SRS. Why is this potentially useful? Instead of a blind date with (sort of) a single team through the lens of (+/-), I’m going to use SRS to try and manipulate a decade of data. Let’s call it a “flow” prism, a fusion of record strength and score record.
In the middle of the last century, the NHL itself was competing to expand and add teams. If I had to guess, that meant a wider variety of skill levels and environments that these teams operated in. One could therefore say that the SRS was useful specifically because the “record strength” was an early projection of the league in an uncertain environment of new teams. The league projected what it expected, the fans demand what they want and the team’s goalscoring record is the bridge between the two. Want a different schedule or a place in the league? Prove it. For American teams, 1967-68 was something of a turning point, beginning a league expansion into markets with no real expectation of a self-sufficient pool of players. I’ve used the joke before, but the only reason the league presence was possible was the advent of refrigeration and the incredible impact it has, batteries of mini ice cream parlors for our delicious little bites.
So, just over 10 years later, the NHL absorbs the WHA and continues to expand. I’m not going to go into the realignment notes I made, but rather try to outline some results I see in the SRS numbers that may have indicated league structure beyond the obvious, and of course do it through the glass sight of the St. Louis Blues Hockey Club.
First, let’s recognize a few points. At these times in NHL history (until this next expansion), St. Louis is one of the two or three southernmost and hottest cities in the league. From what little I’ve heard of the Checkerdome, it sounds like the most roller hockey version of the sport possible on ice. Hot weather, no air conditioning… the league might as well have traveled to the tropics.
So, let’s first recognize that this type of environment is probably best suited to the “junior circuit,” coming from a Canadian and Northeastern perspective. Also recognize that a conference still won the playoffs and the other still lost. Seven seasons after the expansion of the late 1960s, a Western team won the Cup for the first time. Next year? They were in the East. Thus, a Western team winning the Cup is not considered the West winning a Cup, it is a mandatory league realignment. This premise is beginning to change as American hockey becomes more popular, but there is probably no way to maintain product quality in the upper and lower league at the start of the refrigeration era.
Why am I talking about the Cup instead of SRS? This forced promotion or realignment mechanism is the mechanism you want to refine thinking about SRS. The use of SRS in the 80s is also a unique sight as it was the start of Gretzky’s career. Any nuances you might need to glean something useful from SRS? Throw them out the window. In this case, you have a player beyond the generation entering the league and you can see the league react. You can see him moving to Los Angeles.
We don’t see him dressing for the Blues (in the 80s SRS sample set), but Edmonton begins its journey in the Blues’ old Smythe division, instantly providing a personal and up-close experience, before Saint Louis is realigned to the Norris Division along with divorced Toronto and the rest of the central teams.
We also see what a golden age form is for Blues hockey. Three of the Blues 8 division wins came in 1980, 1984 and 1986. Add in 1976 and the big gap between 86 and the next division win in 99 and you’ll see we’re looking at what essentially constitutes the core of the first generation fandom . . By core, I don’t mean spike. The Blues have had their 3 final appearances in their first 3 years of existence and the President’s Trophy season, both of which I would consider to be ‘surges’ rather than a fundamental core. Phrase from my last article on season 99: the depth of the periscope searches the earth.
Without having done any research yet on the effects of ‘promotion’ on different franchises, embraced in the Eastern Conference by their Canadian overlords, I think the concept of ‘core’ versus ‘push’ is an important concept for a growing fanbase. and organization. Basically, a push of the league model format seems useful in determining what actually works (at any given time). The qualities that come from developing a core identity, however, are what are truly valuable to the league. If everyone is doing the same thing, what incentive do the elders have to do anything other than a dynastic hot potato?
So hypothesis: after two articles that I state thus, the conceptual core of hockey of the Blues at the exit of the lockout of 2005 was the roller hockey of the Eighties impregnated with the realism of the Trophy of the President. This assumption may or may not be a base form for the next article I write here at SLGT.
Moving from reflections as a data processor to the description process, I separated the league into top 8, bottom 8, and an in-between annotation of sometimes arbitrary groupings that include the number of teams in the grouping and outliers. I’ll focus on the top 2-3 SRS numbers each year, but further analysis using the size and values of that midfield could also paint league-wide reactions to what’s happening. Focusing on the 2-3 bottom for symmetry is a bit too deep for me right now, but from a quick glance, the most interesting result was the presence of six original teams that weren’t in any come out in contention. From previous reading, you may recall my comments about how some teams seem to have a higher tolerance for absolutely terrible teams coupled with more playoff success, which translates to a franchise essentially of 0.500 but with a lot of gold. That’s true for the Blues: a lower tolerance for low winning percentages, which translates to a higher threshold for playoff success. I called it “All for one and one for all” and I think that label holds.
Remember that Western teams almost always end up in the bottom half of the SRS rankings in this sample. Was it because of Gretzky? Despite? Watching the puck with a furious Eastern Conference hurling curses at the language they speak in Boston, New York and Quebec? However, beginning around 1980, the Stanley Cup began to favor the West slightly.
1980-Present: 8 Clarence Campbell Conference, 13 Western Conference, 6 Prince of Wales Conference, 11 Eastern Conference (not including 2021, making it 12)
So going back to the Blues sailing early in franchise building, the best conference team in the 80s was going to be very tough to beat and their opponent PW/EC would be their Swiss Army contortion of expecting playing in Edmonton but having the teeth to take on an upset opponent, having already gone through the gauntlet. So despite the appearance of a Stanley Cup tie, the West is going to be a bit artificially big and fat to ensure a good playoff product (competitive rounds before the conference finals), while setting a standard from which teams from the hottest cities are learning.
Let’s move on, do this data dump.
OK OK. So I barely cut one of the Blues’ best SRS finishes in 1980-81. They come in 4and with 0.85 finishing second in the CCC behind the Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders. What I find interesting about the timing of this spike is its place in realignment history. Being one of the hot weather towns with no pragmatic argument to compete in the league at the top level, the Blues appear to have made a concerted effort to make just enough of a statement to validate the tenuous connection between their star league entry and a future more than (only) blue-collar, clearing trophies in Chicago and Detroit. If there was a realignment once a decade, we would probably have 5 President’s Trophies.
For the majority of the 80s, St. Louis topped the bottom 8 in SRS. It’s not that there weren’t top franchises in their division: Chicago, Toronto, Detroit and the Minnesota (North) Stars. I have to think there was some deference to Edmonton, or at least recognition of those franchises that had been in hockey for so long. Recognition of what it was going to take to acquire what these franchises really needed to field a top team: another Cup win. A rather formative period in the history of the franchise.
Those two 1.6+ SRS numbers were both east and I guess they were a reaction to Edmonton’s rise, trying to prove their place in the new league order that would allow Edmonton to win nearly 5 Cups in a row, Montreal managing to interrupt the streak with one of their own. The Islanders won two in the West, heading to reign Edmonton, before moving to the East and winning two more.
That 1.51 blip was a push from the Quebec Nordiques, now the Avalanche. I’m not sure of the underlying numbers or mechanisms that would substantiate the claim, but in my charts they are the only anomaly. We can’t ignore that Montreal is, you know, a city in Quebec, the team that manages to break Edmonton’s Cup winning streak.
Finally, the drop in peak SRS and the peak of 1.57 in 1988 would be Gretzky’s departure from Edmonton to the Los Angeles Kings and the emergence of the Calgary Flames in Western Canada. Whatever the politics behind the scenes, when considering the plans of (*every other team vying for playoff success*) our Blues, it must be recognized that these machinations at the top should color any strategic decision-making. pragmatic. Montreal’s supreme reign was being negotiated until an end that would come in 1993 with their final Cup victory. During that negotiation with the league and an Edmonton team surrounding what would eventually be considered the best player in NHL history, they loaded a battery in Quebec and still fired a shot to break a pound. of clean history of 5 years.
As Cardinal fans, we couldn’t understand. It may sound like a thriller, but the playoffs are on. Go Blues.