Joe Primeau

Career

  • NHL: 1927-1936; 9 seasons, 6 quality[1. By modern PPG standards]
  • 66G, 177A (4th All Time at his retirement) for 243P (18th) in 310 games; 29.3 PS
  • At his retirement, Primeau was 1st All Time in APG and 6th in PPG[2. Minimum 300 games played]
  • Era: For players to play at least 300 games between 1927 and 1936, Primeau is 2nd in Assists, 11th in Points and 21st in Offensive Point Shares despite being 49th in Games Played;[3. Or 2nd last among qualifying players] 1st in APG and 5th in PPG
  • 82-game average: 17G, 47A for 64P
  • 3-year peak (1930-33): 44-game average of 11G, 31A for 42P
  • Playoffs: 5G, 18A for 23P in 38 games
  • Held the career record for most playoff assists between 1936 and 1937
  • Adjusted: 114G, 498A for 612P
  • Adjusted 82-game average: 30G, 132A for 162P
  • Primeau is 14th All Time in Adjusted PPG if the qualifier is 82 games[4. If the qualifier is raised to 300 games, Primeau is 5th All Time]
  • Never traded.

Accomplishments

  • Lady Byng (’32)
  • Top 10 Offensive Player (by OPS) twice (’32, ’34)
  • Set the single season record for assists in 1931-32 [5. The record held up until the 1940-41 season]
  • Scored 50 points once
  • Led the league in Assists thrice, Top 10 five times
  • Led the league in APG thrice, Top 10 six times
  • Top 5 in Points twice, Top 10 thrice
  • Top 5 in PPG thrice
  • 2nd Team All Star once.

Great Teams

  • Best Skater[6. By Points][ on one Final Four (’34 Maple Leafs), Top 3 Forward[7. Set new record in assists and APG] on one Champion (’32 Maple Leafs), Top 3 Forward[8. By Points] on one Runner Up (’36 Maple Leafs), Top 6 Forward[9. By points] on one Runner Up (’35 Maple Leafs), Role Player[10. By points] on one Runner Up (’33 Maple Leafs)

 

Primeau is a tough case. At his retirement, he was among the career leaders in assists and, to go by APG, was perhaps the best passer of his era, if not all time.[11. The games cut-off I used is appropriate to the ’30s but not so much the ’20s.] The problem is that the NHL didn’t count assists regularly in its early history, so of course a player who played primarily in the ’30s came out looking like a passing god compared to many of those who played before him. To wit: in 1929-30, Frank Boucher set the record for assists in a season, at 36. It was 18 more than had ever been recorded before[12. By Boucher himself the season previously] because, of course, the NHL had started counting them for every goal. Primeau and Boucher then traded assist titles, but were they really the two best passers the league had ever seen? Of course not. And Boucher has much more of a claim on this than Primeau, as he was more dominant.

It’s also worth noting that Primeau didn’t really excel in the playoffs, though his team was in the finals regularly.

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