Most of us fall in love with one or more sports while growing up, which is why many of us at some point dream about becoming a professional athlete, but because such a job requires intense training, a tough travel schedule, and a tremendous level of physical fitness, only a select few are capable of achieving such a dream. Whether you play football, tennis, golf, soccer, basketball, baseball, or hockey, only the cream of the crop in terms of talent and skill will make it to the professional level, and once there, they will have to compete against more established players who are already considered to be amongst the best in the world. Within the world of professional team sports though, there is a very clear hierarchy amongst the players, as some cannot take the pressure, while many are in fact good interchangeable pieces, but there are also a few extraordinary players who at some point get recognized for their playing career.
The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL may all be different sports leagues, but they all have two main things in common: the fact that they each hold an All-Star game every year featuring the league’s best players, and the fact that each league has its own distinct Hall of Fame. The Hockey Hall of Fame specifically, is used to identify the best players, coaches, and general managers to ever be involved in the NHL and the game of hockey, and for the most part, all of the individuals currently in it, deserve to be there. Even though the Hockey Hall of Fame has a track record of inducting the right people, there are certain players who had great and fantastic careers, who for some reason have been denied induction for years now, prompting some to question whether they will ever get in; and the goal of this list is to identify 15 of these great NHL players who may not become Hall of Famers.
15 Curtis Joseph
There is no denying the fact that every great hockey team needs to have a great goalie if they hope to compete for and win a championship, and although the Hall of Fame has its fair share of netminders enshrined in it already, there are still some who for some reason may never get in. One of the goalies in question is Curtis Joseph, who came into the NHL after being signed by the St. Louis Blues in 1989 as an undrafted free agent, and he would go on to play parts of 19 seasons in the league with Toronto, Edmonton, Detroit, Calgary, and Arizona. Cujo went on to finish his career with 51 shutouts, a 2.79 goals against average, a .906 save percentage, and 454 career wins, which is the 4th most all time; and the only reason why he may never make it into the Hall is because he never managed to win a Stanley Cup.
14 Pat Verbeek
One of the main requisites needed by a player to get inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, is for them to have scored over 1,000 points in their career, and this list will indeed feature several players who may not ever become Hall of Famers despite reaching said milestone. Pat Verbeek is currently the Assistant General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but before that, he was a winger who played 20 seasons in the NHL for New Jersey, Hartford, the Rangers, Detroit, and the Dallas Stars with whom he won a Stanley Cup with in 1999. When Pat retired in 2002, he did so with 522 goals and 1,063 points in just over 1,400 games, and he holds the distinct honor of being the only player in NHL history to have over 500 goals, 500 assists, and over 2,500 penalty minutes, which is worthy of the Hall in it of itself.
13 Peter Bondra
It is true that the majority of players within the Hall of Fame, are those who were born and raised in North America, but with the NHL attracting the best players from around the world, the Hall has slowly started inducting more and more European players as well. Peter Bondra is a native of Slovakia, and over the course of 16 NHL seasons, he managed to score 503 goals and 892 points, making him the 4th highest scoring Slovakian player in league history. Most of his goals and points came while he played for the Washington Capitals, with future Hall of Famer Alexander Ovechkin being the only player in the franchise's history to pass him; and the only reason why he may never be inducted is because there are now multiple European players bound for the Hall in the future with better numbers and more achievements than him.
12 Rod Brind’Amour
With this list entry we have Rod Brind’Amour, who is yet another former great player who managed to join the 1,000 point club, and who for some reason is still not a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Brind’Amour started his NHL career in 1989, after being drafted by the St. Louis Blues, and by the time his 20-year career came to an end, he had also played for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes; and he was a major contributor to all 3 of those teams. He played in a total 1,484 career games, which is the 19th most in NHL history, and went on to score 452 goals and 1,184 points, putting him in the top 50 in all-time points; and he even captained Carolina to the Stanley Cup in 2006. Rod retired in 2010, and has still not been inducted, while other players who have not even won a Cup have been in that time, which begs the question whether he will ever get in.
11 Paul Henderson
When you think about the Hockey Hall of Fame, you assume that it is only filled with individuals who have either coached and/or played in the NHL, but the Hall’s main function is to enshrine those who have greatly impacted the game of hockey as a whole, which is why Paul Henderson deserves a place in it. Henderson was a winger who spent parts of 13 seasons in the NHL, playing for Detroit, Toronto, and Atlanta, where in 707 career games he scored 236 goals and 477 points; which granted are not all that spectacular for a Hall of Fame member. The reason why he deserves a spot in the Hall though, is because of his play during the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union, where he scored 7 goals and 10 points in the 8 games, which included the winning goal in the final minute of the final game to give Canada the series win, which is still considered as one of the greatest plays in all of hockey history.
10 Theo Fleury
One of the best things about professional sports is the fact that great players can emerge from anywhere, no matter what position they were drafted in, whether they were taken 1st overall, or late in the 8th round. Theoren Fleury was drafted in the 8th round of the 1987 draft by the Calgary Flames, and he proved to be a very impactful player despite not being viewed as one at the beginning because of his relatively small size. Fleury played parts of 15 seasons in the NHL, most of which were spent with Calgary, with whom he won the Stanley Cup with in 1989, but he also played for Chicago, the Rangers, and Colorado before officially retiring in 2006. His career ended with him scoring 455 goals and 1,088 points in 1,084 games, making him another point per game player who should have already been in the Hall, but who might not be inducted because of drug and alcohol addictions in his past.
9 Steve Larmer
Here we have Steve Larmer, a forward who many hockey fans may not remember, but who should be in the Hall of Fame due to the numbers he was able to produce during his 13 seasons in the NHL. Larmer was a 6th round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, and ultimately played for the franchise for 11 seasons before going to the New York Rangers where he won his first and only Stanley Cup in 1994. Overall, Larmer played in 1,006 games. Where he scored 441 goals and 1,012 points, which basically made him a point-per-game player throughout his career, and players like that, especially those who cross the 1,000 point mark tend to make it into the Hall; but seeing as he retired over 20 years ago, and has still for some reason not been inducted, it is unlikely that he ever will be.
8 Mike Vernon
Here we have Mike Vernon, who is the second goalie to appear on this list, and it is absolutely astonishing how he has still not been inducted into the Hall of Fame, as it has been nearly 15 years since he retired. Vernon came into the NHL as a part of the Calgary Flames who drafted him in 1981, and he would ultimately play 17 seasons in the NHL, where he won a Stanley Cup with Calgary in 1989, and with Detroit in 1997. Overall, Vernon won 385 career games, which is currently the 14th most in league history, which combined with his championships should have guaranteed him a spot in the Hall, but the reason why he remains out is likely because of his 2.98 goals against average and his .890 save percentage, which by today’s standards are considered too high for induction.
7 Pierre Turgeon
There are quite a few French-Canadian players in the Hall of Fame, most of whom played for the Montreal Canadiens, and there is currently one former French-speaking Hab who continues to have his rightful induction denied. Pierre Turgeon was selected 1st overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1987 draft, and went on to play in the NHL for 19 seasons, where he also played for St. Louis, Dallas, the Islanders, Colorado, and of course Montreal. By the time his career was done in 2007, Turgeon had played in 1,294 games in which he scored 515 goals and 1,327 points, making him more than a point per game player, and giving him numbers which are obviously deserving of induction. It is true that for the past few years, some of the best players ever have been inducted, which would explain his getting pushed aside, but the fact that he never won a Cup may keep him out a lot longer.
6 Chris Osgood
Chris Osgood is the third and final goalie to appear on this list, and although he spent a combined 3 seasons with St. Louis and the Islanders, he will forever be considered a lifelong member of the Detroit Red Wings. Osgood was drafted by Detroit in 1991, and ended up spending a combined 13 seasons with team, in which he won 3 Stanley Cups, including the 1998 and 2008 championships where he served as the team’s starter. When he retired in 2011, he did so with 50 career shutouts, a 2.49 goals against average, a .905 save percentage, and 401 wins which is the 11th most all-time, which are Hall of Fame numbers, but many do not believe Osgood is worthy of the Hall as they believe his statistics are what they are because he played in front of great teams made up of multiple great current Hall of Famers.
5 Rick Middleton
As one of the NHL’s original six teams, the Boston Bruins have quite a few former players representing them in the Hall of Fame, but one who should be in there and has yet to inducted is former forward Rick Middleton. It is true that Middleton was originally drafted by the New York Rangers, but they only kept him around for 2 seasons before trading him to Boston where he spent the last 12 years of his career. While with Boston, Rick went on to score at least 40 goals and 90 points for 5 straight seasons, and he was able to finish his career with 448 goals and 988 points, which still places him as the 4th highest point scorer in Bruins franchise history. The 3 Bruins who stand in front of him include Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk, and Ray Bourque, all of whom are in the Hall, but seeing as Rick never won a Cup in his playing days to help pad his credentials, he will likely never get to join them.
4 Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya is a perfect example of a great player whose statistics would have likely been a lot better had he not suffered multiple injuries, which in his case were several concussions which ultimately forced him to retire from the game in 2010. Kariya was initially drafted by Anaheim 4th overall in 1993, and went on to play with team for 9 seasons before going on to play for Colorado, Nashville, and finally St. Louis, where in a combined 989 games he scored 402 goals and 989 points. That is right, Kariya was literally a point per game player, and is in fact only one of 4 NHL players to retire with the same exact number of games played and points scored; and although his numbers, considering his injuries, are Hall of Fame worthy, the fact he never won a championship may keep him from induction.
3 Claude Lemieux
This entry may surprise some people, because based on his regular season numbers, Claude Lemieux’s statistics are not all that Hall of Fame worthy compared to other players on this list, but when you take into account his playoff production, he should be in the conversation for induction at the least. Lemieux began his career with Montreal in the 1983-84 season, and went on to play parts of 22 seasons, where in 1,215 games he scored 379 goals and 786 points split between the Habs, New Jersey, Colorado, Phoenix, and finally San Jose. It was in the playoffs that Lemieux really shined though, as he had 80 goals and 158 points in 234 games, and in 1995, he was instrumental in New Jersey’s championship win as he won the Conn Smythe as the finals’ MVP. Based on his overall body of work, and the 4 Cups he won, there is a real discussion to be had about his place in the Hall, but he will likely be kept out of it just because of those relatively low regular season numbers.
2 Alexander Mogilny
Alexander Mogilny is a Russian-born forward who came into the NHL in 1988 after the Buffalo Sabres drafted him with the 88th overall pick, and like many Russian players, he was capable of putting up points. As a whole, Mogilny played a combined 16 seasons in the NHL, which included stops in Toronto, Vancouver, and the New Jersey Devils whom he won a Stanley Cup with in 2000; and he is one of only a few players to reach the 1,000 point plateau without even playing in 1,000 career games. He managed to score 473 goals and 1,032 points in just 990 games, and combine that with his cup win, and multiple international gold medals, he should be in the Hall of fame, but after being eligible for nearly a decade now, he may continue to be overlooked.
1 Keith Tkachuk
Many of the players who have appeared on this list were born and raised in Canada, but there is no doubt there are many great American-born players as well, and one of those is Keith Tkachuk, who by all accounts should have been inducted already. Thachuk was a 1st round draft choice of the original Winnipeg Jets, and ended up playing for 3 different teams throughout his 18-year career, and in that time, he managed to score 538 goals and 1,065 points. As of right now, Tkachuk is the 5th highest scoring American player in NHL history, and his numbers are certainly worthy of the Hall of Fame, but they are not as impressive when you take into account that he never won a Stanley Cup.