NHL: Chris Osgood and 5 Borderline Hall of Famers

Franklin Steele@FranklinSteeleAnalyst IIAugust 25, 2011

NHL: Chris Osgood and 5 Borderline Hall of Famers

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    Each June, a small group of players are chosen behind closed doors to be enshrined forever in the Hockey Hall of Fame. And each summer the media is left astounded by some of the names left out of the mix.

    2011's class was no different.

    Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk all capped off marvelous pro hockey careers by being accepted into the Hall by the 18-member selection committee. The voters righted two long-time wrongs by passing Gilmour and Howe into the Hall, and rightfully wasted no time getting Belfour and Nieuwendyk in.

    Yet year after year, pundits are left unsatisfied.

    This summer also saw veteran goaltender Chris Osgood retire from the game. Within hours of the announcement, a multitude of hockey websites had op-ed articles on the subject of his Hall of Fame worthiness (or unworthiness). 

    Arguably, and somewhat ironically, this may be the first time that Osgood's name was the center of attention. But don't look for that to change over the next three years. 2014 will be an interesting year to say the least, and once again the op-eds will litter the blogsphere.

    Is Chris Osgood a Hall of Famer or isn't he?

    But he isn't the only borderline candidate.

    There are several other players that come to mind when thinking about Hall worthiness or unworthiness. 

Eric Lindros

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    When Eric Lindros was healthy he was one of the best players in the NHL. Unfortunately for him and fans alike, his years before his concussions by comparison dwarf his post-concussion years.

    Before several traumatic hits left Lindros unable to continue with his play, he was a physically dominating presence for the Philadelphia Flyers and was one of the league's most prolific scorers. Beginning in his rookie season in 1992-93, Lindros topped the 70-point plateau for seven consecutive seasons.

    This feat may not appear impressive at first glance. But if one looks at the number of games he played, his stats are somewhat staggering.

    For instance, in the 1996-97 season Lindros put up 79 points. Not pedestrian by any means, but not necessarily Hall of Fame numbers either. But he did it in 52 games. His 79 points in 52 games is a pretty electric clip. And this wasn't the exception either.

    Massive numbers across shortened seasons became a bit of a specialty for the injury-prone power forward.

    If the Hall is all about enshrining the best talent to ever play the game, then it's hard to not consider Lindros.

    Even during the last four years of his career, when his game had fallen off almost completely due to numerous concussions, Lindros was an effective forward. In 2005-06, he managed 22 points in only 33 games. Impressive considering by that point he was probably seeing two of everything and probably couldn't hear half of the time.

    At the end of it all, Lindros put up 865 points in 760 NHL games. He was one or two mediocore seasons away from 400 goals and had nearly 500 assists.

    Big E was no choker in the playoffs either. In 52 postseason contests he put up 57 points.

    In fact, the only type of game Lindros wasn't at least a point-per-game player in were All-Star games. He only managed five points in six contests.

    He won a gold medal with Canada in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympics, took home the Hart trophy in 1995 along with the Pearson the same year for recording 115 points in 73 games.

    The talk surrounding Lindros will always be what he could have been. Undoubtedly, he could have carried on his play and shattered the 500-goal mark and perhaps even 1,000 points with well over 1,000 PIM.

    So does a remarkable yet short career deserve a place in the Hall of Fame?

    So far the answer has been no, and with the big names coming up for election in 2012 and 2013, it's highly unlikely that Lindros will get the nod anytime soon.

    What do you think? Is Lindros a HOFer?

Adam Oates

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    While there are a few sticking points to Lindros and his induction into the Hall, how Adam Oates has not been voted in over the last three summers is beyond comprehension.

    He is generally considered on of the best playmakers and passers of the nineties, and is one of only eight players to ever break the 1,000-assist barrier for a career.

    After going undrafted he signed a then-lucrative $1 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings in 1985. That cool million was distributed across all four seasons of course (and we wonder why teams go broke these days).

    By the end of his tenure with the Wings, Oates had cemented himself as a genuine NHL-level playmaker, and was dealt to the St. Louis Blues. It was there where he teamed up with Brett Hull to form one of the most lethal scoring lines in the league.

    It's no secret the Hull was at his most effective with Oates as his center. Over the three years the pair played together, the Golden Brett put up 72-, 86-, and 70-goal seasons. After Oates was traded to Boston, Hull never breached the 60-goal mark.

    Oates played in 1,337 games and scored 1,420 points. He scored 341 markers and put up an astonishing 1,079 helpers.

    To me, the fact that this guy isn't in the Hall after several years of eligibility is embarrassing to the committee and the game.

    The only strikes against Oates is the lack of a individual regular season trophy, and the no Stanley Cup thing.

    Should Oates be penalized because his scoring totals were up against the likes of Lemieux and Gretzky?  He finished third in regular season scoring on three separate occasions, his monstrous totals only beaten out by the more ridiculous numbers put up by the aforementioned demigods of the game.

    Oates carries what I would consider to be the worst record in the game, having compiled the most points in the playoffs without lifting the Stanley Cup.

    Even when taking into consideration the lack of Silver on Oates' mantle, his numbers during both the regular season and playoffs are far too strong to continue to ignore. He should be in the Hall of Fame in due time.

    What do you think? Is Oates a true Hall of Fame player, or just a good center with an overlooked career because of the era he played in?

Alexander Mogilny

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    Alexander Mogilny scored 473 goals, and totaled 1,032 points over a 990-game NHL career.

    Which one of those facts sticks out to you the most?

    I'm sure a lot of folks would say the goal or point total, but the real key to that sentence is "NHL career." 

    It's common now to see players like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin get drafted high and end up playing in the best hockey league on the planet.

    But that wasn't the case when the 20-year-old Mogilny defected to the United Stated after winning the gold medal in the 1988 Winter Olympics. It wasn't a rare thing, or a strange happening. It just never happened. At that point in time, the Soviet hockey players were spending as many as 11 months in army-style bunkers, kept away from their families.

    It was the first "Alex the Great" that decided that enough was enough, and fled his home country, fully expecting to never see his family or friends again.

    Mogilny's Stand set a precedent and helped open the gate to the NHL, leading the way before players such as Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov (his former Soviet team linemates) called the league home.

    If he had played out to an average NHL career after defecting from the Eastern Bloc, then these actions may not be enough to get him into the Hall. But Mogilny's career was anything but average.

    He is a member of the Triple Gold Club, joining the prestigious group in 2000 after helping the New Jersey Devils win the Stanley Cup. The stats above are clearly outstanding, and his trophy case should contain enough shiny stuff to warrant a Hall of Fame induction without the back story.

    Roll it all into one package, though, and Mogilny is one of the most important players to have ever played the game, and deserves to be enshrined alongside the other pioneers of hockey.

Phil Housley

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    The Hockey Hall of Fame houses some of the best players to have ever played the game, and there is no denying that fact. However, it isn't without detractors. One of the biggest, most common strikes against the Hall is that it seems to favor Canadian skaters above all others.

    Look no further than Phil Housley for the basis of this argument.

    He played in 1,495 games—the most by any American player until Chris Chelios broke the record nearly seven years later—for nine different hockey clubs. In those games he scored 338 goals and 894 assists, good for 1,232 points.

    The total is the 37th most ever, and the second most by an American-born player. That should be good enough for the Hall of Fame. After all, players such as Norm Ullman, Jean Beliveau, Larry Murphy, Bobby Clark, Bobby Hull and the recently inducted Dino Ciccarelli are all in the Hall of Fame.

    All those players have two other traits in common: they are all Canadian-born players. And they all scored less points than Housley.

    The argument could be made the Housley is kept out of the Hall because he never won a Cup. But neither did Ciccarelli, and both are considered to be among the best players to have never won the ultimate prize.

    So what gives?  

Pavel Bure

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    Few players in recent memory have been more explosive and entertaining to watch than Russian phenom Pavel Bure. No many would argue with that statement, but the Hall of Fame isn't there for the players who have scored the most highlight reel goals.

    Thankfully for Bure, he was a hell of a hockey player, too.

    He scored 779 points, including 437 goals, in only 702 games played. About as pure of a goal scorer as you'll find, Bure reached the 50-goal mark in his career five separate times, topping 60 goals twice. All told, he averaged .623 goals per game played, making him the third-most consistent scoring threat to ever play the game.

    Only Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux scored goals at a more prolific rate than the Russian Rocket. And I am pretty sure Bossy and Lemieux are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    To boot, his trophy case holds more hardware than most players who haven't been inducted into the Hall yet. He won the Calder Trophy in 1992, and (technically) won the Rocket Richard trophy three times for leading the league in goals scored.

    The six time All-Star didn't just ride off into the sunset when he retired in 2005, though.

    Bure stepped right from a playing career and into a management position for Russia's Olympic team. He has since been instrumental in changing the way Russians approach the game, and how they piece together their teams for international play.  

    He has since been replaced as the Olympic team manager, but his mark was undoubtedly left on the game on the Russian side of things.  

Chris Osgood

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    The inspiration for this slideshow, and the epicenter of the latest "will they or won't they?" discussion surrounding Hall of Fame induction, Chris Osgood set off a bit of a media firestorm upon announcing his retirement.

    The negative backlash to the idea of Osgood joining the ranks of the best ever wasn't a surprise the fans who have followed the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL. And I'm sure it wasn't a surprise to the player either.

    This has been the central theme throughout Osgood's career after all: He just can't get no respect.

    Those who say he shouldn't get into the Hall cite his lack of personal success (no Vezina trophy) as one of the main reasons. Those who think he is a Hall of Famer look to his two Jennings Trophies as contrary evidence.

    Osgood has also been knocked down a peg or two in the minds of some because he's played on good hockey teams. Apparently Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy didn't benefit from playing on some stellar hockey teams.

    To be honest, I can't help but roll my eyes at these lines of logic.

    Osgood is statistically one of the most consistent goaltenders to have ever played the game. He has the seventh-best GAA of all time, and has the fourth-highest winning percentage in the NHL history.  

    If you tacked on another netminders name to these stats I have a feeling he'd pass as a Hall of Fame player easily.

    He's also only the 10th goaltender to win 400 games, joining an elite list of players in that regard. Oh, and he's also won three Stanley Cups, two as the starter.

    If the Hall of Fame election committee finds a way to keep this guy out of the Hall, I'd love to be a fly on the wall so I could listen to their faulty reasoning.

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