Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Pavel Bure and Adam Oates are set to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, and there’s no arguing with their credentials. But there are many other deserving candidates, all waiting and hoping to one day get their plaque on the wall. Here’s a look at the top Hall contenders.
STARTING LINEUP: The best goalie, two defensemen and three forwards who aren’t in the Hall of Fame – yet.
Tom Barrasso: He was never a media favorite, but the Boston native should eventually find his way into the Hall. Barrasso went directly from U.S. high school to the NHL in 1983, and as a 19-year-old freshman with the Buffalo Sabres he claimed the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie and the Vezina as the best netminder. With 369 career wins, he’s got a spot in the top 20 all-time for the foreseeable future. But the clincher, of course, was the back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 in ’92.
Kevin Lowe: Six Stanley Cups should at least get you in the Hall of Fame conversation. Lowe played second fiddle to Paul Coffey on Edmonton’s blue line during the 1980s dynasty days, and he was a footnote while Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri & Co. dominated the headlines. But Lowe was a rock, a prototype No. 2 defenseman, and nobody played more games for the Oilers (both in the regular season and playoffs). He’s probably the best NHL defenseman who’s not in the Hall, but he’s a bubble candidate at best.
Teppo Numminen: Like Lowe, Numminen had a long NHL career (starting in 1988 and ending 1,372 games later in 2009). And the Finnish-born blue liner had more flash, was more mobile and contributed more on the offensive side of the puck than his counterpart in Edmonton. Unfortunately for Numminen, he played for the Winnipeg Jets teams that Lowe’s Oilers would mow through every postseason, and he never won any individual awards either. He’s a long shot, and his presence in the Starting Lineup speaks more to the dearth of snubbed Hall-worthy D-men than anything else.
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Brendan Shanahan: He’s 13th all-time in goals (656), 25th in points (1,354) and won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. An all-around power forward like few before or since, Shanahan is the only NHL player with more than 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes. He hit the 50-goal plateau twice, scored 40-plus four other times and surpassed 100 penalty minutes in 17 of his first 20 seasons. A shoo-in for the Hall, he should’ve been a first-ballot entrant.
Alex Mogilny: The man they called ‘Magic’ might be the most skilled player who’s not in the Hall. A sublime skater with blazing speed, Mogilny scored 76 goals (and 127 points) in 77 games for the Sabres in 1992-93, and had a 55-goal season for the Vancouver Canucks in ’95-96. He averaged more than a point per game over the course of his career – 1,032 points, including 473 goals, in 990 contests. His lone Stanley Cup came with Devils in 2000. He’ll be in the Hall soon enough.
Jeremy Roenick: Say what you want about wild ‘n’ crazy J.R., he was a gamer who came to play and had the talent to back up his talk. He reeled off three straight 100-plus seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks in the early 1990s – and scored 12 goals and 22 points in 18 playoff games while leading the ’Hawks to the 1992 Cup final, where they fell to the Penguins. Roenick was fast, physical and loved to score, piling up 513 goals and 1,216 points in a 1,363-game that spanned 20 seasons. He never won the Cup, never captured a major individual award, and Mike Modano gets the credit as the best American NHLer of all-time. But Roenick will be a very deserving inductee when he gets the call.
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THE BENCH: The best of the rest, in approximate order by position.
Goalies: Rogie Vachon, Lorne Chabot, Curtis Joseph, Mike Vernon, Ron Hextall, Mike Richter, John Vanbiesbrouck.
Defensemen: With all due respect to the rearguards, it’s tough to make the case that anyone’s missing. Fans of Tomas Jonsson and Jean-Guy Talbot may disagree.
Forwards: Dave Andreychuk, Gary Roberts, Steve Larmer, Mats Naslund, Hakan Loob, Claude Lemieux, Claude Provost, John LeClair, Ralph Backstrom, Rick Middleton, Tony Amonte, Dale Hunter, Peter Bondra, Dave Taylor, Rick Tocchet, Pierre Turgeon, Bobby Holik, Mike Peca, Stephane Richer, Vincent Damphousse, Pat Verbeek, Brian Bellows.
(UPDATE: Somehow forgot about Eric Lindros. Geez, talk about no respect. A divisive figure to be sure, but Lindros absolutely dominated when he was on his game. He belongs in the Starting Lineup, as well as in the Hall of Fame. And while we're talking omissions, let's get Theoren Fleury on The Bench.)