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Looking at old films of the hockey greats like the great Gordie Howe or the strong and slick-skating Jean Beliveau, of blessed memory, I swear that these players don't seem as fast as today's superstars. I find this hard to believe as Howe played successfully in four decades and clearly could skate with the kids when he was 51. Maybe what I'm seeing is an optical ilusion based on difference in film technology. But if not, I'm wondering if improved teaching methods for power skating, better padding and head protection, improvements in skate technology, and better training methods make today's average skaters as fast as the fastest in Howe's day. Are there any technical studies using old game films and computer analysis that bear this out?

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    A downvote should be explained. What is wrong with this question. I am not asking for an opinion except one based on studies. – Bruce James Dec 4 '14 at 17:23
  • I think your question is completely valid. – Paul Witry Dec 5 '14 at 4:59
  • The question is a reasonable one, and I didn't downvote. However, the question is not formatted very well and is pretty rambling; a better structured question would get a better reception I suspect. – Joe Dec 5 '14 at 16:24
  • Also I think this question needs to express if the speed is based on technology or not. So are we comparing today's players in today's equipment or would we account for the 5-15% more efficient equipment and therefor make a guesstimate or make today's player play in old stuff? – Coach-D Dec 5 '14 at 18:24
  • The only thing that had hard facts I found was nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=67157 but this only accounts up to 1992 and as you can see the fastest skater's time have not changed much. However I do believe that comparing to 30-50 years ago, players are skating faster now due to better equipment/ice/muscle strength – Huangism Dec 11 '14 at 16:46
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There is certainly a marked difference between the quality of skates, ice, and equipment that each generation used. It would not be a stretch at all to say that this impacts their ability and speed. Skates and pads are lighter, blades are sharper, and ice is maintained better. These are all factors that could be considered when looking at relative speed in hockey. Additionally, with more research into physical fitness and training techniques, players work their muscles better and train harder. These are all things that would certainly impact the players ability on the ice. It is certainly feasible that the skaters in today's NHL are majorly faster than those in Howe's day.

  • While I don't necessarily disagree with you, the question asked for technical studies or game film. – Joe Dec 5 '14 at 16:23

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