I was perusing a list of all the top single season points leaders in NHL history, and was a bit shocked:
Now, spots 1-13 are occupied by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux; lets assume they are unicorns with an amazing 160 points or more per season.
What confounds me is the next player who hits the list from the 21st century is Joe Thornton at #66 with 125 points in 2005-2006; the same season Jaromir Jagr got #70 with 125. He also got #79 with 121 2000-2001.Only Sidney Crosby and Joe Sakic fill the top 50 list representing the past 2 decades. To put this in perspective, the first non Mario-Wayne guy on the list was Steve Yzerman in the late 90s with 151.
No one from the past 10 years even cracks the top 50.
Of the top 50 season long points leaders in the NHL not named “Gretzky” or “Mario”, only 4 players in the past 20 seasons have made the list.
Is this because of better goaltending? Rule changes? Ice time management? More teams diluting the player pool and leading to less assists?
I do remember in the early 80s NHL scores were like that of indoor soccer . . . .9-8 . . … 7-5 . . . .etc…
Why are there no longer 150-200 point scorers in the NHL anymore?
Various “trap” defenses starting mainly in the mid 1990s with the New Jersey Devils getting the credit or blame.Teams have several assistant coaches, including goalie coaches compared to 40 years ago the four time Stanley Cup New York Islanders had head coach Al Arbour.
Goalie equipment is also much larger as are goalies themselves.
In most sports you actually control the game better on defense with the offense having to adjust to what it gives you.
As I said several months ago here, if you watch 1980’s NHL videos, you’ll see defenses which aren’t much better than a Keystone Kops routine, as in players constantly out of position, giving skaters and shooters clear lanes right to the net. Defenses are light-years more disciplined that they used to be. And that’s on top of the improved goalie equipment.
Goaltending is much, much better today than it was in the 1980s. There is a reason why the ‘stand up goaltender’ went away. And trap aside, team defence is much better, overall, than it used to be.
The points leaders had their seasons in an era with expansion teams, many more goals per game, and rules that favored scoring. Since then, goals per game has dropped dramatically and quality goaltending has risen.