Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Stat Kings - 1984-85 NHL Scoring Leaders

Last year I began a series called "Stat Kings", where I revisit statistical leaders from sports history as a way to enjoy and appreciate cards from my collection.  On the hockey side of things, I looked at the NHL scoring leaders from the 1982-83 season, and the 1983-84 season.

After that, I kind of fell off.  These posts take a good deal of time between locating cards, buying and shipping any that I may be missing, scanning, researching, and on and on.  But after a long hiatus I'm pleased to return to the series today with the 1984-85 NHL scoring leaders!

Let's get to it...

#21 - Bob Carpenter - Center - Washington Capitals - 95 Points
80 Games Played, 53 Goals, 42 Assists

I've been looking at the top 20 scoring leaders by season, but today we get 21 as we technically have two players tied for 20th place.  The first is easily one of the most surprising names on today's list, Capitals center Bobby Carpenter.  His 53 goals and 95 points in '84-85 were career highs and definite statistical outliers.  In a lengthy NHL career spanning 18 seasons, Bob never tallied more than 32 goals in any other campaign, and aside from '84-85 never even achieved 70 points in any other single season.

The most stark way that I can put it is that Bob's 95 points in 1984-85 account for 24% of his career points over his 18 total seasons.  How's that for a stat?  This will certainly be Carpenter's one and only appearance in this series, at least as far as league point leaders go.

#20 - Michel Goulet - Left Wing - Quebec Nordiques - 95 Points
69 Games Played, 55 Goals, 40 Assists

Nordiques winger Michel Goulet also recorded 95 points, but using goals scored as a tie-breaker he beats out Carpenter for the 20th spot on today's list.  Unlike Bob, Michel has appeared frequently atop the league's scoring leader chart.  He finished 8th in league scoring in '82-83, moved up to 3rd in '83-84, and drops down to 20th here for '84-85.  Some of that can be attributed to the fact that he missed 11 games in '84-85.  Still, a fine season indeed, and his third consecutive 50-goal effort!

#19 - Brian Propp - Left Wing - Philadelphia Flyers - 97 Points
76 Games Played, 43 Goals, 54 Assists

For the second season in a row Flyers left wing Brian Propp just makes the list.  Brian's 97 points were a career high (tied with the 97 he'd post in the following season as well), and he was still just 25 years of age at this point.  A lot of young talent here at the beginning of the list, as Carpenter was just 21 in '84-85, and Goulet just 24.

#18 - Tim Kerr - Center - Philadelphia Flyers - 98 Points
74 Games Played, 54 Goals, 44 Assists

Finishing just in front of Propp on the list with one point more is teammate and linemate Tim Kerr.  Tim was an absolute beast, especially on the power play, for Philadelphia throughout the '80s.  Like Brian Propp, Kerr was just 25 years old here, and like Brian Propp this was a career high for points in a season.  Interestingly enough, both of these players would later wrap up their NHL careers with single-season stints with the Hartford Whalers!  How's that for a coincidence?

#17 - Kent Nilsson - Right Wing - Calgary Flames - 99 Points
77 Games Played, 37 Goals, 62 Assists

Kent Nilsson was a very interesting player.  He was an absolute stud in the twilight years of the WHA, and was able to replicate that success in the NHL after that league folded.  He put up some very impressive numbers in the NHL (you'll find him in the #10 spot on my '82-83 post), but didn't last long enough to rack up the kind of career statistics that get you consideration for HOF enshrinement.  1984-85 was Kent's last truly great season, you won't see him present in these posts going forward.

#16 - Peter Stastny - Center - Quebec Nordiques - 100 Points
75 Games Played, 32 Goals, 68 Assists

Here's a very familiar name.  HOFer Peter Stastny!  Peter was one of the most effective offensive players of the 1980s.  In fact here's another interesting stat you may not have heard.  Wayne Gretzky obviously scored the most points in the NHL during the 1980s.  Do you know who scored the second most total points in the decade though?  Yup, Stastny!

#15 - John Tonelli - Left Wing - New York Islanders - 100 Points
80 Games Played, 42 Goals, 58 Assists

Here's one that may surprise you.  John Tonelli was an outstanding winger for many years in the WHA and the NHL.  He was known as much for his defense and for being a great two-way player as he was for his offense though.  Only twice in his lengthy career did he record more than 70 points in a season, and in '84-85 he exploded for a career-best 100!

#14 - Mario Lemieux - Center - Pittsburgh Penguins - 100 Points
73 Games Played, 43 Goals, 57 Assists

I typically try to include cards in these posts from the season I'm reviewing, but since Mario Lemieux was a 19-year-old rookie in '84-85 he doesn't have any mainstream cards from that season.  I thought this one, from the following year's set that pays tribute to his amazing 100-point rookie campaign, was a perfect fit.  I actually had to go out and purchase this one for this post, and I'm glad I did.

As every hockey fan knows, Lemieux's rookie season was the beginning of one of the most successful careers in the history of professional hockey.  In the interest of brevity I'm not going to go into just how good he was here.  Besides, I've gone on at length on this blog in the past, wondering how much more impressive his already-impressive career numbers might have been had he not missed all that time due to his significant health setbacks.

I've always been a huge fan of Super Mario, it was worth doing this post if for no other reason than it forced me to get off my butt and pick up this card when I should have long ago.

#13 - Bernie Nicholls - Center - Los Angeles Kings - 100 Points
80 Games Played, 46 Goals, 54 Assists

Like the three players above him in this post, Bernie Nicholls also recorded 100 points on the nose in '84-85.  He gets 13th place on the list though, since his 46 goals were the most among that group of four with 100 points.

Nicholls was a very talented player, and is a definite member of the "Hall of Very Good".  While '84-85 constituted his first 100-point season, it was far from a statistical outlier as he recorded 95 points and 97 points in the two seasons sandwiching this one.  We've seen Bernie on these lists before, and we'll see Bernie on these lists again.

#12 - Paul MacLean - Right Wing - Winnipeg Jets - 101 Points
79 Games Played, 41 Goals, 60 Assists

Paul MacLean's 41 goals, 60 assists and 101 points in 1984-85 were all career highs.  He was remarkably consistent though, as he scored 40 goals in two other campaigns and was a virtual lock to get at least 30 goals in any season where he was healthy.  Injury forced him from the game after only ten seasons, but he still managed to score well over 300 goals and nearly 350 assists in just 719 career games.

#11 - Brent Sutter - Center - New York Islanders - 102 Points
72 Games Played, 42 Goals, 60 Assists

Here's one that kind of shocked me.  I know the Sutter family is infamous in the history of professional hockey, but I didn't know that Brent Sutter had ever put up a 100-point season?!?!  There must have been something in the water on Long Island around the middle of the decade, because his next best season from his 18-year career was a 68-point effort, a full one third less production than he had in '84-85.  Discovering oddities like this are one of the things that make this series of posts so enjoyable for me.

#10 - Mike Gartner - Right Wing - Washington Capitals - 102 Points
80 Games Played, 50 Goals, 52 Assists

After a couple of lesser known names in a row, we're back to a HOFer with right wing Mike Gartner.  Mike famously never won a Stanley Cup, nor did he ever even appear in the Cup Finals.  He never won a major award during his tenure in the league, either.  What he did do is put the puck in the net, consistently, for nearly two decades.  His 50 goals in '84-85 were a career high, however he scored at least 30 goals every year for the first 15 years of his career.  Just think about that stat for a second.  Crazy.

Amazingly, this was his only 100-point season.

#9 - Bernie Federko - Center - St. Louis Blues - 103 Points
76 Games Played, 30 Goals, 73 Assists

No surprise seeing Bernie Federko within the top 10 here.  The career (except for one season with the Red Wings at the very end) St. Louis Blues center was routinely flirting with the 100-point plateau.  This season was actually the third time he'd top it, but wouldn't be the last.  On top of that, he had a few seasons with point totals in the 80s and 90s as well.  In the end he'd play in 1,000 career regular season games, and record 1,130 points, good enough for enshrinement in the Hockey HOF.

#8 - Denis Savard - Center - Chicago Blackhawks - 105 Points
79 Games Played, 38 Goals, 67 Assists

I'm not sure Denis Savard gets the love he deserves among modern-day casual fans of the game.  Yes, he was enshrined in the HOF in 2000, but for whatever reason I don't hear his name mentioned all that often among the all-time greats.  Maybe it's just me.  He won a Cup with the Canadiens in 1993, but in my mind he was a king of the 1980s.  Did you know that he is one of only four players to record over 1,000 points in the 1980s alone?  Pretty impressive, huh?

#7 - John Ogrodnick - Left Wing - Detroit Red Wings - 105 Points
79 Games Played, 55 Goals, 50 Assists

For me, perhaps the most surprising entry in today's list is John Ogrodnick of the Red Wings being all the way up in 7th place!  John was sort of on his last legs by the time I became a hockey fan at the very end of the decade.  I remember him for sure, but had no idea that he'd ever put up a beast 50-goal, 50-assist season like this one.  His next best season after this one was a full 20 points below what he put up in '84-85, but for this one year he was a legit top-10 threat in the league.  Pretty cool.

#6 - Mike Bossy - Right Wing - New York Islanders - 117 Points
76 Games Played, 58 Goals, 59 Assists

Now that we've reached the top six, there aren't going to be any real surprises like John Ogrodnick left.  In '84-85 Mike Bossy did what Mike Bossy had done every year since coming into the league; score 50 goals and supplement them with a big pile of assists.  His 9 consecutive 50-goal seasons to begin his career is something I don't think we'll ever see again as hockey fans.

Here's another interesting statistic for you.  Mike's 400 goals in the 1980s are good for fourth place among all players in that decade.  The thing is, he retired after the 1986-87 season, missing the final three years of the decade.  And he still finished fourth.  I think that says it all.

#5 - Paul Coffey - Defense - Edmonton Oilers - 121 Points
80 Games Played, 37 Goals, 84 Assists

Paul Coffey was, without dispute, one of the most effective "offensive defensemen" in the history of the NHL.  Only Ray Bourque scored more career points at the position than Coffey, and to be fair he played in over 200 more career games than Paul did.  Coffey was just as effective in the post-season as well.  In fact, in 1984-85 he set records for most goals (12), assists (25) and points (37) for a defenseman during a single playoff run.  All three of those records stand to this day.

#4 - Marcel Dionne - Center - Los Angeles Kings - 126 Points
80 Games Played, 46 Goals, 80 Assists

The great Marcel Dionne would top 100 points for the 8th and final time in 1984-85.  Appearing in every single game for the Kings, the durable Dionne scored at an assist-per-game pace, and tossed in 46 goals to go with that.  His 126 points represent the 29th best season recorded by any player during the decade of the 1980s, and he was already 33 years old at the time.  Not exactly a spring chicken by hockey standards.

#3 - Dale Hawerchuk - Center - Winnipeg Jets - 130 Points
80 Games Played, 53 Goals, 77 Assists

While Dale Hawerchuk was a model of consistency throughout the decade, and is enshrined in the HOF, his '84-85 season was without question the best year of his professional hockey career.  His 53 goals were a career high, as were his 130 points.  He's easily within the top 10 as far as overall league scoring for the entire decade.  Easy to see why he was such a fan favorite in Winnipeg.

#2 - Jari Kurri - Right Wing - Edmonton Oilers - 135 Points
73 Games Played, 71 Goals, 64 Assists

71 goals?  Are you kidding me?!?!  I know there will always be detractors who say that Jari's numbers are obviously inflated, since he had the good fortune to be placed on a line with the greatest center in the history of organized hockey.  I don't disagree that there's some truth to that, but someone had to skate with Gretzky, and I don't think they were exactly pairing Wayne with 4th line scrubs if you know what I mean.  Kurri may have had an opportunity that most wingers would salivate over, but you can't argue the fact that he clearly embraced it and enjoyed tremendous success.

To this day, Jari Kurri's 71 goals in '84-85 are still tied for 10th most in a season.  And now, to nobody's surprise, the 1984-85 NHL point leader...

#1 - Wayne Gretzky - Center - Edmonton Oilers - 208 Points
80 Games Played, 73 Goals, 135 Assists

Yes, it's Wayne Gretzky atop the list again.  For the 6th straight year (and this was only his 6th season!), The Great One paced the league in scoring.  This was the second straight season, and third season overall, where he'd top the 200-point plateau, something we'd never seen before Wayne and that I'm confident we'll never see again without major rule changes or something of that nature.

Here's the NHL scoring leaders card from next year's O-Pee-Chee set that pays tribute to Gretzky's league-leading 208 points in '84-85.  I like including these as a nice way to wrap up the post when I can.

The table on the back gives you a run-down of the upper portion of the list we just looked at.  I've said it before and it's obvious anyway, but what impresses me most about Gretzky wasn't just that he was the best year after year, but rather how much better he was than anyone else playing the game.  I mean he finished with 73 points more than the next closest player, and that next closest player was his line-mate who benefited directly from Gretzky's skill.

Well, that's the conclusion of our look at the top 20 (or 21) scorers in the NHL back in 1984-85.  I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together.  I think I may have all the cards I need already for an '85-86 post, I'll try to make sure it doesn't take me so long to get around to it next time.  Thanks for stopping by!


Anonymous said...

Love these posts. Thank you for all the research and commentary!

Billy Kingsley said...

Love this series! I always learn a ton when you do them. I was born during this season. Some names I'm familiar with but didn't realize they put up seasons this good.

Mark Hoyle said...

Great post Shane. Definitely more scoring going on back then

Fuji said...

Wow. Gretzky was on a completely different level. His assist numbers match the 2nd place points total.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...