Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bill Barilko

Bill Barilko, we all know the story. To quote Mr.Downie; “The last goal he ever scored (in overtime) won the Leafs the cup. They didn’t win another ‘til 1962, the year he was discovered.” The ill fated fishing trip was thought to be a curse against the Leafs winning a cup. This card is an original from the 1951-52 inaugural Parkhurst hockey set. Pictured on the card is the actual winning goal which is captured in Zapruder film-like quality here....

In checking his career stats, I noticed Barilko had almost as many goals scored as assists, (26g 36a in 252gp). I figured this seemed like a high ratio of goals for a defenseman, then I found his team mate on those Leafs, Jim Thomson. He played 12 full seasons (787 gp) and tallied 19 goals and 215 assists. To me, that seemed like a ridiculously low ratio of goals to assists, even for a stay-at-home defender of the 50’s. So, I decided to do some research.

It turns out Thomson’s ratio of 11.32 assists for each goal is one of the highest of all time among defensemen. Also, Barilko’s 1.39 assists to goals ratio is indeed one of the lowest. It seems most defenseman end up around a 3 or 4 assists to goals ratio. The top three career point defenders; Bourque 2.85 A/G, Coffey 2.87 A/G and MacInnis 2.75 A/G. Other notables, Brian Leetch at 3.16 A/G, Brad Park 3.21, Scott Niedermayer 3.28, Nik Lidstrom 3.43,Larry Robinson 3.61 and Borje Salming at 4.25.

The stats prove others were slightly better finishers as Orr and Potvin have a 2.39 ratio of assists to goals and more reknowned "big bombers" like Al Iafrate at 2.05, Reed Larson 2.09 and Kevin Hatcher 1.98. One of the few who had a lower number than Barilko is William 'Flash' Hollet at 1.37, who's 20 goals (to go along with only 21 assists) in 1945 would stand as the top defenseman mark for some time. As well, King Clancy scored 137 goals and 143 assists in his career for a ratio of 1.04.

Perhaps the lowest ratio of assists to goals for a defenseman (no substantial forward time) is Albert 'Battleship' Leduc of the 1930's Habs. He managed to tally 58 goals and a meagre 35 assists over 384 games. A puck-hogging ratio of 0.60! Only 38% of his points were assists.
An honourable mention in the non-passers is Dustin Byfuglien, who, over 101 games thru 2008 has 23 goals and 21 assists.

On the other end of the scale are the stay-at-home gents. Perhaps suprisingly, Doug Harvey scored only 88 goals to go with 452 assists for a 5.14 ratio, and Pierre Pilote checks in at 5.23.
Pat Stapleton tallied 6.84 assists/goal, Brad Marsh 7.61 and Dennis Kearns potted only 31 goals over his 10 Canuck years to go with a solid 290 assists, a ratio of 9.36

Few have ever scored 10 times more assists than goals. Bert Marshall, an original Islander sludged through 868 games with a nearly impossible 17 goals. His 181 assists give him a ratio of 10.65. Among players with at least 400 gp, it seems only the immortal Rob Zettler (an original Shark) can beat Jim Thomson's 11.32. Zettler, in 569 games notched 5(!) goals and 65 assists for a 13-1 assist ratio. Terry Murray, better known as a coach played 302 games in the 70's and assisted on 76 while bulging only 4 cages, a simply silly A/G number of 19.00.

Finally, the unofficial record for most assists per goal scored is Don Spring an early 80's Winnipeg Jet. He was a member of the 1980 Canadian Olympic team at Lake Placid, then went on to play over three full seasons and 259 games. His final numbers, 54 assists and 1(ONE) goal.

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