This week we’re debating the merits of players who may have been overlooked for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Using the Hall’s criteria of judging a player based on their “playing ability, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her team or teams and to the game of hockey in general” we will debate who should be up next for inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The first player up for debate is Jeremy Roenick.
- 513 goals (37th all-time)
- 703 assists (52nd all-time)
- 1,216 points (42nd all-time)
- 92 game-winning goals (12th all-time)
- 1,363 games (45th all-time)
- 184 power play goals (22nd all-time)
- 28 short-handed goals (26th all-time)
- 154 playoff games (76th all-time)
- 53 playoff goals (45th all-time)
- 122 playoff points (48th all-time)
Why He Should Get In:
Roenick, who appeared in nine All-Star Games, posted three-straight 100-point seasons, en route to amassing 513 career goals and 1,216 career points (both are fourth most among Hall of Fame eligible players who have not be inducted), as well as 92 game-winning goals, 12th most all-time.
He is, by many accounts, one of the two or three most accomplished players to not be inducted into the Hall. He’s one of just five American players to score 500 goals and the only one of that group who isn’t in the Hall.
He was a gritty player — Derian Hatcher broke Roenick’s jaw and he had it wired shut and came back to the ice 17 days later to play in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs — who could battle and score and really loved the game, as evidenced by the emotions he’s shown over the years when he’s cared the most. For instance, when a weird series of mishaps resulted in his 500th goal and when he, as a broadcaster, got to watch the Chicago Blackhawks, the team who drafted him eighth overall in 1988, win the Stanley Cup for the first time in his lifetime.
In addition to his impressive NHL resume, the Boston-native grabbed an Olympic silver medal in 2002 and was named to the All-Star team for the 1989 World Junior Championship and the 1991 Canada Cup. In that 1989 World Junior tournament he was the leading scorer, despite the amazing run of a Russian line featuring Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny. All of that adds to the necessity of his being inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame back in the class of 2010-11.
Why He Shouldn’t Get In:
He peaked early. While he was a solid player up until his retirement, he had three 100-point seasons before age 25 and never crossed the 80-point threshold after that. Though it could be argued that the lockout didn’t help his case, coming right after the third of those 100-point seasons, when he could had the potential to make a serious bid for a Hart Trophy.
That weighting of his career point total toward the early end of his career, coupled with a lack of hardware begins to make the case against his inclusion. Roenick never won a Stanley Cup and never won a major NHL individual trophy. He only received Hart votes in two seasons and his international play is without tournament victories. His lack of top honors goes deep, because despite his nine All-Star Game appearances, he was never named a First or Second Team All-Star for a season.
Though it’s certainly worth noting that the absence of his name on the game’s best hardware isn’t solely on him. He exhibited some strong postseason play, including four overtime playoff goals and a 0.792 playoff point per game average. That ranks 107th all-time, which isn’t grounds for inclusion itself by any stretch, but shows that he was individually effective in the long playoff runs he was a part of.
Adding to the case against him may be a tendency to mouth off. He was famously vocal throughout his career, talking trash about other players when he questioned their hits, when he wanted a penalty shot on Patrick Roy in the playoffs (which induced Roy to say his well-known line about not being able to hear Roenick with two Stanley Cup rings plugging his ears), and he also told fans who didn’t like the players’ stance in the lockout to “kiss my ass.” It’s not a reason for exclusion, but it may influence some voters.
I think he’s in. He’s been eligible since 2012 and it’s probably fair that he wasn’t a first ballot guy. He doesn’t have the record of a Nik Lidstrom or Sergei Fedorov, but he should nonetheless get his due. With a rather weak class in 2016-17 that doesn’t feature any first ballot locks, his time could come soon.
What do you think? Should Jeremy Roenick be in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
More Hall of Fame Debates:
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.