Was hockey easier back in the 50's 60's 70's...

Discussion in 'Hockey' started by Babe_Ruth, May 29, 2009.

  1. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    Welcome to our first annual hockey debate on General Forum. The first topic will be about hockey in the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Was it easier to play in that ERA than it was in the 90's or 00's?

    I believe that hockey was really challenging back then, just like it is today. First off, you had the travelling conditions, which were brutal, they travelled by trains, or some people just drove to the arena's. Compare that to today's travelling which is first class, you get what you want. Your treated like a king on that flight.

    Back then, you didn't have the training they have today, they weren't told the proper nutrions to keep in shape. They didn't have the work out equipement today, which is one of the reasons why some of these guys are strong then what some of those guys were back in the old age of hockey.

    A lot of the players in the 50's, 60's and so on had to jobs, because they couldn't afford to live by only the hockey salary. They worked a full eight hour shift, then went on to play hockey during the night time, they did this all year long. They were tired, but still went on to put on a show when they played hockey.

    The pads, sticks, gears are much more adapt today, especially the sticks, do you see the curves some of these players have today? It's unbelievable. That's a huge advantage for the players today. Also the sizes of the goalies today, no wonder a lot of them are known as great goaltenders. You put Giguere, Snow beside Plante or Bower, and you'll see a major different.

    One thing I will agree on is, that it was a bit easier to score on the goalies back during the old ERA, but not as much as people it out to be. If you look at old tapes of Richard, Howe, Believeau, Orr, Boom Boom and so many more, you'll see that these guys knew how to score in the net, they had sick stick handling moves that you see players use today. Their shots might not be as hard as some players today, but the reason why Bernie Geofrrion nickname is Boom Boom is because when he took a slapshot and missed the net, the sound it made on the boards was like a gun being fired.

    Another argument that a lot of people seem to be doing when comparing to players from today's game to old era is that players today are much bigger, faster, stronger. But I'll use an example, but there's so many more I could use. Jean Believeau was 6"3, 205 lbs, I am sure he could hold his own in today's game.

    So all in all, I believe that most of the players back then could hold their own in today's game, with the training, new equipement, nutrion and traveling. As well that the game back then wasn't as easy as some people make it out to be.

  2. Millz

    Millz LGB Staff Member V.I.P.

    You set the bar too high on this debate MJ...I feel like I have nothing else to add to the discussion!

    I completely agree on pretty much everything that you say here. There is a common misconception that things were easier back then because Gretzky was scoring 92 goals and putting up 200 points. Bobby Orr, a DEFENSEMAN, was leading the league in scoring...you dont see things like that anymore.

    I think the biggest reason is an effort to be better defensively. I dont think teams practiced team defenses back then like they do now-days. Youve got the lock defense that the Devils used to do and now the Wild use with Lemaire as their coach. The goalies pads are bigger, sure, but they are bigger themselves too! That has a ton to do with the decrease in scoring.

    So I dont buy that it was easier back then...they had a bunch of other stuff working against them that players these days dont have to deal with.
  3. Jeanie

    Jeanie still nobody's bitch V.I.P. Lifetime

    Not only could players from the 40's, 50's, and 60's (and earlier) hold their own these days, but I'd be willing to bet that a lot of these pussy-pants players nowadays (*coughsindeycrosbycough*) would NOT be able to hold their own against say the '55 Red Wings, or the '70 Bruins.
    yes I meant to spell it "sindey"
    icegoat63 likes this.
  4. icegoat63

    icegoat63 Son of Liberty V.I.P. Lifetime

    To Answer You;

    1967-68 was the season the NHL first Expanded. Which means prior to that season, there was a mix & match of name swapping but other than that the only Clubs that were invovled in the NHL were the Original Six. If you were to take todays NHL and compare its schedule, that would be assuming 6 games per each team, thats a 30 game season compared to todays 82.

    Travel conditions may in fact have been more for the wear and tear; however the time that allowed a team to rest during the break was much more greater than that of today. In todays game, we saw just recently (2007-08) the Ducks & Kings play in London, England to start the season (Sept. 30), then ship all the way back to the states only to have the Ducks play Detroit (Oct 3), Columbus (Oct 5), and Pittsburgh (Oct 6) then return home to play Boston (Oct 10). The amount of stress put on the players... to travel that many miles in less than 2 weeks is something that the players of olden days couldnt even fathom let alone have enough strength to actually perform. Just the trip in the states alone Consisted of:

    Detroit to Columbus: 200 Miles
    Columbus to Pittsburgh: 180 Miles
    Pittsburgh to Anaheim: 2,400 Miles
    Total trip inside the States: 2,780 Miles traveled from Oct.3 to Oct.10.

    And remember that doesnt even take into consideration the plane ride leaving London Sept 30/Oct. 1 to Detroit. Had this been a traveling in the method of the 50's & 60's... the players would have had at least a week between games to rest, todays NHL'ers have less than a day if even that.

    This just helps prove my point that the game is bigger, faster, stronger, harder (thank you Kanye West)

    My Rebuttle Debate Points:

    Given the respect that those generations earned and deserve, they are not comparable to the skill level you see today.

    Reason #1: Stick Skill

    Allow me to start with a Player you should be able to recognize right away:

    For those who dont know; This here is Jacques Plante. Recognized as the goalie that revolutionized the use of the Goalies Mask in the mid to late 50's. Prior to his decision to wear a mask, not many if any netminders followed suit. Do you know why?

    The reason why is because the skaters that were firing at the puck didnt have the skill to lift the puck. And if they did it took tremendous force that made them very inaccurate, much like you mentioned about Boom Boom and the Gun Blast of a Slapper. The Stick Technology back then was very simple, a solid single piece wood shaft and blade. Some would have slight curve from wear but more often than not prior to the late 40's we didnt see much more than just an ambidextrous straight curve on the Sticks. Then when the laminated stick was finally introduced thats when Sticks finally started to become more dangerous.

    Now prior to the laminated stick, all there ever was was Stand up goalies who used the goalie stick. Butterfly really wasnt a big thing, even though a butterfly goalie back then would have been utterly unstoppable. The Stand up goalie is oddly enough not the most effective at blocking the bottom three holes in the net. So when you were facing off against a Standup... all you had to do was shoot low, fortunately the stick technology favored just that and as you stated, the top scorers knew how to score.

    So this makes me wonder about the intelligence of the Netminders themselves. If you were to score the same way game in game out against a Goalie in todays game, they would change, adapt... get better in order to prevent those types of goals. But still watching a Highlight reel from the Golden Ages although still awesome to see can get very repetitive as the same holes are taken and the same few moves are made. Today each player seems to have their own individual habits when it comes to deking, shooting, and even skating with the Puck. Its less of a machine and more of an art. Given the room to be an individual with the puck we get Scoring artists like Alex Ovechkin who will find new and amazing ways to score all the time and often times not the same over and over.

    Reason #2: Player Size

    Its a proven fact that we as humans get bigger throughout the generations. Using the 50's as the measuring stick, the average height was 5'2"-5'6". Today 5'9" is the average... which means size of the player overall has also gotten bigger. Allowing for more muscle, providing more strength to hit, more power behind firing that puck, and more agility and speed while moving with on the ice.

    Think of Al McInnis back in the 80's and 90's. He was thought to have the hardest slapshot in the whole league. But yet his NHL All Star Record during the 1990's only barely tickled the 100mph speed slot. Where as Sheldon Souray and Adrian Aucoin both managed to tie in 2004 with 102.2 mph slap shots. And the same goes for speed, we've got players pulling a full lap around an NHL rink in 13 seconds, I really dont feel that players from back then could have kept up.... if anything just because they'd be a stride behind due to the size difference.
    Jeanie likes this.
  5. gusto

    gusto Registered Member

    I have been a life long hockey fan. I started watching seriously in 1962. There have been so many changes in hockey over the years that it's hard to compare todays game with what was played back then. There was no clutching and grabbing in the game because if you did it was a penalty called almost every time. The game had a lot less flow because if you got in trouble you could freeze the puck against the boards or flip it into the stands. There were not a lot of cheap shots because if you did your were going to have to fight, no question. The players respected each other a lot more and there were a lot less high sticks etc.
    The game was not nearly as fast as it is now. Just watch old hockey games and you will see what I mean. There was the odd really good skater but in the NHL today 90% or more of the players are good skaters. The entire game was played differently in a tactical and strategic sense. There was almost no shooting the puck in and then forechecking to gain possession. There was a lot less play on the boards because of what I said earlier about freezing the puck. I think that the game really changed after Scotty Bowman came along and took a very scientific approach. If you take a look at all the successful coachs over the last 30 years it's amazing how many of them played or assisted Bowman. Goaltending is an obvious difference. Back in the 60's and 70's half the goals were scored by shots from outside the faceoff circles. Not screened either, just hard shots that beat the goalie. You hardly ever see goals like that today. When one is scored they call it a BAD goal. There are many more differences in todays game but I think I've said enough for now.
  6. icegoat63

    icegoat63 Son of Liberty V.I.P. Lifetime

    very good points. My favorite being this one:

    I highly admire that era because of this. Players were held accountable for what they did and when they tried to goon it up, lol they paid the piper. One of the best books I've ever read in terms of Hockey is Phil Esposito's book. And boy oh Boy did he love to point exactly that out. Players didnt get away with the BS they get away with today.
  7. greyham_G

    greyham_G Registered Member

    :lol::lol::lol: im a canadian and i still hate him.

    Everything that can be said pretty much has been said.
    Watching videos of people like rocket richard it seemed almost too easy to score, but i know that is not the case, i just think the people like him back then were ahead of their time skill wise and the pads and such made it easier for them to score.
    If we took say maurice richard and put him in new pads with a composite stick with new skates it would take him a while to get used to everything, but in time i believe that without a doubt he could stand up with the hockey players of today, as could most other players from that era. The game then and the game now are so different that its hard to compare the two and never having experienced the game back then i can only do my best to assume the advantages and disadvantages.

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