If Wayne Gretzky were a defenceman...

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by 85highlander, May 21, 2007.

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  1. 85highlander

    85highlander Registered User

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    I saw that a thread that was dedicated to "If Orr were a forward..." so I wondered if there may be any interest in flipping it around...

    Perhaps the question could also be phrased as such:

    Could you imagine Bobby Orr winning the Art Ross as a center? (I'd have to answer an unequivocal yes, because he did the much more difficult task of winning it as a defenceman)

    Could you imagine Wayne Gretzky winning the Norris as a defenceman? (I'd have to say no based on the lack of physical play in his game)
     
  2. The Orr thread was because Orr was an offensive defender...

    It wouldn't work vice-versa because Gretzky wasn't a defensive offender. You can't flip them because they're too much alike.

    On another note...

    What if Cloutier was a goalie :P (mentioned in the other thread :biglaugh: )
     
  3. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    No Gretzky would make Phil Housley look like as hard of a hitter as Larry Robinson. No knock on #99 that just wasnt his game. His dimension was offense and he was so good at it that it didnt matter that he didnt physically punish people. Its like Babe Ruth was such a great homerun hitter it didnt matter that he wasnt a dominant baserunner (although he was better than most think).

    Gretzky played where he was born to play. His defensive play wasnt bad, its not like he was out of position a lot of the time because he wasnt he was smart. Its just that he wouldnt stop a 225lbs. power forward from cutting around him.
     
  4. 85highlander

    85highlander Registered User

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    I think this question speaks to the common assertion often thrown around that five Orrs would dominate five of anyone else based upon the completeness of his game and his overall hockey sense --

    Personally I think one Orr with four other schmucks might not fair too bad against any other five either...
     
  5. BNHL

    BNHL Registered User Sponsor

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    Careful now,someone from Edmonton's gonna call you stupid. I'm not from Edmonton.
     
  6. pitseleh

    pitseleh Registered User

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    I don't think Gretzky had the size to be as dominant of a defenseman as Orr. But I do think that Gretzky had the smarts to be a great positional defender, had he grown up playing defense rather than center. Maybe something like Brian Leetch with more offense.
     
  7. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    I remember that in his heyday in Edmonton people saying if he was a defenceman he would have been the best in the NHL.

    I think Gretzky would never have played as a D-Man becuse it would not have made sense. But if he did, he would have still been the best player in the NHL. People so greatly underestimate how incredible Gretzky was at anticipating the game. His lack of Strength and Physicallity would not have made that much of a difference. He would have stolen so many pucks and broken up so many plays that he would have dominated. Gretzky was never hit much at all in his Edmonton years not because of Semenko but because he was so freaking good that he just never left himself in the position to be hit. Gretzky went to the "dirty parts" of the ice he just got out of them before he had to get dirty.

    Gretzky as a defenceman would be interesting because the other team would always need to get by him to start a play and Gretzky would make it really hard to set up a play. And Gretzky being a quaterback on defence would be a great place for him. As he would so often be able to set-up a great play with every player in front of him and in his field of vision.
     
  8. Leaf Lander

    Leaf Lander Registered User Sponsor

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  9. BNHL

    BNHL Registered User Sponsor

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    You realize the NHL is a check league,especially for defenseman.
     
  10. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    You realize many NHL defencemen have not laid many checks and been very successful. Like Lidstrom. Of course most were much stonger. But I watched Brian Pothier and Tom Priessing succeed as D-Men in Ottawa when they were not very strong or Physical.

    No one would play Gretzky at Defence but if he did play defence he would be very, very, very successful. No one ever, ever was as smart a player as Gretzky. Not even Orr or Mario had his vision and anticiapation. And people forget that Gretzky was very, very talented physically. He was not the fastest player but few were quicker when Gretzky was a young player in Edmonton. He had unbelievable hand eye co-ordination. How do you play against a defenceman that has ESP and knows what you will do even before you know what you are going to do?

    Imagine Gretzky-Coffey on defence and Anderson-Messier-Kurri at forward logging 25 minutes a game as a unit. That would have been a massively successful unit. Sure they wouldn't play physical defence. They wouldn't have to they would have had the puck all the time!

    A better thing to fantacize about. What if Mario was a defenceman. Mario was among the very biggest and strongest players in the NHL his whole career. He could skate very well. He could have been the best D-Man in the NHL and played in an Orr type of style. That would be interesting.
     
  11. 85highlander

    85highlander Registered User

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    There is NO WAY Gretzky would/could ever win the Norris if he were a defenceman. The tenacity at defensive play wasn't wired into him. Could he play a little defense --yes. Could he play it tough enough to be taken seriously, NO!

    This does not diminish his phenomenal accomplishments as a scorer, which are certainly unparalelled.

    One could conceivably picture Orr winning any trophy offered to a non goalie, but Gretzky's accomplishments are strickly limited to one side of the ice.
     
  12. 85highlander

    85highlander Registered User

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    Agreed.
     
  13. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    That is stupid. Gretzky was a tremendous hockey player. If he played defence he would always be focussed on offence. The best defence is a good offence. Always has been and always will be.

    If Gretzky had played defence he would have won a ton of Norris trophies and Hart trophies and Ross trophies and many people would say he sucked on defence and was really a fourth forward. Kind of like they do with Coffey. Except I guess they would have had to say he was the 5th forward!!!!

    Gretzky played hockey to win hockey games. He would do whatever was needed to win a hockey game. He was not a scorer that did not care about defence.

    If in 1984 or 1985 Gretzky was a defenceman you would see him play a completely unique style of defence that was massively successful. And it would not involve him hitting or checking anyone with much regularity, but it would involve the other team not having the puck much and with the Oilers scoring a boat load of goals.
     
  14. 85highlander

    85highlander Registered User

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    Oops...I think I was just called stupid. I'm not from Edmonton either...
     
  15. The same Wayne Gretzky who hung outside his own blue line on the PK ... playing D? lol ;)

    I can't picture Gretzky playing D any more than I can picture Orr playing forward. I think him and Orr were in their right places ... at the right time.
     
  16. BM67

    BM67 Registered User

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    Gretzky the forward would have been terrible as a defenseman. He was decent as a PK guy, but he was not the guy you wanted back filling in for a defenseman.

    Gretzky growing up as a defenseman, might have been ok defensively, but he would be much more a Housley than a Lidstrom. Gretzky the D wouldn't have been as good as Gretzky the C.
     
  17. Boilers*

    Boilers* Guest

    Well as most of you know, Wayne did play defence and had 178 goals playing that position as a 13 yo.

    Clicky for interview

    I'd say he wouldn't have scored nearly the same amount of goals because his slapshot was overall terrible as he did play the point on the PP on occassion.
    His "office" wouldn't have existed playing as a D, and I do believe overall that's where his PP points usually came from..
     
  18. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest


    Great athletes excel no matter what they choose to do.

    If Gretzky was a defenseman, he would have won the Norris. If Orr was a forward, he would have won more scoring titles. If Tiger Woods was a basketball player, he would pile up MVPs. If Ken Griffey Jr. was a football player, he would be one of the all time greats.

    Great athletes would dominate whatever they do. The reason they dominate their chosen sport or position is because that is what they fell in love with and decided to do.

    Changing where a player stands on the ice would not make him any less great.
     
  19. Weztex

    Weztex Registered User

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    I kinda agree.

    Also, you just cannot take the player Gretzky was and putting him on defense. Gretzky on D would have accumulated almost 20 years of experience at the position. Had he played his whole youth on defense, he would have been a very different player.

    Saying Gretzky couldn't have played defense because of this and that is like saying the Rocket wouldn't play today because his stick doesn't have any curve.

    Background and surrounding got to be taken in consideration.
     
  20. Snap Wilson

    Snap Wilson Registered User

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    Oh, Jesus.
     
  21. Snap Wilson

    Snap Wilson Registered User

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    If Michael Jordan was a baseball player, he... oh, wait.

    Has anyone else seen that footage of David Beckham dribbling a basketball? Utterly hilarious. He may as well have tried to dribble it with his foot.
     
  22. 85highlander

    85highlander Registered User

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    Ha anyone seen that footage of Gretzky digging in the corners, checking players off the puck, fighting, ... likewise, utterly hilarious....
     
  23. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest

    Obviously you missed my point.
     
  24. Weztex

    Weztex Registered User

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    I think Ogopogo meant that great athletes could have done a lot of sport but those guys you mentioned never trained in anything elase than the sport thes succeed. David Beckham in a great athlete and if he started dribbling at 3, he could have had the physical abilities to compete in professional basketball. 20 years of training in one sport is why those athlete succeed in it. I tend to agree with him.
     
  25. Stonefly

    Stonefly Registered User

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    No one missed your point Oingo boingo, you're just deluded.
     

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