Mario Lemieux -- Montreal Canadiens

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by The Panther, Aug 17, 2017.

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  1. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Since it's still summer and there are lots of fantasy threads...

    Imagine this scenario: In 1983, the Habs deal declining star Guy Lafleur to Pittsburgh. (Lafleur plays until 1988 for Pittsburgh, averaging 60 points per year, but routinely missing the playoffs.) As part of the return for Lafleur, the Habs and Pens agree to swap 1st round picks in 1984. Somehow the Pens are still worse than New Jersey, and Montreal ends up with the #1 pick. Naturally they select hometown hero, Mario.

    So, in this fantasy, the Habs still have exactly the same team they had, except minus Petr Svoboda. And from 1984, they have Mario.

    How do you think Montreal's and Mario's futures would have unfolded?

    Montreal was the second-best regular season team in the 80s, but from 1983 to 1987 they waxed and waned. Out of nowhere they won the Stanley Cup in 1986, largely on the back of Patrick Roy and some solid defensive play. How would Mario have fitted into this emerging system, and under Jean Perron?

    In 1989, wouldn't Mario's presence push Montreal over Calgary? Or, would that whole team system have been changed by his presence?

    Would Mario and Pat Burns have seen eye to eye?

    Would Mario have thrived with earlier playoff experience and under the "local French-Canadian superstar" tag that was borne by Richard, Beliveau, and Lafleur?
     
  2. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    One overlooked detail in your fantasy.

    Under your scenario, Lemieux's first NHL coach would have been Jacques Lemaire during the 1984-85 season. Not Bob Berry.

    Worst case scenario, Mario Lemieux goes a long way towards becoming a complete hockey player.
     
  3. Boxscore

    Boxscore #OldNHL

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    Man, this would have been a treat to see. Mario is / was the perfect beast to embrace the spotlight in hometown Montreal - the guy had ice water in his veins and mental toughness hard as steel. On top of that, he had the skills and pizzazz to bring the Forum off their feet each night.

    With Mario, Roy and Chelios, I think the Habs win multiple Cups. Chelios and Roy probably never end up traded and the team is great until Mario breaks down.
     
  4. K Fleur

    K Fleur If You Know You Know

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins wouldn't exist anymore.
     
  5. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Yes, well that's just what I was thinking -- Lemieux would likely have been forced into more of a team-defence system.

    I could see Lemieux getting a bit less than the 141 points he scored with Pittsburgh in 1986, but the Habs still winning the Cup. And from 1989, and for the next few years...? Gretzky was in LA, the Flames had Vernon in net, the Flyers were fading, and Boston wouldn't have had goaltending or forwards to compare.

    Awesome to think of a Lemieux-led offence with Roy (and many good D) defending.
     
  6. Dissonance

    Dissonance Registered User

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    It's quite possible that Pittsburgh ends up folding in this scenario and moving to another city.

    We're probably also talking about Mats Naslund as a Hall of Famer playing alongside Mario. Stephane Richer is another player later on who might've been lifted to new highs.

    Agree that Mario's numbers probably end up somewhat lower playing under more defensive-minded coaches. He also wouldn't have the brilliant supporting cast at forward that he had in Pittsburgh starting in the early '90s. Though obviously as we saw in the '80s, Lemieux didn't need all-star wingers to put up disgusting stats.

    ----

    Edit: Oops, was too slow, a few of these points mentioned above.
     
  7. ImporterExporter

    ImporterExporter I troll harder than Poppy

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    This surely. Which is why Eddie Johnston didn't take some of the ridiculous offers that were floated. He understood the significance of Mario's presence in a city that was nearly void of hockey at that juncture.
     
  8. MXD

    MXD Original #4

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    Center line from 1985 onwards

    Mario Lemieux
    Bobby Smith
    Guy Carbonneau
    one of Skrudland/Walter

    Fun fact : Patrick Roy would also have been the 2nd best player born on October 5th 1965 on his team. I can't even bother to look as to whether he would've been the best player of all-time in that situation, because he obviously was.
     
  9. Iapyi

    Iapyi Registered User

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    this is just a gross thought to think of.

    going to go do something else to get this horrible concept out of my mind. :popcorn:
     
  10. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    Lemieux was too talented to play defense imo. Him and Gretzky.

    The team would have catered to him, not other way around. He still would have been as flashy offensively and scored as much. Crosby today is called a strong "2-way" player. That wasn't gonna happen to Lemieux, i don't care who his coach is.
     
  11. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Scoring

    Ever occur to you that playing solid defensively reduces goals against while generating more and better scoring opportunities?

    Prime examples, 1956-60 Canadiens, RS 5 times lead league in goals for and against. Produced 3 Ross Trophy winners. 5 SC championships.

    1976-1979 Canadien, RS, 4 times lead the league in goals against, twice in goals for. Produced 3 Ross trophy winners, 4 SC Championships.
     
  12. alko

    alko Registered User

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    I have issues with this in your scenario:
    In 1983, the Habs deal declining star Guy Lafleur to Pittsburgh. (Lafleur plays until 1988 for Pittsburgh, averaging 60 points per year, but routinely missing the playoffs.) As part of the return for Lafleur, the Habs and Pens agree to swap 1st round picks in 1984.

    The price for the the possibility to draft Mario was too low. Ok, you say, in 1983. One year before the draft. And no one could assure you that time (1983), that Pens pick will be the first one. But there was big chance, they will do it. So, the price for this pick should have be higher.

    Other end of this scenario: Lafleur would push Pens from the very bottom of the standings and they pick were useless. I mean, Mario would end somewhere else.
     
  13. KoozNetsOff 92

    KoozNetsOff 92 Hala Madrid

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    But why would the pens trade Lemieux (or the very high possibility of drafting Lemieux) for a declining Lafleur? That's a terrible deal for them. What else is Montreal giving up in this scenario?
     
  14. MXD

    MXD Original #4

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    With regards, that's really, but really irrelevant...
     
  15. Moose Head

    Moose Head Registered User

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    NJ likely finishes last in this scenario because Pittsburgh no longer needs to tank like they did.
     
  16. alko

    alko Registered User

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    Hm, Is this thread relevant? :sarcasm:
     
  17. MXD

    MXD Original #4

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    In the grand scheme of things, no : this thread will hardly enable anyone to put money and food on the table, nor will it do anything towards growing literacy issues in North America or saving Palau from Death By Climate Change.

    But the idea is what Montreal would've done if you add in Lemieux, take out Svoboda, not how that thing became a possibility in the first place. Of course somebody could start a thread wondering what would've happened if the Ottawa Senators picked Chris Pronger instead of Alexandre Daigle, but it wouldn't be nearly as fun.
     
  18. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    Ill say one thing about Lemieux.

    It's impossible to tell how his career would have panned out in a different team. I'm sure he'd be just as good offensively, but whether that translates into topping 199+ points, and 85 goals who knows.

    But Lemieux would have been in the playoffs almost every year of his career with a team like the Habs. That would have been a sight to see.

    In a fantasy world - if Lemieux was ever going to match/top Gretzky with the same health he had, it would likely be on the back of some serious playoff over achievements (moreso than even Gretzky on the Oilers).

    Is there a better team for him to accomplish this on outside of Montreal?

    Putting Lemieux on a perrenial contender/strong playoff team like the Habs, backstopped by Roy, possibly gives him that chance.
     
  19. Ageless

    Ageless Registered User

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    The biggest rival lemieux had wasent even gretzky. Lemieux could handle gretzky. It was his health. Such a shame
     
  20. iamjs

    iamjs Unregistered User

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    they got your back, not your wallet
    Lou Nanne offered all twelve of his picks to Pittsburgh for 66.
    https://www.si.com/nhl/2015/06/22/m...are-bird-si-vault-story-em-swift-october-1984

    Looking back at the North Stars '84 draft, I never realized how poorly they drafted.

    Two of the twelve players made the NHL.

    Of those two, one (Ken Hodge) played five games with the team before being dealt to Boston for futures. Hodge finished his career with 142 games played, scoring 87 points.
    The other (Kari Takko) went 33-65-14 in 131 games before being sent to Edmonton for Bruce Bell in the famous Takko-Bell trade. Takko would Finnish finish the season with Edmonton before returning to Finland for the 1991-92 season.
     
  21. quoipourquoi

    quoipourquoi Goaltender

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    The 1988-89 Montreal Canadiens would probably go down as the best team since WHA-expansion. They also have three Lemieuxs. So that's fun.
     
  22. Boxscore

    Boxscore #OldNHL

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    The more I think about it - if Mario played his career on the Habs, he may have gone down as the GOAT.

    I can't help but look at this...

    1988-89 Pittsburgh Penguins. Mario scores 85 goals and 199 points on a Penguins team that was straight garbage. He single-handily took a soda can like Rob Brown and turned him into a 115 point player. The fact that Paul Coffey was the only other high-end talent Mario had to play with ... and he still scored 199 points is mind-boggling.

    Going up against the Pens each night, the opposition coach had ONE JOB - stop Mario. There was nothing else to worry about, and he still scored 199.

    The entire Pens team scored 349 goals that season and Mario had a piece of 199 of them. Now, give him a team like the 1988-89 Habs and I think he scores 220 points that year ... or more.

    When Mario was surrounded by top talent in Pittsburgh, he won two Cups and scored at Gretzky's 215 points-in-a-season pace while fighting cancer and dealing with a bad back. If he was surrounded by great talent his entire career, I think he would have smashed the league even more. At least 2-3 more Cups on his resume and perhaps a couple more Art Rosses to boot.

    On top of that, he would have been playing for the most historic NHL team ever in a hockey-crazed market like Montreal. Scary.
     
  23. alko

    alko Registered User

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    Maybe. Maybe not. Lets the Kessel case in Pittsburgh be a warning to all this over-hyped fantasies. Or even better: Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull in St. Louis Blues.
     
  24. Moose Head

    Moose Head Registered User

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    Just as an aside, Hull did take time to develop chemistry with Oates. They weren't that great together at first. I'm thinking he and Gretzky just needed more time. If Gretzky had reupped with the Blues I'm sure they would have eventually developed some great chemistry. Keenan buggered up something that could have been great IMO.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  25. quoipourquoi

    quoipourquoi Goaltender

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    Probably records his first playoff overtime point.
     

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