Friday, January 19, 2007

Comparing Crosby

Given Sidney Crosby will skate in his 125th NHL game following Wednesday's all-star game, I've been working this week on a comparison of Crosby and his peers at that mark.

The results have just hit the web at Globe on Hockey.

N.B. Comments at Globe Sports have undergone a revision process, and will now go immediately onto the site — something that hopefully will stimulate conversation a bit better than the old system. You'll still need to register, but once you're in, you're in.

UPDATE Eric Duhatschek has an excellent yarn on Crosby for tomorrow's Globe and Mail that is up online now. There are also some great statistical comparisons in the paper edition for the best 125-game starts in NHL history, and not surprisingly, Crosby's right up there.

It's unbelievable how well he can keep a play alive. The skill this guy has, to go through, around, set up, is amazing. He's got five offices. How the hell do you defend against him?
— San Jose Sharks director of scouting Tim Burke



At 6:32 p.m., January 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Hits and PIM difference is surprising...

At 8:39 p.m., January 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how useful the pts/game measure really is in this case. Too much has changed in the "New NHL" in terms of league wide scoring compared to what it was even 5 yrs ago.

Putting up a 100pt season today isn't nearly as impressive as it would be have in 03-04, or nearly any season in the last 10yrs or so.

Not to downplay Crosby, but without taking scoring levels into account it's of little value IMHO.

At 8:44 p.m., January 19, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

He's younger and has double the point totals at this point as a lot of the game's other young stars at this point in his career. That's fairly hard to dispute.

At 4:07 a.m., January 20, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Putting up a 100pt season today isn't nearly as impressive as it would be have in 03-04, or nearly any season in the last 10yrs or so.

And it's a lot more impressive than it was twenty years ago. Statistics always need to be normed for context. The dirty little secret of Wayne Gretzky's numbers is that he played during what was, by far, the highest scoring era in NHL history. He may have been the greatest player ever, but until someone does the work to normalize the numbers, I'm not committing to it.

If I ever dig my way out from under real life, I'd love to start doing some serious analysis of hockey. If someone were to create the equivalent of the Lahman database, which is categorically not my strong suit, I'd be eternally grateful.

At 10:34 a.m., January 20, 2007, Anonymous Numbers Freak said...

Once you normalize the numbers, some very interesting things pop out. Who had the single most productive season in the history of the modern NHL? Gretzky with his 215 point season (85-86)? Turns out Lemieux's 199 point season (88-89) in a tighter checking league is more impressive. And both are challenged by Cherry's pick for the greatest player of all time - number four, Bobby Orr. 139 points - by a D-man - in only 78 games in a 12 team league in which teams averaged only 284 goals a season is pretty frickin' unbelievable.

Crosby? The kid's good, and will probably be great, but he's got to put up some jaw-dropping numbers to belong up there with those three. But he's definitely got a shot at it.

At 12:27 p.m., January 20, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

How do you "normalize" the numbers? I guess there are a few ways: one, you compare a player's total with the league average; two, you measure the distance in point totals between a player who led the league in scoring and the second-place, non-teammate, finisher; or, three, compare the total with the average of, say, the Top 10 scorers so you can see how he compares with the elite.

Every method will yield a different result, which will lead to more argument...

At 12:35 p.m., January 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know if it's just me, but every time I follow your G&M links I get a big fat ad covering up the right side of the screen. I'm using Firefox. There doesn't seem to be any way to close out of it.

At 2:51 p.m., January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NHL has to be careful to not oversell and overexpose Crosby as the next Gretzky. I alwasy felt the NHL pinned so much on Gretzky that it failed to market some of his contemporaries. This tied all of the leagues success and failure to one individual.

Once Gretzky left the casual fan felt there was nothing left to see (see L.A.). Over hypeing a single player will only breed resentment and we already see a lot of fans complaining about Sid's whining. This is a big League with a lot of dynamic players. Showcase them all since there is someone for everyone to like. Then again the League values homogeneity above all else (e.g. lets be more like the NBA, NFL).


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