Is Bill Cowley one of the GOAT?

It’s easy to look at Bill Cowley’s numbers and think he might be one of the greatest offensive NHL players ever, and certainly one of the league’s greatest passers.

But his best years came during World War II when a number of NHL players were in the military and so competition wasn’t as good. Also, Cowley sometimes wasn’t even the first line centre on his own team.

The question isn’t just, does Bill Cowley belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? It’s how do we evaluate his gaudy numbers given when he played and his role when Milt Schmidt was on the team? And why did it take the Hall 20+ years to induct him?

Listen here:

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Does Bryan Hextall Belong in the Hockey

Grandfather of Ron, Bryan Hextall was one of the offensive stars of his era. And he was pretty good. If you fiddle with the VsX adjustment and do look at his per game numbers – something it’s not designed for – it paints Hextall as the best offensive player in NHL history in terms of adjusted PPG. That’s obviously not true and just exposes flaws in adjusted stats. But he must have been pretty good, right?

Listen to us talk about Bryan Hextall’s Hall of Fame case here:

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Does Ralph Cooney Weiland Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Cooney Weiland set the single-season points record in 1930, but it was a banner year for the league and multiple other players could have broken the record if he didn’t. He led the playoffs in points twice, too. Seems like maybe a slam dunk.

However, these were the only great years of Weiland’s career and his career was pretty middling otherwise. Does someone like this belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Listen to us talk about Cooney Weiland’s Hall of Fame case here:

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Is Gordie Howe the Greatest of All Time?

Prior to Bobby Orr‘s arrival, there was a consensus hockey GOAT (Greatest of All Time), Gordie Howe. That was due both to Howe’s dominance but, more importantly, his unprecedented longevity. Howe may have only been the best player in the NHL for six or so seasons, but he was one of the 10 best players in the NHL for over two decades.

Since then, there are a few other contenders for the throne. And the biggest knock against Howe is his Stanley Cups. Gordie Howe made the playoffs in 20 of his 26 NHL seasons. And he made the Stanley Cup Finals a remarkable 11 times. But he only won four Stanley Cups. One can make the LeBron James argument here: If Gordie Howe really is the GOAT, how come his finals record is 4-7?

Listen to us talk about Gordie Howe here:

Hall of Fame Class of 1972 Part 2: Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau

Gordie Howe’s Career:

  • NHL:
    • 1946-71; 1979-80; 26 seasons, 25 quality
    • Totals:
    • 801G (3rd All Time – Gretzky, Ovechkin – 1st All Time at his initial retirement by 232; Howe was the career leader in goals from 1963-64 through 1993-94),
    • 1049A (10th All Time – 1st All Time at his initial retirement by 300; Howe was the career leader in assists from 1957-58 through 1987-88) for
    • 1850P (4th – Gretzky, Jagr, Messier – 1st All Time at his initial retirement by nearly 600; Howe was the career leader in points from 1959-60 through 1989-90);
    • +160* (14th All Time at his initial retirement) in
    • 1767 Games (2nd All Time – Marleau – 1st All Time at his retirement by 300; Howe was the career leader in Games Played from 1961-62 through 2019-20)
    • 217.1 PS (4th All Time – Gretzky, Bourque, Luongo – 1st All Time at his retirement by nearly 69; Howe was the career leader from 1960-61 to 1994-95);
    • Howe is 2nd All Time in Offensive Point Shares (Gretzky) – he was 1st All Time at his initial retirement by nearly 69 and was the career leader from 1958-59 until 1993-94
    • Howe is the 15th/13th Forward All Time in Defensive Point Shares – at his initial retirement he was 3rd/1st All Time
    • Per Game: At his initial retirement in 1971, Howe was
    • 11th All Time in GPG
    • t-5th in APG (Mikita, Esposito, Cowley, Beliveau)
    • 5th in PPG (Esposito, Hull, Mikita, Beliveau; Howe was the career leader in PPG from 1953-54 through 1958-59)
    • Era: Of the 13 skaters to play in at least 1148 games (14 modern seasons) between 1946 and 1971, Howe is
      • 1st in Goals (by 369)
      • 1st in GPG (by 0.17)
      • 1st in Assists (by 300)
      • 1st in APG
      • 1st in Points (669)
      • 1st in PPG (by 0.25)
      • 2nd in Plus/Minus
      • 1st in Offensive Point Shares (by more than double his teammate)
      • 8th (2nd/1st Forward) in Defensive Point Shares
      • 1st in Point Shares (by 68.7)
    • 82-game average: 37G, 48A for 86P, +7*; 8.7 PS
    • 3-year peak (1950-53): 70-game average of 46G, 43A for 89P
    • Playoffs:
    • Totals:
      • 68G (20th All Time, 3rd at his first retirement – Richard, Beliveau),
      • 92A (2nd All Time at his first retirement – Beliveau – Howe was the career leader from 1961 through 1970) for
      • 160P (t-22nd All Time, 2nd at his first retirement – Beliveau – Howe was the career leader 1964 through 1970),
      • +6* in
      • 157 games (3rd All Time at his first retirement – Kelly, Beliveau)
      • Per Game: At his first retirement, Howe was
        • T-5th All Time in playoff GPG (Richard, Hull, Drillon, Beliveau)
        • T-6th All Time in playoff APG
        • T-4th All Time in playoff PPG (Hull, Beliveau, Blake)
      • Era: Of the 42 skaters to play in at least 82 playoff games between 1946 and 1971, Howe is
        • 2nd in playoff Goals (behind by 12)
        • T-4th in playoff GPG
        • 2nd in playoff Assists
        • 4th in playoff APG
        • 2nd in playoff Points (behind by 18)
        • 3rd in playoff PPG
        • T-18th in playoff Plus/Minus
        • 3rd in playoff Games
    • Adjustment for Era:
    • Hockey-Reference:
      • 925G (1st All Time), 
      • 1265A (2nd – Gretzky) for 
      • 2190P (2nd – Gretzky)
      • Adjusted 82-game average: 43G, 59A for 102P (+16P per 82 games)
      • Per Game:
        • T-23rd All Time in Adjusted GPG
        • T-15th All Time in Adjusted APG
        • T-13th All Time in Adjusted PPG
    • VsX:
      • 1181 Goals (1st All Time by over 300)
      • 1711 Assists (2nd All Time – Gretzky)
      • 2444 Points (1st All Time)
      • Per Game:
        • T-19th All Time in VsX GPG
        • 22nd All Time in VsX APG
        • 22nd All Time in VsX PPG
        • If the qualifier is raised to 820 games played, Howe is
          • 5th All time in VsX GPG (Richard, Hull, Geoffrion, Lemieux)
          • 3rd All Time in VsX APG (Gretzky, Lemieux)
          • 4th All Time in VsX PPG (Gretzky, Lemieux, Richard)
          • If the qualifier is set to 1230 games, Howe is
            • 1st All Time in VsX GPG
            • 2nd All Time in VsX APG (Gretzky)
            • 2nd All Time in VsX PPG (Gretzky)
  • Never traded.
  • WHA: 1973-79; 6 seasons, all quality174G (16th),
    • Totals:
    • 334A (7th) for 
    • 508P (7th), 
    • +136 (7th) in 
    • 419 games
    • Per Game:
      • 6th All Time in APG
      • 8th All Time in PPG
    • 82-game average: 34G, 66A for 99P, +27
    • 3-year peak (1973-76): 78-game average of 34G, 72A for 106P, +30
    • Playoffs:
      • 28G (t-6th All Time), 
      • 43A (6th All Time) for 
      • 71P (4th All Time – Mark Howe, Hull, Bernier) in 
      • 78 games (1st All Time)
      • Per Game:
        • 17th All Time in playoff GPG
        • 13th All Time in playoff APG
        • 13th All Time in playoff PPG
    • Never traded.

Gordie Howe’s Accomplishments:

  • NHL:
    • Hart (’52, ’53, ’57, ’58, ’60, ’63) – 2nd most ever (Gretzky)
    • Top 5 in Hart voting a further ten times – probably the most ever
    • NHL’s 100 Greatest Players
    • Back Check MVP (’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’63)
    • Back Check Best Player (’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’63)
    • Art Ross (’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’58, ’60, ’63) – 2nd most ever (Gretzky)
    • Rocket Richard* (‘51, ‘52, ‘53, ‘57’63)  – t-4th most ever (Ovechkin, Hull, Esposito)
    • All Star:
      • 1st Team All Star twelve times (2nd most ever – Bourque)
      • 2nd Team All Star nine times (most ever) most NHL All Star Team appearances ever
      • 23 All Star Game appearances (most ever)
    • Top Player:
      • Best Player (by Point Shares) once (’53), 
      • Top 5 nine times (’51, ’52, ’54, ’56, ’57, ’63, ’68, ’69) – 5th most ever (Gretzky, Broda, Hall, Bourque) 
      • Top 10 sixteen times (’50, ’55, ’58, ’59, ’62, ’65, ’66) – most ever
      • Best Offensive Player (by Offensive Point Shares) six times (’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’63) t-2nd most ever (Gretzky)
      • Top 5 seventeen times (’50, ’55, ’56, ’58, ’59, ’62, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’68, ’69) – most ever
      • Top 10 twenty-one times (’60, ’61, ’67, ’70) – most ever (Gretzky is in second with 14)
    • Goals:
      • Leader-boards:
        • Led the NHL in Goals five times (t-4th most ever – Ovechkin, Hull, Esposito)
        • Top 5 fourteen times (t-most ever)
        • Top 10 nineteen times (most ever)
      • GPG leader-boards:
        • Led the NHL in GPG three times (t-8th most ever)
        • Top 5 fourteen times (most ever)
        • Top 10 nineteen times (most ever)
      • Single-season goal totals:
        • Scored 45 goals twice (1 of only 6 players to do so at his first retirement)
        • 40 goals five times (1 of only 2 players at his first retirement – Hull)
        • 35 goals nine times (1 of only 17 players ever, 1 of only 2 players at his first retirement – Hull)
        • 30 goals fourteen times (1 of only 6 players ever, the only player ever at his first retirement)
        • 25 goals twenty times (the only player ever)
        • 20 goals twenty-two times (the only player ever)
    • Assists:
      • Leader-boards:
        • Led the NHL in Assists three times (t-3rd most ever – Gretzky, Orr)
        • Top 5 seventeen times (t-most ever)
        • Top 10 twenty-two times (most ever)
      • APG leader-boards
        • Led the NHL in APG twice (t-9th most ever)
        • Top 5 fifteen times (2nd most ever – Gretzky)
        • Top 10 twenty-one times (most ever)
      • Single-season assist totals:
        • 50 assists once (1 of only 25 players to do so at his first retirement)
        • 40 assists eighteen times (1 of only 3 players ever – Francis, Gretzky – the only player ever at his first retirement by 8)
    • Points:
      • Leader-boards:
        • Led the NHL in Points six times (2nd most ever – Gretzky)
        • Top 5 twenty times (most ever)
        • Top 10 twenty-one times (most ever)
      • PPG leader-boards:
        • Led the NHL in PPG seven times (t-2nd most ever – Gretzky) 
        • Top 5 nineteen times (most ever)
        •  Top 10 twenty times (most ever)
      • Single-season points twice:
        • Scored 100 points once (1 of only 6 players to do so at his first retirement)
        • 90 points twice (1 of only 7 players at his first retirement)
        • 80 points eight times (the only player at his first retirement)
        • 70 points eighteen times (the only player ever)
        • 60 points twenty one times (still the only player ever)
        • 50 points twenty-two times (t-most ever, only player at his initial retirement)
    • Plus-Minus:
      • Top 5 in Plus Minus once
      • Top 10 three times
    • VsX:
      • Best 7 Seasons:
        • 3rd All Time in Goals (Bobby Hull, Richard)
        • 8th All Time in Assists
        • 3rd All Time in Points (Gretzky, Esposito)
      • Best 10 Seasons:
        • 3rd All Time in Goals (Bobby Hull, Richard)
        • 6th All Time in Assists
        • 2nd All Time in Points (Gretzky)
  • WHA (Gordie Howe was in his mid to late 40s when he played in the WHA):
    • Gordie Howe Trophy (’74)
    • All Star:
      • 1st All Star Team twice
    • Goals:
      • Scored 30 goals five times
    • Assists:
      • Leader-boards:
        • Top 5 in Assists once
        • Top 10 four times
      • APG leader-boards:
        • Top 5 in APG twice
        • Top 10 four times
      • Single-season totals:
        • 70 assists once 
        • 60 assists four times 
        • 40 assists five times
    • Points:
      • Leader-boards:
        • Top 5 in Points once, 
        • Top 10 four times
      • PPG leader-boards:
        • Top 5 in PPG once, 
        • Top 10 three times
      • Single-season totals:
        • 100 points twice
        • 90 points four times 
        • 60 points five times.

Gordie Howe’s Great Teams:

  • NHL:
    • Best Player (led the playoffs in goals, set the single season record in points – held it until 1962) one Champion (‘55 Red Wings)
    • Best Player (led the playoffs in goals and points) on two Runners Up (‘49, ’64 Red Wings)
    • Best Player (led the playoffs in points) on two Runners Up (’61, ’63 Red Wings)
    • Best Player (by points) on one Runner Up (’56 Red Wings) and one Final Four (’57 Red Wings),
    • Best Skater (by points) on one Champion (’54 Red Wings)
    • Top 3 Forward (led the playoffs in assists and points) on one Champion (’52 Red Wings)
    • Top 3 Forward (by points) on five Final Fours (’51, ’53, ’58, ’60, ’65 Red Wings)
    • Top 6 Forward (by points) on one Runner Up (’66 Red Wings)
    • Top 9 Forward (by points) on one Runner Up (’48 Red Wings)
    • Role Player (by points) on one Final Four (’47 Red Wings)
    • Injured on one Champion (’50 Red Wings)
  • WHA (Howe was in his mid to late 40s when he played in the WHA):
    • Top 3 Forward (by points) on two Avco Cup Champions (‘74, ’75 Aeros),
    • Top 6 forward (by points) on two Runners Up (’76 Aeros, ‘78 Whalers) and one Final Four (’77 Aeros),
    • Role Player (by points) on one Final Four (’79 Whalers)
  • Summit Series:
    • Top 6? Player (by points) on one Summit Series Runner Up (’74 Canada)

Is Jean Beliveau one of the Top 3 Greatest Centres of All Time?

Ralrton-Purina Company, maker of Chex cereals, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jean Beliveau is one of the rare NHL stars to combine regular season dominance with playoff dominance. Many of the centres who have scored more regular season points than Beliveau both haven’t done so relative to the league – Beliveau would have been the best offensive player of his era had it not been for Gordie Howe – and very few of them have Beliveau’s long history of success in the playoffs.

So where does he rank all time? Is he a Top 5 Centre? Is he a top 5 Player?

Listen to us discuss Jean Beliveau’s career here:

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Does Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion is one of the underrated great RWs in NHL history. Is he one of the greatest RWs of all time? Would he be better known had he not played for the Canadiens?

Listen to us talk about Geoffrion’s Hall of Fame case here:

Hall of Fame Class of 1972 Part 1: Bernie Geoffrion, Hap Holmes, Hooley Smith

Bernie Geoffrion’s Career:

  • NHL: 1950-64, 1966-68; 16 seasons, 14 quality
  • Totals:
    • 393G (3rd All Time at his first retirement – Howe, Richard),
    • 429A (12th All Time at his first retirement) for
    • 822P (5th All Time at his first retirement – Howe, Richard, Lindsay, Beliveau),
    • +39* in
    • 883 Games;
    • 97.5 Point Shares (12th All Time at his first retirement);
    • At his 1st retirement, Geoffrion was
      • 12th All time in Offensive Point Shares
      • 21st Forward All Time in Defensive Point Shares
  • Per Game: At his first retirement, Geoffrion was
    • T-8th All Time in GPG
    • 9th All Time in APG
    • T-5th All Time in PPG (Beliveau, Howe, Bathgate, Cowley)
  • Era: Of the 19 skaters to play in at least 738 games between 1950 and 1964, Geoffrion is
    • 2nd in Goals (behind Howe by 125)
    • 2nd in GPG (6 qualifying players)
    • 6th in Assists
    • T-2nd in APG (7 qualifying players)
    • 2nd in Points (behind by Howe by 355)
    • 2nd in PPG (5 qualifying players)
    • 6th in Plus/Minus
    • 14th in Games
    • 2nd in Offensive Point Shares (behind Howe by 44.9)
    • 3rd Forward in Defensive Point Shares
    • 4th in Point Shares
    • 14th in Games
  • 82-game average: 37G, 40A for 76P, +4*
  • 3-year peak (1958-61): 70-game average of 39G, 50A for 89P, +5*
  • Playoffs:
    • 58G (3rd All Time at his first retirement – Richard, Howe),
    • 60A (3rd All Time at his first retirement – Howe, Harvey) for
    • 118P (3rd All Time at his first retirement – Howe, Richard),
    • +3* (t-21st All Time at his 1st retirement) in
    • 132 Games (5th All Time at his 1st retirement – Kelly, Richard, Howe, Harvey)
    • Per Game: At his first retirement, Geoffrion was
      • T-6th All Time in playoff GPG
      • 13th All Time in playoff APG
      • 5th All Time in playoff PPG (Beliveau, Blake, Howe, Richard)
    • Era: Of the 13 skaters to play in at least 82 playoff games between 1950 and 1964, Geoffrion is
      • 1st in playoff Goals
      • 4th in playoff GPG
      • 2nd in playoff Assists
      • 6th (3rd last among qualifying players) in playoff APG
      • 2nd in playoff Points
      • 3rd in playoff PPG
      • T-4th in playoff Plus/Minus
      • 1st in playoff Games
  • Adjustment for era:
    • Hockey-Reference:
      • 464G
      • 518A for
      • 982P
      • Adjusted 82-game average: 43G, 48A for 91P (+15P per 82 games)
      • Per Game: Geoffrion is
        • T-22nd All Time in Adjusted GPG;
        • If the qualifier is set to 820 games, Geoffrion is
          • T-6th All Time in Adjusted GPG
          • 14th All Time in Adjusted PPG
    • VsX:
      • 595G
      • 696A
      • 1093
      • Per Game: Geoffrion is
        • 19th All Time in VsX Adjusted GPG;
        • If the qualifier is set to 820 games, Geoffrion is
          • 3rd All Time in VsX Adjusted GPG (Richard, Bobby Hull)
          • 17th All Time in VsX Adjusted APG
          • 9th All time in VsX Adjusted PPG
  • Waived at 34 so he could unretire

Bernie Geoffrion’s Accomplishments:

  • Hart (‘61)
  • Art Ross (‘55, ‘61)
  • Richard* (‘55, ‘61)
  • Calder (‘52)
  • Back Check MVP and Best Player (‘61)
  • All Star:
    • 1st Team All Star once
    • 2nd Team All Star twice
    • 11 All Star Game appearances
  • Top Player:
    • Top 5 Player (by PS) twice (‘55, ‘61)
    • Top 10 four times (‘52, ‘60)
    • Best Offensive Player (by OPS) once (‘61)
    • Top 5 six times (‘52, ‘54, ‘55, ‘56, ‘60)
    • Top 10 eight times (‘58, ‘59)
  • Goals:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in Goals twice
      • Top 5 six times
      • Top 10 eight times
    • GPG leader-boards:
      • Led the league in GPG three times (t-8th most all time)
      • Top 5 eight times (t-8th most all time)
      • Top 10 eleven times (t-7th most all time)
    • Single-season totals:
      • 50 goals once (2nd player ever, 1 of only 3 at his first retirement – Richard, Hull)
      • 35 goals twice (1 of only 10 players ever at his first retirement)
      • 30 goals four times (1 of only 7 players ever at his first retirement)
      • 25 goals seven times (1 of only 6 players ever at his first retirement)
      • 20 goals twelve times (1 of only 3 players ever at his first retirement – Howe, Richard)
  • Assists:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 10 five times
    • APG leader-boards:
      • Top 5 three times
      • Top 10 six times
    • Single-season totals:
      • 40 assists three times (1 of only 11 players ever at his first retirement)
  • Points:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in Points twice (t-10th most all time)
      • Top 5 three times
      • Top 10 seven times
    • PPG leader-boards:
      • Led the league in PPG once
      • Top 5 seven times
      • Top 10 nine times (t-8th most all time)
    • Single-season totals:
      • 90 points once (1 of only 4 players ever at his first retirement – Beliveau, Moore, Howe)
      • 70 points three times (1 of only 10 players ever at his first retirement)
      • 60 points five times (1 of only 6 players ever at his first retirement)
      • 50 points nine times (1 of only 6 players ever at his first retirement)
  • VsX Peak:
    • Best 7 Seasons:
      • Goals: 14th All Time
      • Assists: 67th All Time
      • Points: 39th All Time
    • Best 10 Seasons:
      • Goals: 14th All Time
      • Assists: 84th All Time
      • Points: 42nd All Time

Bernie Geoffrion’s Great Teams:

  • Best Player (led playoffs in goals and points) on one Champion (‘57 Canadiens)
  • Best Player on one Champion (‘53 Canadiens)
  • Best Skater? On one Runner Up (‘55 Canadiens)
  • Top 3 Forward (led playoffs in goals) on one Runner Up (‘54 Canadiens)
  • Top 3 Forward (led playoffs in assists, co-led playoffs in points) on one Champion (‘60 Canadiens)
  • Top 3 Forward (by points) on three Champions (‘56,’58, ‘59 Canadiens) and one Final Four (‘67 Rangers)
  • Top 6 Forward (by points) on one Runner Up (‘52 Canadiens) on two Final Four (‘63, ‘64 Canadiens)
  • Top 9 Player (by points) on one Runner Up (‘51 Canadiens) and one Final Four (‘61 Canadiens)
  • Role Player? (by points) on one Final Four (‘62 Canadiens)

Is Dickie Moore one of the Greatest Left Wings of All Time?

Is Dickie Moore the least discussed Habs great of his era? He is famous in Montreal but not so much in the rest of North America.

He’s arguably one of the best Left Wings of all time. For one thing, he has the second most Art Ross trophies among Left Wings after Bobby Hull.

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

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Is Jacques Plante the Greatest Goalie of All Time?

Jacques Plante is one of the best regular season goalies in NHL history. However, unlike someone like Tony Esposito, he is also one of the greatest playoff goalies in NHL history.

This is a far rarer combination than we might think.

So, we ask, is Jacques Plante one of the greatest goalies of all time? Is he, perhaps, the GOAT?

Listen here:

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Is Bobby Orr the Greatest Hockey Player of All Time?

Djcz, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is a never-ending debate among hockey fans as to which player of Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr was the greatest.  There are certain areas where each stands supreme.

Our vote is for Orr because we think he played the more difficult and more important position and because he revolutionized the position as well. (Also, the skating.) But at least one of us thinks there’s room for debate.

Listen to us talk about Bobby Orr:

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Is Bobby Hull the Greatest Left Wing of All Time?

Many 21st century hockey fans likely think the answer to the question “Who is the Greatest Left Winger of All Time?” has an easy answer, Alex Ovechkin.

But it’s possible we don’t remember how dominant Bobby Hull truly was. Hull won 2 Hart trophies and 3 Art Ross trophies. But he was a Hart finalist for most of a decade. Additionally, he was, by most standards, the best offensive player of his era, both in the regular season and, crucially, in the playoffs.

And then he went to another league and dominated it in his late 30s. (It’s possible his departure to the WHA colours how we think of his career.)

So, is Bobby Hull the Greatest LW of All Time? Listen here:

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