Greatest Careers Question

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Ogopogo*, Feb 27, 2006.

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  1. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest

    What do you value more? Who would you say had a greater career?

    The player that is completely dominant for a short time or the consistent player with a long career? Some examples would be:

    Pavel Bure or Trevor Linden

    Bobby Orr or Ray Bourque

    Martin St. Louis or Mats Sundin

    Jarome Iginla or Mike Gartner

    Markus Naslund or Ron Francis

    A One Time Gold Medalist or A 3-time 4th place Olympian

    I have had several people (mostly Leaf fans) tell me that Mats Sundin is one of the greatest NHL players of all time, despite him never coming close to winning an Art Ross, Hart, Conn Smythe or Stanley Cup. Mats' claim to fame is having a bunch of 70+ point seasons and a bunch of 30+ goal seasons. Is that enough to be considered great? His numbers indicate he was merely good for a long time.

    Does consistently being good = greatness? Is dominance (top 3 in the scoring race, Hart trophy finalist) required to be considered great?

    Is one truly dominant season (Martin St. Louis 03-04) a greater accomplishment than being a good player (average 70 pts) for a decade?

    What are your thoughts?
     
    Last edited by moderator : Feb 27, 2006
  2. mcphee

    mcphee Registered User

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    Ogo, I think the answer lies in the extremes. Maybe I'd take Francis over Naslund but Orr over Bourque, Sundin over St.Louis, but Bure over Linden. Some guys are at such a level, for however long it is, that longevity matters less. I don't know how to quantify in terms of let's say 3 or 4 great years, but if you can sit back and say, wow, no one could do what this guy could do, you have a great player.

    Bure's a great example, never on a great team, at times he seemed satisfied to be on a mediocre team, but man, who could explode into open ice the way he could ? Guess I'm not giving you a specific response, by qualifying it as case by case, but what the heck.
     
  3. John Flyers Fan

    John Flyers Fan Registered User

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    The reason why Gretzky is the best of the best is that he combined the dominance and the longevity.

    IMO you have to weight both dominance and longevity ... and IMO dominance should be weighted heavier.

    When I was doing my ranking I asked myeself questions like

    Would I rather have Denis Potvin for 1060 games or Ray Bourque for 1612 games.

    IMO at his peak Potvin was slightly better than Bourque at his peak, but Bourque's 7 extra seasons give him the slight nod over Potvin IMO.

    The peaks of those two are close enough that I went with Bourque's longevity.

    I'd rather have Stastny for 977 games over Gartner for 1432, because IMO Stastny's greatness exceeds the difference in longevity.
     
  4. Weztex

    Weztex Registered User

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    Each case is debatable I guess. Greater the quality and dominance is, less important is the longevity, that's kinda linked. That's why Sundin is ahead of St.Louis but below Bure.
     
  5. JCD

    JCD Registered User

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    I think it is a combination of the two. Sustained greatness.

    You have to be proven an elite-level player for several seasons before being "great" IMO.

    For example, being consistently good for a long time is just that: good (example: Turgeon or Gartner).

    Being a flash-in-the-pan is also just that, a flash in the pan (Bernie Nichols, potentially St. Louis).

    If a player strings together several elite seasons, but then trails off, I would still call him great. For example, Lindros. Before injuries, he was an amazing player. Not quite to the Gretzky-Mario tier, but definately in the tier just below. To me, it is hitting that high level and proving that it wasn't just a fluke that makes a player great. When you look back on those players careers, it is those peak moments that you are going to remember.

    To answer your examples,

    Pavel Bure or Trevor Linden: Bure. He was the most dangerous goalscoring in the league at his best and achieved levels Linden never could.

    Bobby Orr or Ray Bourque: Orr. Arguably the best player ever. Certainly the most complete.

    Martin St. Louis or Mats Sundin: Sundin. St. Louis may be a flash-in-the-pan to me. Sundin has sustained his success for a decade at a very high level (don't know if he is a sure-fire HoF player though, definately deserves consideration).

    Jarome Iginla or Mike Gartner: Iginla. Gartner was never more than just a good to very good player who has pretty numbers.

    Markus Naslund or Ron Francis: Tougher call here (only close one IMO), but I would go with Francis. He was a dominate 2-way player for years and years. Plus, he has all the hardware.

    A One Time Gold Medalist or A 3-time 4th place Olympian: Need more info. What did that Gold Medalist do in the other 2 Olympics? What was his individual level of play? Did he carry that team to the Gold on his back? What was the 3-time non-medalists role? What too much up in the air.
     
  6. Chili

    Chili Registered User

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    To enter the Baseball Hall of Fame you need both. The NHL has inducted some of each, so the criteria is somewhat different.

    All opinions have some bias, so there will always be disagreements over individual careers.

    A Swede and I got into a long discussion about Mats Sundin a while back. I am not a Leaf fan, nor a Sundin fan but the discussion made me realize what a great player he really is. Very consistent and a true leader playing in a market that has high expectations. He would get a thumbs up from me for the Hall of Fame.

    I think each career should be judged on it's own merit.

    As an example, Borje Salming is in the Hall of fame. He deserves it for his stats but equally for taking a great deal of punishment in blazing the trail for all Europeans that followed him.
     
  7. John Flyers Fan

    John Flyers Fan Registered User

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    The baseball hall of fame leans much more to longevity than dominance, with some exceptions (Koufax and a few others).
     
  8. Seph

    Seph Registered User

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    I think it also matters what a person managed to accomplish in the time period. For me, what really weighs against Mats Sundin is that he has not won a cup, or even come all that close to one, nor does have any hardware, aside from All star votes and well, now he has an Olympic gold. I would still take his career over say, Marty St. Louis' (at this point in time anyway) even though Marty does have a Cup and a Hart now. But that's a little too extreme a case, comparing a guy like Mats whose been so good for so long to a guy like Marty who has only really had one standout year. But say in JFF's Bourque Potvin comparison where things are closer, Bourque may have played longer, but he arguably accomplished less in that time (OK, Bourque has two more Norrises than Potvin, but Potvin has an extra three cups and won four cups as a captain whereas Bourque never won a single cup as a captain). So in my mind, Bourque's extra years do not necessarily give him the better career, IMO.

    And as a side note, I don't think Francis to Naslund is a fair comparison, as I feel Francis was more dominant and his longevity was much better. Bure to Linden similarly is unfair, as Bure's dominance was greater and he was good for just as long.
     
  9. Chili

    Chili Registered User

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    You still need both. 3,000 hits is a benchmark but a few 300 game winners have had a hard time getting in.

    To turn it back to hockey, Dino Ciccarelli had alot of goals to be left out. (not that I'm campaigning for him, just thought I'd mention an example).
     
  10. Czech Your Math

    Czech Your Math Registered User

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    Food for thought

    IMO Naslund was never much (if any) better than Francis, and the same with St. Louis vs. Sundin.

    If you look at the best scoring years (adjusted for league scoring) over the past ~40 years, there aren't many players that had more than a couple (at most) seasons that I'd call Ross-caliber:

    Gretzky 11-13
    Lemieux 6-8
    Jagr 6-7
    Esposito 5-6
    Orr 3-5

    Lafleur 2

    1-2: Sakic, Yzerman, Selanne, Forsberg

    Maybe 1-2: Dionne, Trottier, Thornton

    1 at most: Lindros, Lafontaine, Nicholls, Naslund, Oates, Kariya, Br. Hull, Francis, Fedorov, etc.

    I'm surprised that some of these guys show up on list before Bossy, Stastny, Mogilny, Bure, etc.- but that's what the numbers say. Howe, Ratelle, and Bucyk show up once, but it seems easiest to compare from mid-60s to present, so I left them off of list, since they may not be getting fair assessment.

    Players that won more Rosses in past ~40 years than list shows were probably lucky that the competition wasn't fiercer that year. Players that won fewer were perhaps a bit unlucky (overshadowed by better scorers during their best years).
     
  11. God Bless Canada

    God Bless Canada Registered User

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    This is one of those debates, like regular season vs. playoff dominance, that opens up so many different sub-debates. Linden vs. Bure wouldn't be a fair one for this topic (it would be a much better one for regular season vs. playoff brilliance).

    Francis vs. Naslund is a no-brainer. Francis. Naslund has the all-star team selections (at left wing, generally the weakest position for all-star candidates), but Francis was the better all-round player at his peak than Naslund. Plus, Francis has a much better playoff record than Naslund with two Cup rings, and a brilliant performance in 2002 to get Carolina to final.

    Iginla vs. Gartner: Right now, I'd take Gartner, but the last chapters on Iginla's career have definitely not been written. If Iginla puts together three or four more elite seasons, on the level of his 2001-02 or 2003-04 campaigns (he already has the dominant playoff that Gartner is lacking), I'd take Iginla. But right now, two seasons among the elite is not to overcome unparalelled goal scoring consistency.

    Orr for eight years or Bourque for 20? Much tougher question. I take Orr. In terms of dominating all aspects of the game, Bobby Orr is the greatest player to ever lace on blades. Gretzky and Howe had better careers, but Orr was the better player.

    This is one of those debates that should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking numerous factors into consideration, rather than issuing some blanket statement like "I value longevity over short-term domiance" or "I value short-term dominance over longevity." There is something to be said for both when determining greatness.

    As for Sundin: those who have read my posts know that I don't consider him an HHOFer, at least not yet. His two all-star team selections (2002 and 2004) will go down as two of the most forgettable selections among centres in a long time. (Of course, the entire 2004 regular season will go down as maybe the most underwhelming of in decades). He had better seasons when he was not elected to the all-star team, like 1997. The only time that I would have ever considered him a top 10 player in the league is after 1997. Three 40-goal seasons, two 90-point seasons. How are his HHOF credentials any better than Steve Larmer? I watched both play and while Sundin is obviously more skilled than Larmer, in terms of overall accomplishments in the game, from a performance and statistical perspective, I don't see a difference. And Sundin's playoff performances have often left a lot to be desired. He needs one or two more years at the level of 1996-97, or that dominant, carries his team on his back playoff, to change my mind.
     
  12. arrbez

    arrbez bad chi

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    I think each player needs to be evaluated with a little bit of both in mind.

    I agree that dominance should play an important role, but not to the extent that I've seen you argue before (ie: Jim Carrey had a better career that Curtis Joseph). Being the very best for 1 or 2 years doesn't make their career better than someone who was consistantly one of the best for a long stretch. And conversely, being good for a long time does not make someone great.

    Bure was better than Linden because Linden was never that good to begin with, and no amount of "leadership" can change that.

    Bobby Orr was better than Ray Bourque because he accomplished more in less time. Basically, all Ray has on him is games played and therefore total points.

    No knock against St. Louis, but I think 2004 season was a fluke. I can't see him ever finding his way into the top-5 in scoring again, to be honest. I wouldn't rate him over any of the consistantly elite players like Sundin, Modano, Selanne, etc just because he won the Hart and Art Ross and they didn't. Of course, if he proves me wrong and does become an top player again then my point is void. It's all subjective, but one great season is not enough. He would need more of a Lindros or Neely type dominance over a couple years to start getting that consideration.

    Jarome Iginla has already had a better career than Mike Gartner IMO. He actually shows up in the playoffs. Gartner was a consistantly good scorer for a long time, but never really considered an elite player.

    Francis has easily had a better career than Naslund has (and will).

    A 3 time 4th place Olympian is more impressive to me if they did it in 3 different Olympics. To be a top-5 performer in the world over the span of 12 years is damn impressive, especially for an amateur. If it's all in the same games, then the Gold is more impressive.

    Basically, I have no set system or way of analyzing it. I think each player needs to be looked at on his own merit. Personally, I take a look at the stats and awards, but I try to put into into context as well of how good they were compared to their peers, and how long it lasted.
     
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