Here we are at the last vote to determine the ten best players in the history of hockey. It seems appropriate that this discussion began with Derek saying, "Jagr is one of the most underrated players in NHL history. He really belongs in the discussion with the top 10 players ever and he’s never mentioned as such." And there's Jaromir Jagr, still holding on and given past voting patterns, a very good bet to make it into the top ten. Individual profiles for Jarg and each of today's ten other contenders can be found at the links below:
Wayne Gretzky and Jaromir Jagr
Ray Bourque, Dominik Hasek, Gordie Howe and Eddie Shore
Jean Beliveau and Bobby Orr
Bobby Hull, Mario Lemieux and Maurice Richard
In our last vote, Patrick Roy was eliminated, the third time in a row we've seen a player from the 2000's taken out. With that group being thinned out substantially, it seems less likely for that to happen again this time, but you never know for sure until the votes are counted. I wrote pretty extensively in the last article about the forwards, and concluded that this vote seems to be a toss-up between Richard and Beliveau, based mostly on the offensive output of each guy in terms of both adjusted goals and points. To refresh your memory, the charts below normalize each forward's points per game (first chart) and goals per game (second chart) to a league in which six goals are scored per game, and will look at performance from age 22 to age 39 (seasons in which a player played less than 30 games are highlighted in blue, the best points per game in the group is highlighted in green, and the worst in the group is highlighted in red):
I still think those two are the most vulnerable among the forwards (especially since the others have impressive accomplishments on their resumes pre-22 and post-39, whereas Beliveau and Richard do not), and the most vulnerable among the eleven guys left. We saw a goaltender voted out last time, but the three defensemen and one goalie we've got left have most definitely earned their place in the top ten.
But... just because I'm always nervous about Shore: Eddie Shore was the first defenseman to dominate a sizeable period of NHL history offensively, is the only defenseman to win the Hart Trophy four times, and is one of the toughest players in the history of the game. Don't vote for Shore!
With that aside taken care of, how can we decide between Richard and Beliveau? I'll be casting my vote for Richard based on the fact that his numbers are slightly less impressive than Beliveau's once they've been adjusted for era, but someone who values Richard's status as a cultural figure, or who values some of Richard's unadjusted goalscoring accomplishments (he was the first ever to score fifty goals in fifty games) could easily vote the other way. Voice your opinion by voting and in the comments below! Voting will be open until Wednesday afternoon, and I'll have a wrap-up article on Thursday.