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 Hypothetical: If Gretzky's had avoided Suter's hit

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Guest9910 Posted - 05/13/2007 : 14:27:27
If Gretzky had avoided the Suter hit in the 1991 Canada Cup, how many regular season points do you think he would have ammassed? Don Cherry (who I admit can be off colour, so to speak, but does know hockey quite well) has said on several occasions that Gretzky was never the same after that hit. I never really put too much stock into it until I did a little digging. I remember the doctors at the time said Gretzky would likely never be physically active again let alone play hockey. His inherniated disc injury was credited back to the Suter hit whiich happened about a year prior. If you look at the stats, it backs up Cherry's claims. You can see a huge drop in production immediately following the Suter hit....

Season Team GP G A Pts (PPG Average)

Pre Suter hit:

1988-89 Los Angeles Kings 78 54 114 168 (2.15)
1989-90 Los Angeles Kings 73 40 102 142 (1.95)
1990-91 Los Angeles Kings 78 41 122 163 (2.09)

Post 1991 Canada Cup Suter hit:

1991-92 Los Angeles Kings 74 31 90 121 (1.64)
1992-93 Los Angeles Kings 45 16 49 65 (1.44)
1993-94 Los Angeles Kings 81 38 92 130 (1.60)

As you can see, Gretzky went from averaging 160+ points a season (over 80 games) with LA to scoring around 120+ points. He went from averaging around 2 points per game to never coming close to that level of production again, almost over night....a drastic difference. Just this difference alone would have taken well over 500 points off his career totals. Couple that with all the games he missed in 1992 due to the back injury, I am left wondering how many points he could have scored over the rest of his career if not for that injury. One step further, how many regular season points would Gretzky have finished with iif his production did not get so badly affected? 3300 regular season points does not seem out of the question. 3500 points? Regardless, I think it's safe to assume Gretzky would have easily eclipsed the 3000 point barrier without any problem, and his career points per game average would have been well beyond 2.0...leaving every other player, Lemieux included (whether or not he had come back from retirement), in the dust.

It boggels my mind to think that a player whose production was so badly affected due to injury STILL managed to score more points in the 1990s than any other player in the NHL., playing for bad to average teams to boot.

Questions, comments, cries of outrage?

7   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
willus3 Posted - 05/16/2007 : 06:33:00
Beans mentioned some good possibilities. The pool boy surely must have weighed on his mind. Major distraction there.
A thought I had ties in a little bit with one of Beans ideas about life after hockey. He had never really been hurt before that hit. Is it possible Suter put the fear of injury into him? After being hit perhaps he realized, hey, I better be careful or I could sustain a career ending injury. So now he was out there with it in the back of his mind that it could happen and it was a distraction. So his thoughts wouldn't have been where they once were when playing. Now he's worrying a lot more about injury.
It's a possibility I think.

"You are not your desktop wallpaper"
andyhack Posted - 05/16/2007 : 06:15:01
Well, Beans brought up a good point about the Pool Boy (Hockey Pool Gambling Type that is!)

It's a good hypothetical. In my opinion though you have to factor in the simple "mysterious drop off" factor that a lot of superstars go through at least a little more than maybe you are factoring. Look at Lafleur's drop off from '79-80 to '80-81 and later. There were some factors involved there too you can point to, but part of it I think is just the player starting to become a little "spent' after years of greatness. Trottier is another example. Also, and of course a different category of stardom, but look at Middleton on the Bruins too. Just quickly dropped from being a 100 point guy (or close to) in the early 80s to much less production and then retirement. Yes, an injury was involved there too but again, was that all, or even the main factor to it? I don't know.

On the other hand, I do know that when Lemieux was in his prime, in the early 90s, he was greatly affected by injuries, etc , that he missed a load of games and played under probably very tough physical conditions - again, in his prime. So, though I like your hypothetical, I like mine more. Of course, I gotta say that under the terms of my "non Gretzky Camp contract"!

p.s. I personally think Janet was great in the Flamingo Kid! And this leads to maybe the best hypothetical of them all - How many Academy Awards would Janet have won if she hadn't met Wayne?
Guest9910 Posted - 05/15/2007 : 22:43:29
Other factors were also present, I agree, but if you look at the stats during the three LA years, his production was consistently at 2 points per game before the hit. I don't think it's a coincidence that his production fell to 1.6 points per game immediately after the hit, and stayed there, never again reaching the 2 point per game mark. It happened overnight, a 40 point decline, coinciding perfectly with the timing of the injury. This is more my point.

One can make the argument that the team wasn't as good (but they were actually getting better), or that the rest of the league was getting better, but level of play doesn't change much in one season, and certainly doesn't account for a 40 point difference. How about age? He went from 29 to 30. I don't think that's much of a factor either. All signs point to the Suter hit. What else was there?
tctitans Posted - 05/15/2007 : 22:20:52
Just as valid a hypothetical discussion as any I guess. I myself dont think Gretzky was every quite the same (I remember him talking about that himself as well). Even so, I'm not sure how much of an effect this really had on his production as there were other influencing factors at play as well.
Beans15 Posted - 05/15/2007 : 21:04:19
Ya, let's think about some of the things that may have caused his decline.

Age, basic wear and tear, travel, having a family, playing on weaker teams, thinking about life after hockey, wondering if Janet is with the Pool Boy.

I Love your Kids, IHC is the man, and The Oilers Rule. Does that make me insane??
willus3 Posted - 05/15/2007 : 20:59:56
If that is indeed what affected his point production then yes he may very well have put up those ridiculous numbers.
Is it possible though that there is something else that caused the decline?

"You are not your desktop wallpaper"
Guest9910 Posted - 05/13/2007 : 14:30:31
EDIT: the subject title was meant to read:

Hypothetical: If Gretzky had managed to avoid Suter's hit

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