Todays Game vs. Yesterdays Game


Son of Liberty
This thread was inspired by Millz ;)
Probably more shots back then, I would think.

Found this online...

Fuhr was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings, playing briefly with Gretzky again for 14 games. Out of shape and possibly past his prime, his career saw a resurgence when he signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues before the 1995–96 campaign. He played 79 games that season, 76 consecutively, both St. Louis franchise records.
That's kinda ridiculous to be'd think this day in age theyd be able to do that more because they are better athletes.
So I've always felt the game back in the day (lets just say the John Ziegler Era of the NHL) was a glorious time. But the more I watch old clips the more I think, "wow this is a low level of skill compared to what we have today."

I dont mean to take anything away from those guys, I mean players like Phil Esposito and Wayne Gretzky, huge players that deserve the tremendous respect they get.

But when you watch a Gretzky Goal (and this was a random selection)

YouTube - Wayne Gretzky's goal (EDM-NYI 5/17/84)

vs. an Alexander Ovechkin Goal (again random selection)

YouTube - Alexander Ovechkin's 50th Goal (With "Stick On Fire" Celebration)

you jsut cant help but notice a faster pace, harder shot, better goaltending. The whole 9 yards.

So heres my frustration, is it just the equipment? Or has skill really gotten better? Whats your opinion on it?
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I've wondered the same thing too, when I watch old hockey clips on YouTube or past series on NHL Network I see so many easy goals scored or saves that should've been made, but weren't. It looks like it took half the effort to score back then than it does now. I'd have to say that I think the skill level has gone up, just like it has in a lot of sports.


Sultan of Swat
Staff member
You have to take into consideration that it was a different style. The butterfly goalie wasn't introduced till Patrick Roy entered the league, before then goalies mostly stayed on their skates, and didn't go down much for a save.

Also the pads were not as big as they are today, there's far less power plays, because the referees let those guys play. Also the equipement like the stick are not like what they are today. All those are major factors.

Also if you go even further, like when The Rocket played, goalies didn't have a mask, just imagine standing infront of a shot from Jean Beliveau, Maurice Richard, Ted Lindsey, Gordie Howe, Boom Boom, the list goes on. It takes a lot of guts.

All in all, the game is very different back then, but I believe if those players played in this era they would be just as good, if not even better.
But then again, you put Ovechkin back in Gretzky's era and he'd be putting up the same numbers AND he could actually thow a hit. He doesn't need a bodyguard. Ha.

It is almost unfair to compare these things, just like with whole Tyson vs. Ali debate. Too many factors.


Son of Liberty
Well yeah I just kinda wondered ya know 'cause sometimes its almost laughable when I hear about Gretzky's piles and piles of goals... but I have to wonder; If he were up against the talent and speed in todays game, could he have put up those same numbers? I know its a hockey blasphemy to question him like that... but seriously?

From 1980 to 92 he had 50+ goal seasons, actually most were up in the 80 goals. His two best seasons being 81 (92g 120a 212p) and 86 (52g 163a 215p)... when was the last time we saw a skater break 200points? 150?

for those interested I did some research:
Malkin is top point getter w/ 113 points (35g 78a)
Ovechkin is #2 w/ 110 points (52g 54a)
*crosby is only other person to hit 3 digits w/ 33g 70a 103p

Ovechkin is top point getter w/ 112 (65g 47a)
Malkin is #2 106 (47g 59a)
*no one else breaks 100 points

Crosby is top point getter w/ 120 (36g 84a)
Thornton is #2 w/ 114 (22g 92a)
*5 others break 100

Thornton is top point getter w/ 125 (29g 96a)
Jaromir Jagr is #2 w/ 123 (54g 69a)
*5 others break 100

2004-05 Lockout

St. Louis is top point getter w/ 96

Forsberg is top point getter w/ 106 (29g 77a)
Naslund is #2 w/ 104 (48g 56a)
Thornton is only other w/ 101 (36g 65a)

Iginla is top point getter w/ 96 (52g 44a)

Jagr is top point getter w/ 121 (52g 69a)
Sakic is #2 w/ 118 (54g 64a)
*no one else breaks 100

Jagr is top point getter w/ 96 (42g 54a)

Jagr is top point getter w/ 127 (44g 83a)
Selanne is #2 w/ 107 (47g 60a)
Kariya is #3 w/ 101 (39g 62a)
*no one else breaks 100

Jagr is only one to break 100 w/ 102 (35g 67a)

Thats as far back as the goes with stats.

now you compare that to an exerpt of a generation contrasted:

stats from

Gretzky w/ 142 (40g 102a)
*more than 10 other people break 100 points

Lemieux w/ 199 points! (85g 114a)
*9 other skaters break 100points

Lemieux w/ 168 (70g 98a)
*more than 10 break 100p

Gretzky w/ 183 (62g 121a)
*6 others break 100

I think y'all get the point scoring back then was much easier!

But if you just look at those seasons worth of stats, nobody scores like they did back then. Definitely makes me wonder if Guys like Gretzky skated against todays goalies if he'd even be half as good? I'd almost guarantee he wouldnt put up the numbers he did back then in todays game. But as stated already, there are just to many factors to really compare though.

Also! I have to laugh ya know, Babe you mentioned teh Butterflystyle of goaltending wasnt even brought into play 'till Roy. So that goes around the late 80's when it becomes mainstream yeah?

Isnt that the stupidest thing you ever heard? I remember reading in Phil Esposito's book that the guys back then (60's-80's) just didnt lift the puck. If they didnt lift the puck why didnt goalies put 2 and 2 together and say "hey I wonder if I got on my knees if I could make this 3.97 goals against average come down a bit" :hah:. I mean seriously....what were they thinking? Or maybe more importantly... what werent they thinking seems to be the question.


Sultan of Swat
Staff member
I think Gretzky could still dominate today's game same thing with Lemieux.

Gretzky is the best hockey player of all time, he's the best set up man of all time, he knew where the player was going to end up before the play started, it didn't matter what defence the opposite team played against him, he would stick rack up the points. He had eyes behind his head. I remember watching a documentry about him, and when he was a kid he use to watch hockey games all the time, but what he did his studied the puck and the puck only. So wherever the puck went so did his eyes. I think that's what made him the best setup/passer of all time.

Now I know the goalies back then aren't as good as they are today, but like I mentioned in my previous post, there's so many reasons because of that. Do I believe he could rack up close to 200 points in a season? Maybe not hit 190, but I think he could hit 180. He could easily get more then 100 assists in a season in my opinion. Dont know if he could ever get more then 90 goals in a season though. I also believe that Gretzky would be bigger in today's game, because they didn't train like today's atheletes do.

Now on to Mario Lemieux who is another elite player. Lemieux was arguably a better goal scorer then Gretzky, but I don't believe he was a better overall player. Anyways that's not the topic on hand. I think Super Mario could excell in today's game as well, he would definitely be the best power forward in the league. Mario is solid, he wouldnt get knocked around in today's game. He would also lead the game in goal scoring in my opinion. He knew how to beat the goalie, it didn't matter from which angle.

Yes, today's game is much harder then yesterday's game, because the goalies are much better and faster, but I still believe players like Gretzky and Lemieux could still dominate this game with ease, and would still be the top two players in the NHL.