This past week was a big day for a few former hockey players both NHL and when it comes to the women’s international game. On Wednesday, June 24, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2020 inductees – including Doug Wilson, Kevin Lowe, Kim St. Pierre, Ken Holland (under the builder’s category) and first-ballot players in Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa.
Now, for those of you that’ve followed me for some time, you’ll remember my sentiments regarding the Hockey Hall of Fame and the saturation of players being inducted on a year-to-year basis.
But for a second, let me rescind that thought. After all, the crop is getting thicker and more and more players are becoming deserving of the call to the hall. It’s becoming a tough job every year for the panel to make the decision on who gets in and who has to wait an extra year to see if they will be forever enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
While I won’t be one to criticize and call out the players that were named as inductees in the class of 2020, as each one is deserving based on their respective careers, I will suggest that it’s coming to a point where it’s hard not to vote in more than just those named in this year’s list of inductees.
Let’s face it – Iginla, Hossa, St. Pierre and the others all deserved induction for multiple different reasons. Even if Hossa became just the second player – joining Chris Pronger – to be inducted while still under contract, his three Stanley Cups made him a given.
It doesn’t change the fact that there are a number of other players that are both deserving and shoe-ins to be Hall of Fame inductees. But based on the standards, these players are waiting year after year to have their names called and at what point will we refer to their careers as Hall of Fame careers?
With that, here’s a look at some of the names left off the list of inductees again in 2020 – names that should be or should have already been considered for induction into the hockey lore.
Is there really any question that Alexander Mogilny deserves a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame? The talented Russian defected from the Soviet Union in 1989 and that’s when his heralded NHL career began.
Mogilny played 16 seasons in the NHL, debuting with the Buffalo Sabres as a 20-year-old in 1989-90. He tallied 15 goals and 43 points in 65 games his rookie season and his career took off from that point.
He went on to have two 100-point seasons – including a career-high 127 points in 1992-93 with the Sabres. He won the Lady Byng with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002-03 and was part of the Stanley Cup winning New Jersey Devils in 1999-2000.
If the awards aren’t enough to get you, his career numbers are also staggering. In 16 NHL seasons, Mogilny scored 473 goals and 1,032 points in 990 regular season games. That’s an average of 1.04 points per game over his career.
On top of that, he was a part of 12 playoff seasons accumulating 86 points in 124 career playoff games, including the Stanley Cup. He was a two-time NHL All-Star and currently sits 78th on the NHL’s all-time points list and 54th on the all-time goals list.
Still not convinced? The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy recently explored Mogilny’s journey to the NHL – another convincing aspect to his game that should warrant a call from the Hall.
When Mogilny came over in 1989, he became the first player to defect from the Soviet Union after a gold-medal win at the World Championship in Stockholm. The story only gets better as his hid from the KGB awaiting the okay to enter the United States. That alone opened the door to so many more talented players to come over and join NHL franchises.
Still, his international resume was much like his NHL one in that he is a member of the Triple Gold Club – having a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold and World Championship gold – and he carried that throughout his NHL career becoming one of the ultimate scorers during his career.
How he is not yet in the Hall of Fame is baffling to me.
If you’ve followed my writing, you know that I’m an advocate for this eligible player – Theoren Fleury. An eighth-round draft pick (166th overall) by the Calgary Flames in 1987, the odds were stacked against Fleury long before he entered the league.
During his playing days, nobody in the hockey world knew the kind of trauma Fleury had experienced in his life leading to him becoming an NHL player, but the stories and the dark truth came out following his struggles with substance abuse derailed the tail end of his NHL career.
Without driving home his personal story – prior to his NHL career – Fleury was abused by a former coach which led him down a number of dark roads throughout his playing days and his life. That said, what Fleury was able to do on the ice absolutely dazzled those that came out to watch the undersized winger.
Related: Theo Fleury Hall of Fame Worthy
Fleury made his NHL debut in 1988-89 as a 20-year-old with the Calgary Flames. He notched 14 goals and 34 points in 36 regular season games his rookie season before adding 11 points in 22 playoff games to help the Flames to a Stanley Cup victory – not a bad way to start an NHL career.
While he’s best known for his time with the Flames, Fleury had stops in Colorado, New York with the Rangers and Chicago before his career came to a close in 2002-03 after a number of substance abuse issues that drove him away from the game.
Still, he finished a 15-year career with 455 goals and 1,088 points in 1,084 games. He added 79 points in 77 playoff games over eight seasons and was named an NHL all-star in 1994-95.
Forget for a second what he did off the ice and look at the numbers alone. He has five medals from international play, including a World Junior gold medal, a Canada Cup gold medal and an Olympic gold medal. How many players can say they’ve won at every level they play at?
Even now, Fleury remains 58th all-time in goals and 64th all-time in points. While he may not have been the model player off the ice, what he did to overcome what he had experienced in his life is shouldn’t be a factor in whether or not he earned himself a spot in the Hall of Fame.
After all, look what he’s done since his playing days. He opened the door to the conversation about abuse in hockey and on top of that remains one of the more dynamic players – especially at his size – to play the game during his tenure in the NHL.
Wait, what? That’s right. I want to argue that Lorne Chabot should get the call to the Hall of Fame. Now, it could be that his career just wasn’t long enough. Maybe his totals aren’t as high as the next person in line, but Chabot did have some incredible numbers for the years that he did play.
Chabot debuted with the Rangers in 1926-27 as a 26-year-old. He played 37 games that season and finished with a 22-9-5 record to go along with a 1.51 goals against average (GAA) and 10 shutouts. From there, his numbers remained quite impressive.
He went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL with the Rangers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Black Hawks, Montreal Maroons and New York Americans. In 412 regular season games over that span, he finished with a 200-146-62 record, a 2.03 career GAA and 71 shutouts.
On top of that he had a 13-17-6 playoff record in 37 games, a 1.51 GAA over that span and was a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the 1927-28 Rangers and 1931-32 Maple Leafs.
He won the 1934-35 Vezina Trophy as a member of the Black Hawks and was named to the NHL’s All-Star team the same season.
But if that’s not enough, consider this. He’s fourth all-time on the NHL’s career goals against average list (2.03) which only contains goaltenders who played at least 200 career games. He’s among the top 100 in all-time wins (tied in 91st) and is tied in 12th in all-time shutouts.
Those numbers aren’t bad for a player who only played just over 400 NHL games. Is it enough? Well, it hasn’t been up to this point.
Finally, there’s Curtis Joseph. Another goaltender well worth watching during his career, CuJo made his NHL debut as a 22-year-old with the St. Louis Blues in 1989-90. He played 15 games and finished with a 9-5-1 record with a 3.38 GAA and .890 save percentage (Sv%).
But over the goaltenders 19-year career, those numbers jumped. He played 943 career regular season games and accumulated a 454-352-96 record. He had a .906 Sv% and 2.79 GAA with 51 shutouts over that span.
While he doesn’t have the Stanley Cup to go with his name, Joseph was a member of the gold medal Canadian teams at both the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and 2007 Spengler Cup. He also took home silver medals at the 1996 World Championships and 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Related: Hall of Fame Debates – Curtis Joseph
He’s sixth all-time in games played among NHL goaltenders. He’s seventh all-time in wins and tied for 26th in shutouts.
As for his playoff numbers, he’s also among the best in goalie categories – including sixth in games played (133), fifth in saves (3,600) and third in shutouts (16).
International accomplishments and all-time ranks alone, Joseph has certainly made his argument to get his call to the Hall of Fame.
A Few Others…
A couple of others worth noting are Bernie Nicholls, Daniel Alfredsson and Pierre Turgeon.
Nicholls finished with 1,209 points in 1,127 regular season games that spanned over an 18-year career with six different teams. Like Joseph, he doesn’t have the Stanley Cup, but he added 114 playoff points in 118 games. He’s 47th all-time on the NHL’s points list and 47th on the all-time assists list. Still he sits on the outside looking in.
Alfredsson – another non-Cup eligible player – finished his career with 1,157 points in 1,246 career regular season games. He played 18 seasons, 17 of which were with the Ottawa Senators with his final season spent in Detroit. He won the Calder Trophy in 1995-96, the King Clancy in 2011-12 and the Mark Messier Award in 2012-13. In 15 playoff seasons, he accumulated 51 goals and 100 points in 124 career playoff games. And my guess is he’s not far from making an appearance in the Hall.
As for Turgeon, he’s one of the most productive players still not inducted into the Hall of Fame. A first-round pick in 1987, Turgeon scored 515 goals and 1,327 points in 1,294 regular season games. He won the Lady Byng in 1992-93 as a 23-year-old with the Islanders and was a member of six teams over his career – including the Sabres, Blues, Islanders, Canadiens, Stars and Avalanche. His 19-year career, included 15 trips to the playoffs, but like the others he never landed the coveted Stanley Cup. He did tally 97 points in 109 playoff games.
Turgeon is 65th all-time in games played. He’s 39th all-time in goals and 32nd all-time in points. Still, Turgeon remains outside the Hall of Fame.
Whether the Hall of Fame inducts too many people or not these days is not the discussion. Instead, let’s turn the page on that and we’ve discussed the names that aren’t there yet that may deserve to be there. Either way, there will always be a yearly debate that occurs following the induction announcement and there will always be someone left on the outside looking in.
Have thoughts about the column? Let me know on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes or @Tape2TapeTHW.
Tape2Tape is a column looking at some of the biggest stories from around the world of hockey. Discussing different topics, it focuses on delivering some opinion to hockey’s biggest fans. Whether you agree or disagree, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.