# How crazy is it that Ovechkin may tie Gretkzy and Bossy for most 50-goal seasons this year?

Discussion in 'National Hockey League Talk' started by SwaggySpungo, Jan 22, 2020.

1. ### filinski77Registered User

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If in 30 years the league changes significantly, and the average score of an NHL game is 2-1, and some guy leads the league in goals 8+ times while only scoring 40 goals a year, when no-one else can hardly score 25-30, then YES, that player would probably be a better goal scorer than Ovechkin.

The reason I say this, because I'm not blatantly ignorant of scoring environments and league-relative numbers. I'm sorry that you are, and that you just refuse to acknowledge it, but that's how it is. You can't just look at strict numbers and take them for face value and say 60>50.

Tell me who was the better goalscorer (in a theoretical example):

Player A - scores 50 goals in a season where the avg score was 3-2, and the top 5 goal scorers had this # of goals: 50 - 35 - 30 - 29 - 28

Player B - Scored 60 goals in a season where avg score was 6-5, and the top 5 goal scorers had this # of goals: 60 - 55- 54 - 50 - 49

If you are really going to sit there and tell me that Player B was better because of strict goal numbers, then I don't know what to tell you, other than to enjoy living in your own plastic bubble, completely unwilling to open your mind to other ideas other than easy numbers

2. ### LeksandRegistered User

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You say “There isn't a mathematical formula that can account for the kinds of variables that would change by moving a person across eras ” then you go on and “extrapolate” observes performances to compare across eras. Ie you do the same except you don’t explain your algorithms, adjustments, and assumptions.

3. ### tarheelhockeyHighest Boss

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IMO your argument would be more compelling if you tweaked it from:

to

In a conversation about how players compare to each other across time, there definitely is a valuable perspective to be gained by adjusting the numbers to a common constant. There is also value in recognizing that the NHL isn't a controlled laboratory experiment, and there are limitations on what data (especially rough data like G-A-P) can possibly tell us.

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Ots not going to depend on how much the game changes, it’ll depend totally on what the fans want to prove.

And it’s overwhelmingly likely that in 30 years the fans will want to prove their era guys are the best, even if the stats don’t show that. As evidenced in this thread.

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you can’t be serious. If that hypothetical player was a better goal scorer than ovechkin, they would be scoring more goals than Ovechkin.

but it doesn’t matter, because the fans will twist the stats until they can pretend that hypothetical player is a better goal scorer. It’s more mental/emotional than it is based on stats.

in 30 years, possibly all of these Ovechkin goals are going to be argued are only really worth 0.75 of a goal, and Gretzky’s are only worth 0.23

man, that’s so dumb it actually hurts to think about

there is literally nothing stopping a player from scoring 200 points this year or next. All of the league rules are tailor made for it to happen. And it might happen, but until it does it just means no one has reached that level of dominance in the game since the 80’s.

Last edited: Jan 24, 2020
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6. ### powerbombRegistered User

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What I'm saying is that there isn't an absolute value for greatness, because of all the ways that it can be defined. It's easy to compare players within the same subset of rules and factors, but if you seek to compare across decades, you have to acknowledge that there are enough fundamental differences to account for that you have to refine the argument and by what measure greatness is defined. That's why I've consistently said that Ovechkin, the greatest goalscorer of his generation, belongs on the mantle of all-time players, but the legacy is nuanced. When I saw Gretzky on the ice, I always marveled at his vision and ability to be a step ahead. When I saw Lemieux play, I marveled at his hands and ability to score from anywhere. When I watch Ovechkin--and I've long enjoyed watching him play--I marvel at the blistering pace of his slapshot especially off a one-timer.

What does it mean to be the GOAT, or the best goalscorer? If it's about picking one player to have the puck on their stick in a situation where you have to score, I'm picking Lemieux over Ovechkin hands down based on what I've seen with my own eyes. If the question is who the de facto scoring champion is, it's without hesitation Wayne Gretzky. I'm not seeking to discredit what Ovechkin has accomplished; he's in the process of authoring his own legacy and if he can stay healthy and continue to fill the net with pucks, how he ultimately slots into the pantheon changes. Health and durability can be their own form of greatness, but I'll probably remember Ovechkin as being the beast that you fed the puck to and counted on hammering away, rather than as the sniper who could bury the puck on a whim.

As a general rule, I'm against sensationalism and the obsession with any singular account of "THE BEST EVER" or "THE WORST EVER" which seems to consume popular culture. At the end of the day, anyone can convince themselves of whatever they want, but if you start with a conclusion and seek to prove it backwards, you fail to account for too many blindspots. Adjusted statistics can be a fun way to parse a perspective as fodder for a conversation, but if you think that it is some mic drop maneuver that "proves" that today's greats are greater than past greats... well, go ahead, I guess. Feel free to say and believe as you choose. I'm just presenting my skepticism and a couple of reasons why.

*shrugs*

I'm not arguing in favor of any method of determining a precise answer to this question, because it isn't a question that can be answered precisely. I was a stats junkie for a long time, and it's definitely fun and interesting to parse through information and weigh different perspectives. But I am strictly arguing against adjusted stats being used as some altar of purity; if we acknowledge that it cannot be a perfect model for comparison, then I agree it should be used in addition to rather than in substitution of other methods. Statistics can be compelling which is why the presentation of adjusted numbers deserve an asterisk and debate.

7. ### gtrowerRegistered User

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Again, no it’s not. Does somebody else have a better way of explaining it to this guy?

Adjusted stats do not assume legends of today and legends of old are the same. They measure the dominance of a player over the average player of his era.

What you are describing would be if they took the individual goals leader from each season and normalized them all to a round number like 50 and then compared them. That would indeed be flawed approach. And honestly doesn’t even tell you much of anything useful. You can’t normalize something to the exact variable you’re trying to compare them on.

Instead we’re taking the league scoring average (which in effect is the average player) and normalizing it to a round number (6 in this case) and comparing how much better the the outliers are to that average player in their era.

So if Player A scored 100 goals in 1966 but the average player scored 72 and Player B scored 55 goals in 1995 but the average player scored 20 we can now show that Player Bs season was more dominant over his peers than Player As despite scoring fewer total goals.

So again, you’re not assuming the outliers of different eras are equal. It’s simply not true at all. If you were doing that then all the adjusted stats for Ovi/Gretzky/Howe would be equal. Because you’re assuming they’re equal. If somebody believed this I could see why they wouldn’t like advanced stats. It makes no sense.

You’re comparing their levels of dominance over their own respective eras. Which is the logical way to compare players of different eras.

Last edited: Jan 24, 2020
8. ### tarheelhockeyHighest Boss

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Where did anyone hold up adjusted stats in that manner?

I see a bunch of people saying they aren't perfect, that they're one of many tools, that the formulas can go a lot of different ways. Those people's point is that regardless of how we quibble about the formulas and margins, the numbers paint a consistent picture of the difference between eras, and there is no way to sanely evaluate these players without that perspective.

It seems to me that you're arguing against an "altar of purity" perspective that nobody has expressed, and that nobody familiar with the topic would actually hold. Even in the last few posts, you've received pushback against that caricacture and seem to be holding firm that this is what some unspecified person is arguing.

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9. ### JasonRoseEhRegistered User

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If guys like Al Iafrate could shoot absolute lasers with wood sticks Ovechkin wouldn't have a problem either and his curve is legal. Also, his curve doesn't give much advantage on a one timer at all.

10. ### powerbombRegistered User

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I understand perfectly well how these statistics work and what this model is attempting to address. It's unquestionably true that scoring was higher league-wide in the 80s than they are today, due to a number of reasons. The problem is that weighting for frequency of goals by average players across the league isn't going to solve for the individual talent proximity of specific players separated by decades. Is it a clever way to compare the overall health of the league? Certainly. Will it produce interesting fodder for conversation? Undoubtedly. But, again, there isn't a baked-in absolute value for greatness, so there isn't a satisfying determination to be made on what "relative dominance" should mean. There isn't a formula that solves for talent, where you can point to a column and say, "You see? This guy's a 98/100 and he's a 97/100, just like I said!"

It would be like determining how good candy tasted in the 1980s compared to the 2020s based on the volume of sales made, balanced for inflation. Could you discover some interesting trends and numbers? I'm sure you could. Would it constitute a preponderance of evidence that tipped the scales once and for all that Skittles was the best? Probably not.

BTW: "the logical way to compare players of different eras" is a laugh-line because it suggests that there is a conclusive outcome that can be reached. My entire point in all of this has been that comparing players across eras is an exercise in futility because of the amount of gradient that exists. There's no accounting for taste, but hey, I support doing math, so kudos.

11. ### powerbombRegistered User

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It's a general response to the extreme point of view that I've seen expressed, here and elsewhere, that trots out adjusted statistics in lieu of actual statistics, especially if they are emphasized as being more relevant (given that the numbers are by nature subject to change). At the end of the day, I don't really care about who someone thinks is better at playing hockey. I'm just saying that pseudo-scientific approaches can obfuscate as much as they can clarify.

But I'm sure that I'm at least as tired of responding to this thread as anyone could possibly be of reading these posts, so I'll move on to other things. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy watching Ovechkin play out his career and reflecting on what legacies are being cemented, and which are just starting, as time endlessly marches on.

*eats popcorn, fires kernel into spittoon*

12. ### Sugi21Registered User

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What if player A is Jonathan Cheechoo? He scored 50

13. ### tarheelhockeyHighest Boss

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He said “because of strict goal numbers”.

Obviously one would take the circumstances of the numbers into consideration.

All of this pushback seems to be against an idea that somebody out there is ONLY looking at adjusted stats. Nobody is doing that. Anyone who understands this topic enough to even bring up era-adjustment has already spent enough time in these trenches to understand that context matters (which is the point of the adjustment in the first place)

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If Ovechkin breaks Gretzky's record and retires. What if Gretzky comes out of retirement to recapture the record?

15. ### Oil DoodRegistered User

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Gretzky has stated on numerous occasions that he wants someone to beat his records because it is good for the game. Even after his career ends, the guy is still looking out for the good of the game. That is why he is the Great One.

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Well of course he's said that. What else is he supposed to say?

17. ### HockeySniperRegistered User

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The best goal scorer has to be a combo of goal totals, times leading the league, domination of peers and consistency. Gretzky could score 894 in one game and I’d take the guy who scored 400 by scoring every other game

18. ### Oil DoodRegistered User

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You are doubting how genuine he is? Gretzky has been saying it since before he retired.
OV breaking that record would be great for hockey on an international stage. Imagine being a young Russian player and OV is there as the greatest goal scorer of all time? Might be pretty inspirational for young Russian players anywhere.

Nothing is going to threaten Gretzky's claim to the greatest player to have ever played the game.

19. ### Oil DoodRegistered User

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How about just goal totals? Whoever has the most goals is the greatest goal scorer of all time. Seems simple enough.

20. ### HockeySniperRegistered User

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No. Because if that’s the case then Ovechkin is obviously the best player of his generation but people on this board can’t have that. Scoring a lot in a short amount of time isn’t the same as a person who also scores a lot over a greater period of time

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I'm certain there's a part of him that doesn't want it to happen, but he can't say that publicly.

22. ### Oil DoodRegistered User

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I think you are digging for something that does not exsist.

23. ### hawksruleOdd Little Poster

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The poor phrasing of the thread title is irksome.

24. ### JerseyMike34Registered User

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Well, from what I remember, the trick to Iafrate blasting the puck was simple. Get as little of the ice as possible and swing with all the power you have.

These days, it's make sure you get so much flex on your stick that when it whips itself back into place, the puck goes as fast as you can put pressure on the stick.

A little different skills.

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