For aspiring professional hockey players, the pinnacle is the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sure, everyone wants to win a Stanley Cup, but with 30 teams (soon to be 31) the odds of that happening have increased. Ray Bourque, for instance, considered the best defenseman of his era, didn't win a championship until the final year of his career, while others weren't so lucky. There are numerous former players in the Hockey Hall of Fame who have not won a Stanley Cup, including several on this list.
The problem is, not everyone in the Hall necessarily deserves to be in there, as some players are more deserving who have yet to be inducted. Because the selection process is subjective and voting-based, there is going to be debate and discussion surrounding most players, unless your name is Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, or Auston Matthews (Leaf fans anointed him into the Hall of Fame after one game).
Every player on this list contributed greatly to the game of hockey and certainly endured fine careers, but some more than others. But let's not pretend like the selection committee doesn't make the occasional errors. Despite being a sure bet for the Hall of Fame, the family of coach Pat Burns had to wait four years after he had passed away to see his memory forever enshrined; yet, the hockey world was in agreement it should have been done while he was still alive, battling with cancer.
Here's our list of eight players who do (and one coach/personality) and eight players who don't belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
16 Doesn't - Clark Gillies
Clark Gillies is a classic example of how Stanley Cup wins are overvalued by the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee. The Moose Jaw, Sask. native was a core member of the New York Islanders dynasty that won four straight championships from 1979-83, but he was the fourth best player on those teams behind Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, and Denis Potvin. In fact, during the Islanders fourth consecutive Stanley Cup win, Gillies, at just 28, started to regress, finishing seventh on the team in scoring during the regular season and adding just two assists in eight playoff games.
He was never the same player after the 82-83 season and finished his career with just 697 points in 958 games. Yet, because of Stanley Cups and the also overvalued leadership quality, Gillies was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
15 Does - Dave Andreychuk
The career of Dave Andreychuk proves just how badly players desire a Stanley Cup. The power forward played for six different teams in 22 seasons before finally realizing his dream in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And despite being 40 years old at the time, Andreychuk still managed to record 14 points in the Lightning's surprise playoff run.
The Cup win bolsters an already impressive resume, which features 1,639 games played (sixth all time), 640 goals (14th), and 1,338 career points (29th). He is also the all-time leader in power play goals with 274. In 2014, the Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled a bronze statue of Andreychuk hoisting the Cup outside of the team's arena. By our guidelines, if you're worthy of a statue, you're worthy of entry into the Hall.
14 Doesn't - Pavel Bure
Pavel Bure was arguably one of the most skilled players of his generation. "The Russian Rocket" was flash and dash with blazing speed and a wicked wrist shot. Before Alex Ovechkin came along, he was the Russian player kids across the world tried to emulate in practice, but never could.
His numbers are impressive (five 50-goal seasons), but he played just 702 games in the NHL due to a knee injury that derailed his career. The NHL has no problem rewarding players whose career is cut short (Cam Neely, Eric Lindros), but it just seems wrong that someone like Bure, good as he was offensively, gets in over a player with great talent and longevity like Andreychuk. And let's not forgot, Bure was far from a smart defensive player; for every goal he could generate, he would be responsible for allowing one.
We love The Russian Rocket, but he's a borderline Hall of Famer at best.
13 Does - Paul Henderson
Forgive us if we sound a tad hypocritical here, but hear us out. Henderson's numbers are nowhere near Bure's, having put up just 477 points in 707 NHL games, but he was also an impressive WHA player for 360 games with 283 points. But it's not his league statistics which we feel gives credence to a Hall of Fame entry.
The former Detroit Red Wing and Toronto Maple Leaf scored arguably the most iconic goal in hockey and certainly the most important in all of Canadian hockey. If you were born after the '72 Summit Series, you didn't know much about the actual series itself but you knew who scored and could recite the famous Foster Hewitt call. His goal ultimately won Canada the hard-fought series against the Russians and inspired a generation. Henderson, more than anything, is more important to the history of the game than a horde of others who have been voted in.
12 Doesn't - Glenn Anderson
Like Clark Gillies above, Glenn Anderson must be sending out thank you cards to his teammates. Make no mistake, Anderson was a skilled player and his 1,099 career points in 1,129 games is an impressive feat regardless of how you spin it, but the 80s was a high-scoring era in hockey to begin with and Anderson was the beneficiary of playing alongside multiple Hall of Famers.
Even in his best season, a 105-point year in 81-82, he finished second behind Wayne Gretzky's absurd 212 points. Quite simply, a mule on skates could have put up at least 50 points playing with No. 99. Years later, when Anderson reached 102 points, he was fourth on the Oilers in scoring. When Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles, Anderson scored just 16 goals in the 1988-89 season and finished sixth on the Oilers in scoring. We presume Anderson is one of countless retired NHLers who send The Great One royalties for the money they made throughout their careers.
11 Does - Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya played more games and put up more points than Pavel Bure, despite dealing with injury concerns of his own. The diminutive Vancouver native finished his 15-year career with 989 points in 989 games, but he played in just 46 career playoff games. Surely, the selection committee has taken that into account, but Kariya can't be faulted for being too loyal.
During his 10-year run with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Kariya played in just 35 playoff games, 21 of which were in the team's improbable Stanley Cup Finals run in 2002-03. Had he won a Cup that year, it feels like we would be talking about Hall of Famer Paul Kariya right now, but that wasn't the case.
He was, however, a member of the 2002 Canadian Olympic team which won its first gold medal in 50 years. Kariya retired in 2010, so he's been eligible for the past three Hall of Fame classes, but has been a notable emission each year.
10 Doesn't - Leo Boivin
There are a lot of questionable Hall of Fame members from the early ages of the NHL and that's no different in the 1950s and 60s. One of the strangest inclusions is short, but sturdy defenseman Leo Boivin. A veteran of 1,150 NHL games primarily with the Boston Bruins, Boivin scored just 72 goals and had 250 assists, but racked up 1,192 penalty minutes. His career-best season was a 26-point year in 1962-63.
What's more confusing about Boivin's induction into the Hall of Fame is that he played on some really bad Bruins teams, which failed to make the playoffs for seven consecutive years while there was just six teams in the league. He made it to the Stanley Cup Finals on three occasions, but failed to win the coveted Cup each time. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame 16 years after he retired, for some reason, we assume.
9 Does - Theoren Fleury
On points alone, Theoren Fleury's resume seems impressive enough to warrant a Hall of Fame nod, especially considering he played primarily in the 90s and into the early 2000s, when league-wide scoring started to decrease. When you factor in that, at 5'6", he was one of the shortest players in the league during his time, it's all the more impressive.
Prior to Martin St. Louis and now Patrick Kane, Fleury was the shining example for smaller players that you didn't need to be six foot or taller to have success in the hard-hitting league. Fleury is 61st in career points and was an all-purpose player; he is 82nd all time in power play goals and ninth in shorthanded goals. He even won a Stanley Cup with the 1988-89 Calgary Flames.
While he was known for his bad temper and on-ice antics later in his career, he has since done an incredible amount to shine a light on the abuse of young players in minor hockey.
8 Doesn't - Bob Gainey
Bob Gainey had the fortune of being a member of a powerhouse Montreal Canadiens team. He won five Stanley Cups in his 16-year career with the Canadiens, as well as four straight Selke Trophies as the league's best defensive forward, and played in four All-Star Games.
Yet, he was often a third line forward for the Canadiens and his career high for points in a season is just 47 (he was ninth on the Canadiens in scoring that season). It's possible he was overshadowed on a very good team and perhaps he could have scored more on a weaker team, but his inclusion into the Hall of Fame with just 501 points in 1,160 games in a high-scoring era is a slap in the face to modern day players with point-per-game scoring rates that can't get in.
7 Does - Jeremy Roenick
If Jeremy Roenick is not one of the best American players of all time, he's certainly the biggest personality. The Boston native had three consecutive 100-point seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks in the early 90s and was a consistent 20-plus goal scorer throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s when he played for the Philadelphia Flyers. Roenick finished his career without a Stanley Cup, but accumulated 1,216 points in 1,363 games.
His point-per-game ratio would have been better if he didn't stick around for two extra years to chase a Cup with the San Jose Sharks, but he did manage to top the 500-goal plateau in that period of his career. Roenick finished his career 42nd in total points and appeared in nine All-Star Games, where he was often at his colorful best.
Does he deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Sure. Are we eagerly anticipating his acceptance speech? Absolutely.
6 Doesn't - Dick Duff
Dick Duff was a playoff performer who won six Stanley Cups in the 1960s with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. In fact, former Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach once called Duff one of the best playoff players he ever coached, but the diminutive forward wasn't much of a player in the regular season. Duff recorded just 572 points in 1,030 career games and was never really "the guy" on his team, other than perhaps 1958-59 when he led the Maple Leafs with 53 points, but behind him sat notable names like Frank Mahovlich and George Armstrong.
In later years, when he won Cups, Duff was typically the seventh or eighth highest scorer on his team. Sure, his point per game ratio increased in the post season, but his six Cups shouldn't carry much weight given he had a one in six chance to win a Cup every year. He also had to wait until 2006 to be enter the Hall, in what was a weak induction class other than Patrick Roy.
5 Does - Curtis Joseph
Cujo is one of the best goaltenders to never win a Stanley Cup. He had the misfortune of playing in an era which also included Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, and a Red Wings team that could win multiple Cups with Chris Osgood, but Joseph's claim to the Hall is that much stronger for carrying awful teams to mere mediocrity.
In his four years with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he at times single-handedly carried the team to victory, including twice bringing the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. In the 1998-99 season, he was a runner up for both the Vezina and Lester B. Pearson Trophy and bettered his individual performance for the next three seasons. He also brought mediocre St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers teams to the second round of the playoffs.
He is fourth all-time in wins and only one of two in the top ten who isn't in the Hall of Fame, the other being Roberto Luongo, who is still active.
4 Doesn't - Mats Sundin
Mats Sundin had a great career and was a consistent point producer throughout his time with the Quebec Nordiques and Toronto Maple Leafs, but only twice finished top ten in league scoring and, of course, has never had much success in the playoffs. At 6'5 and 230 pounds, Sundin was a physical specimen on skates, able to use his size to shield opponents from the puck and was near impossible to take the puck from in the corners, but he has often been criticized for not being able to get it done when it matters.
While Sundin is as close to a true Superstar as the Leafs had in decades, he was never in conversation as one of the league's most prolific players. We think he's more of a borderline Hall of Famer, though there's no question his exasperated smile from the bench was Hall of Fame worthy.
3 Does - Don Cherry
Don Cherry wasn't much of a player. In fact, many might be surprised to hear he even played the game at a professional level; "Grapes" never appeared in an NHL regular season game (he played one playoff game for the Bruins), but spent 13 seasons as a journeyman defensemen in the AHL. Still, we think it's obvious he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Just check out the criteria for the builder category: "Coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general."
Cherry was actually a decent coach with the Bruins after his playing career, but more than that his larger than life personality and blazing hot takes has made him an institution in Canada, so much so that many tune into Hockey Night to watch him speak for ten minutes. That might not be as true today, but there's no questioning his impact on the sport. Plus, we'd love to see the suit he'd wear to the induction ceremony.
2 Doesn't - Rod Langway
Inducted in 2002 along with fellow borderline Hall of Famer Clark Gillies, Rod Langway entered the Hall with a total of 51 career goals and 329 points in 994 games. Sure, he was a defenseman more so regarded for his shutdown ability and physicality, but that alone shouldn't be enough. Langway's best season was his third year in the league, in 1980-81 with the Montreal Canadiens, when he had 45 points, but those numbers decreased significantly when he went to the Washington Capitals two seasons later, where he finished his career after 11 seasons with the team.
Moreover, Langway has never won a Stanley Cup, which makes his induction even more questionable. The Capitals were an average team during the 80s and had trouble making it out of the first round of the playoffs, despite the future Hall of Famers they possessed (Mike Gartner, Scott Stevens, and Larry Murphy). It's almost unjust that Langway is associated with those players.
1 Does - Mark Recchi
Could Mark Recchi still play today if he wanted to? Probably. The now 48 year old managed 48 points in his final year with the Boston Bruins in 2010-11, bringing his career point total to 1,533, enough to be 12th all-time in points. He was also a top ten point producer in four different seasons and won three Stanley Cups with three different teams.
Recchi appeared in 189 career playoff games and posted 147 points, including 14 as a 43 year old with the Bruins, when he became the oldest player in Stanley Cup Finals history to score a goal. He has been eligible for induction since 2014 and while we're almost certain he will enter the Hall someday, however, it'll be a few years too late.
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