If it wasn’t for controversy, debate, and discussion, sport would be much less interesting to the majority of us than it is today. Not a day passes during the 24-hour news cycle where something pertaining to sport isn’t dissected, analyzed and argued over – until the next news item pops up on the ticker.
One issue of contention with regards to the National Hockey League generally only comes up once a year: the issue of who should or should not be inducted into the hallowed halls of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
This past season, there was no need for debate or discussion. The only thing that was debated was whether or not the voting committee actually took the decision to a vote, or if they simply unanimously agreed on the class of 2015. My money is on the latter – there wasn’t much need for a vote when you had names like Dominik Hasek, Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg and Mike Modano on the ballot.
Most years, though, there is a bit of a debate as to who deserves to be inducted. Sometimes the debate centers around former stars whose careers gained in value over the years, like a decent bottle of wine left in a cellar to age – over time, we grow to appreciate it more and more. Other times the debate begins immediately after the player has announced their retirement. Have they done enough to earn their spot in the Hall of Fame? Do their numbers match up to those already enshrined?
Does that player feel like a Hall of Famer?
Without a strict criteria for what classifies someone as a “Hall of Famer,” the meaning of the word becomes subjective – but if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be talking about it.
The class of 2015 is still a ways away from induction, but it’s safe to say names like Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Federov are all but locks. So who else might be inducted – and more importantly, who deserves to be?
10. Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya was one of the most exciting players to watch during the 1990’s. Despite his small stature, Kariya was able to make an immediate impact at the highest level with the Anaheim Ducks. Kariya, a seven-time All-Star with two Lady Byng trophies to his name, was exceptionally fast and shifty. He wasn’t able to slip by the concussion issues that derailed his career, but when he was at the top of his game, Kariya was a point-per-game player.
The stats prove it, too: 989 points in 989 games.
9. Jeremy Roenick
Jeremy Roenick seems to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but there’s no doubting his ability to play hockey – and to entertain. With 1,216 points in his 20-year career, Roenick ranks 4th all-time on the American scoring list. More important was his impact on the game as a charismatic, entertaining, and edgy character playing in non-traditional hockey markets like Phoenix and Los Angeles. Roenick might not have been the greatest player of all-time (although he is certainly worthy of a spot in the Hall), but he is up there as one of the most polarizing and recognizable.
8. Alexander Mogilny
Based on his talent alone, Alexander Mogilny is already part of the discussion. A talented player with a knack for putting the puck in the net, Mogilny is first-and-foremost remembered for his goalscoring ability. Many forgot the trail he blazed for other Russian players, as a defector for the USSR and as a “foreign” player who was able to establish himself in the North American game. Mogilny is also one of the few players in the history of the league to have won a Stanley Cup, a World Championship, and an Olympic gold medal.
7. Pierre Turgeon
Pierre Turgeon has been waiting patiently for his call to the Hall since 2010, and common sense suggests that he won’t have to wait much longer – but then again, common sense is often forgotten in situations like these. An offensive dynamo with 515 goals and 1,327 career points, there shouldn’t be any doubt whether or not Turgeon deserves the honor or not. He’s been seemingly hampered by his lack of major awards, playoff success, the era he played in, and minimal international experience, but at some point Turgeon has to get in based on his incredible NHL career.
6. Chris Osgood
Chris Osgood was never the flashiest goaltender in the world. You would rarely, if ever, hear young goaltenders call Osgood their idol or the player they tailored their style around. Osgood was never that type of goaltender – he didn’t even look like a goaltender with his player-like mask – but he did what goaltenders are supposed to do: stop pucks and win games. Osgood sits 10th all-time with 401 career wins, is the owner of three Stanley Cup rings and anchored some of the legendary Red Wings teams of the 1990’s. Many will make the ridiculous argument that Osgood played on stacked rosters – those doubters quiet down very quickly once they take a look at Osgood’s playoff statistics, specifically during the three Detroit Cup runs he was the starter for.
5. Mark Recchi
Mark Recchi was a point-producer for 22 seasons. Let that sink in.
Even in his “elder years”, Recchi was still getting it done. In his final two seasons (played with the Boston Bruins) Recchi put up 43 and 48 points playing limited minutes on stacked Bruins teams. Recchi finished his incredible career with 1,533 points and over 1,600 games played. He was never considered one of the league’s top players, even when he was putting up 100 point seasons, but he was consistent, durable, and showed up when the stakes were highest. His three Cups, with three different teams over three decades, are a testament to the longevity of a player who wasn’t afraid to muck it up and lay it on the line to get the job done.
4. Dave Andreychuk
Dave Andreychuk, like Mark Recchi, amassed a ton of points thanks to an incredibly long and successful National Hockey League career. While some like to use the 1,639 games played as a crutch to explain the 1,338 points, there’s no denying how talented Andreychuk was. An elite powerplay scorer, Andreychuk lit the lamp 640 times during his career – good for 14th all-time, yet over 20 players with less career goals already have their place in the Hall of Fame. Andreychuk should get in in due time, but it is a shame that it’s taken such a long time for his name to be thrown around among the all-time greats.
3. Eric Lindros
The inclusion of Eric Lindros in the Hockey Hall of Fame is one of the most intriguing debates in the sport at the moment. A polarizing figure on and off the ice, Lindros lived up to his billing as one of the most dominant hockey players of his era. We all know about the injuries that effectively ended his career, but even in the short time that Lindros was a National Hockey League star, he managed to put up incredible numbers. One of the first “contemporary” power forwards of hockey’s modern era, Lindros was a behemoth with the speed of a gazelle, and used his physical gifts – along with his incredible skill – to rack up 865 points in just 760 games, which comes out to a 1.138 points per game. If Lindros had reached even just 1,000 games, he might have had something closer to 1,140 points – but we all know that number would have been much higher had injuries not begun to slow him down around the age of 27. Lindros deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, despite the (smaller) sample size.
2. Curtis Joseph
The word “enigma” does not even begin to describe the legend of “Cujo.” Curtis Joseph sits 4th all time in career wins with 454, behind only Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour – but you’ll never hear anyone use his name in a discussion involving the greatest goaltenders of all-time. Granted, his career 2.79 GAA and .906 save percentage leave a lot to be desired, but the most important stat – in all sports – is in the W column, and that’s all Cujo did for close to 20 years.
Cujo will never be spoken of the way Brodeur, Roy, and Hasek are spoken of, but if goaltenders like Glenn Hall, Grant Fuhr, Gump Worsley and Billy Smith have earned the right to be Hall of Famers, then it’s a wonder why Joseph isn’t already there.
1. Phil Housley
The top five scoring defenceman of all-time, in order, are Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Phil Housley, and Larry Murphy. All five played somewhere between the years of 1979 and the last to retire was MacInnis, in 2004. All five had over 1,200 career points.
Four of them are esteemed members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Only one – Phil Housley – is not.
On the surface, it seems like a travesty – but a quick glance at the numbers explain the issue.
While offensive defencemen are expected to produce offensive at a high clip, we cannot forget the fact that they are first and foremost expected to defend their own end. The four in the Hall of Fame were able to do both exceptionally well, while Housley’s career -53 suggests he might have been better off as a forward. If Housley was statistically average as a defender, he would have been inducted a long time ago – there’s no denying his defensive abilities have made the selection committee wary of his induction.
Housley might not be too far away from getting in, though; the plus/minus stat is slowly but surely decreasing in value, not only evidenced by today’s standards, but also by the recent induction of Rob Blake – everyone knows Rob Blake was a top-flight defenceman, but he finished with a career -4.
Hopefully, the number will eventually be ignored in Housley’s case, too.
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