's one exact achievement that clinches it for any one of these guys, but this is how I remember them:
    Gretzky - 61 records, only player to go over 200 pts in a season and did it 4 times, assists alone could win scoring titles
    Howe - early dominance followed by "extremely" high level play while he aged, only one of these 4 that was physically intimidating
    Orr - only D-man to win the scoring title and he did it twice to show that it was no fluke, I saw him kill penalties by himself by skating around with the puck (no one could take it from him)
    Lemieux - possibly the most dominant player with the puck on his stick, I'd like this verified but I heard he went 7-for-7 on his first 7 penalty shot attempts (something where the goalie wins easily more than 50% of the time)
     
  15. quoipourquoi

    quoipourquoi Goaltender

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    Just because players are in the same league at the same time does not necessarily mean that they are playing their best hockey at the same time. Note how Roy, Belfour, and Joseph won all six save percentage title from 1988-1993 (with four additional top-5 placements between them) but collectively only managed two top-5 placements from 1994-1999.

    Ranked Save Percentage Finishes (Before 1994)
    Belfour: 1, 3
    Hasek: 7
    Joseph: 1, 2, 6
    Roy: 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 5, 8

    Ranked Save Percentage Finishes (1994-1999)
    Belfour: 8, 10
    Brodeur: 3, 4, 5, 7
    Hasek: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
    Joseph: 6
    Roy: 3, 4, 7, 8, 10

    They were arguably bigger stars from 1994-1999 than they were from 1988-1993, but didn't necessarily make for the best competition for regular season save percentage titles. And based on their playoff performances in this period, I'd say Roy, Belfour, and Joseph had another gear that wasn't necessarily represented by their ranked finishes - so it was likely more of an issue of regular season underperforming relative to the standards they set in 1988-1993 rather than a case of Hasek generating margins over their best. If it was the latter, then we'd have to say that a lot of goaltenders (including some that played in that 1988-1993 range) were also generating margins over their best.

    I think Hasek is still clearly the best goaltender in this period even while sustaining month+ long injuries in 5 of his 9 seasons with Buffalo, but I think you could get comparable 9-year stretches from goaltenders who maybe weren't outpacing their contemporaries by the same factor but also weren't consistently hurt for long stretches. Think Terry Sawchuk (1951-1959), Patrick Roy (1986-1994), Jacques Plante (1955-1963), Ken Dryden (1971-1979, though it too has its significant drawbacks), Glenn Hall (1959-1966).

    Where I would suggest Patrick Roy draws separation from Dominik Hasek and truly enters the #5 debate is that he has a second 9-year stretch (1995-2003) that in isolation would be a Hall of Fame career. So even if we were to say that a Dominik Hasek (1993-2001) that gets injured for month+ periods in 5 of 9 seasons brings greater value than a Patrick Roy (1986-1994) who suffers one month-long injury and is otherwise dependably available and often times exceptional in his own right, there is a gap between what Patrick Roy accomplished in Colorado compared to Dominik Hasek's pre-1993 career and post-Buffalo run that featured more of the same injury struggles. And I think it can be argued that outside of their aforementioned 9-year stretches, all of Plante, Sawchuk, and Hall do their part to keep up with Hasek's career value as well.
     
  16. Ageless

    Ageless Registered User

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    Howe would be the first man out. 199 points and 160 points in 60 games beating cancer secures Lemieux.
     
  17. Dennis Bonvie

    Dennis Bonvie Registered User

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    I wouldn't consider Morenz a legit candidate for #5. But if you do, Eddie Shore should also be in the conversation. More Hart Trophies (4 to 3), more all-star selections (8 to 3) playing at the same time.

    As for Jagr never getting outscored by a Phil Kessel in the playoffs, he did get outscored by Ron Francis in 4 of his first 5 playoffs. The one Jagr outscored Francis was when the Pens lost in the first round.
     
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  18. Dennis Bonvie

    Dennis Bonvie Registered User

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    Because I probably won't be alive when it happens, I'm predicting McDavid will break into the Big 4.
     
  19. Canucks1096

    Canucks1096 Registered User

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    The problem I have Roy at Number 5 is Hasek was a better goalie than him. When Hasek become a number 1 goalie in 93/94. He took Roy Best goalie status away from him. From 93/94 until both player retired Hasek has 13 nhl awards and Roy has 2. Roy couldn't compete with Hasek.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  20. quoipourquoi

    quoipourquoi Goaltender

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    But of the two, was Howie Morenz not perceived to be the better player at the time despite the awards disparity - something we see in this era as well (Crosby commonly if not universally seen as the top player of the era despite less Hart and All-Star recognition than Ovechkin; 3 to 2 and 7 to 4)?

    Eddie Shore does seem to fare better decades later. I think his resume ages better than Morenz's - and perhaps with the less frequent appearances of defensemen at his level compared to each generation having incredible forwards, there has been a re-evaluation of the two relative to each other.

    Personally, I wouldn't put Shore over Morenz (just as I wouldn't put Bourque over the consistently higher-perceived Messier or Ovechkin over the consistently higher-perceived Crosby - two examples that are or conceivably will follow the same awards-based re-evaluation), but I think the pre-Original 6 era occupies enough space in history that at least one of two or three names should be given consideration for the #5 spot even if the game has evolved much since their time.
     
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  21. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    Personally.... I dont compare Defencemen to Forwards, Left Wingers to Right, Wingers to Defencemen, Centers to Wingers, let alone Centers to Defencemen... Goalies like peas, dont like smashed peas or having them mixed in with the other veg on my plate.... eat them separately.... inhaled through a rolled up hundred dollar bill if you must.... everything separate. In its place. Why would you take the contents of a beautifully presented plate of prime-rib with rosemary roasted potato's, pepper carrots & peas, put it in a blender, hit liquefy... ha?... What is wrong with you qpq that you would do this?... Have people been so programmed by the media's "TOP" lists that they cant distinguish by genre, position in sport, frankly all things that should be subjective that you yourself appreciate? Situation dictates selection. Shore would be a wiser selection over Morenz in some situations & vice-versa. Bourque over a Messier, Ovi over both given whomever it is you select for him to be playing with & so on. They are ALL works of art unto themselves. Its how you use them, who you display them with, in what context that matters....

    Carry on...
     
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  22. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    I would tend to agree that Hašek has the strongest claim to #5, and I also think he's above Roy. Having said that, he's still distant from #4.

    It's very hard, I think, for us moderns to try to evaluate defensive players like Shore and Harvey from the distant past. It's easier with high-scoring players (at least, I suppose it is) because stats can be analyzed in quite a bit of depth. But how do we know how good Eddie Shore was? At some point, we have to trust the awards-record.
     
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  23. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    if i may present a sophie's choice, what would you guys rather believe: that mario undisputedly belongs in the same tier as orr, gretzky, and howe, or that crosby could be in the big four, thus bumping his boss?

    this is a thought experiment, so humour me and let's not pretend gordie howe is behind mario.
     
  24. K Fleur

    K Fleur If You Know You Know

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    A "sophie's choice" is a choice between two equally deserving options. Not an accurate term for your thought experiment.

    Any chance for Crosby to enter the "big four" ended on January 18th 2008.
     
  25. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    you tell that to bob holly
     

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