My question is simple. We all know that if Super Mario plays 70 or so games this year he will probably lead the league in scoring. Is he the greatest player ever? I say yes, but given where I'm from, I'm certainly biased.
Ihave always contended that Mario was the better of the he and Gretzky debate. I think 99 had better teammates and lets be honest, he changed hockey with those edmonton teams. But, day in, day out, barring injuries, I would take 66 over 99 any day. The only thing 99 does better is pass. If that was ALL you were asking them to do, 99 is your man, but a total player? 66 is better.
You also have to consider both players defensive skills. Gretzky was one of the first forwards to start killing penalties and go on to break all sorts of short handed scoring records along with Jari Kurri.
Mario, though bigger and stronger, isn't a Selke Trophy candidate, though playing defense isn't exactly what's expected of him.
Both guys are awesome.
(edited by Omar Padilla on 27.10.02 1829) It's hockey, isn't it?
See, now that's not even an argument for either case. He just wants the game to be played by the rules, which have been EXTREMELY bended as players and teams devise new systems to slow the game down and play it defensively.
It's ridiculous to me when I read in magazines or hear someone during a broadcast say that so and so is a player "That the coach is willing to loosen the reigns on" offensively. Meaning that the coach will ALLOW Ziggy Palffy to try a one on one move or that a coach won't get upset if Sergei Federov takes it upon himself to take control of a game and it was NEVER like that. Hockey has become so strategic that it has really taken away from the game itself, to the point where every inch of the ice is accounted for in scouting reports. It's always "the safe play".
Mario said the other day that the hockey being played so far this season is the hockey of the late 70's and early 80's, the way it's supposed to be played and I agree. Gretzky played in an era where there were NO neutral zone traps or left wing locks, hell, he played in an era where goaltenders didn't use exagarrated equipment and had no idea what "cutting down an angle" was.
It's good for Mario and it's good for the sport when it's BEST offensive player is leading the league in scoring. Now, best PLAYER in the league, I have to say that's Peter Forsberg, but Sergei Federov is playing like he did back in 1994 and that's scary.
I was lucky enough to see both Gretzky and Lemieux play live. In terms of excitement factor and the ability to create offensive opportunities out of nowhere, I'd have to give the nod to Lemieux; nobody else since Maurice Richard could break a game open with out-of-the-blue offense like Lemieux. That said, as far as playing the game of hockey to its utmost goes, there's no one like Gretzky (except maybe Orr, who, alas, I never got to see play). Whereas Lemieux creates opportunities, Gretzky finds them within the pattern of the game. I've never seen anyone find the open ice, be in the right place all the time, or conduct the direction of the entire game like the Gretz. Mario exerts himself on the game; Wayne had some kind of zen ``one with the game'' thing going.
As for the hockey this year, I must say I haven't enjoyed the NHL so much in years. It's fast, it's reasonably hard-hitting, and there's been nowhere near the amount of clutching and grabbing. If the refs continue to call the game this way, they will continue to neutralize a lot of the effectiveness of the neutral zone trap and the left-wing lock. Those strategies don't work nearly as well in the international game for two reasons: bigger ice and lack of clutch & grab style. It's nice to see the NHL finally making some real strides towards eliminating boring hockey.
Lastly, on strategy. Hockey is becoming more like football and baseball that way. And frankly, I believe it's part of the evolution of the game. The Europeans have been doing it for years -- when I still played a coach of mine brought in handouts from a 200-page book of Czech breakout strategies. 200 pages. All breakouts. This was in 1992. I still don't understand all of them This is bringing hockey more into line with football, where superspecialty defenses like multiple-50 and 46 can often make the difference between a contender and an also-ran for a season or two until somebody equally clever comes up with an effective way to stop them.
how come you're so afraid of things that dont make any sense to you? do you water your raisins daily? do you have any raisins? is there anything that does make sense to you? are you afraid of twelve button suits? how come you're so afraid to stop talking?
I remember seeing Mario playing the Caps, in like 88 or 89 and he was surrounded by three defenders. THREE. he looked around, and as soon as one of the defenders made a move, he deked around all three of them. They were all within 4 feet as well, not like they had a triangle going around him. Deked them all out and beat the goalie with a simple looking wrister, high glove side. SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!
Tough break getting Kiprusoff in arbitration this year. With the number of goalies over the past decade who have had a short, spectacular run and then fizzled into nothing I wouldn't be too excited about that pricetag just yet.