How Good Was Gretzky?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Bravid Nonahan, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. Bravid Nonahan

    Bravid Nonahan carlylol = القسوة

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    Obviously he is the highest scoring player of all time, so he must have been pretty good. I didn't get to see him in his prime, so I'm wondering if I can get a couple of opinions.

    From what I understand, his hockey sense was second to none. He was dominant because he thought the game better than anyone else.

    I am more interested in his physical skills. Compared to his peers, how was his

    skating (speed, agility, stride, efficiency)
    shooting (power and accuracy)
    passing (vision and accuracy)

    Thanks!
     
  2. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    He was a very good skater, very deceptively quick. His anticipation made and ability to get a good start skating made him nearly impossible to check. He went into corners or the boards to get the puck and got away without getting hit all the time.

    Shooting. He had a very, very accurate slapper. I don't think he had a super powerful shot but he was deadly accurate.

    Passing, well he was by far the best passer ever. His vision is completely unprecedented. He could do anything he wanted to do, and was deadly accurate.

    All of this is related to an incredible hockey sense. He knew where everyone on both teams were and were going to be. He invariably shot when the goalie thought he would pass and the opposite.

    He had incredible stamina and was ready to go back out for a shift in less time than other players.

    Many talk like Gretzky did not have elite "skills" like skating and shooting and so on. He may not have been as naturally gifted as Mario or Orr or Lafleur but he was an excellent skater, a tremendous stickhandler, and had an incredibly accurate shot, and incredible hand eye co-ordination. He used all his skills to their utmost potential with his almost clairvoyant hockey sense.
     
  3. Fourier

    Fourier Registered User

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    If you want some insight into Gretzky's skating watch RNH. I am not talking about pure speed here (Gretzky was faster than many people suggest but he did not have blazing speed), but rather the incredible ability to stop on a dime, change directions, accelerate when needed, it really was something to watch.

    Without inflating RNH too much because he is no Gretzky, I can say that it has been a long time since I watched someone who resembled Gretzky as much in the way he moves so effortlessly through traffic.

    Gretzky's passing was insane. He was particularly strong on the backhand. But he would also try things that no one else typically did back then. As overtly spectacular as he could be, he also did a tremendous number of very subtle things that almost no one else could do.

    Gretzky's shot was very accurate. He was also helped by the fact the goalies had almost no idea what he was going to do.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  4. BenchBrawl

    BenchBrawl joueur de hockey

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    he wasn't the fastest , but he was a deceptive skater , and ALWAYS at the right place , more than anybody else.

    his shot is underrated , wasn't the more powerful but he was really accurate , especially his slapshot compare to the majority of players.

    passer , I can't describe , he just knew something nobody ever knew.Mario Lemieux is the 2nd best passer/vision , and he was far from Gretzky.

    Gretzky was also the best playoff performer with maybe Patrick Roy , and one of the Top 5 team captain ever.
     
  5. Hardyvan123

    Hardyvan123 [email protected]

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    Pretty much agree with this above but the one quality that really set him apart besides the above skills was his desire to be the absolute best.

    He always wanted and did everything to be the absolute best player he could be each and every game and each and every shift?
     
  6. BenchBrawl

    BenchBrawl joueur de hockey

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    Gretzky also never disapointed you.
     
  7. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    I think that is one trait Crosby shares with Gretzky.
     
  8. 85highlander

    85highlander Registered User

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    Everything? Really???

    Does your "everything" include essential things such as checking, corner work, sticking up for teammates (or for yourself), playing the "absolute best" defense one can play, etc...?

    If not, perhaps "everything" isn't the best word to use in your description.
     
  9. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    Lame comment. Gretzky got EVERY ounce out of the talent he had. It would have been ******ed for Gretzky to stick up for his teammates or himself, he would have been creamed. Since Gretzky was the smartest player ever and not the stupidiest he did not do that. He did anything that made him the best player, and that helped his team to win games. I am sure if he was built like Eric Lindros he might have played differently, he wasn't so he played the way he did.

    As for defence... I am pretty sure if the NHL had recorded takeaways from 1980-1990 Gretzky would have been the leader most seasons. He would steal the puck from players all the time. He broke up passes all the time.

    But thanks for the "intelligent" comment about Gretzky.
     
  10. 85highlander

    85highlander Registered User

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    I find it interesting that a thread that alludes to Gretzky's "physical" talents finds it difficult to field comments that disagree.

    Pom Poms only? Sheesh.....

    I noticed you mentioned between 1980-90....and not 91-99.

    Why? Perhaps because his physical attributes allowed him to be +/- NEGATIVE six times, on his way to also hold the all-time record of being on the ice witnessing the most scores allowed AGAINST his team?

    Now, before you continue to disparage these factual comments I make, please note that I hold Gretzky to be the top offensive player of all-time -- by a wide margin. And he was an absolute magician...including having the ability to erase all his imperfections from the minds of his fans!!!
     
  11. Blizzard

    Blizzard Registered User

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    I think physically he was average at best but what set him apart as sets almost every great player apart is vision/anticipation. Knowing where everything is going to be five seconds from now is different than knowing where everything is at the time. The ability to see that in milliseconds seperates the "generational" from just the typical Hall of Famer.
     
  12. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    I don't think Gretzky was anywhere near "average" physically. In strength he was well below average. In many other "physical" attributes like hand to eye co-ordination, muscle control, stamina he was extremely physically gifted.

    I think many don't get the difference between strength and skill. Gretzky was extremely physically skilled aside from his mental skills of anticipation and vision and hockey sense. Plus his ability to play 25-30 minutes a night, never taking it easy for a shift, he was the focus of both the defensive team and the offensive team, the central part of play on the ice and he played at least 40% of every game and never lookedtired on the ice to me. That is a physical gift. Extreme stamina, like a marathon runner.
     
  13. Blizzard

    Blizzard Registered User

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    I agree to a point and should have clarified in my post. My point is that he was physically average compared to most Hall of Fame caliber players. He didn't have Lemieux's wingspan and reach or Hull's shot or Messier's physical prowess or Orr's skating ability. His ability to anticipate and vision were second to none and few are even close and that is what made him "The Great One".

    All log big minutes hence have stamina and I wouldn't go as far as saying he focused heavily in the the defensive zone. When the chips were down he was capable, as was Lemieux, of being a defensive force but neither made the defensive zone a high priority and understandably so.

    He was without a doubt one of the best passers, if not the best to ever play the game. But what is the key to that ability? Is it more of a physical gift or more a matter of uncanny vision? I tend to lean towards the vision must be there before the physical ability to be a great passer. Although that isn't to say there isn't a definite physical part involved.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2011
  14. SlappyMcGee

    SlappyMcGee =w=

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    I'm not having a go at him, because I never watched him play except as a very young child, but I will say this; so many people insist that the game has gotten bigger, that the pace is different, that the league is just much harder.

    Would Gretzky still be a generational talent in this league?
     
  15. Blizzard

    Blizzard Registered User

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    Yes. He was diminutive but his understanding of the game and vision put him three steps ahead of most. Would be like me or you having a math competition with Einstein. And if born say in 1985 he would obviously have had the same training routine and nutritional guidance as Crosby or others of the current generation. Would he get 212 points? Probably not but would without a doubt be amongst the scoring leaders year in and year out. More than likely the leader most years.
     
  16. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    I always chuckle when people who think they know it all just as well assume that Gretzky would be a "70 point guy" in today's NHL. No offense, but with Crosby injured the scoring race is up for grabs and we probably won't see anyone hit 110 points. Gretzky would easily score 160+ points in today's NHL and that wouldn't even be his peak. He'd still embarass the competition. After all, he lapped the NHL when Dionne, Bossy, Trottier, Stastny and co. were the next best things. Only when Mario entered the NHL did he actually have some serious competition. So it is naive to suggest that if Stamkos is flirting with 50 goals and the Sedins are in the top 3 in scoring that if they are 100 point men that Gretzky wouldn't be that much better.

    One of the best quotes about Gretzky was when Dave Semenko said "Don't ever think that Gretzky can't see you on the ice." Poetry.
     
  17. Blizzard

    Blizzard Registered User

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    Sums it up as well as anyone could.
     
  18. overg

    overg Registered User

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    It really was a combination of mental and physical. Gretzky almost certainly had the best "vision" of any player, ever, in that he could see that if he got the puck from Point A, his stick, to Point E, then a teammate would be able to score.

    But that wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference if he didn't have the physical skill to thread a pass through points B, C, and D, which tended to be opposing defensemen, skates, sticks, body parts, etc. Gretzky didn't just see where the puck should go, he put it there.

    Which holds true for his goal scoring. Other players had bigger shots, or shiftier puck handling. But they didn't score as much. Because just like with his passing, Gretzky was the best at seeing exactly where a shot should go, and shooting it there. Sure, stand up goalies wearing smaller pads left more openings than today's goalies. But Gretzky scored on those guys more than players with "better" shots. I see no reason at all why he wouldn't be able to outperform today's "better" shooters the same way now as he did then.

    The game may be faster today, but it's not magnitudes faster. Gretzky *was* magnitudes faster at playing the game back in the 80's. I've said this several times before. When Mario Lemieux had the puck, it was like time stood still, everyone in the rink knew what he was going to do, but he was so supremely gifted no one could stop it. Gretzky was the opposite. He'd have the puck, and you'd have no idea how a goal was suddenly scored until you watched the replay, and even then it was difficult to figure out why Gretzky had just made a play that would not have been turned into a goal if any of the player in the league had been in the exact same spot. Lemieux slowed the game down, Gretzky sped it up.
     
  19. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    He was THE FOCUS no matter if the Oilers of Kings had the puck or they didn't. He was shadowed when the other team had the puck! That is what I meant. Not that Gretzky focused on defence but that the focus was always on him to a great degree no matter what was happening.
     
  20. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    Definately. Every single thing in the current NHL works to Gretzky's advantage, all the skills needed are right in his wheel house. The pace and speed being higher is not bad for him, it is good. He is still going to see the plays evolving. The predictability of better defensive schemes might well work to his advantage. The bigger equipment on goalies are not too big of a deal as Gretzky scored with extreme accuracy and unpredicatability.

    I am not saying he would score more than 92 goals or 215 points, I don't think he would. But he would be the best player by a wide margin and dominate offensively on another totally higher level than Stamkos, Ovechkin, Crosby, Sedins etc.
     
  21. Bravid Nonahan

    Bravid Nonahan carlylol = القسوة

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    Ok, so how close is Crosby to Gretzky, in terms of separating himself from the rest of the competition? Would you say that when his career is all said and done, that Crosby will be compared to players like Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux, and Howe, or in the next tier with Yzerman, Beliveau, Hull, Sakic, etc
     
  22. JackSlater

    JackSlater Registered User

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    Crosby isn't really close to anyone in that first tier. This was the first season where Crosby really put himself above the rest of the league, and it was only for half a season and it still wasn't as much as the other four did at their peaks. Even in the case of Howe, his peak is less impressive than the others (still likely better than anyone else ever) but he had longevity superior to any player in hockey history. Given that we've seen Crosby for 6 seasons now, it is highly unlikely that he will reach the peaks of those four. Provided he is relatively healthy for the rest of his career Crosby should be able to nestle into the second tier of NHL greats, which would be a tremendous accomplishment.
     
  23. Blizzard

    Blizzard Registered User

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    Agreed. Seen them all, although Howe was pretty old and Orr was midway through his career, and that top tier could control games on their own and do it consistently. Breaking into that group puts you into the transcend the game group. Crosby isn't on that level but as you said a great accomplishment regardless.
     
  24. Steve Kournianos

    Steve Kournianos @thedraftanalyst

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    Highest IQ of any player I ever saw in any sport, including Larry Bird, Greg Maddux and Joe Montana.

    If someone wants to clone Gretzky, take his brain and his desire and you'll be straight.
     
  25. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    Physically Gretzky was only slightly above average in his prime for straight ahead speed.

    His agility, first step, quickness, turning, stopping, accelerating were all very good to great. His endurance was outstanding, he saw a lot of ice time. He also had a unique ability to angle himself away from hits as he was passing opposing players.

    For shooting he had a non-threatening but amazing accurate slapshot, great backhand and a so-so wrist shot. Accuracy was his hallmark as a shooter primarily.

    Passing, off the charts. No one in the history of the game is even close to his vision (with apologies to Orr and Lemieux who were also out of this world but Gretzky was from another galaxy in this regard).

    As others have mentioned, one of the other things that made Gretzky so great was his drive to be better all the time. Even when he was lapping the competition he would try to beat himself.
     

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