NEELY wrote:Just shows you how great a player can be if he's just smarter than everyone.
That's really true. Lidstrom was not particularly fast or agile, was not physical, and had a good but not a booming shot. It really was his hockey smarts and his attention to detail that separated him from everyone else.
Yup, great at nothing yet still one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
He had great vision and a great sense of the play. He had great anticipation. He had a great hockey IQ. Great passer.
He was great at a lot.
Those are all unmeasurables
, intangibles. The point is that there was nothing particularly spectacular about his skating, his speed, his shot, his physical play -- nothing about his physical make-up, that is, that accounts for his greatness. When you say he had 'great vision' or 'great hockey IQ,' what you mean is that he thought the game at an elite level. Which is to say exactly what N4L said, that it was his smarts that made him great.
You can measure a player's passing ability. Look in stats under "A."
The point is, if you put Lidstrom on the ice by himself and judge him by his physical hockey abilities, there's nothing particularly remarkable about him. His skating, shot, speed, are all good to above average, but not really elite. If you were to judge him by those things alone, he would be pretty unremarkable.
People talk about how players have elite skills or tools in this or than concrete area -- an elite shot, or elite skating, or whatever. Lidstrom hasd none of those things. He was an elite hockey mind (and, yeah, an elite passer, too -- but the only way to measure that is during game-time, when the player has to process events in real time; it's not something you can evaluate individually, like a shot or skating).
The thing to take from this is that it's the sum of the parts, and not the individual pieces, that matters the most. All the skill in the world won't help if there's no hockey smarts at the centre to unite it all. And it's precisely that that separates the winners from the losers.