This is Richard Grenier, maybe fall 1971. He would have been 19 at the time. Grenier was one of many scorers in the Quebec League that I came to disregard over the years because the QMJHL seemed to score about three times the goals as the WHL and the OHA. Guy Lafleur (who scored over 100 goals in a Q season) was the exception to the rule, but for the most part QMJHL kids got drafted behind a bunch of Ontario and western kids every year despite superior numbers.
I never added up the goals per game back then, but long ago came to believe the WHL (tougher, a man’s league) and the OHA (tough, skilled, deep) were not only better leagues but that 50 goals in the WHL was way more impressive than 80 goals in the QMJHL.
The year he was drafted, Grenier scored 61gp, 46-56-102 (1.67ppg) and was picked by the Islanders 65th overall. The 64th pick (Boston) was forward Les Jackson, who came from the WHL and had inferior numbers (66gp, 17-25-42, .636) despite being the same size. Les Jackson would go on to a successful hockey management career but he ranked 10th in team scoring that year for New Westminster.
New Westminster scored 285 goals in 68 games that season, or 4.19 per game. Grenier’s Verdun club scored 252 goals in 61 games same season, or 4.13 per game. Jackson’s career path took him to the International League, the Southern League, the North American Hockey League. Grenier had the advantage of being taken by an expansion team, so we have to consider it a little bit lucky that he played on the 1972-73 Islanders. He played 10 games in the NHL, 34 in the WHA and over 350 at the highest level in the minors (AHL and CHL). He was a superior player.
In the early 1970s, the QMJHL was the highest scoring Canadian junior league:
- QMJHL: 2,879 goals in 309 games (9.32 per game)
- OHA: 2,757 goals in 315 games (8.75 per game)
- WHL: 3,372 goals in 408 games (8.26 per game)
Ten years later, the WHL has more offense with the Q not far behind, while the OHL is a much more defensive league.
- WHL: 4,543 goals in 445 games (10.20 per game)
- QMJHL: 2,835 goals in 288 games (9.84 per game)
- OHL: 4,282 goals in 476 games (9.00 per game)
In 1991-92 the three leagues were much closer in terms of goal totals.
- OHL: 4,691 goals in 528 games (8.88 per game)
- WHL: 4,569 goals in 540 games (8.46 per game)
- QMJHL: 3,536 goals in 420 games (8.42 per game)
In this season, the WHL is in exactly the reverse position relative to the QMJHL of my childhood. The WHL stats would be inflated based on these numbers (if they held true season over season).
- WHL: 4,766 goals in 655 games (8.28 per game)
- QMJHL: 4,023 goals in 576 games (6.98 per game)
- OHL: 4,576 goals in 680 games (6.73 per game)
This season sees the WHL fall well back of the other two leagues in terms of goals per game. The 6 goals per game are also the lowest in the entire group.
- OHL: 4,688 goals in 680 games (6.89 per game)
- QMJHL: 4,310 goals in 630 games (6.84 per game)
- WHL: 4,759 goals in 792 games (6.01 per game)
What does it all mean? Hell if I know. We haven’t factored in expansion, dominant teams and players and all sorts of things that could contribute to it. What does seem clear is that my long held belief that the QMJHL was a more offensive league than the other two was wrong a long time ago and has been consistently wrong all along the way (based on these glimpses).
Mike dropped by here awhile ago (in the last Pouliot post) and linked to something he did three years ago. Interesting stuff, and among the items was a graph that told us the percentage (by league) of drafted players who make a dent in the show (1995-2002 drafts and this was 2005 when he wrote it):
- QMJHL 28/216 or 12.9%
- WHL 43/387 or 11.1%
- OHL 33/375 or 8.8%
Interesting. And worth a longer look.