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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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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Is Bobby Clarke the Best 2-Way Forward of All Time?

Bobby Clarke is one of the most notorious players in NHL history but he’s also one of the most decorated, one of only a few players to ever win the Hart three times. (He also became a star in spite of his diabetes.)

He was extremely hard to play against but also an offensive star. He only won one Selke because it was introduced half way through his career.

So where does Clarke rank all time among defensive forwards? Listen to us discuss his Hall of Fame case here:

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Is Guy Lafleur one of the Greatest of All Time?

For 6 seasons – more than half a decade – there was arguably no better hockey player on earth than Guy Lafleur. And there is arguably no better team in NHL history than Lafleur’s Canadiens of the late ’70s.

For the rest of his career, Lafleur was, um, not the best hockey player in the world. And so the question is, was he good enough in those six seasons to rank among the very, very best forwards in history, who managed longer peaks but less consistency?

Listen to us talk about Guy Lafleur’s case for one of the Greatest of All Time here:

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Is Vladislav Tretiak the Greatest Goalie of All Time?

The induction of Vladislav Tretiak into the Hockey Hall of Fame officially made the Hockey Hall of Fame an international hall of fame, not just an NHL-focused North American hockey hall of fame.

So that’s an area of controversy for some, but if the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto wants to be the Hockey Hall of Fame of the World, it’s a step that needed to be taken.

So where does Tretiak rank? How do we compare him to NHL goalies when Soviet League goalie stats are even worse than Soviet League skater stats?

What do we do with the very notable fact that Tretiak’s GAA (not save percentage) increased drastically every time he played against NHL competition in international tournaments?

Listen to us attempt to talk about Vladislav Tretiak’s Hall of Fame case here:

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Is Darryl Sittler the Greatest Maple Leaf of All Time?

Darryl Sittler has a claim to be the Greatest Toronto Maple Leaf of All Time, as the former franchise record holder for Points, among other things. And though he was never clearly the best player in the league, he was one of the better ones for over half a decade, and a consistent offensive performer much longer.

Does his lack of NHL playoff success hurt him?

In this episode, we discuss whether or not Darryl Sittler belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame:

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Does Gilbert Perreault Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

The most iconic Sabre in history (except for Hasek, perhaps), Perreault never won a Cup or led the league in any offensive category.

But his playoff numbers are outstanding, as are his international best-on-best numbers. And, to this day, there are things he did in the NHL that only a few other select players have ever done.

So, does Gilbert Perreault belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Or, more accurately, where does Perreault rank among the greatest centres All Time?

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Is Bill Barber one of the Greatest Left Wings of All Time?

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Bill Barber had one excellent regular season, led one playoff in Goals, won 2 Cups and went to four Finals.

But, other than that, his career was not amazing. Unless you compare him to other Left Wings.

So, is Bill Barber one of the Greatest Left Wings of All Time? And does that make him Hall of Fame worthy?

Listen to us talk about Bill Barber’s Hockey Hall of Fame case here:

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Does Lanny McDonald Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

66 goals in season. A classic Old Guy Who Won a Stanley Cup. Scored 40 goals three seasons in a row for the Leafs. That mustache.

Sounds like he should be in, right? But McDonald was not a point-a-game player and he actually only had 4 really good seasons. (Seriously.)

So does Lanny McDonald belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Listen to us discuss his case here:

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