HHoF: WHO SHOULD GO IN

Jason Gregor
June 26 2012 10:31AM

At 1 p.m. today the NHL will announce the 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees. There is a maximum of four male players, two female and two builders allowed each year.

This year has an interesting crop of players who are eligible for the first time. Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Mats Sundin and Jeremy Roenick headline the list of new players who can be voted in. But there are still a few players who have yet to get inducted, despite being eligible for a few years, most notably Pavel Bure, Adam Oates and Eric Lindros.

It is great to debate which players should be in and which shouldn't. I find the arguments concerning and comparing players from the 50s and 60s to guys from the past decade to be fruitless. Almost none of us saw them play, and scoring was much lower back then, so why compare players 50 years apart?

I'd rather focus on the players who are competing against one another, and some of those who have recently been inducted.

Can we please stop with the "Why is Bernie Federko in" complaints.

Do you know that he is 20th all-time in points-per-game, and he played 1,000 games. He scored 100 points four times, and had three other seasons of 92,94 and 95 points. He was a prolific scorer. He was a top-ten scorer five times and in the top-fifteen twice.

And he produced in the playoffs, with 101 points in 91 games. It is ignorant and wrong to say he wasn't a hell of a player. Just because the Blues never won the Cup, doesn't mean he didn't perform.

The argument that a guy never won a Cup, so he shouldn't be in doesn't carry much weight with me. Sure Cups help, but if a player was the best on a non-Cup team, or the 4th of 5th best on Cup winning teams does that make him a better player? I don't think so.

THIS YEARS CLASS

Joe Sakic is a no-brainer first ballot hall of famer. He is 9th all-time in points, was top-ten in scoring nine times and he scored 100 points in his 18th season. He had a lethal snap shot, was one of the classiest players to ever play and he won two Stanley Cups.

If I was voting, I'd only put in two more players this year, and none of them would be first timers. I believe that to get in on your first ballot means you were one of the elite players of your era. Not very good, not great, but elite. Brendan Shanahan will get in the Hall, but I'd put him in next year. Mats Sundin and Jeremy Roenick will get strong consideration in the future, but they wouldn't be going in this year either.

The other two guys I'd vote in are Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros.

In the last three decades the six best goal scorers have been in no specific order:  Wanye Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Alex Ovechkin, Brett Hull and Bure.

Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in hockey. Period. And these guys were the best.

Scoring at EV is even harder than on the PP and when you look at these six, only Gretzky was better than Bure at scoring EV.

PLAYER                     CAREER GOALS               PP GOALS               % OF TOTAL GOALS ON PP

Gretzky                                 894                                   204                                    22.8
Bure                                     437                                   121                                    27.6
Bossy                                  573                                   181                                     31.5
Ovechkin                             339                                   111                                     32.7
Lemieux                             690                                   236                                     34.2
Hull                                      741                                   265                                     35.7

I know goal scoring is only one aspect of the game, but for five years Bure was one of the best in the game. In 2001 he scored 59 goals and 92 points for Florida. The 2nd leading scorer on the team was Viktor Kozlov with 37 points. Bure had 55 more points than his next teammate. And Kozlov was 2nd on the team in goals with 59. Bure was a freakin freedom fighter on that team. He had to score by himself and he still led the league in goals. I'm going to guess he had to face the other team's best D and likely their checking lines and he still produced.

He tallied 437 goals in 702 games for a ridiculous .662 goals-per-game ratio.

As for those who suggest he never won anything, he lost in game seven of the finals. Should one game really define his greatness, or supposed ack thereof? I don't think so.

In the playoffs, Bure had 70 points in 64 games, including 35 goals.

He was one of the most electrifying players of his era.

I understand why he didn't go in on his first ballot, but there is no reason why he shouldn't be in now.

The Big E was an imposing figure. He had a rare mix of size, skill and the ability to physically dominate the opposition. Snubbing Quebec wasn't the best first impression he could have made, and his over-involved parents, Carl and Bonnie didn't help much either. I'll never blame a kid if he has idiotic parents.

But on the ice, Lindros was incredibly talented. It's unfortunate he didn't realize earlier that he wasn't invincible and should have kept his head up more often, especially when Scott Stevens was on the ice, but despite his injuries he was still one of the greats during his era.

In his first nine seasons he tallied 732 points in 558 games. Staying healthy was his biggest problem, but despite only playing one full season he was still top-ten in scoring four times, and top-15 on two other occasions.

He is the 5th fastest player to score 500 points in NHL history. It took Gretzy 234 games, Lemieux 287, Peter Stastny 322, Bossy 349 and Lindros 352.

He was an All-star eight times and he won the Hart trophy in 1995.

I agree that he shouldn't have been put in on his first few ballots, but he should be enshrined this year.

I won't have a huge problem if Shanahan gets in on his first try, but I truly think you need to be an exceptionally dominant player to be inducted in your first year of eligibility.

Shanahan was a very good player for a long time, but he was a top-ten scorer twice in his career. I do think that being on those great Detroit teams likely hurt his production, because they spread out the scoring, pp time more evenly.

His two 50-goal seasons came in St. Louis, while his next two best seasons, 44 and 46 goals, came in Hartford.

He played 21 NHL season and he scored 20+ goals in 19 of them. His first and last years were the only time he didn't score at least 20.

His 656 career goals are 13th all-time, he is 25th all-time in points with 1354, he's 22nd all-time in PIMs with 2,489 and he's 13th all-time in games played with 1.524.

He was a very good player for a long time, but he was never one of the top-five players in the game during any year of his career, and that's why I'd put him in next year.

THE OTHERS

  • Adam Oates was one of the best passers of his era. And I'd put him in ahead of Sundin and Roenick. Oates as a top-ten scorer five times, and he has four 100-point seasons including 142 in 1993. I don't think it is a coincidence that Brett Hull's best goal-scoring seasons, and Cam Neely's 50 goals in 49 games came when they played with Oates. I'd put him in next season with Shanahan.
     
  • Jeremy Roenick was a dynamic player especially with the Chicago Blackhawks. He registered two 50-goal seasons, and three 100-point campaigns. He was top-ten in scoring twice, and had two 40-goal campaigns as well. He scored 513 goals which is 37th all-time, and I think eventually he deserves to go in, but it will take a few years.
     
  • Mats Sundin was a solid player for a long time, but he only had one 100-point season, and he was a top-ten scorer twice. He never scored 50 goals, but he had three 40+ seasons at 41, 41 and 47. His 564 career goals and 1349 points will get him in the Hall, but I wouldn't put him in on his first ballot. Just like I don't think Joe Niewendyk deserved to go on his first try.

 I do believe these players are eventual Hall of Famers, and I will applaud them when they go in, but I feel that Lindros and Bure were more dominant players at the height of their careers.

 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 BurkeTheTurd
June 26 2012, 10:51AM
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Oates!!!

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#2 BurkeTheTurd
June 26 2012, 11:01AM
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It would be a great day for Oates, HHOF and new Washington Capitals Coach

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#3 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 26 2012, 11:02AM
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Burnaby Joe is a total no-brainer.

I like the Bure pick too... but I suspect his early retirement and snubbing of hockey since has left a negative impression in the community that will be hard to overcome.

In your list of goal scorers in the last 30 years, where does Robitaille fit in? I don't have the numbers but in my head he's at the lower end of that impressive group.

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#4 TrentonL
June 26 2012, 11:09AM
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Sakic is a no brainer.

Bure lead the league in goals 3 times, two post Rocket Richard Trophy one before. He should have been in last year over every single one of those guys.

Other than Lindros none of these other guys won any significant hardware and are therefore in a lower class. Lindros is fair game to not make it for his off ice antics in the Quebec fiasco. The Hall has to keep a standard for what a guy did for the game....or against it.

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#5 Kieso
June 26 2012, 11:12AM
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@ Gregor

I always wonder if Kevin Lowe (the player) should consider merit for the HHOF induction (I still have not decided for myself yet either)

No he was never the "best" player but as a defenseman he ended up in the Stanley cup finals something like 7 times in an 18 year playing career with 6 cup wins. That is a ton of hockey to play. So about 40% of his playing time he was in the finals.

This tells me he was good for a very long time in the same way Shanahan was (one player scored goals and the other prevented them).

If the main consideration for some guys is that they won a cup so they should not be in HHOF. If that is the case then all Lowe did was win cups or end up in the finals.

Thoughts anyone?

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#6 Pouzar99
June 26 2012, 11:27AM
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Why make the deserving wait Jason? The distinction between first ballot Hall of Famers and later ballot ones leaves me cold. There is only one Hall of Fame. Either your are in or you are not. I do agree about Bure though. He was absolutely electric. I'd vote for Sakic, Shanahan, Sundin and Bure. Roenick will get in but you are only allowed four per year, so he must wait. As for Bernie Federko, well, his presence only annoyed me when some dorks kept blocking Glenn Anderson's selection, who was a far better player than Bernie. That was disgraceful. Federko was a very good player, who would be one of the lower echelon selections in the Hall but that doesn't mean he doesn't belong. Still the idea that he was in and Anderson was not, riled me.

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#7 The Fish
June 26 2012, 12:06PM
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If Sundin played his whole career in any other city than Toronto, he would not even be considered this year. That is a scientific fact.

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#8 MVParkerknox
June 26 2012, 12:10PM
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Consider your point made on Bure...you've convinced me. Lindros is a stretch though I think. Oates in my opinion should be in right now. Roenick I believe should get the nod before Lindros as well.

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#9 50 in 39
June 26 2012, 12:24PM
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Ah, the golden age of scoring in the NHL. Where Roenick can have three 100 point seasons but only be in the top 10 scoring twice. Shrink the goalie equipment and let the great players be able to play and be great.

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#12 Clarkenstein
June 26 2012, 12:45PM
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Open the door for Sakic and Shanahan. Leave it slightly ajar for Sundin. Close it for the rest... except Roenick. Slam it in his face!

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Sakic, Lindros, Bure

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#14 Mike Krushelnyski
June 26 2012, 01:07PM
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You honestly think Sundin isn't going in first ballot? You do realise where the HHOF is located, right?

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#15 Jimmeh
June 26 2012, 01:18PM
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Sakic, Bure, Oates and Sundin. Glad to see Bure get in!

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#16 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 26 2012, 01:25PM
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@Jimmeh

Glad Bure got the nod too. he was electrifying in his day.

Sundin is a homer pick for sure.

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#17 jonnyquixote
June 26 2012, 01:52PM
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Ridiculous that Sundin gets in on his 1st ballot while Shanahan sits. I don't have a problem with Gregor's analysis (though I think Shanahan was more dominant than he gets credit for), but man... what a shocker.

I'm thrilled Bure got in though. He was a sublime talent that burned brightly but too quickly, a la Orr or Neely. Still, I think one of the criteria should be "for a good portion of his career, was this player the best or one of the best" at what he did. And that's absolutely true of Bure. I don't know if I've seen a player like him, and he's probably the 2nd most electrifyingly talented player I've watched in my life.

I don't care about Lindros either way, though I recognize a lot of what I said about Bure (and even Shanahan) could apply to him.

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#18 jonnyquixote
June 26 2012, 01:56PM
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@Kieso

I think Lowe should be in there, absolutely. I think the type of player he is makes it very difficult, but I also think he was one of the best in NHL history at what he did.

But that's sort of like trying to get punters and offensive linemen into the football hall of fame.

Still, when you look at his playoff record especially... it's awe inspiring. I think he averaged a Conference finals appearance per season, and that includes the beginning and ends of his career. To think, that an off-year for Lowe was to be eliminated in Round 2, over almost 2 decades of hockey seasons. Unreal.

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#19 Rogue
June 26 2012, 02:28PM
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Like Clark Gillies and Dick Duff were more deserving than Anderson? Right. Popularity contest and highly dependent on who sits on the board. Compared to most other HOF's, NHL is a joke.

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#20 Quicksilver ballet
June 26 2012, 02:46PM
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I've always admired watching Mats Sundin play in the NHL. He's one guy that really seemed to embrace our North American culture, he really seen the bigger picture that some players never see. He usually did as much for the community in the offseason as he did during the season. I never seen him as a guy who was only here for the money. He genuinely appear to enjoy giving back. Can't recall any dirt during the years he played in North America.

He certainly had the class and dignity you'd hope a first ballot Hall of Famer would have.

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#21 Gavin
June 26 2012, 03:22PM
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All picks are right other than Sundin. It's sad to see as a 1st ballot, he gets in. I liked him as a player, but Gregors analysis was perfect for 1st ballot inductee's. They needed to be an elite player during their era. Sundin was a steady player, with class for sure, but never dominating.

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#22 D
June 26 2012, 03:40PM
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Now that former Edmonton Oiler Adam Oates is in the HHOF, how do we honour him?

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#23 misfit
June 26 2012, 03:57PM
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Sundin is deserving of the call, but I wouldn't have put him in ahead of Shannahan.

Great day for Sakic, Oates, Sundin, and Bure. Congrats to all of them!

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#24 bmac
June 26 2012, 04:37PM
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Stortini is a first-ballot hall of famer. Mark my words.

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#25 T-Diggity
June 26 2012, 05:15PM
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Kevin Lowe doesn't belong in the HOF. Come on guys, Gregor's right. Darn good player on great teams. You would argue he helped with those teams and I'd agree, but he was probably 6th or 7th in line when you consider Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Fuhr, Kurri. He gets credit but not HOF credit.

Lindros at his best was the most dominant player on this list, obviously the issue is longevity but if you're going to go there - then Bure doesn't belong and neither does Cam Neely.

As far as Sundin, I don't know that he should have gotten the nod ahead of anyone who was snubbed this time around - that's the only issue. Other than that, he's no worse a player than Bernie Federko. I'm not saying Federko doesn't belong but his induction sets a bar for these types - darn good players with good numbers who never won anything. That's Federko, Oates, Sundin, and I'd include Pierre Turgeon on that list as well. So if one is in, there's no argument to not include the others.

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#26 oilerman53
June 26 2012, 07:45PM
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This is a very strong HHOF class. Sakic terrorized the league with his lethal slapshot and charmed the pants off everyone with his class act. Bure electrified with his goals and rightfully should be in the Hall. He was one of the only pure goal scorers to dominate through much of the dead puck era. For him to score goals at the pace he did and do it while teams were clutching and grabbing and playing the famous Calgary Flames brand hockey(fist).

Oates was Butch Cassidy to Hulls sundance kid, Ron Jeremy to his John Holmes. Oates was the steak and Hull was the sizzle. Sundin I might not wholly agree with although he did make awesome soup commercials and looks good bald for as white as he is. Shanahan to me will always represent what an NHL warrior is on ice. Off ice he is solely responsible for taking the physicality outta hockey.

Theo Fleury made an interesting point about Lindros in his book. He said Lindros played head down all the time because of his junior days, in junior he was head and shoulders and basically a man child playing with adoloescent boys. He never kept his head up because nobody could physically match him in juniors. Therefore checkers would bounce off of him.

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#27 Reg Dunlop
June 27 2012, 12:15AM
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First off, congrats to the deserving inductees. Oilerman53 has it right, Sakic charmed the pants off everyone, but hopefully not his jr. coach. Did I say that? Bad, Reg. Bad.

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#28 striker777
June 27 2012, 06:06AM
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Can we please stop talking about Lindros as a HOF candidate. Great player, but not a good person. HOF should only include great players ON and OFF the ice. There are plenty of current and future candidates, besides Lindros.

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#29 T-Diggity
June 27 2012, 08:43AM
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Lots of credit to Oates for being as good a player as he was and I don't question his induction, but people give him to much credit for Hull's success in St.Louis. "Oates made Hull" is one of the bigger misconceptions out there.

Hull's center was Peter Zezel for his first 70 goal season in 1989-90. He played with Oates a lot more in his 86 goal season but he kept his pace while Oates was out for 19 games.

It should also be noted that Hull had a better points per game average than Oates in St.Louis, as well as over their careers.

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