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[Article] Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr...henrik Sedin

bure's triple deke

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I've started a Canucks blog (please hold your eye rolls) and was hoping to get some discussion from the appropriate audience...

The other day I was wondering how Henrik's three consecutive years of leading the league in assists stacked up in the history of the NHL, so I looked it up... It's exclusive. And after googling and finding absolutely nothing about the feat, I figured I needed to put something out there. The post is copy and pasted below or you can see it in the actual blog here: http://www.burestrip...ke.blogspot.com.

Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr...Henrik Sedin

Did everyone miss the headline at the end of the regular season last month? With 67 assists in 2011-12, Henrik Sedin became just the 5th player in NHL history to lead the league in that category for three consecutive years.¹ The other four? Joe Thornton, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Stan Mikita. And if Henrik manages to out-assist the Crosbys and Thorntons of the league for a fourth straight go in 2012-13, the club shrinks to two – just him and Gretz.

You didn’t find it on NHL.com or The Vancouver Sun for two reasons. The assist will always be the overlooked middle child of a player’s statline: G A Pts. How the league can stand to award the Lady Byng every year, but not have any hardware for the top playmaker is a tragedy. Secondly, unless he or Daniel hit 100 points again, no one really gets excited about these two players anymore.

Now, there are admittedly countless schools of thought to disprove Henrik’s place (or Thornton’s for that matter) among the Gretzkys and Orrs of the game. And rightfully so. Bobby Orr led the league as a defenceman. The Great One lasted a consecutive 13 years atop the league, more than quadruple Henrik’s current streak. Also implicit in Gretzky’s monopolization of the league’s assists board over two decades is the fact that any other elite playmaker competing in this timeframe was overshadowed in this regard. Think Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Ron Francis…to name a select, select few. These players would have likely put together a run of several years themselves, had they played in any other era.

What about the fact that Henrik’s highest assists total in these three years, 83, ranks exactly 52nd all-time. Not quite elite. Many would also argue that his streak has largely benefited from an unhealthy Sidney Crosby.

All these things are true, but let’s give Henrik some largely overlooked credit where credit is due. It's derived from simple fact: In this time and space in the history of the NHL, he has perennially dominated the league as a playmaker. Yes, Crosby has been injured, but remember the year Henrik won the Art Ross? The Pens captain had played a full season and was 25 assists Hank’s inferior. And as Thornton’s play in San Jose has deteriorated in this same three-year span, the assists crown has not only been Crosby’s to lose, but Evgeni Malkin’s, Nicklas Backstrom’s and Pavel Datsyuk’s among many other arguably more high-profile players.


A closer look at that 52nd-best assists total reveals that Henrik’s 83 assists is the 21st-highest achieved by any individual.² And that is a heavily underrated stat because of the 20 players ahead of him, only Thornton, Crosby and Jagr achieved their marks in the current dead-puck era (ie. before the late-1990’s). Common wisdom dictates that Henrik might have racked up far more had he played in the freewheeling 80’s.

Yet all things considered, in the grand scheme of NHL lore…no, you probably won’t see Henrik’s name alongside Gretzky and Orr ever again in perhaps more telling analyses. But for these past three years in the current NHL, the elder Sedin is, statistically, the absolute best at what he does. And that’s a headline the league should see much more often.


¹ For the full list of single-season assist leaders, see it on Hockey-Reference.com here.

² Only counting each unique player once, ie. players like Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr have multiple single-season assist totals in the top 50 or so, but in this regard we only count each player once. See the list on NHL.com here.

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exactly... the game is exactly the same now as it was back then and we can directly compare the two by numbers alone. plus Gretzky is a mystical hockey player, didn't really exist. anyone who compares any other player to Gretzky needs to realize that he wasn't human and no one will ever be as good as him.

Please note sarcasm.

if you bring Gretzky in his prime to the modern NHL i guarantee you he would have way lower point totals. and on the Flip side... if you put the sedins into the era Gretzky played in the Sedins numbers would be HUGE.

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Pretty cool stat. He's without a doubt the best playmaker in the game today and arguably has been for awhile now. He hasn't put up less than 60 assists - the primary benchmark for elite playmaker territory, much like 50 goals is for goal scorers - since the 05/06 season and in that season he still put up 57. The guy's vision is out of this world.

Happy to have him as our #1 centre and I'm really hoping he has several good years left in him.

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Please stop, to whoever is comparing the Sedins to Gretzky. They are not even close to reaching his greatness, not even Crosby before his concussion came close and Ovechkin 65 goal season didnt compare well to Gretzky's best either.

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