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 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 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 Fern Flaman belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Flaman was an old-school defender who rarely scored, so we can’t evaluate his career based on his numbers.

But he had a stretch of Top 5 Norris finishes, including a few Top 3 finishes, and some 2nd All Star Team appearances that suggest he was really well regarded near the end of his career.

So, does Fernie Flaman belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

List to us talk about him here:

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Why is Woody Dumart in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Woody Dumart was a member of the famed Kraut Line. He won 2 Stanley Cups as a member of the Bruins.

But that’s basically it. He had one very good offensive season and the only reason he may have been inducted is he played a very long time.

Why is Woody Dumart in the Hockey Hall of Fame? We discuss here:

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Is Guy Lapointe one of the Geastest Defencemen of All Time?

Is Guy Lapointe one of the greatest defencemen of all time?

He never won a Norris, but his career partially overlapped with Bobby Orr’s. And he won 6 Stanley Cups and a Canada Cup.

So where does he rank all time?

Listen to us discuss Guy Lapointe here:

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Does Frederick Bun Cook Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Frederick “Bun” Cook, Bill Cook’s younger brother, does not have his brother’s stats or achievements.

But he does has some periodic individual success. And he may have had a hand in inventing both the slap-shot and the drop-pass.

So, does Bun Cook belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Listen to us talk about his case here:

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