Maurice Richard and the Scoring Title

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Bexlyspeed, Jun 8, 2011.

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  1. Bexlyspeed

    Bexlyspeed Registered User

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    Sorry if this has been dicussed previously, i did search but found nothing.
    I watched the film "The Rocket" on TV a week or so ago and there was a part where it was suggested that the league gave Assists to other star players (some of whom were not even on the ice at the time) to keep Richard from winning the scoring title.
    was this just to give more drama to the film or is this based on fact? i've never heard anything like that before having read quite a few books on the habs, the rocket and the era.
     
  2. jkrx

    jkrx Registered User

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    Its based on rumours never really confirmed. I think someone posted a semi-proof on history boards about this.
     
  3. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    I stand to be corrected, but this sounds remarkably unlikely to me, and is a mere conspiracy theory unless actual evidence can be uncovered.

    He did finish second four times, but only one of those seasons could possibly fall under this theory, in 1947 when Max Bentley beat him by a point. In 1955 he was leading the race when he was suspended (and still lost by only a single point), and in 1954 he was 14 points behind Howe. In 1945 he was behind a teammate in Lach.
     
  4. SidGenoMario

    SidGenoMario Registered User

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    We have proof of Gretzky being given points, so who knows. I'd like to see this previous HF topic if anyone can find it.
     
  5. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    He was 2nd 5 times, but like Iain said, only Max Bentley's Art Ross in 1947 was close enough to be possibly in question.

    My guess is there is a more innocent explanation - Maurice depended largely on goals, rather than assists, to get his points. And a playmaker like Bentley is going to naturally get a higher number of secondary assists, by the nature of being a playmaker, and he'll be off the ice by the time the goal is scored for a few of these secondary assists - such is the nature of secondary assists.
     
  6. Bexlyspeed

    Bexlyspeed Registered User

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    interesting, can you point me in the direction of the proof? i'd love ot look into that
     
  7. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    This could very well be the origin of this myth, if it is indeed a myth, which is probably is.
     
  8. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Phantom Assists

    The "Phantom Assist" - player getting an assist was not on the ice when the goal was scored is a perception that has its origins in the way hockey was played during the period between the liberalization of the forward pass and the start of the Bobby Orr era.

    First you have to appreciate where the team benches were placed in arenas and that changing on the fly happened mainly when a team had possession of the puck.Then you have to appreciate the transition game. Finally you have to appreciate roster composition.

    Once a team obtained possession in its defensive zone the defenseman would transition it quickly, heading off the ice if he was approaching the ens of his shift. Alternative attack was center generated with a short pass to the center rush over the center line with a pass to a fresh player coming on the ice before heading of the ice.

    After the originating player left the ice and he was amongst the last two non goal scores to touch the puck he would get an earned assist even though he was no longer on the ice.

    The other element that has to be appreciated is that changing on the fly had not been perfected or regulated like it is today where changes are basically position for position. Often the idea was to get the best forward on first - usually the center so this created a couple of interesting misinterpretations. Goals at even strength that were not seconds post PP where two centers were in on the scoring would be viewed as perhaps showing a phantom assist. Likewise they could be interpreted as being an instance where one of the centers was playing a wing position when in fact all that is illustrated is a nuance of a line change. Once TV followed by replays and game tapes evolved the hue and cry about phantom assists disappeared.
     
  9. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    I know Dick Irvin Jr. in his book claimed that when he was scorekeeper he got lambasted for not giving the odd phantom assist to star players. So there is the perception that it happened once in a while but if it was across the board (ex. all players benefitted from this) then it probably isn't much of an issue. As for Richard I doubt the visiting team would give him a break though.

    I think it's nitpicking a bit to suggest he wins a scoring title had there not been some tampering. I mean in 1947 if Richard had another goal he wins the scoring title. If there was a "fix" going on they weren't doing a very good job at it since it came so incredibly close.

    There are confirmed events in sports such as in 1912 Ty Cobb was so hated in Baseball that on the last two days of the year Nap Lajoie got spoonfed 6 hits on the last two games of the year in the hope to pass Cobb's average. It didn't happen because Cobb still somehow won, but they tried. I don't see that overwhelming evidence in the Richard case
     
  10. SidGenoMario

    SidGenoMario Registered User

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    It was 3/29/1980, Oilers against Leafs, and Gretzky had a number of assists, 1 of which he wasn't involved in. Here's the unedited highlights, you be the judge:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZbl1rw28Bw

    Looking at the first goal scored, I don't think Gretzky was even on the ice. And 3 people definitely were involved in the play. Either my eyes are decieving me, or something is fishy there. I'd like your guys' opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2011
  11. jkrx

    jkrx Registered User

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    That's one phantom assist but hardly a basis for a conspiracy. Obviously an error was made somewhere.
     
  12. TasteofFlames

    TasteofFlames Registered User

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    A single, provable occurrence sounds like the perfect basis of a conspiracy theory, to me. I don't buy into it, but that is more proof than most conspiracy theories have.
     
  13. SidGenoMario

    SidGenoMario Registered User

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    This obviously isn't the whole basis for the conspiracy, but it is observable proof in a game where he was fighting neck and neck for the scoring title.
     
  14. reckoning

    reckoning Registered User

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    It was just proof that a scorekeeper made a mistake. Not the first time or the last time. The game in question wasn't even in Edmonton.

    If you reviewed the footage of every single assist Gretzky, Lemieux, Dionne, Messier etc. was ever credited with, you'd find evidence of assists that shouldn't have been awarded. Greg Millen once mentioned during a game that whenever he was credited with an assist, he'd go to the scorekeeper and say a teammate actually deserved it (in return, the teammate would buy him a beer after the game). It's more common than you think. But with careers of hundreds (or thousands) of assists, a few cheap ones really aren't a significant factor.

    Odds are that for every undeserved assist those players may have received, they were probably jobbed out of an equal number of assists that they should've had over the course of their career.
     
  15. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Official Scorers

    Reckoning is correct. However a more detailed explanation is in order.

    Today the official scorer in each NHL arena is positioned so that he has the best possible viewing angles with access to the latest technology. Everything is recorded on tape so a review is very simple.

    Years ago, well after the O6 era this was not the case. Official scorers had to deal with poor viewing angles without the ability of review. As such a margin of error is to be expected.
     
  16. SidGenoMario

    SidGenoMario Registered User

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    I understand margin of error, but giving an assist to someone who wasn't on the ice, after it was touched multiple times by other players?
     
  17. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest

    Since there is ZERO evidence so substantiate this I would say it is all myth.
     
  18. hislop

    hislop Registered User

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    if ever there was a player who was pampered and insulated by the national hockey league, it was gretzky
     
  19. Ogopogo*

    Ogopogo* Guest

    More myths.

    Show me one single NHL hockey player that said he was ever instructed by the NHL to not hit Gretzky.

    There aren't any.

    Show me one single NHL hockey player that said he would not hit Gretzky because he was scared of Semenko.

    If there are any, they had a pretty short career.

    It is all myth.
     
  20. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    Agreed.
     
  21. shazariahl

    shazariahl Registered User

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    This was gretzky's rookie year though, when most critics said he wouldn't be able to make it in the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers were a joke still; an expansion team that placed 16th out of 21 teams. I don't really understand why there would be a conspiracy to help him win the scoring title under these conditions. Furthermore, he tied with Dionne only, and Dionne won the scoring title because he had more goals. So if it was some sort of conspiracy, it wasn't well implemented, since it still didn't win him the title.

    If anyone is trying to suggest that Gretzky's later years were somehow the result of phantom points, I think that would be a hard sell. He was winning scoring titles by over 70 points. If there were some conspiracy to award him THAT many points, it would have been obvious, and there would be more than 1 youtube clip of footage.
     
  22. Peter9

    Peter9 Registered User

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    During the 1950s I remember there was talk of cheap assists handed out at the Olympia in Detroit. As far as I know, it was sour grapes. At least I don't recall any evidence being produced.

    Events did seem to conspire to deny Richard a points scoring title--but that's not a real conspiracy, is it?

    I also remember talk about making goals count more than assists. That never came to anything, either.
     
  23. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    I think at the heart of it you will find a gigantic persecution complex in Quebec which is of course a big factor in Canadian social and political history but also part of the entire legend of the Montreal Canadiens.

    Scoring errors happened, but they happened everywhere. Hell, they still happen today, every year I see goals and assists credited to guys, only for the scoring to be altered later on in the game or even overnight due to video evidence.
     
  24. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Exactly, and let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Think back to 1979-'80. Dionne is a 10 year NHL veteran who never won a scoring title yet and would probably have sentiment from the fans on his side compared to a skinny kid on a bubble playoff team like Gretzky (who had his sharp critics then). At this time Dionne was definitely more respected around the NHL due to paying his NHL dues and if you were a neutral fan you were probably cheering for him.

    Put it this way, if Joe Thornton and a hot rookie like Ovechkin or Crosby were neck and neck for the scoring title in 2006 don't you think the idea would be that Thornton "deserves it more?" That's the idea of what it was like in 1980. Gretzky was unproven, Dionne wasn't.
     
  25. SidGenoMario

    SidGenoMario Registered User

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    Really? What do you think makes for a better and more marketable story, a 10 year old vet winning or a hot new rookie winning?
     

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