The Hockey Hall of Fame is mopping up the champagne from its 2014 induction weekend, in which Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek and Rob Blake were immortalized as players.
So the attention now turns to 2015 …
We’re going to get three new former NHL players in the Hall at a minimum next season, with two of them stone-cold locks. The rest of the field is largely unchanged from previous years; it all depends on what type of candidate the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee is looking to add.
We’ve grouped them together here based on those candidacies; so who makes the Hall in 2015?
The First-Ballot Locks
Yes, despite still being on the Philadelphia Flyers’ player payroll, Pronger is in fact eligible for the Hall of Fame next year. And he’s a lock, with the Norris Trophy and the Stanley Cup and the two Conn Smythe-worthy playoff runs and the 698 points. Arguably the most feared defenseman of his generation …
… but not the best. That’s Lidstrom, and this is one of those moments when you wish the Hockey Hall of Fame was like its baseball counterpart just to hear “unanimous” mentioned next to the Detroit Red Wings legend’s name.
Fedorov, who is in fact eligible despite participating in the Spengler Cup recently, may not be the mortal lock the other two are, but he’s expected to go first ballot. He has 1,179 points in 1,248 games, and was a point-per-game player for the first six seasons of his career. A two-time Selke winner and the 1994 Hart Trophy. Oh, and those three Stanley Cup he played a fairly large role in. That too.
Recchi has a couple of things going for him that might have him making the cut next year. First are the numbers, which are indisputable: 1,533 points, ranking him 12th all-time; 577 goals, and all but one retired player with more than that is already in the Hall.
He also played the game in a way that the committee is going to want to laud, a dogged competitor that was well-liked around the league. No shock here if he rounds out the Big Four.
Both of these players are 10-car-pile-ups of stats, longevity, personality, worthiness and accomplishment.
Lindros has the better case, ranking 19th in NHL history at 1.138 points per game and dominating for most of his 760 games before concussions felled him. Putting him in is acknowledging that stretch of domination, which included the Hart and a Cup Final appearance. Denying him is acknowledging that the attitude he had on and off the ice hasn’t been rehabilitated despite his best efforts in retirement.
Roenick also had his attitude problems as a player, and doesn’t nearly have the stats case that others do. (Although his 513 career goals are great and his points-per-game average is right with Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk.)
But if Pavel Bure gets in based partially on his cultural impact as a star player, the same could be said of Roenick – perhaps even more so.
The Stunning Numbers
These five players each have stunning numbers to their credit, if not that extra something special that makes for an automatic Hall of Famer.
Andreychuk’s 640 goals make him the only eligible player in the top 30 goal scorers of all-time not to be in the Hall. Tkachuk is at No. 31 with 538 goals.
Housley is No. 37 all-time in points at 1,232, more than several Hall of Fame forwards.
CuJo is fourth all-time in wins (let’s not talk about the losses) but lacks a Vezina and a Stanley Cup. Osgood … well, you know the deal with Osgood: Three Cups, having been the primary keeper for two of them and finishing his career as one of the best postseason performers in NHL history. He’s also 10th all-time in regular season wins.
The International Cases
Makarov had 384 points in 424 NHL games, winning the Calder at age 31. He’s the latest test case for whether it’s the Hockey Hall of Fame and NOT the NHL Hall of Fame, as his international accomplishments are extraordinary.
Mogilny has an NHL case to make, with 1,032 points in 990 games, including 473 goals. (He also won a Cup with the Devils in 2000.) But it’s his cultural impact that might put him into an elite category, what with his historic defection to the Buffalo Sabres and all.
The Forsberg/Bure Rule
Lindros aside, it’s clear the Hall of Fame Selection Committee is willing to look at a body of work and not downgrade a player for a lack of longevity. Kariya has 989 points in 989 games, was a superstar player and had international success. He only won the Lady Byng, but hit 50 goals in 1995-96. An interesting case of what was and what might have been.
The Great But Not Immortal
Again, a collection of players that have some great numbers (Verbeek, Nicholls) while others have the star quality of a Hall of Famer (Hextall). While it would be a surprise if any of them made the Hall, the selection could be justified.
The Goods But Not Greats
Or as they’re better known, “The Rest.”
There are a couple of names close to moving to the next tier, including Zubov, Brind’Amour and Lemieux, if only for his postseason stardom. But this group – including first-year eligibility players Arnott, Holmstrom and Turco – will have to settle for being stars in their day.
And finally ...
The Beloved, Overlooked Veteran
The outcry is there for the beloved former Los Angeles Kings star to join the Hall of Fame. He has comparable numbers to other Hall of Fame players, and he embodies the joy of hockey that the Hall should always seek to reward. It took Mark Howe 13 years to get in; the wait for Vachon has been considerably longer, but if Howe and Fred Shero’s inductions tell us anything it’s that the right year and the constant advocacy for a candidate can result in an induction.
So keep hope alive, Rogie Nation!
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