2011 NHL Hall of Fame: 10 Players That Should Be in the Hall
Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr—the list goes on. The Hockey Hall of Fame is a hallowed place that celebrates the careers of some of our game's finest. Its halls are lined with the memories of the few who changed the game of hockey. The history that the building holds dates back to the second world war.
The Hall—at 30 Yonge Street, in Toronto—truly is the home of hockey.
Those who have excelled in the sport will get to see their names honoured in the Hall. Every June, an 18-person committee of players and coaches meets to discuss and decide who the next inductees will be. Usually, there are four per year. A person can be honoured as a player, a builder (meaning either a coach or a general manager) or an on-ice official.
This year, goalie Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour, defenseman Mark Howe, and forwards Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk will be inducted—all in the players category.
Following is a list of 10 players who should be considered for induction sooner rather than later.
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Having been a prolific scorer at the OHL level, Andreychuk was drafted 16th-overall in 1982 by the Buffalo Sabres. He would go on to play 24 years in the NHL, a career spanning across six teams. Though he retired in 2006 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he also served the Maple Leafs, the Devils, the Bruins and the Avalanche.
While he never beat 100 points, he came close—tallying 53 goals and 99 points in his career season with Toronto in 1993-94.
He sits fifth on the league's all-time list for games played (with 1,639), and first in all-time power-play goals (with 274).
He did, however, have to wait until his last full season to win a Stanley Cup—a feat he accomplished in 2003-04 with the Lightning. He also won a bronze medal with the Canadian National Team at the 1986 Olympics in Leningrad.
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Pavel Bure is, simply put, one of the most prolific scorers the NHL has ever seen.
Having made his professional debut with the Red Army at 16, the "Russian Rocket" was drafted by Vancouver in the sixth round in 1989. He spent seven seasons there—his best coming in 1992-93 with 60 goals and 110 points—before being traded to the Florida Panthers in 1999. He retired as a member of the New York Rangers in 2005.
Bure holds many records from his junior days in Russia; his dominant play there certainly carried over to the NHL. A player similar to Alex Ovechkin, he used his speed and his size to bully defenders. He is one of the few players who has contributed for both the USSR team and the Russian team, and he is one of the greatest players in the history of each.
More than anyone else, Pavel Bure definitely deserves to be in the Hall.
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The 1987 NHL entry draft would see its perhaps biggest claim to fame get drafted late in the eighth round by the Calgary Flames. While he produced outrageous numbers in the WHL (he posted 160 points the year after he was drafted), Saskatchewan native Theoren Fleury dropped so far for one reason: his 5'6", 1.62M stature.
Fleury is seen by many as a pioneer. Similar to the way Willie O'Ree opened the NHL door to African-Americans, Fleury was the first modern player of his size to truly succeed at the top level.
Although he reached both the 100-point and 50-goal plateaus as a player, Fleury is not featured on any of the NHL's top statistical leaderboards. As a player, he was never able to reach any significant milestones, mainly due to the drug and alcohol problems that dogged him throughout his career—problems that are now behind him.
Who knows how high Fleury might have been able to climb had he been able to overcome his issues at an earlier age.
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Unlike many of the players on this list, Forsberg was likely already Hall-of-Fame bound at the age of 23. The then second-year player single-handedly led Colorado in their first season in Denver, putting up an incredible 86 assists and 116 points. Colorado won the Stanley Cup that year.
The Örnsköldsvik native was initially drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers at sixth-overall in 1991, but was traded (without having played in an NHL game) to the Quebec Nordiques in the Blockbuster Eric Lindros deal.
Forsberg went on to win another cup with Colorado in 2001. While injuries prevented him from reaching the 1,000-point platform, success has followed him wherever he has gone. He is one of only three players to be eligible for the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, World Championships, Olympics) twice.
Having put up 31 points in only seven games at the 1993 World Junior Championships, he set an all-time tournament record that still stands. He also played in seven All-Star Games. He retired from the NHL last season with an outrageous plus/minus rating of minus-238. The list goes on and on.
The player affectionately nicknamed "Foppa" in his native Sweden certainly is one of the game's all-time greats.
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Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Scott Stevens, Bobby Orr, Nicklas Lidström: You simply cannot go through the list of the NHL's greatest-ever defensemen without mentioning the Swede. The 6'1" Västerås native was drafted in the third round in 1989 by the Detroit Red Wings, and theirs is the only jersey he has ever put on.
Nicklas "Lidas" Lidström may well have the most decorated career of any player in NHL history. His biggest claim to fame is his incredible seven Norris Trophies (best defenseman), a number which trails only Bobby Orr (8).
Like Forsberg, Lidström is a member of the Triple Gold Club, having won the Stanley Cup four times, all with the Wings. He is a former Conn Smythe Award winner and has been an NHL All-Star 12 times. He has been the Wings' captain since 2006 and has recorded as many as 80 points in a single season.
Lidström is different from the other players on this list because he has yet to retire from the NHL. After contemplating retirement after this past season, he decided instead to come back, signing another one-year deal—this one worth $6.2 million.
Usually a player has a three-year waiting period before he can be considered for Hall of Fame induction, but with Lidström they may well waive it and honour him immediately upon his retirement. Three players in NHL history have played after their induction (Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe, Guy Lafleur); I dare say Lidström belongs in that elite group.
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The Quebec Nordiques took a chance on Lindros. In a weird way, the chance paid off.
The kid from London, Ontario had said before the draft that he wouldn't report to the Nordiques, but, regardless, they drafted him with the first-overall pick in the 1991 draft. Sure enough, he refused to play. Shortly thereafter Eric Lindros was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in a deal that saw the Nordiques net a package that included the Flyers' pick—a young Swedish kid named Peter Forsberg.
It was with the Flyers organisation that Eric Lindros made his name. The prototypical power forward came straight into a weak Flyers team and was their best player right away, netting 75 points in his rookie year. A career cut short by injuries never blossomed to its full potential, which was way above 1,000 points. It did, however, see seven All-Star Games and a Hart Trophy.
At 38, he is younger than the other candidates. He has time. He will be in the Hall one day.
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Alex Mogilny is most likely one of the most dynamic players ever to play in the NHL. He brought lightning speed, agility and a deadly shot, but was also well known for his great vision and passing ability—which is somewhat ironic considering his nickname, "Alexander the Great," has since passed on to Alex Ovechkin, who plays a very similar game.
Drafted by the Sabres in 1988 at 89th-overall, Mogilny is perhaps best known for his gentlemanly demeanor on and off the ice. He won the Lady Byng Trophy in 2003 after amassing 12 penalty minutes in 73 games to go along with 79 points for the Tampa Bay Lightning. His best season was 1992-93, when he tallied 79 goals and 127 points. He was selected to six All-Star Games and has won a Stanley Cup.
During his junior days in the Soviet Union, Mogilny played on a line with fellow NHL legends Sergei Fedorov (who is not on this list because he has yet to retire) and Pavel Bure. Good luck stopping them.
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Adam Oates is one of the best playmakers ever to play in the NHL. The five-time NHL All-Star put up more than three times as many assists as he did goals in a career that saw him amass 1,420 points.
Signed by the Detroit Red Wings as an undrafted free agent in 1985, Oates made an immediate impact during his rookie season, solidifying his place as the team's second center behind Steve Yzerman. He would go on to play 19 NHL seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Edmonton Oilers.
A player known for making those around him better, Oates' best season came with the Bruins in 1992-93, when he put up 97 assists and 142 points.
Sadly, Oates will likely never make it into the Hall. He is older than the other players on this list and he never won a Stanley Cup. Regardless, Oates is one of the greatest and most selfless modern-era players to have played the game.
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Most people don't realise just how good Joe Sakic was. Drafted 15th-overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1987, he came straight in and dominated right away. He had two 50-goal seasons and six 100-point seasons, all with the Nordiques/Avalanche organisation.
He's a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a Hart Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, Lady Byng Trophy and Ted Lindsay Trophy winner. He is a former All-Star Game MVP. More importantly, he formed an unbelievable partnership on and off the ice with his winger, Peter Forsberg, that has never been matched (nor will it ever be matched).
Joe Sakic scored over 1,640 points in his NHL career—that puts him at eighth on the all-time list. He is also eligible to be inducted as a builder, as he is the newly appointed executive adviser and assistant general manager with the Colorado Avalanche.
Whatever the case, Sakic already has one foot inside the Hall.
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Sundin is the third of three Swedes on this list. Together with Nicklas Lidström and Peter Forsberg, he led a golden age of Swedish hockey players.
Fans remember one moment in particular, during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. In the Final, the score was 2-2 heading into the third period. With about five seconds gone, Peter Forsberg carried the puck into the offensive zone by the left boards. About five feet inside the zone, he dropped the puck back to an onrushing Mats Sundin, who carried it down the wall to the hash marks before dropping it back to an oncoming defenseman. It was Lidström who unleashed the one-time slap shot from the top of the left circle. Sweden won that game 3-2.
Sundin was drafted first-overall in 1989 by the Quebec Nordiques, the first European to go first, but would see himself traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs just four years into his NHL career. It was with Toronto that he truly made his name.
Sundin was always very close to point-per-game pace during his career—meaning he didn't produce as fast as some of the others on this list—but, fortunately for him, he played 1,346 games (1,349 points).
It's not his point scoring that will be the key to his reaching the Hall—it will be his terrific leadership skills, his generosity on the ice and the universal love for him that exists in Toronto.