3 Former Blues Who Are Hall of Fame Worthy

Induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame is the highest honor an NHL player can achieve, but for many, it is elusive. Unlike baseball, which has some clear statistical thresholds that virtually guarantee a trip to Cooperstown, hockey’s standards for induction seem to be much more subjective. Stanley Cups carry significant weight, as do individual trophies. But silverware isn’t the end-all, be-all. Statistics matter, but how much they matter seems to be a sliding scale.

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That milieu of hard-to-pin-down factors, plus the limited number (four) of inductions per year, make the Hockey Hall of Fame one of the most difficult honors to achieve in any sport. And that means that over time, quite a few deserving (or at least arguably deserving) players have ended up on the outside looking in. And in this article, we’ll discuss three of those players who spent a significant portion of their career with the St. Louis Blues.

Alex Pietrangelo

At 34 and with several seasons of NHL play still ahead of him, Alex Pietrangelo is already well on his way to having a Hall of Fame career. Barring unforeseen absences, he will play his 1,000th NHL game on Feb. 12 against the Minnesota Wild, putting him on pace to finish his career with 1,300-1,400 total games. As of this writing, only 20 defensemen have played more than 1,300 career NHL games, with just 37 surpassing 1,200 — either number would put Pietrangelo in elite company. But his accolades go well beyond racking up games played.

Pietrangelo captained the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup victory, an achievement that should one day earn him a statue outside the Enterprise Center. And in the 2022-23 season, he was an integral piece in helping the Vegas Golden Knights win their first-ever Stanley Cup, logging 23:25 in average time on ice (ATOI) in 21 games played. To be a part of two first-ever Stanley Cup teams is an incredible accomplishment that will surely weigh heavily in his Hall of Fame candidacy.

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Some factors weigh against Pietrangelo. He has never won individual hardware, nor has he even been a Norris Trophy finalist at any point in his career, though he’s received votes in eight seasons and finished as high as fourth twice. He has appeared on the NHL Second All-Star Team three times. But he’s never led the league in any significant category and isn’t an elite point-generator from the blueline, though he has been a steady offensive player throughout his career. Even with those shortcomings, Pietrangelo’s candidacy is very strong. In 10 years, when voters reflect on the 2010s, he will shine through as one of the best defensemen of his era, and captaining a team to their first-ever Cup after a 50-plus year drought should be the accomplishment that pushes his candidacy over the edge.

Keith Tkachuk

These days, the name Tkacuk is more synonymous with Keith’s sons, Matthew and Brady. But they have a long way to go before they match the career of their father, already a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. Drafted 19th overall in the 1990 Draft, the elder Tkachuk spent most of his career with the Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes and the Blues (as well as 19 games with the Atlanta Thrashers). He was a two-time All-Star, but never collected individual awards, and the Stanley Cup eluded him throughout his career. Still, by the time he retired, he had played 1,201 games, with 538 goals and 1,065 points, along with 2,219 penalty minutes.

Keith Tkachuk, Winnipeg Jets
Keith Tkachuk during his time as captain of the Winnipeg Jets (Mandatory Credit: Al Bello/ALLSPORT)

The final captain of the first era of the Jets, and the inaugural captain of the Arizona Coyotes, Tkachuk was a leader on the ice throughout his career. Affectionately known as “Big Walt,” he is one of the greatest ever American hockey players. He ranks 33rd in all-time goals and is one of just three players (along with Brendan Shanahan and Pat Verbeek) with over 500 goals and over 2,000 penalty minutes. His number 7 is honored by both the Coyotes and the Blues.

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There are plenty of reasons he should be in contention, but, like Pietrangelo, the individual honors eluded him during his playing career. Still, Tkachuk has one major advantage: while one’s progeny shouldn’t be a qualification for induction, the high level of play expected from both Brady and Matthew will keep Keith at the forefront of hockey’s consciousness for many years to come. Over time, his candidacy will be evaluated again and again, and he should eventually get in. Though it isn’t the ultimate goal Tkachuk did join the Blues Hall of Fame in 2024.

Jay Bouwmeester

Jay Bouwmeester was a sensational player in his career, but as a defensive defenseman, the case for his candidacy is difficult to make statistically. He played an impressive 1,240 games before a cardiac event brought a sudden end to his career. Drafted third overall in 2002 by the Florida Panthers, he played for the Panthers, the Calgary Flames, and the Blues, and he maintained a reputation for being a top defensive defenseman throughout his career, as well as an elite skater. He also had the ninth-longest iron man streak in NHL history, playing 737 consecutive games from March 6, 2004 to Nov. 22, 2014.

Jay Bouwmeester Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup
Jay Bouwmeester #19 and Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate after winning the Stanley Cup. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Without points to prove his case, Bouwmeester’s candidacy rests on three main arguments: first, he was a top pick and a high-end defender throughout his career. But that alone doesn’t get one into the Hall of Fame. Second, he alone among these three candidates won a Stanley Cup. More importantly, he played a critical shutdown role for the Blues alongside Colton Parayko during that Cup run. Without Bouwmeester, it’s inconceivable that the Blues could have won that Cup.

The third and most important accomplishment that points Bouwmeester towards the Hall of Fame is his membership in an exclusive club. By securing the Stanley Cup, Bouwmeester became the 29th and the most recent member of hockey’s Triple Gold Club. The Triple Gold Club is an exclusive group of players who have won a World Junior Championship gold medal, an Olympic gold medal, and a Stanley Cup. Of the active players to have accomplished the feat, most are dyed-in-the-wool Hall of Famers, and no one is without a strong argument for induction.

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Bouwmeester will have a mountain to overcome without counting stats. But voters should keep in mind the abrupt end to his career as well. He is currently tied for 100th in NHL games played but might have climbed much higher with good health. His candidacy depends entirely on how much voters will value defense and championships, but he was a terrific player for a very long time.

Hall of Famers in the Making?

The Blues have had many good players throughout their franchise history. But are any players on the current roster potential Hall of Fame inductees? Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou seem like they might be at the beginning of superstar careers. Who do you think will be the next Blue or former Blue to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame? Let us know in the comments.