Brett Hull broke in to the NHL with the Calgary Flames in 1986. The next year he was to prove to be the bane of the existence of coach "Badger" Bob Johnson.
"Badger" Bob had a system that he liked his players to play. It had worked for him and the Calgary Flames. He had gotten the Flames into the playoffs in each of his first four seasons and made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 1986.
Bob's system involved his forwards, especially the young ones, back-checking. Young Brett Hull, son of hockey legend Bobby Hull, didn't engage in that nonsense. He was all offense all the time, often waiting at the opposing team's blue line for his teammates to get him the puck.
Coach Johnson tried to teach Brett better. He argued with Brett. He tried to embarrass Brett in the newspapers and finally he limited Brett Hull's ice time in Calgary to almost nothing.
At points in that season Brett might have gotten four or five shifts a game for a total of less than five minutes of ice time.
Despite playing on a third or fourth line; despite his coach being exasperated with him; despite the lack of ice time, Brett Hull still scored. If he only got on the ice five times a night you could almost be sure he would score a goal.
At the time I was fascinated by his ability to produce offense with basically no time to do it. Brett as has turned out to be one of the greatest scorers in NHL history. If I could collect the numbers for it, I think the 26 goals and 50 points he produced in the 1986/87 season in 52 games for the Flames might prove to be the greatest points-per-minute-played performance in NHL history.
It was certainly the greatest example of a talented player successfully flouting his coach's plans for him. Brett Hull was not going to learn to be a checking forward.
This extreme example left me fascinated with the idea of the player who could produce the most points per minute played. Is that number a useful indicator of raw offensive talent?
I'm not positive this number is any more useful than points per game might be.
I looked at the top 118 scorers from last year (everyone who scored 47 points or more) and divided their points total to get my points per minute played number. I've then ranked the players by that number and will compare it with how they ranked in total points scored and in points per game. Listed by each player will be their total points, minutes and seconds played and the average.
Will this number show the 'best" offensive player in the league or identify any young Brett Hulls before they score 70 goals in a season? Maybe, maybe not.
I hope you find it interesting. I am hoping to see the offensive contribution a player makes with their total ice time played factored out. If it seems to show me something that I didn't see in the other numbers I may delve into some historical records and attempt to look for some all-time best points per minute played numbers.
Though, that will be a lot of work just to find out it's Gretzky.