The 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame inductions are over, and the debate about the next class has begun. That pretty room with all the glass plaques is getting awfully crowded, so that got us thinking:
Remove two players from the Hall of Fame and tell us why.
The results are in, and you can read the selections from the Puck Daddy staff below. Please indicate your picks in the comments.
Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy Editor
I know there are going to be clarion calls for someone like Clark Gillies to be de-selected from the Hall of Fame, but I’ve long argued that the New York Islanders winger is exactly the type of player the Hall should honor: The best at what he did.
Gillies was a physically intimidating power forward who allowed the New York Islanders’ best skill players – by their own admission – to do their thing knowing he had their back. That concept seems ‘smoking on an airplane’ arcane today, but during the dynasty it was a necessary role and Gillies did it best.
He also scored 304 career goals, including 30 goals seven times. Which is more than you can say for Dick Duff, who scored 29 goals in 1958-59 but never cracked 30 in his 1,030-game NHL career. He had 283 career goals, two less than Scott Hartnell.
It was his defensive prowess that earned him a place on six Stanley Cup-winning teams, and there’s no denying that he played an integral role on these teams. Which, again, would be great were this the “Hall of Integral Role Players,” which, alas, it is not. Which is why Guy Carbonneau isn’t in the Hall of Fame, and Kris Draper won’t be in the Hall of Fame, and neither should Dick Duff be in the Hall of Fame.
But the stuff about Duff that really grinds my gears is that he represents my least favorite aspects of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He was enshrined in 2006. Why? Couldn’t tell you. He retired in 1972. Did a team of archeologists suddenly discover Dick Duff and declare “this man belongs in a museum!?” An explanation would be great, but the Hockey Hall of Fame selection process is cloaked in secrecy. The fact is that Dick Duff was a well-liked guy who for decades would charm people in interviews and likely had some friends in that selection room.
He was also a two-time Stanley Cup champion for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which means he’s yet another example of the echo chamber bias that lifts every eligible player who wore the blue pajamas to immortality despite, you know, reality.
So I would remove Dick Duff from the Hall of Fame.
That’s really the only guy whose de-selection I’m passionate about. If taxed for a second name, I’d probably go with Edmonton Oilers goaltending great Grant Fuhr, whose legacy is a classic case of myth-making and whose induction was a case of long championship coat-tails.
The unfortunately named blog Brodeur is a Fraud had a great take on Fuhr and his “clutch” play. They said it better than I could.
Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy Editor
1. Chris Pronger. Chris Pronger is now a Hockey Hall of Famer with another year and a half left on his contract with the Arizona Coyotes as he continues working in the NHL's Department of Player Safety.
How odd does that sentence sound?
This isn't questioning Pronger's HOF-worthiness. He was a no-doubt first ballot player. But what was the rush? The Hall's voting members decided to change the bylaws last March and re-write the language regarding the three-year waiting period for players.
Had the HOF not done this, Pronger, who will never play in the NHL again due to his injuries, would have been eligible beginning in 2020. Was the Chris Pronger Booster Club unable to wait five more years to see him enshrined? It's not like the 2015 class was hurting for star power.
2. Glenn Anderson. If only Dave Andreychuk played on those 1980s Edmonton Oilers teams...
Anderson was a very good player; a player who amassed 498 goals who had eight straight 30-plus goal seasons and won six Stanley Cups. He also won two Canada Cups and a silver at the Worlds for Team Canada. He put up great post-season stats. Again, a very good player.
Andreychuk's resume sees 142 more goals and 239 more points over a 20-plus year career.
To me, my Hall of Fame would be the elite of the elite; the legendary names that will never be forgotten. Instead, some years it seems like the Hall of Very Good. There's nothing wrong with being a Very Good Player, there's been so many; but take a look at some of the players who have been inducted over the years and ask yourself if the bar has been lowered a bit.
Josh Cooper, Puck Daddy Editor
I’d have to go with New York Islanders forward Clark Gillies and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr as Hall of Famers who shouldn’t be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
First, Fuhr …
His numbers are quite skewed since he played in the offensively charged 1980s. Over an 868 game NHL career he had a 3.38 goal-against average and .887 save percentage.
Even in the ‘dead puck’ era he wasn’t all that great. In 1995-96 he played 79 games for the St. Louis Blues behind a group that included Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis on defense. That season, he had a 2.87 goal-against average and .903 save percentage – still not wonderful.
Fuhr was no doubt important for the Oilers in that he stopped enough shots on goal to enable his team churn out big-time offensive numbers and win games. But to make the Hall of Fame, you need to be exceptional in your own right – not just because you played for an exceptional team.
Second, Gillies …
Gillies belongs in the Hall of Excellent, but not the Hall of Fame. He never scored 40 goals. His highest point total was 91, which came in 1978-79. He was a phenomenal power forward – but there are many power guys who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.
Would the Islanders have been a dynasty without Gillies? We’ll never know – but they still would have been good enough to win at least one Stanley Cup.
Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy columnist
Cam Neely and Grant Fuhr (whom I'd imagine is a popular choice here).
Neely was obviously a dominant goal-scorer who was slowed by injuries, but even still, I feel like if you don't have as many career games played as Darren McCarty, maybe your attendance record becomes an issue. That's the only reason I'd hold him out, but it feels like a big one.
As for Fuhr, obviously he just gets a lot of credit for playing on a great team. When they let Chris Osgood in at some point in the next few years, he will rightly be subject to the same complaint.
Also: Half the Canadiens from the 70s who made the Hall shouldn't be in for the same reason. So I'm holding out a lot more than two people but oh well.
Sam McCaig, Yahoo Hockey Editor
Preface: These guys were among the very best of their respective generations and deserve to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Period. (Preface Part 2: Also, we figured everybody else was going to say “Clark Gillies” and as someone who grew up a hardcore New York Islanders fan, I decided to recuse myself from that debate.)
But for the sake of argument, here’s why Dick Duff and (gulp) Mark Howe shouldn’t be in the Hall.
Duff, who starred for the Toronto Maple Leafs in late 1950s and early ‘60s, retired in 1972 but wasn’t inducted until 2006. Simply put, that’s way too long of a gap between the end of his career and his induction, and it smacks of the “old boys’ network” that is the biggest knock on the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. It took too long, and so it doesn’t feel quite right. That’s it. That’s the reason.
Same goes for Howe, who was one of the best two-way defensemen of his time. He retired in 1995 but wasn’t inducted until 2011. What was the holdup? Yes, there are players who get overlooked for a few years, even a decade or so, but at some point it’s just too late. Feel free to disagree … I already kind of do.
In conclusion, these aren’t powerful enough reasons to pull anyone from the Hall of Fame and we’re glad Duff and Howe – and Gillies – have their plaques and place in history.
(Of course, the Hall could assuage these debates by releasing their voting results each year, but perhaps that’s another Puck Daddy Roundtable for another time.)
*Number of times I went to the thesaurus for this blog blurb: 2 (recuse, assuage)
Who would you take out of the Hockey Hall of Fame? Answers in the comments please!