Tuesday, July 26, 2005

How Good Was Bobby Hull?

In this post on sabermetrics and hockey I will look at another discrepancy in a comparison of the top 10 forwards of all time according to methods devised by Daryl Shilling and Pnep. I have already discussed Cyclone Taylor. Today, I will look at Bobby Hull.

Pnep ranks Hull as the 7th best forward of all time. Shilling rank Hull as the 5th best forward of all time. Since Pnep does not rank Cyclone Taylor (who Shilling ranks number 3) at all, this is equivalent to a discrepancy of three positions.

Hull broke into the NHL as a Chicago Blackhawk in 1957. He stayed with the Hawks until 1972. During his time there, he won the Stanley Cup once. He won the Art Ross and Hart trophies twice each. In 1972, he signed as a free agent in the WHA with the Winnipeg Jets. He stayed there until 1979 when the WHA folded. He remained with Winnipeg as they entered the NHL. He was traded during the 1979-80 season to Hartford and retired a Whaler. During his career he scored 610 goals and 1170 points in the NHL. He also added 303 goals and 638 points in the WHA. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. He made the first team all star at left wing 10 times and the second all star team twice. He is widely considered the best left winger of all time.

The reasons for the differences in their ratings are twofold. First, Pnep overrates the imporance of playoff success. Chicago wasn't overly successful in the playoffs. During Hull's time, they only won the Stanley Cup once. During this time, the Montreal Canadiens were a dynasty. Their players won the Stanley Cup multiple times. This leads to Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard receiving higher rankings under the Pnep system. Also, Daryl attemps to account for "undocumented seasons" which include Bobby Hull's WHA years. Hull receives points for his seven WHA years at his average career rate under the Shilling system. Hull was 32 wen he first entered the WHA and 39 when the league folded. He was passed his prime, it is an overestimate to credit him at his average career rate when he clearly was playing at below his career average. Although Hull is one of the best WHA players of all time, but he was outscored by other players who are not considered all time greats. Bobby Hull is the third highest scorer of all time in WHA history. He was outscored by Andre Lacroix (by 160 points) and Marc Tardif (by 28 points). It is reasonable to assume that Hull and Tardif were roughly interchangeable in terms of their contributions to their teams winning. Tardif would not get anywhere near the points under Daryl's system for those years as Hull does. This attempt to account for Hull's "undocumented" years at his career rate, when he clearly played below it, leads to his overrating. I question whether or not it is correct to consider his WHA years undocumented. WHA stats were well kept. Many people alive today witnessed his games. I think a better method would be to use his WHA stats after adjusting them for the calibre of opposition in the league. Bobby Hull is probably best ranked around number 6 or 7 all time on the list of forwards. Shilling ranks him higher largely due ot overrating his WHA time.

Comments:
I am not even sure I can grasp your rating system in regards to Bobby Hull "the Golden Jet" The W.H.A. points are points from a pro league and they count period the other thing to note is Bobby Hull was allowed to play in the 72 Canada-Russia series because he jumped to the WHA but played againist the Soviets later in a series by WHA vs Russia He also along with Stan Mikita developed the curved stick.
 
error Note>>> He wasn't Allow by the NHL to Play in 72 Series
 
The most exciting, skilled, ambassadors the game has ever known . The achievements stand alone. He excelled in both pre, and post expansion in two different leagues, and in international competition too. Had he been allowed to play in the NHL summit series of 72 there is no doubt in my mind the outcome would not have been nearly as close. Two years later with the WHL and playing against the same USSR team he scored 7 goals and was clearly the star of the series.
 
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