With the 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame induction in the books, it’s time to turn an eye to the potential class of 2015. It is quite the extensive list and fairly astonishing that only four will make the cut. One wonders how a player can be delayed if said player is a virtual lock right off the rip. This is how we end up with a Pat Burns situation and it should really be fixed. While I can understand the Hall not wanting the class to be over-saturated, giving those elected the spotlight to shine, the numbers on a player aren’t going to change five, ten or twenty years after that player has retired.
Ah but I digress. Taking a glimpse at the class of 2015, there’s Nicklas Lidstrom and his teammate Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger, Jeremy Roenick, Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, Phil Housley, Dave Andreychuk, Bill Guerin, Mark Recchi, Eric Lindros, Alexander Mogilny, Claude Lemieux, Markus Naslund, Jason Arnott, Brendan Morrison, Petr Sykora, Jason Blake, Andrew Brunette, Brian Rolston, Doug Weight and John Madden. Within that list there are four players with over 500 goals scored and one with more than 600 tallies. So if you’re banking on the first three names mentioned as virtual locks, at least three and possibly all four of those 500-goal scorers will be relegated to the same fate as the likes of Pat Verbeek, Pierre Turgeon and Peter Bondra. Mind you there is need for context aside from numbers. For instance, nobody is saying Recchi is better than Mike Bossy, even tough he has four more career goals but it is interesting how a guy with 577 and three Stanley Cups to his credit could get shutout the first time around.
My four look something like this:
- Nicklas Lidstrom – Quite possibly the smoothest skating defenceman of his era. His career stretched three decades and he helped the Detroit Red Wings win four Stanley Cup titles. Lidstrom was a cornerstone on the blue line in Motown. He was a 12 time All-Star, won seven James Norris Trophy Awards and the Conn Smythe Award in 2001-02. His final Norris came at age 40. He could still suit up today at age 44.
- Sergei Fedorov – The best center on those Detroit teams not named Stevie Y. Fedorov was a solid two-way forward and helped guide the Red Wings to three Cups. Fedorov potted 30 goals or more, ten-times in a season, with a career best 56 (39 of which were a league best at even strength) coming during the 1993-94 campaign. In addition to six All-Star appearances, Fedorov earned a Hart Trophy, two Frank J. Selke Trophies and the Ted Lindsay Award.
- Keith Tkachuk – From when he broke into the league in 1991-92, there was no better left-wing than Tkachuk. No player making his debut that year had as many career goals and only Pavel Bure and Scott Niedermayer (and eventually Martin Brodeur) are in the Hall at this point. Tkachuk was a true power forward and that he played the bulk of his career in mid to smaller markets (Winnipeg, Phoenix, St. Louis, Atlanta), shouldn’t be held against him. A five-time All-star, Tkachuk netted 538 goals and led the league with 52, including 41 even-strength tallies in 1996-97. Tkachuk twice totaled 50 or more, four times had 40 or more and nine times registered 30 plus markers in a season. Yes I’m well aware that he only ever even reached the Western Conference Finals once but a lot of teams had to deal with the likes of Detroit, Colorado and Dallas during that era. Although I’m sure the same case could be made for a guy like Mogilny and he won a Cup.
- Claude Lemieux – Lemieux was one of the most clutch performers of his era. Lemieux and his 379 career goals are tied with Ted Lindsay. Like Lindsay, Leimeux also won four Cups. Lindsay is in the Hall of Fame. Lemieux was a supreme agitator and had skill to boot. Lemieux topped over 30-goals five-times in his career, including a season best 41 in 1991-92. I know what you’re saying, he didn’t even post 400 goals. Yeah but his 80 in the playoffs were pretty darn important and they sure as heck weren’t compiler goals either. Not yet a rookie in 1985-86, Lemieux netted ten goals in the playoffs and ten overall, helping the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup title. In 1994-95, Lemieux led the postseason with 13 goals (all even strength) and four game winners, on his way to a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup title for the New Jersey Devils. The following season, Lemieux would help the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup and the year after that, he would lead all postseason scorers with 13 goals and four game winners. Lemieux would help the Devils win a second Cup in 1999-00. In total, Lemieux would record 80 playoff goals, including 19 game winners.
In the end, I’m sure the first two guys will get in and more than likely Chris Pronger and one of the 500-goal scorers. Regardless of who is inducted, it’s always a fun debate and discussion.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.