Dino Ciccarelli: Best Player Not in the Hockey Hall of Fame

Greg CaggianoSenior Writer IOctober 8, 2008

Before I am a Ranger fan, I am a hockey fan, and that's the reason I'm writing this article tonight. The player I'm going to write about never laced up skates for the New York Rangers, but he deserves attention nonetheless.

I was too young to remember him playing, so what I go by here is a result of statistics and some highlight videos. This player was truly amazing in his time and it is a sin that more people don't know who he is. An even bigger sin is that he is not in the hockey hall of fame.

When one thinks of the greatest goal scorers ever to play in the NHL, Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, and Howe immediately come to mind. But what about the player this article is about? It is none other than Dino Ciccarelli.

Only die-hard hockey fans, and not casual ones will know this name, it seems. Quite frankly, the people I hang out with and talk to on a regular basis have never heard of him, and they know the game very well.

At school, I'm the person to talk to about hockey and almost everyone knows about my radio show, which I promote every chance I get. I'm very happy to say that the sport of hockey is becoming more popular in school, and I like to think that I have had a small hand in it.

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So, as I talk to my friends at lunch or during spare time in class, hockey always seems to come up. People ask me questions, such as who the best players of all time are, to get my opinion. I always say the usual people—those mentioned above—and then I drop a name on them like Dino Ciccarelli. They usually just give me a weird look before saying, "Who is that? I've never heard of him."

I then go on to explain how good of a career he had and they usually leave thinking, "Gee, how come I never heard of this guy?"

Does anyone have an answer to that question? I know I don't, at least not right now.

Currently, Ciccarelli ranks 16th on the all-time goal scoring list with 608 career goals. That's right, I said 608.

How is that not worthy of a hall of fame bid? It becomes even more peculiar when one looks at the 15 players above him: Gretzky, Howe, Brett Hull, Dionne, Esposito, Gartner, Messier, Yzerman, Lemieux, Robitaille, Shanahan, Jagr, Andreychuk, Sakic, and Bobby Hull. Pretty good company, no?

All but seven of those guys are in the hall of fame, with the exception of three that are active, and four that are waiting out the time period to be inducted.

But Dino has already waited more than enough time to be inducted. It has now been nine years since he last played in the NHL.

The sad fact is, the NHL is holding back on his hall of fame induction because of some off-ice issues he had during his career. In 1987, he pled guilty to counts of exposure, in 1988 he was charged with assault, and several other times during his career he had run-ins with the media.

But why should that matter? Why should what happens off the ice have any effect on a career, and a brilliant one at that?

Once again, I do not know the answer. I know one thing, though: on Jan. 8, 1994 when Ciccarelli scored his 500th career goal against Kelly Hrudey of the Los Angeles Kings, he not only became a part of a very elite group in hockey, but he also should have sealed himself a hall of fame bid. Still, to this day, it remains to be seen.

So as I wrap this article up, I ask, no, hope that the National Hockey League will finally take into consideration inducting Dino Ciccarelli into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. It is only right.

In 19 seasons in the National Hockey League, Ciccarelli skated for the Minnesota North Stars, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers. He tallied 608 goals and 598 assists for 1200 points in 1232 games. He had two 50-goal seasons and nine 30 goal seasons. He currently ranks 16th on the all-time goals list.