An induction into Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame is one of the greatest honors one can bestow upon a hockey player, game builder or on-ice official. It’s an exclusive club; so exclusive, in fact, that if you add all of the inductees from all four groupings, there are still fewer than 400 members in the Hall today.
Every year, the Hall inducts a maximum of seven people—four in the player category, two in the builder category, and one in the on-ice official category. All player inductees must have been retired for at least three years before being considered eligible for the Hall. This rule has of course been waived 10 times in the past, but not since Wayne Gretzky’s induction in 1999, so it’s very rare and the Hall has even said they will only do it in “certain humanitarian circumstances” from now on.
When you have a club that’s so selective of whom it lets in, there are bound to be some major snubs and omissions. Hockey has certainly seen more great players than the 268 who currently occupy the player category, so we thought it was only fair to make a list of players who have thus far been snubbed by the induction committee.
This list consists of only former NHL players, but that’s not to say there aren’t builders, officials, female hockey players or even former WHA players who don’t also deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame. If we included everyone from all categories, this list would become muddled and much more difficult to rank. So, for the sake of fun and simplicity, we decided to include just former NHL players:
15 Peter Bondra
Our list starts out with the fourth-highest scoring Slovakian hockey player of all time, Peter Bondra. Bondra played in the NHL from 1990 to 2007, the vast majority of that time spent in Washington with the Capitals.
Bondra scored 472 of his 503 career goals with the Caps, and his franchise record was recently passed by one Alex Ovechkin, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. With so many other glaring omissions ahead of Bondra, however, this electrifying forward may never make it into the Hall of Fame.
14 Steve Larmer
Steve Larmer is unlikely to ever be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but one can make a pretty compelling case that he belongs there. Larmer didn’t have the longest of NHL careers, playing in just a shade over 1,000 games. In those 1,006 games, he put up 1,012 points and won a Cup with the Rangers in 1994.
Larmer ranks fourth all-time in points for the original six Chicago Blackhawks with 923. Only Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Denis Savard managed more in their careers for Chicago.
13 Rick Middleton
Drafted by the New York Rangers in 1973, Rick Middleton ended up playing the bulk of his NHL career in Boston after being traded for Ken Hodge. Hodge played one game for the Rangers before being forced to retire due to injury; Middleton went on to record 898 points with the Bruins over 12 seasons.
Middleton is the fourth-highest scoring Bruin of all time, behind Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk and Phil Esposito. The winger had five straight seasons in which he recorded 40 goals and 90 points. He never won a Stanley Cup, however, which could contribute to why the Hall hasn’t inducted him yet.
12 Mark Recchi
Mark Recchi retired after the 2010-11 season which saw him win his third Stanley Cup in his storied career. Recchi was a workhorse who played 1,652 NHL games, notching 577 goals and 956 assists in the process.
Since Recchi has only been eligible for two years now, he ranks at number 14 on our list. If another five years pass by and Recchi is still not in the Hall, then he will jump up many spots on this list. The guy is 12th all time in points as one of just 13 players with over 1,500 in his career.
11 Pierre Turgeon
Pierre Turgeon played in 1,294 regular season games over 19 seasons, recording over a point per game in the process (1,327 total). With production like that, you’d be surprised to know that the Hall of Fame committee has snubbed Turgeon for six seasons now—every year since he became eligible in 2010.
To be fair, there has been some unusually stiff competition over the past few years, but it’s surprising that they haven’t found a way to squeeze in Turgeon. This is another player who maybe is held back because of his lack of a Stanley Cup ring.
10 Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya’s career was cut short due to health issues, so he only ended up playing 989 games in the NHL before hanging them up for good. Still, there was a chunk of time during his career when he was one of the league’s most productive players, and one of the most exciting to watch to boot.
Kariya retired with 989 points, exactly one point per game. That’s something that only 47 other retired NHL players have accomplished. In a league that’s almost 100 years old, that’s quite elite company.
9 Rod Brind’Amour
Rod Brind’Amour played 20 NHL seasons with three different teams—the Blues, Flyers and Hurricanes. Brind’Amour made major contributions to all of these teams during his time in the world’s best league, culminating with a huge Stanley Cup win in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.
All in all, Rod played 1,484 games, which is 19th most in history, and he recorded 1,184 points in the process, which is top-50 of all time. Captain of a Stanley Cup winning team and top-50 all-time in points—what are you waiting for, committee?
8 Pat Verbeek
Pat Verbeek doesn’t get a lot of credit for being overlooked by the Hall of Fame committee, but he should. Verbeek is a Stanley Cup champion (1999 with Dallas), but more importantly he holds the distinction of being the only player to score 500 goals, 500 assists and record over 2,500 penalty minutes.
That’s a pretty unique stat line for Verbeek, and it’s pretty tough to imagine someone else matching that record. Brendan Shanahan came mighty close, but he stalled out at 2,489 PIMs. Verbeek belongs in the Hall if you ask me.
7 Claude Lemieux
Hockey isn’t all about point production and statistics, which is why I put Claude Lemieux on this list at number eight. The main reason I think he belongs on this list is because of how reliable he was during the playoffs, which is the toughest time to perform well in the NHL.
His 786 points in 1,215 regular season games isn’t all that impressive, but when you factor in his 234 games of postseason work, his value becomes clear. He found ways to produce offensively at key times—his 13 goals en route to the Conn Smythe in the 1995 postseason is proof of this—but he was always contributing in other ways, finding time to get under the skin of the opposing team’s star players on a nightly basis. He won two Stanley Cups.
6 Dave Taylor
Dave Taylor doesn’t get a lot of credit for being one of the greatest Kings to ever lace ‘em up in L.A. That could be because he’s shoved behind names like Marcel Dionne, Luc Robitaille and Wayne Gretzky, to name a few, but that shouldn’t change his legacy to the game.
Taylor played his entire career with the Kings, spanning from 1977 until 1994. The Kings of course never won a Cup with Taylor around, so perhaps that’s what’s holding him back from an entrance into hockey’s official shrine of talent. He retired with 1,069 points in 1,111 games played.
5 Jeremy Roenick
Coming in at number five on our list is Jeremy Roenick, who ranks fourth all time in points among American hockey players. Roenick played 18 seasons in the NHL for five different teams, yet he was never able to capture a Stanley Cup, which likely contributes to his absence from the Hall of Fame so far.
Roenick has always been one to say what’s on his mind, whether he’s telling fans during the 2005 lockout to “kiss (his) ass” or accusing Mike Babcock of being anti-American for not playing a 47-year-old Chris Chelios in the 2009 playoffs. Perhaps the Hall of Fame is a little too elitist to welcome such a free spirit into the club.
4 Mike Vernon
With 385 wins Mike Vernon ranks 13th all-time in that category. Add to that the two Stanley Cup rings Vernon has earned as a starter with two different teams, plus the Conn Smythe Trophy he won with the Red Wings in 1997, and that looks like a Hall of Fame resume to me.
Perhaps it’s some of his not-so-flattering underlying stats that are holding Vernon back—specifically, his career .890 save percentage. Even so, Vernon put forth enough clutch performances to earn a spot in the Hall, no question.
3 Curtis Joseph
Wins is the stat that's most relevant to a goaltender’s legacy, much like points tends is for a forward. With that in mind, try to explain to me why Curtis Joseph, who ranks fourth all-time in wins with 454, is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Most naysayers will argue that Joseph never won a darn thing, so why should he be in the Hall? Well, that would be like saying Marcel Dionne doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Yeah, sure, Joseph never won anything—except for those 454 NHL games.
2 Eric Lindros
The reason Eric Lindros isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame is a pretty obvious one: his career was cut short due to injury, and he never achieved the heights that were expected of him early in his career. With how dominant Lindros was in his prime, though, you can make a pretty sound argument he belongs there.
Let’s use Pavel Bure as a comparison, as he was inducted into the Hall in 2012. Bure had 779 points in 702 games (1.11 pts/gm). Lindros had 865 points in 760 games (1.14 pts/gm). Neither player won a Stanley Cup in their careers, so that’s not the tipping point. Yes, it’s a tough one to figure.
1 Dave Andreychuk
Scoring goals is one of the most difficult things to do on a consistent basis in the NHL, and Dave Andreychuk ranks among the most prolific in the history of the NHL. Seriously, the guy scored 640 goals in his 23 NHL seasons. He scored at least 20 goals in 19 of those seasons, a record bested by only Gordie Howe (22) and Ron Francis (20).
Andreychuk is also number one all-time in power play goals with 274. And you can’t even use the “well, has he won anything?” argument because he won the Stanley Cup as captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. Really, it seems that all Andreychuk did in the NHL for nearly a quarter of a century is score goals. He’ll get into the Hall someday, but it should have already happened.