January 13, 2012
Most Overrated Player of All Time?
Sports Illustrated raised quite a stir this week with their new NHL player poll to name the most overrated player in the NHL today.
I do not think a lot of importance needs to be drawn from the poll. Is Dion Phaneuf really the most overrated player in hockey? Probably not, but the comment is fair enough. There is a grain of truth in all the players on the list, except Jarome Iginla.
The fact that a Toronto Maple Leaf was named the most overrated player does not surprise me. I have long felt that the intense media focus and the size of southern Ontario marketplace tends to overstate the impact of just how good the Leafs top players are.
Take Darryl Sittler for example. He's a Hockey Hall of Famer, but I wonder if he played in, say, St. Louis, would he have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame? Take away his 10 point night and he is equal to Bernie Federko. Many HHOF critics are unhappy that Federko is in the Hall but I have never heard anyone complain about Sittler.
All of this got me thinking - who are the most overrated players in hockey history? Here's a few candidates. Keep in mind I'm not saying these players were poor players in any stretch. They are arguably top 50 players of all time and I don't disagree necessarily.
1) Vladislav Tretiak - His legacy is amazing, and he is a hero in both Russia and Canada. Yet most of his accomplishments came against inferior competition in international events. As for the 1972 Summit Series where he became a legend, his poor play in the four games in Moscow is an understated reason for Canada's epic comeback.
2) Mark Messier - How can the NHL's second highest scorer of all time be overrated? Most of his accomplishments came in Wayne Gretzky's shadow. As for his epic 1994 Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter led the way there. As for his legendary leadership - ask Canucks fans how he tore apart an entire franchise. All that being said, I would not argue that he is a top 20 player in NHL history.
3) Rocket Richard - Oh this is going to rile up people! Rocket Richard was arguably the greatest goal scorer and clutch hockey player to have ever played. And he transcended the game and left a legacy that I'm not sure any athlete in North American sports history has ever achieved. But all that being said he was a dirty and violent player and outside of goal scoring he was average at best in most other facets of the game.
4) Martin Brodeur - He may own all the important goaltending records, but he was at best the third best goalie in his own time. He never surpassed Patrick Roy or Dominik Hasek as top dog when all three were playing at the same time. Some might place Eddie Belfour above him at that time, too.
5) Ken Dryden - Another goalie who was the product of his system. Yes he posted a career record of 258-57-74 with a ridiculous 6 Stanley Cups in 8 years, but that was with arguably the greatest hockey team of all time - the 1970s Montreal Canadiens. I am not naive enough to believe Montreal would have had as good a record with Bunny Larocque or Phil Myre in net, but Dryden was not as good as his record indicates. Ask the Soviets.
It's your turn - who do you think are the most overrated hockey players of all time? Other names that came up on Twitter include Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Bure, Phil Esposito and Clark Gillies.
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I agree with respect to Tretiak - as for the rest ... get real !
Gretzky is overrated. He was a fairly one-dimensional player - especially in his peak years.
I have been watching, coaching, and playing hockey since 1968 and by far the Greatest I ever saw was Bobby Orr ...
Gretzky is the highest scorer of all-time, but that is not the same as being the Greatest Hockey Player of All-Time. You need to do more than score to earn that distinction ...
Got me thinking, and thinking, and thinking.
Not many articles have me doing that!
Nice work Joe, your bold, truthful perspective is refreshing!
This is a great blog ! Keep up the good work !
Dino Ciccarelli? Mike Gartner?
Dino Ciccarelli? Mike Gartner?
Shame on you for mentionning my neighbors Maurice Richard (like his grave) on thia list... firt 50 goal scorer, first 500 goal scorer, 8 Stanley Cup, one riot...
You picked out five heroes Joe. They were of course overrated, but only because they played in great teams.
I am a die-hard Leafs and Bruins Fan, but The Rocket was a GREAT Hockey Player. Conn Smythe offered the Habs $125k for his once - when that was an astronomical amount of money. Smythe was a great hockey man ... so Richard was probably something special.
My Dad was a kid in the 30's and 40's and a die-hard Protestant Leaf Fan - but his one of his favourite players was The Rocket ! That tells you something right there ...
completely agree with all the ones you mentioned, i'd add gretzky
You sure got me riled up by putting Rocket Richard up there. But I completely agree about the others, many not as much about Brodeur though.
Now calling the greatest goal scorer of all time overrated is just ridiculous. Obviously the game isn't just about scoring goals, but that was his part of the game, and he mastered it. Just look at his stats, there's no way to overrate him
Regarding the Rocket - I totally agree he is a top ten player of all time. His legacy is incredible. But I wonder sometimes if guys like Beliveau, Mikita and Schmidt should not rank above him based on also great careers and arguably a better all-around game. That is the only way I would see Rocket as "overrated."
Very astute point by Bruno. All 5 of these guys are huge heroes. Is it possible to overrate someone who was not great? I'm not so sure about that.
I also picked all heroes because, admittedly, I wanted to be a bit on the controversial side and rile up some readers, to get them to participate in the discussion.
Denis Potvin, Brad Park, Bobby Clark, Patrick Roy -- all deserving members of the HHOF, but overrated in my opinion.
I would also agree with Shaftesbury on Gretzky -- the greatest one dimensional player ever, but no match for Orr.
Are you kidding - Messier made Gretsky look good.
Not a legend, I know, but Scott Gomez leaps to mind. Say "Gomez," and most hockey fans, not just the casual ones, will tell you how great a player he is. He is, at most, a decent second-line center who gets/got all of his points on the pp. Living in AK, maybe I am just sick of all the locals who think that he is exceptionally talented. When he was traded to the Rangers, there were no more Devils fans up here, and when he went to Montreal they had to replace their jerseys again; these are not hockey fans, and their adoration of him makes me want to vomit. I need to move back to Buffalo. We love our players, but no Sabres fan started rooting for the Redwings after Hasek went there.
the players of his time feared Richard more than respected him and other than fighting dirty and scoring goals in that order what skills did "the Rocket" have?
his fighting didn't end when he left the ice was the other problem. I remember hockey from the 60s, my dad remembers the WW2 era. We both played pond hockey
His fan boys want to call him the GOAT, but he's never scored more than 120 points in a season and was never anything special defensively until a couple of years ago.
His transformation into a more complete player has helped him have more success in the playoffs, but I don't think he deserved the Conn Smythe in 2016. Kessel out-performed him. He was better in the 2017 playoffs.
Aside from the argument that the old time greats "wouldn't flourish" in today's NHL - an argument I HATE - there is no reason whatsoever to put this kid in the same company as Bobby Orr, Lemieux or Gretzky.
You can say Wayne and Mario were offense-only players, but they were more prolific and successful playing the way they did than Crosby was in his first ten seasons. Now that Sid is more well-rounded, he still isn't on the same level as a guy like Bergeron defensively.Yes, he has two Conn Smythes (one of which he didn't even deserve). Others have won two as well, including the aforementioned Lemieux and Gretzky.
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