black aspirin wrote:
Still, the dude is arguably the 2nd-best defenseman to ever play, as far as I know. Is that too grand a statement?
"Best" is a very misleading term, because there's been lots of great defensemen in this league that have been great at what they do. But even the varying degrees of what the "best" constitutes, i'd disagree with Lidstrom being 2nd best of all time, and here's my thoughts as to why:
Obviously, number one is Orr. But let's consider some things:
Coffey: 1409 games, 396 goals, 1135 assists; 1531 total points. His career total -/+ is +294. Norris trophies: 3. Stanley Cups: 4
Bourque: 1612 games played, 410 goals, 1169 assists; 1579 total points. Career total plus/ minus is 528 (third behind Orr and Robinson). Norris trophies: 5. Stanley Cups: one (a major knock against him; especially considering that he was traded to the Avalanche, basically, to have a shot at the Cup before he retired)
Chelios: 1651 games played, 185 goals scored, 763 assists; 948 points total. Career plus/ minus is +350. Norris trophies: 3. Stanley Cups: 3. Significant note: he had 2891 penalty minutes--much more than double Bourque's PIM, and about 1/3rd higher than Coffey's meaning that his point totals would have inevitably been higher). If you talk of the "best" defenseman, few have been tougher than Chelios, and he'd maintained a respectable amount of offense (not so much later in his career, but earlier in his career, that physical game with the offensive one made him great).
Lidstrom: 1494 games played, 253 goals scored, 855 assists; 1108 total points. Career plus/ minus is 429 (Coffey's best +/- year was +61. Lidstrom's best is +40). Norris trophies: 7 (mind you, this is in the current NHL with Coffey, Bourque, Chelios all either gone or in the waning years of their career). Cups: 4.
Now, Lidstrom is very good, and outside of Pronger--in terms of defensemen that have came into the NHL since the early 90's, i'd rate him as probably the best. But in the history of offensive minded d-guys since Orr, even Denis Potvin is arguably higher than Lidstrom, as you can't touch his accomplishments with the Islanders in the 80's. I mean, that's four cups in a row. Potvin played 1060 games, had 310 goals and 742 assists for 1052 points; also, three Norris trophies. Even Lidstrom was outscored by another defenseman on his own team--Paul Coffey (irony setting in here) in the 1994-1995 season; Coffey more than doubling him up in points. Coffey would have arguably won a Cup with the Wings, as well, had he been with them for longer.
What I like about Lidstrom is that he's always been one of the most balanced defensemen, in terms of playing great defense and being able to put points on the board for offence. And he's quite gentlemanly--taking about an average of a minute in penalties every three games. Then there's other guys like Larry Robinson--very good, offensively, and won 6 Stanley Cups as a player.
Varying stats aside, if the goal is Stanley Cups, then Robinson is the greatest d-man of all time, flat out. That's 6 Cups. And he still holds the all time defenseman record for +/-, and that's a crucial stat of what leads to Cups. +730 (!!!!!). For my money, overall, Coffey is the 2nd best defenseman of all time, because the 4 cups, 3 Norris trophies and his average of well over a point a game, and having won a Cup with 2 different teams (Oilers and Pens...and arguably being a key component in the rising Wings team of the mid 90's) puts him in an esteemed category. One look at his records--many that won't be beat, offensively--both in the playoffs and regular season--are staggering. He's still tied for the league record at 6 assists in one game by a defenseman. Bourque would otherwise be my #2, but the one Cup win bugs me, so he's #4--Robinson gets my #3. Potvin is #5. Lidstrom is #6, and if Chelios didn't have such a steep dropoff in his offensive output in the last few years of his career, he'd otherwise be #6. The rest, after that, is comprised of alot of very good players like MacInnis, Suter, Leetch, et al.
Not like i've analyzed this shit, though. :)