Re: Sort of Sick of 37
posted at 8/12/2013 11:13 AM EDT
In response to NeelyOrrBourque's comment:
I'm in the "Orr is #2 on the list of best players ever" group.
How can you be # 2 on a list when there's only one name on it?
Hockey News Orthodoxy. http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_100_greatest_hockey_players_by_The_Hockey_News
I can never resist this debate because it's endless. I lean to Orr on faith alone because it's almost impossible to compare the two given the positions they played. It was just obvious with both of them that they owned the game; that at any minute, they could do something and you knew there was a goal coming - a little pass, a head-fake, a little slip into space where suddenly the defense was exposed and the puck was on entirely the right person's stick.
Health complicates it. Gretzky was healthy for a dozen years, Orr it's hard to even say. His last full season, he had what is still the third highest scoring season by a defenseman, one of only three 130+ point seasons by a D, and the other was by Coffey in the same year that Gretzky had 215 points. Esposito had 152 when Orr had 139, but Orr won the Art Ross the year he had 135. No other D has one Art Ross let alone two. Orr goes out, scores 135 and has his best season for goals with 46...and only plays 30 more games. Who knows what the career numbers look like if he had good knees?
If you look at Gretzky vs. all other forwards and Orr vs. all other defensemen:
8 of the top 10 single season point totals for Gretzky, including the only 4 200+ point years. Lemieux cam the closes to 200 with 199; he has the other 2 top years.
Orr had 6 straight 100+ point seasons. Only 5 D in the history of the game have topped that threshold - Coffey (5 times), Potvin, MacInnis and Leetch are the others. Only Coffey had more than MacInnis's 103.
I don't think either Orr's streak of 100pt seasons by a D, his two Art Ross Trophies, or his single season 139 total are going to fall any sooner than Gretzky's 215 points or 93 goals or 13 straight 40 goal seasons or his 2857 total points or 894 goals (almost 18 straight 50 goal years would get you there...).
I think it would be more obvious how comparably incomparable they were if it weren't for the Lemieux/Coffey problem. If Lemieux had been healthy throughout his prime, I think you'd have seen him break 200 points and challenge that 215/93. Maybe come as close as Coffey did to 139 or surpass one or both as Coffey did Orr's 46 goals. His 160 in 60 games in 92-93 projects out to 218 over 82 games (and it was an 84 game season that year). But he wasn't healthy through his prime, and he had Rob Brown for a winger for a chunk of his time, and and and. There's this cross-over effect where the greatest forward was healthy, and his greatest challenger was not; the greatest defenseman wasn't healthy, but his greatest (offensive) challenger was.
Take Lemieux out, and Gretzky's best season is 60 points better than Steve Yzerman's 155 - the 14th best total ever and the highest not by Gretzky or Lemieux. That's 72% of Gretzky's 215. Take Coffey out, and Orr's best season is 36 points better than MacInnis's 103. MacInnis's total is 74% of Orr's total. Somewhere in that 2% offensive dominance gap is all the things that Orr did because he was a defenseman - not an "offensive defenseman". So...I lean to Orr knowing that not doubting that verdict can only be an act of faith because any reasonable look at the facts - and even my memories of both players - would have to raise doubts no matter which way you looked.
[Thread effectively hijacked?]