Wednesday, November 5, 2008
QOTW answers: Bure, Ciccarelli on your future Hall of Fame ballots
Reading the posts from our latest Question of the Week reminded me of many debates I've had sitting on the dock at my cottage two hours north of Toronto. There's something about Hockey Hall of Fame discussions that gets people agitated.
Let's take a look at some pearls of wisdom:
howehatrick: What a great class! Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Brian Leetch are no-brainers. Dino Ciccarelli had better get in. If he doesn't, I know some of the voters never watched him play. He squeezed a ton of production out of that small frame. Maybe the toughest guy in front of the net of all time! Pavel Bure should get in as well, but may have to wait a year or two. A lot of former Red Wings in that group
clrkaitken: With apologies to two greats (Adam Oates and Pavel Bure), it simply has to be Yzerman, Hull, Robitaille, and Leetch next year. Yzerman is only one of the greatest players of all time, the longest serving captain in league history. I think it's a shame that that new Messier Award wasn't named after Stevie Y. I always thought Mess' leadership skills were a tad overrated.
Hull is simply the purest goal scorer the league has seen since Mike Bossy. Too bad that Oates can't get in this year with him. It would be poetic justice for the induction to include Oates to Hull, one last time. "Lucky" Luc, the highest-scoring left winger in league history. And Brian Leetch, without question the greatest American player of all time. I got to watch him day in and day out for a month when he joined the Leafs for their '04 run. Amazing. He had the greatest ability to read the ice since Paul Coffey.
My take: Lots to get to here. First of all, I'd be shocked if Yzerman, Hull, Robitaille and Leetch weren't the four inductees announced in June. They're seen as shoe-ins by people in my industry, much as Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis, Ron Francis and Messier were last November. A maximum of four people can be inducted in the players category. We'll get to other names here below that I agree deserve a look, but there's no question those above are in for sure in June.
Hockey0733: Dino Ciccarelli should definitely get in. How can anyone deny 608 goals?
My take: Funny story. A few years back in Ciccarelli's first year of eligibility, I was still working at the Canadian Press when I phoned Ciccarelli on the June day when the Hall was announcing the inductees for that year. When Ciccarelli's name wasn't among them, I was surprised and decided to phone him for his reaction. Problem is, he was sitting by the phone waiting for the Hall to call him. He didn't know he hadn't made it in until I phoned. You see, the Hall doesn't phone the guys who don't get in. I felt like an idiot for being the one to tell him.
The best explanation I get from hockey people whose opinions I trust is that Ciccarelli is viewed somewhat as a one-dimensional player from an era when goals were easier to come by. Still, to me, he's a Hall of Famer. Hopefully, one day, his omission will be rectified.
clcavanagh: Why does nobody ever mention Luc Robitaille? With 668 goals and 1,394 points, I think that makes him one of the most underrated players in any of the 4 major sports ever.
My take: Believe me, Lucky Luc gets plenty of attention and he'll be among the four next June, as I stated above. Great career for a player who went in the ninth round of the 1984 NHL draft. (MLB pitcher Tom Glavine went before him.) The knock on Robitaille was that he couldn't skate. Some trivia for you puck heads: Robitaille's junior coach in Hull? Pat Burns. Another teammate of Robitaille in Hull: Pat Brisson, now one of the NHL's top player agents.
rjs162: Tom Barrasso -- 369 wins to go with Calder, Vezina, Jennings Trophies and two-time Stanley Cup winner. Could have won the Smythe in either of those seasons.
My take: Andy Moog, John Vanbiesbrouck and Mike Vernon have more career wins than Barrasso, and none of them is in the Hall, either. I think Barrasso has a case, but it's not overwhelming. And he wasn't exactly Mr. Congeniality during his playing career, and believe me, that influences the 18-member selection committee! There were also a few posts supporting Mike Richter. His 301 wins are even fewer than the group above. Clutch goalie, though.
nhldude11: Since this is the Hockey Hall of Fame and not simply the NHL, I would induct Russian Sergei Makarov. His linemate [Igor] Larionov is going in this year, and he helped the Soviets win gold in '84 and '88, plus numerous amounts of World Championships. If he played in the NHL for his entire career, he would easily have 500 goals and over 1,000 points. He did win the Calder in 1990, and had a moderately successful, but brief NHL career.
My take: Larionov was a shoe-in, but it's going to be a tougher case to sell Makarov, whose NHL foray didn't quite have the impact or longevity of Larionov's. Still, Makarov piled up 384 points in 424 NHL games, almost a point-a-game pace, and like Larionov, this was done mostly past his prime. When push comes to shove, I would hope there would be a place for all three members of the KLM line, a legendary unit that dominated international hockey in the 1980s. (Larionov recalls those days with me later this week in my Hall of Fame piece on him.)
SteveWalsh1971: One of the problems is the bar is so low. Part of it has to do with the tremendous difficulty in assigning value to the different era's statistics. Take the '80s. Pond hockey flourished. John Ogrodnick, Blaine Stoughton, Al Secord, Jacques Richard, Pierre Larouche, Wayne Babych all scored 50 goals; many, like Mike Rogers, had 100-point seasons. Most teams at the time had at least one player who had 100 points it seemed. Bernie Federko is very much an '80s player in my mind. The stats are tough to read.
I watched Dave Andreychuk's whole career, and he was very rarely the best player on his team, let alone his conference or the league. Not to say he wasn't good. His stats say he should be in, but my gut doesn't. Maybe it's the same for Dino
The case made for Rick Middleton below is a great example. On its own, it looks solid; compared to another questionable HOFer Bill Barber, it's a no-brainer Rick Middleton should be in.
Clark Gillies was a dominant force in the '70s for a dynastic team, but was he better than Doug Gilmour? Different players, times and teams. This conversation isn't going to get any easier in the upcoming years.
My take: Mr. Walsh, fantastic post. I agree with much of what you said there. That's why the selection committee has such a tough job. It's not just about stats but also, in my opinion, where that player stood against the rest of the league during his era.
WB Philip: Here are eight players' career statistics. You decide the Hall of Famer.
Player A) 1,191 games, 512 goals, 814 assists, 1,326 points, 500 PIMs
Player B) 726 395 299 694 326
Player C) 968 428 435 863 255
Player D) 1000 369 701 1070 482
Player E) 1160 239 252 501 585
Player F) 1089 548 604 1152 825
Player G) 1639 640 698 1338 1125
A) Gilbert Perrault HOF
B) Cam Neely HOF
C) Yvon Cournover HOF
D) Bernie Federko HOF
E) Bob Gainey HOF
F) Michel Goulet HOF
G) Dave Andreychuk -- up for induction (Surprise!)
Dave Andreychuk also captained a young Tampa Bay Lightning team to a Stanley Cup late in his career. Longevity, numbers, performance and leadership are the Hockey Hall of Fame's criteria for inclusion. Andreychuk embodies all of these attributes. Dave belongs in with Yzerman and Hull.
My take: WP Philip makes an outstanding case for Dave Andreychuk. I bet not too many people answered that quiz of his. Still, when I mention Dave's name to other contemporaries of mine or other NHL coaches or scouts, few rate him as a Hall of Famer. I fear his hanging around over the last five, six years as a checker might hurt his case. But I hope I'm wrong. Great guy.
My final point: Two players who I believe have been overlooked in the last few years and who I hope get in are Pavel Bure and Doug Gilmour.
The Russian Rocket had a short career, and that is what is going to hurt him (although Cam Neely got in). But Bure answers an important definition for me when it comes to Hall of Famers: Was he among the best at his position for at least a few years during his career? Ah, yes, and then some.
He was a two-time 60-goal scorer, thank you very much (plus, he had seasons of 58 and 59 goals). He was the best goal scorer in the game in his heyday.
Gilmour was a major contributor to the Flames teams of the late '80s that ultimately won a Cup in 1989. He then almost single-handedly turned around the sad-sack Toronto Maple Leafs in the early '90s and carried them on his back to two straight conference finals appearances. His playoff performances in those springs are legendary. And yes, he was among the best at his position for a good five-year period. "Killer" deserves to be in.