Who doesn’t like ranking? Ranking exists to trigger debate. Ranking is subjective, determined by opinion, educated or not. Opinions cannot be wrong, Unless, of course, when.
Which brings us to a fun exercise where good people at NHL.com have occasionally been involved in stopping the game caused by this corona virus. The writer’s panel has been surveyed to rank “Super 16” position-by-position top players of the expansion era.
What can be wrong?
Good, Billy Smith is in front of Henrik Lundqvist, for one. And Tony Esposito is in front of Lundqvist, for the others. Oh, and Patrik Elias failed to get one vote as one 16 upper left wing of the 13 people who voted, and what was that? Then there was the issue of polling out Scott Niedermayer Scott Stevens in defense.
Listen, Smitty is one of the greatest money lenders of all time. There is no dispute about that. In the six Stanley Cup post cowboy ranking, you can enter: 1) Bernie Parent; 2) Ken Dryden; 3) Smith, and you might not be wrong, even though it’s still one of the more shocking stories in playoff history that Scotty Bowman has decided to replace Dryden for Bunny Larocque for the 1979 Game Cup final 2 against Rangers after the usual Hall of Famer Appearance. alone in a 4-1 win at the Blueshirts Game 1.
Of course, you know that fate intervened when Doug Risebrough hit Larocque in the head with a shot during a warm-up which thus required emergency lawyer Dryden to return to the net. No. 29 allowed a goal for Anders Hedberg in Rangers’ first shot at 1:02 before he was defeated at 6:21 by Ron Duguay on the team’s third shot and it was 2-0 and … and of course the match ended 6-2 and Montreal won in five games and you don’t have a person named “Rabbit” in the league anymore.
That reminds me. Dryden retired after the Cup, Bowman left the organization after losing an internal power struggle for Irving Grundman (defeating me) to become GM / Sabers coach, and Bernie Geoffrion was appointed to replace Bowman behind the Habs bench. I went to Montreal to interview Boomer in the training camp and, behold, a goalkeeper wearing No. 29 taking pictures during the exercise.
That was Don Cutts, who had been an Islanders farm worker a few years before and now wore no. 29. Don’t worry, Cutts didn’t make a team and never played games for Les Glorieux, so we can be sure that 29 who are hanging from the custard commemorate Dryden.
But anyway, let’s talk about Smith ranked 10th and 10th Lundqvist, with eight of the 14 casting ballots casting in the Hall of Famer Islanders ranking in front of the delayed Hall of Famer Rangers.
Did you know that Smith started 50 or more games in one season only once in his career, namely in 1974-75, and in fact started 40 or more games only four times while sharing the net with Chico Resch, Roland Melanson and Kelly Hrudey? Lundqvist, meanwhile, started 60 or more eight times covering three seasons at least 70 when bringing Rangers for almost a decade and a half.
Statistics aren’t close, but rather than quoting career averages – against averages (2.43 to 3.18), save percentages (0.918 to 0.895) and winnings (459 to 305) – yes, Smith plays in the league with more scores high but with many, many, far, far better teams – here are the core questions:
Has Islanders won four direct Cup series and 19 of their direct playoff series with Lundqvist than Smith?
The answer is yes.
Will Rangers playoff 11 times in 12 years with Smith instead of Lundqvist?
The answer is no.
Now for Tony O, who is ranked fifth. He is a great person, no doubt, with figures comparable to the King when calculating differences in eras. He is a tireless hard worker for Chicago with 74 career closings for 64 Swedish players. But not only are they tied in the Stanley Cup championship at zero, Esposito allows the worst, most damaging goal in final history – a 70 foot for Jacques Lemaire in the Game 7 of the 1971 series with the Hawks 2-0 late in the second period of the match they will lose, 3-2.
Elias’s disappearance from every one of the 13 ballots was completely inexplicable. I will have him in my last 16 in front at least John LeClair and Ilya Kovalchuk (and don’t ask me how Keith Tkachuk is ranked eighth), and Bobby Hull’s appearance on this list is a suspect given the fact that he played only five seasons in the NHL post expansion, but OK.
However, what is not too far away is that Elias did not get votes while Brian Bellows, Ray Whitney, Brian Propp, Charlie Simmer and Kirk Muller did. Is there a general manager in the league at any time who will take Whitney in front of Elias? By the way, I didn’t count Rockies GM Ray Miron once.
And then Great Scotts. Look, I’m not here to demean Niedermayer in any way. He likes watching. And perhaps Niedermayer’s work with Duck after leaving Satan to join his brother stands out to voters who rank No. 27 is higher on nine of the 13 ballots, and makes it ranked ninth overall for Stevens at 12. Or maybe it’s Nieds’ remarkable international career. I can see that.
But when they were teammates for 12 seasons, it would never have been expected of me or anyone to suggest that Niedermayer was a better / more important player. Never. Because again, the question:
Could Satan have won three Cups without Niedermayer?
But could they possibly win one without Stevens?
By the way, that’s a fact.
Stay safe, friends.