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.
- 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.