The Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2020 remains the most recent class due to COVID-19 and all were worthy of entry.
It’s called the Hall of Fame, not the “Hall of Greatness.” To be considered to enter the Hall, you should likely have been considered one of the best at your position during the time you spent in the league. Players like Jarome Iginla have at some time held that credibility, thus justifying his first-ballot entry.
However, there are still a number of players who have not received the call that they would be making history. One player of note is former New York Islander, Pierre Turgeon.
Over a 19-year career, Turgeon played in six organizations including the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, and Colorado Avalanche.
Unlike Iginla, Turgeon didn’t spend the majority of his career playing for one club, but that shouldn’t take away from just how great he was. The Canadian center remains at the top of the non-inducted players’ list with 1,327 points in 1,294 games played. No one has more points than Turgeon that is not already in the Hall of Fame.
For starters, being above a point-per-game player, in well over 1,000 career NHL games is an amazing feat of its own. Having produced that much at the highest level of play is no fluke.
Turgeon is also part of the 500-goal club, lighting the lamp 515 times in his career. This is especially interesting when compared to 2020 first-ballot Hall of Famer, Marian Hossa, who has just 10 more career goals than Turgeon, but 193 less points. Additionally, Hossa played 15 more games than Turgeon.
The argument here might be, “well Turgeon never won a Stanley Cup.” However, the measure of a player shouldn’t rest on whether they hoisted the Stanley Cup or not. Would it be a nice addition to the resume? Absolutely, but does that make a player like Turgeon any less than he was? Absolutely not.
To win the Stanley Cup, so many things have to go right for a team as a whole, so it wouldn’t be fair to assess a player’s worth on whether or not they achieved the feat. Former Quebec Nordique and Avalanche star and current Hall of Famer, Michel Goulet, was a part of that fortune when he raised the Cup in 1996 and 2001. However, Turgeon outscored Goulet by almost 200 points in his career.
“A lot of awful good players didn’t win the Cup. What can you do?” Goulet said (from ‘Why isn’t former Avs forward Pierre Turgeon in the Hockey Hall of Fame? He and 1998 inductee Michel Goulet try to explain.,’ Denver Post, 08/11/2019). “The Cup, to me, is not a big part of being a Hall of Famer — not because I didn’t win the Cup, but in my brain, if you’re a great player for 10 to 15 years, holy cow.”
Let’s look to 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, Phil Housley. He had an incredible career amassing 1,232 points in 1,495 career games. He was named to seven All-Star games and has no personal hardware to his name.
Despite two more All-Star nominations, Turgeon eclipses Housley in career points in less career games, and has a personal award to his name. Turgeon, a five-time All-Star, was the first-overall selection of his draft year in 1987, and he certainly lived up to that selection.
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In the 1992-93 season, Turgeon scored 58 goals with the New York Islanders, entering the 50-goal scorers club. That year, he took home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the lone individual award of his career.
The 1992-93 season proved to be the best of Turgeon’s career, but if it’s longevity that is in question, then look again. “Pierre was the best player on his team for 12 to 14 straight years,” Goulet said. “That’s elite.” If that’s not enough for you, in 17 years of his 19 year career, Turgeon averaged a point per game or better.
Over the span of his career, the center had been considered one of the best at his position. In 13 of his best seasons, Turgeon was in the top-10 total points amongst centers for 7 seasons, and in the top 15 for 12 seasons.
Turgeon has more credibility than some players in the Hall of Fame already. The 2020 Hall of Fame class was his 10th-year eligible to be awarded a seat in the Hall. One would think the he’ll receive the call in the coming years, since the top point scorer not in the Hall can’t sit outside much longer.
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James is a THW New York Islanders writer and podcast host of Nassaumen Hockey Podcast. A trusted source for Islanders content for many years at THW, James is passionate about keeping Islander fans up to date on the latest in Islanders news. Other content contributions also include his Co-Editor-in-Chief status for NYIslesBlog.com. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow James on Twitter.