Thursday, March 10, 2005

Best Player All Time By Team Summary

Over the past few days I have posted my opinion of the best player in franchise history for each of the 30 franchises. Here they are:

Anaheim Mighty Ducks- Paul Kariya
Atlanta Thrashers- Ilya Kovalchuk
Boston Bruins- Bobby Orr
Buffalo Sabres- Gilbert Perreault
Calgary Flames- Al MacInnis
Carolina Hurricanes- Ron Francis
Chicago Blackhawks- Bobby Hull
Colorado Avalanche- Joe Sakic
Columbus Blue Jackets- Geoff Sanderson
Dallas Stars- Mike Modano
Detroit Red Wings- Gordie Howe
Edmonton Oilers- Wayne Gretzky
Florida Panthers- Robert Svehla
Los Angeles Kings- Marcel Dionne
Minnesota Wild- Marian Gaborik
Montreal Canadiens- Maurice Richard
Nashville Predators- Cliff Ronning
New Jersey Devils- Martin Brodeur
New York Islanders- Mike Bossy
New York Rangers- Brian Leetch
Ottawa Senators- Daniel Alfredsson
Philadelphia Flyers- Bobby Clarke
Phoenix Coyotes- Dale Hawerchuk
Pittsburgh Penguins- Mario Lemieux
St Louis Blues- Brett Hull
San Jose Sharks- Owen Nolan
Tampa Bay Lightning- Vincent LeCavalier
Toronto Maple Leafs- Turk Broda
Vancouver Canucks- Pavel Bure
Washington Capitals- Rod Langway

This group of players includes 23 Forwards, 5 Defencemen and 2 Goalies. In general, an NHL team dresses 20 players in a game - 12 forwards, 6 defencemen and 2 goalies. To keep those ratios, we should have 18 forwards, 9 defencemen and 3 goalies. I probably have the same failing as the NHL does in this respect. Forwards are over represented as Hart Trophy winners in history and they are over represented on my all time player list. Or is this accurate? Most talented athletes who start playing hockey as children chose to be forwards. Does this trend carry over into the NHL?

If I summarize players by the decade where they accomplished most with their team, I would expect to have more recent players, merely because most of these teams did not exist throughout most of the NHL's history. Some of the choices of decades are a bit arbitrary - I tried to chose the one where the player had the most value to his team. I do this and find:

40's (2)- Richard, Broda
50's (1)- Howe
60's (1)- Bobby Hull
70's (3)- Orr, Perreault, Clarke
80's (7)- MacInnis, Gretzky, Dionne, Bossy, Hawerchuk, Lemieux, Langway
90's (9)- Kariya, Sakic, Modano, Svehla, Leetch, Alfredsson, Brett Hull, Nolan, Bure
2000's (6)- Kovalchuk, Sanderson, Gaborik, Ronning, Brodeur, LeCavalier

Does this exercize prove anything? Most players were most valuable to their team in the 80's and beyond. Only 8 players are not in this group. Most of the current teams existed in the 70's and before, yet do not have their best player in that era. Does this mean hockey players are getting better? Or does this mean that we tend to remember the recent players and forget the older ones? Five of the players played during the original six era (although I classify Orr as having been at his best in the 70's as he won most of his Norris trophies in the 70's). Given there are only six orginal six teams, that is a high ratio. That would be an argument against the idea that I chose more recent players over the ones before them.

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