Is Phil Esposito one of the Greatest Centres of All Time?

Why is it that we (our generation anyway) have trouble thinking of Esposito as one of the greatest hockey players of all time? Is it because he was on the same team as Bobby Orr, whose legend has endured far better? Is it because of Esposito’s extraordinarily unathletic physique? Is it because everything he did has since been done multiple times by multiple players so those records feel less important?

We have no idea, but Espo was the most dominant offensive player between Howe and Gretzky. (We read somewhere that Lafleur was the most dominant offensive player between Howe and Gretzky, but we don’t see evidence to back that up.)

Sure, Espo benefited from playing more games per season in the newly expanded league (someone was going to set records) and, yes, he benefited from playing with the Greatest of All Time, but lesser players wouldn’t have excelled the way he did, over such a long period of time.

Listen to us talk about Esposito here:

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Is Bernie Parent one of the Greatest Goalies of All Time?

For two straight years, Bernie Parent was the best goalie in the NHL. He won two straight Vezinas (when it was the Jennings) and two straight Conn Smythes. Additionally, by Hockey Reference’s Goals Saved Above Average metric, Parent’s 1973-74 season is the greatest ever by an NHL goaltender.

Does this brief stretch of dominance put him among the ranks of the very best goalies ever? He’s certainly one of the couple best goalies of the 1970s.

Listen to us discuss Parent’s Hall of Fame case here:

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Does Jean Ratelle Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

By regular season numbers, Jean Ratelle was one of the best forwards of his era. And, had he been healthy in his best season, he might have competed for the scoring title. (His peers awarded him with the Pearson for that.)

However, his playoff numbers are noticeably worse. And, of course, he never won a Cup.

So, how great was Jean Ratelle? Is he one of the greats of his era or does his longevity make him look better than he was? Listen to us discuss Ratelle’s Hall of Fame case here:

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Does Bert Olmstead Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Bert Olmstead was one of the premier passing wingers of his era, leading both the regular season and playoffs in assists two times. He also won five Stanley Cups.

But his playoff numbers are significantly worse than his regular season numbers, despite the Cups. And he never made a end of season 1st Team in a league with only 6 franchises.

So, does Bert Olmstead belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Listen to us discuss here:

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Does Gerry Cheevers Belong in the Hockey hall of Fame?

Gerry Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame only five years after he retired. And yet he has one of the weakest resumes of any Hall of Fame goalie, and that resume is significantly weaker than some goalies who are not in the Hall of Fame.

Boston Bruins, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Cheevers was never an end-of-season All Star (1st or 2nd Team) in the NHL, he never won an award and he never led the NHL in any regular season statistical category. His regular achievements all happened in the WHA.

However, he went to four Stanley Cup finals and won two Cups. And while he was in the WHA, he was one of the very best goalies in the league.

So, does Gerry Cheevers belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Listen to us discuss his case here:

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Does Serge Savard Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

ActuaLitté, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are basically only 3 post-Bobby Orr defensive defencemen in the Hockey Hall of Fame. (And Savard actually is a contemporary of Bobby Orr, so maybe there are only two.) It’s hard to get in as a defensive defenceman when so many D score now.

On the other hand, there are few NHL players in NHL history to have a higher career plus minus than career points total. Savard is one of those players. And if Savard had never played for the Jets, his utterly insane plus minus would be even higher than his total points.

Is it possible that Savard’s remarkable goal differential is a product of his Hall of Fame teammates? In part, sure. But it’s a chicken or egg question, isn’t it?

So, does Serge Savard belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Listen to us discuss it here:

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Does Dave Keon Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

For some Dave Keon is perhaps the best defensive forward of the 1960s and one of the Greatest Maple Leafs of All Time.

For others, Keon’s per game numbers leave a lot to be desired. And his offensive numbers during the 1967 playoffs do not justify his Conn Smythe.

So, does Dave Keon belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

List to us discuss his Hall of Fame case here:

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Does Leo Boivin Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

TGC-Topps Gum Cards, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

With the exception of a strong playoff run in 1957, Leo Boivin had a decent career that sure doesn’t look like a Hall of Fame one.

He never won an individual award or the Stanley Cup and he only ever finished Top 5 in Norris voting once. (And he played most of his career during the Norris-trophy era.)

He is among the most controversial Hockey Hall of Fame inductees ever. And so in this episode we ask whether or not Leo Boivin belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Listen to us talk about his Hall of Fame case here:

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Does Brad Park Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Steven Carter, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brad Park was always a bridesmaid – few people have been nominated so many times for major awards and never won one. In addition, Park was in three Stanley Cup finals and never won.

So Brad Park had some bad luck. And it’s possible that he was the second best defenseman of his era – at least based on Norris trophy nominations.

So, where does Brad Park rank all time?

Listen to us talk about Brad Park’s Hall of Fame career here:

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Does Buddy O’Connor Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Buddy O’Connor was the first ever Hall of Fame inductee of the old Veteran’s Committee. He is one of only 4 Rangers to ever win the Hart Trophy.

But we’re not sure O’Connor deserved his Hart. And, if he didn’t deserve the trophy, his case isn’t so good. He had some good seasons but he was arguably never the best player in the league.

So, does Buddy O’Connor belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Listen to us discuss it here:

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