Friday, December 31, 2010

It Doesn't Matter How Good His Teammates Were, He Still Had To Make the Saves

"Hey, I just back from the new shopping mall. Gotta give it up for our mayor, that guy is the best ribbon-cutter in the town."

"He is? How could you possibly go about trying to determine that?"

"Well, I was there, and he was the guy in charge of opening the mall, and it got opened. Can't argue with results."

"OK, but that's kind of a simple thing, isn't it? I mean, any public figure can give a short speech, work a pair of scissors and pose for a few photos. The mayor is just the guy that gets assigned to show up and do it, that doesn't mean he is the best."

"Sure it does, you still have to cut the ribbon. Doesn't matter how easy you think the job is, it still needs to get done. You don't see anybody else cutting the ribbon, do you?"

"No, but that's because it is the mayor's job, not because other people couldn't do it."

"Who cares about other people? It's his job and he did it, that's all that matters, that's why he deserves the credit."

"It is? There were mayors before him that did it just as well and there will be mayors after him that will do exactly the same thing. Why does it matter who actually does it? You don't think that guy that narrowly lost the election two years ago could have done it?"

"I don't want to talk about what-ifs, just what actually happened. Yesterday the mall wasn't open, and today it is. I don't know why you hate the guy so much, why you won't give him any credit, you're probably just jealous. I was there when they opened the new library too, sure he may have flubbed a line or two and dropped the scissors twice but he showed his mental toughness by bouncing right back and when the big moment came he got the job done."

"I'm not arguing that he didn't get the job done. I'm saying that his job was fairly easy, and he did not make much of a difference in doing it. The mall and the library are both just as open right now as they would have been if another politician was wielding the ceremonial scissors. Giving credit for an easily replaceable effort makes little sense at all, you're just being overly impressed by the privileges of the guy's position."

"Obviously you don't understand anything about politics. Since that guy became mayor, he has cut the ribbons at 3 grand openings, while all the other losing candidates in that election have combined for zero. How can you argue with those stats?"

"Again, I'm not disputing that those accomplishments happened. I'm disputing their value. Of course our mayor did the job, but he did it no better than somebody with similar qualifications would have done it. The difference between him and those other guys with respect to grand openings was entirely a matter of opportunity, not a matter of skill. Why is that something to be celebrated? I'm completely baffled here."

"Say whatever you want, he can't hear you because of all of the freshly cut ribbons in his ears. You geeks never give that guy any credit, he's the most underrated mayor ever. Haters gonna hate, I guess. We're done here, I'll catch you later."


aislephive said...

This was an interesting yet effective format for this argument. Well done CG, I'll have to link this one the next time I get into one of those "but he won!" goaltending debates.

Anonymous said...

After being lifted after allowing 3 goals on 7 shots tonight Brodeur has dropped to 50th of the NHLs 50 goalies in save percentage (.882)among goalies who have played enough to be ranked.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Just to be clear, this post is about Chris Osgood. Brodeur's old and battling injuries, it shouldn't be too surprising that he's no longer what he once was.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to start calling him Mayor Osgood? Because that would be awesome. It's like a cross between Mayor McCheese and the Batman TV show.

J. Gryphon said...

The entire post is gold, just like "Rainfall", but I like the additional goaltending in-joke with the "freshly cut ribbons in his ears".

Anonymous said...

@ The Contrarian Goaltender...

actually, he still is what he "once was"...

a below NHL average goaltender.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't relate to this post, but I was wondering your opinion about something. You always claim that shot quality is related to shot quantity, but so far this season, there is quite a bit of evidence that suggests otherwise. Look at the team stats on (

Teams that get outshot have an average winning percentage of .551. Teams that outshoot the other team have an average winning percentage of .426. These are rather shocking numbers and I'm actually wondering if the stats are reversed. There are only 7 teams in the league that have a better winning percentage when they outshoot the other team. I'm no Brodeur or Osgoode fan, but wouldn't this statistic help their case out?

Anonymous said...

@ anon

When teams are leading in the third, they go into a shell and force teams to shoot from the low scoring areas. Thus they generate very few chances themselves and their opponents shot totals are bloated with low quality chances. This has been statistically demonstrated numerous times. Hence losing teams tend to out shoot their opponents in the third, usually enough to give them more shots on the game then the winners. Look at correlation between winning percentage and shot totals after 2 periods and you will see the story you expected.

Agent Orange said...


For any player and not just goaltender do you feel there is a point where an average and consistent player should be considered a Hall of Famer?

For example a skater who averages 30 goals a season and never gets more than 50 in his career. Consider the 3 following situations.

1) plays 10 years, scores 300 goals
2) plays 20 years, scores 600 goals
3) plays 25 years*, scores 750 goals

*25 years is a bit extreme I admit but a young who hits the league at 18 could in theory play to 43. For situation (1) assume injury.

Player (1) likely isn't even considered.

Player (2) gets a lot of attention but might be a borderline guy who gets in after a while.

Player (3) would be #3 all-time in NHL scoring. You would be hard pressed to keep him out of the HoF.

The HoF to this point has almost acted like a lifetime achievement award. There seems to be a list of check boxes and if you hit enough of them you are in (600+ goals, 400+ wins, etc).

I understand from other discussions that you value peak over career length/consistency but is there a cut-off point that gets that average player into consideration?

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Agent Orange: In my ideal Hall of Fame, a player who is average forever never gets in.

I don't see the point, to be honest. I don't care about lifetime achievement, I care about greatness. Nobody is going to tell their grandkids about how a consistently average player played the game, unless maybe they are a die-hard fan of his team. When you think of great players from the past, you think of them at their best, not during the 20 goal seasons in their mid-thirties that apparently are so vital in making a Hall of Fame case.

I can see why a player who was a member of the players' union and has long operated in a culture where seniority gets perks would want to celebrate and reward longevity. That probably explains a lot of why the HOF committee votes the way they do. Player 2 in your hypothetical is a pretty good approximation of Mike Gartner if he played in a slightly lower scoring era, and not only is Gartner in the Hall of Fame but he's on the committee that picks who gets inducted. I highly doubt Gartner is championing players with huge peaks but low career totals.

I'm not a player with a union card, I'm an independent analyst. I want to know how good a guy was during his best seasons and how long his prime lasted and the rest is just filler, IMO.

Agent Orange said...

"I don't care about lifetime achievement, I care about greatness."

Ok I won't try to change your mind.

Just to be clear I'm not arguing that it should be a lifetime achievement award type thing only that it seems to be what the Hall of Fame does.

"I'm not a player with a union card, I'm an independent analyst. I want to know how good a guy was during his best seasons and how long his prime lasted and the rest is just filler, IMO."

I think that's a good mindset to have for doing performance evaluations. Things like best of all time, best of an era, Player A compared to Player B. I think considering guys for the HoF is a bit different.

The HoF doesn't look at an era and take the top 5 or the top 1%. They look at the individual and make a judgment (most likely a pretty subjective one) on if they deserve to be in the HoF. Like I said earlier they seem to have a checklist. For goalies it seems to be Wins/Rings/Individual Awards (fair or not).

While I don't think it necessarily identifies who the best players are it does identify the players with the most achievements. If that is the criteria we should apply it evenly. Unless we are going to take guys out of the HoF I don't think we can justify holding a guy out meets the same criteria as a guy who gets in.

I don't want to make this a Chris Osgood argument but I think he compares pretty well to guys like Grant Fuhr and Billy Smith. Guys who played for really good teams and got a lot of wins and rings because of it. These guys weren't the best goalies of their eras and your own analysis shows that don't compare well to league average or even to back-ups. They were however pretty consistent guys who played on (well) above average teams and accumulated high achievements.

I'm not making the argument that Osgood is better than guys because he played for the Wings. I'm just saying he accumulated more of the achievements that matter to the HoF. The HoF doesn't determine who the best players are the analysis does.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I agree that the Hall of Fame does seem to care a lot about career achievement, although I would repeat that we don't really know yet how the Hall of Fame will rate goalies who played in the save percentage era.

That's why I'd disagree with your statement that we can't hold guys out who meet the same criteria as guys who got in. We have better stats now and know more know about goalies than we did back then, so there's no reason the HOF voting committee should be required to repeat past mistakes.

That's like arguing that a baseball hitter who hits above .300 with no walks and no power should be considered to be a great player because back in the day that was considered an elite performance.

I do not agree that Billy Smith is a good comparable for Osgood. Smith has a Vezina Trophy, he was the only goalie who won Cups during the Islander dynasty, and he had high save % results relative to the league in both the regular season and playoffs. Billy Smith's career GVT is over twice as high as Osgood's, again in both the regular season and in the playoffs, and contemporary observers rated Smith far better than they did Osgood.

Granted, if you look at the play of Smith's backups there is a legitimate question as to how much of those numbers was his own play and how much was Denis Potvin and co., but I don't think too many of the voters do a sophisticated WOWY analysis before they fill out their ballots. At a surface level Smith is clearly ahead of Osgood.

I'll give you Fuhr as a comparable, even though Fuhr had a higher peak than Osgood and was also rated much higher by his contemporaries (1987 Vezina Trophy, named starting goalie in 1987 Canada Cup). Still, it's never a strong argument to focus on the weakest guys in the Hall of Fame and claim your guy is comparable to them.

In addition, don't forget about Osgood's comparables who aren't in the Hall of Fame. Guys like Mike Vernon and Tom Barrasso. Like Osgood, those two have two Cups as a starter, high career win totals, fairly average save percentage records and not a ton of Vezina support.

I think I'd take Osgood over Vernon, but I'd definitely take Barrasso over Osgood. Neither Barrasso nor Vernon are in the Hall of Fame, and I doubt either of them get there either. So there is certainly precedent for leaving out goalies of Osgood's calibre with similar resumes.

Agent Orange said...

I'll concede Billy Smith.

I would disagree with you on Barrasso.

As stupid as it sounds people perceive 369 wins as being significantly different than 400.

If Osgood had finished with 399 would he be a different goalie in your eyes? No of course not. But how many articles/comments etc that say something along the lines of "How can you argue with 400 wins?!"

I don't really agree with it but its one of the check boxes for the HoF.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

A Vezina Trophy is one of the check boxes for the HoF too, is it not? Osgood doesn't have that, but Barrasso does.

That said, you may be right that the voters would rate Osgood over Barrasso. I think Barrasso's legendary prickly personality may have as much to do with that as any difference in performance, though.

What about Mike Vernon, do you think the voters would rate Osgood over him? It's the same thing with the 400 wins to Vernon's 385, granted but Vernon actually has more playoff wins, plus he has a Conn Smythe. If all they really care about is team success, don't they have to rate Vernon about the same as Osgood? Vernon has had a few cracks at enshrinement now without getting in or much media support that he is deserving of the honour.

There were some stupid, "400 wins" articles written of course, but hacks like Scott Burnside are still not Hall of Fame voters. I remain optimistic Osgood doesn't get in, but we won't know for sure until he comes up for induction.

Agent Orange said...

Vernon vs Osgood. If this is Osgood's last year I give him the edge. If he keeps playing as a back-up at his current level he hurts himself a bit.

Some of it has to do with how far removed from your high points you are when you hit eligibility.

Vernon was first eligible in 06. 9 years after his last high point with the 1997 Cup win (and subsequently losing his job to Osgood who then won a cup). His last 6 years playing on pretty poor teams hurt a bit of his perception.

What has Osgood done at the end of his career?

2008 - Wins a Stanley Cup.
2009 - Puts together a great run but fell 1 game short of back to back cups.
2010 - Becomes just the 10th goalie in NHL history to join the 400 win club.

If he tries to hang on for a couple more years as a back-up he may tarnish the memory of those accomplishments.

I'll remain optimistic he does get in, but you are right we won't know until his induction time. Doesn't stop us from having a good time debating it though!

Personally I find these debates/discussion a lot more entertaining than the Roy/Hasek/Brodeur ones. Those guys are all greats and no brainers. Its the fringe guys who get me excited.

Thanks for the back and forth!