Bias

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:

1971-72
  1. QMJHL: 2,879 goals in 309 games (9.32 per game)
  2. OHA: 2,757 goals in 315 games (8.75 per game)
  3. 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.

1981-82

  1. WHL: 4,543 goals in 445 games (10.20 per game)
  2. QMJHL: 2,835 goals in 288 games (9.84 per game)
  3. 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.

1991-92

  1. OHL: 4,691 goals in 528 games (8.88 per game)
  2. WHL: 4,569 goals in 540 games (8.46 per game)
  3. 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).

2001-02

  1. WHL: 4,766 goals in 655 games (8.28 per game)
  2. QMJHL: 4,023 goals in 576 games (6.98 per game)
  3. 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.

2007-08

  1. OHL: 4,688 goals in 680 games (6.89 per game)
  2. QMJHL: 4,310 goals in 630 games (6.84 per game)
  3. 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).

Damn.

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):

  1. QMJHL 28/216 or 12.9%
  2. WHL 43/387 or 11.1%
  3. OHL 33/375 or 8.8%

Interesting. And worth a longer look.

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13 Responses to "Bias"

  1. Bank Shot says:

    Scoring might be down in the Q, but only because their players are too soft to fight through tight checking.

  2. Lowetide says:

    lol. Glad I called the post “Bias.” :-)

  3. Bank Shot says:

    On a more serious note…

    The perception of the high flying Q is a pretty widely spread one. One has to wonder if that at least partially contributes to the fact that more drafted players from the Q are making impacts at the NHL level.

    Perhaps those players with only absolutely dominating numbers are being chosen because scouts are dismissing those with average numbers as being inferior to their OHL and WHL counterparts.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Agreed. I’d also be interesting in knowing how many undrafted kids (the Marc Andre Bergeron’s) make it to the show.

  5. Doogie2K says:

    Well, the O and the Q are effectively tied here, so it is kind of the highest-scoring junior league, but it’s not grossly out of proportion. I also have to marvel at the WHL’s numbers for the 80s. I mean, ten goals per game, and it had the reputation as the roughest and meanest league of the three. I can only imagine the true spectacle of those games.

    It’s interesting that the perceptions of those leagues haven’t changed dramatically since…well, at least the 60s, when the WCHL was formed. I wonder how much of that is conservativeness in thinking — the same thinking that has some observers still prattling on about soft Swedes and Russians despite the likes of Nicklas Kronwall and Alexander Ovechkin — and how much of that is conservativeness in coaching/management (nepotism and/or similarly-minded hires) resulting in the perpetuation of the same styles of play, with offensive results varying by the relative depth and quality of the talent pool — as well as whatever the NHL happens to be doing at any given moment to influence development — in any given era.

    Also, do I get any prizes for writing a sentence that’s half again the size of the comment box?

  6. doritogrande says:

    doogie2K:

    Yeah, you win a self-expenses paid trip to grammar school!

    While it’s a given that the rough and tumble WHL definitely sees fewer goals these days, but most of this is placed on the physical and defensive style of the league. I’m wondering how much of it is caused by the emergence of goaltending in the Dub? With the likes of Dubnyk, Irving, Price, Sexsmith, Tokarski, Pickard, (and I could probably continue if I weren’t too tired to look more up) coming through the system in recent years, how affected is the league’s scoring on superior goaltending? I’d wager that average save percentages are higher than the other leagues, and between eras also. I don’t seem to remember many impact goalies coming out of the WHL in the 90′s, and I’m being generous and including Trevor Kidd.

  7. Doogie2K says:

    Don’t forget Pogge, who was on the ’06 WJ team and is currently being buried behind veteran farmhands in Toronto. It is interesting, though, that we’ve had a significant number of good goalies come out of the Dub, when traditionally, that’s been the Q’s bag. I wonder if there’s anything to that — more defensive play encouraging their development, for example — or if it’s just one of those things.

  8. Lord Bob says:

    Pogge is one of the central pieces of evidence in my theory that Cliff Fletcher has no love or respect at all for the Leafs and his long-term interim GM-cy, and is trying as best he can to screw them up without people realising he’s trying to screw them up.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Pogge’s SP
    Age 17: .900 in WHL
    Age 18: .907 in WHL
    Age 19: .926 in WHL
    Age 20: .896 in AHL
    Age 21: .908 in AHL

    Dubnyk’s SP
    Age 17: .917 in WHL
    Age 18: .912 in WHL
    Age 19: .912 in WHL
    Age 20: .921 in ECHL
    Age 21: .904 in AHL

    How much better is Pogge than Dubnyk, based on the math? Not calling out anyone, just wondering.

  10. Traktor says:

    I ran a quick check on D drafted in the first round in the last 15 years.

    WHL = 41
    OHL = 35
    QMJHL = 8

    The QMJHL perception of non-stop scoring probably has a lot to do with shit defense more than anything.

  11. Doogie2K says:

    Regarding Pogge, he played a year and a half for an awful Prince George team, putting up middling to bad numbers, before joining a pretty damned good Calgary team and putting up awesome numbers. He started for a terrible Marlies team in ’07, and put up the best of some frightnening numbers. This past year, he platooned with Scott Clemmensen on a much better club; the two put up near-identical numbers (2.34/90.8 for Pogge; 2.44/91.0 for Clemmensen).

    Dubnyk played for a middling to bad Kamloops team in junior, and put up fairly consistent numbers. His backup, Michael Maniago, never cracked .900 in four junior seasons, so it’s hard to judge against him. Got bombed on a cup of coffee with WBS in ’07, but seemed to do well against AA bats. Put up servicable numbers on an iffy Springfield team this past season, though somewhat weaker than Deslauriers’.

    I’m not sure how to adjust for team quality, other than to eyeball it based on their winning percentage, but much as I like Pogge as an ex-Hitman, maybe there’s not as much distinction between the two as we’d like to think. AO could judge better, but I don’t see enough of a difference to get too depressed over DD’s development, anyway.

  12. danny says:

    just had a thought to throw out there regarding comparing save %s of goalies

    Considering all save%s are not created equal – non defensive minded teams likely surrender higher quality scoring chances each game

    what are some useful indicators we can consider to add perspective to two goaltenders save% stats?

    collective age and draft position of each defense corps? Is there a strong correlation to draft pedigree and age to save %s ?

    Collective GV/TK totals? Id assume teas that turn the puck over surrender higher quality SCs

    it would be nice if there were a way to add a little extra perspective into save% stats

  13. Doogie2K says:

    @Danny: That’s what I was going for a little bit in terms of where a team finished. .905 on a shitty team is probably actually better than .915 on a good team. Actual number conversions may vary, this is just a WAG, and one that only considers a limited part of the context, but you get the idea.

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