Thursday, June 28, 2007

One Too Many Hall of Famers

Mark Messier, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens and Ron Francis were all rightfully inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame today amid much fanfare. This was nothing less than a dream year for the Hall, the lockout helping so many great players make the decision to retire. However, as with every year (and this year in particular) a couple of true greats were left off the first ballot, and often times if you don't make that first ballot, you have to wait for a year where things slow down (ala the lockout year) for you chance. And that's just stupid.

The Hall is absolutely right to limit the amount of players admitted to their hockey shrine, however, limiting inductees based on an arbitrary number is just too damn...arbitrary - especially when the one true factor should be impact/skill in the game of hockey.

Take Cam Neely's late induction during the lockout. If Neely was good enough to make the Hall, shouldn't he have been good enough to make it the year he retired (or the first eligible year anyway). Why the lockout year, just because there was an opening? Inducting someone into the hall just because there's a lack of nominations is just as stupid as limiting the number of inductees arbitrarily. If a person isn't good enough to make it, don't put them in just because it's a slow year, if they are good enough to make it, don't limit them arbitrarily.

This year I think there was one player in particular who deserved a first ballot induction (and one day he may very well end up in the Hall); Claude Lemieux.




Flames (and Detroit) fans probably just cringed at that. Claude is notorious around these parts for his antics both in the '86 and '89 cup finals, and in Michigan for his playoff antics in general (1996, Kris Draper ring a bell?). My brother suggested this is why Claude won't get into the final; he's not just a good, he's a villain. In my opinion though, Claude's NHL performance is too compelling an argument to not induct him into the Hall.

In his 24 season in the NHL, Lemieux missed the post season only 3 times. He missed the post season in his first two cracks with the Montreal Canadiens when he played only 9 times in two seasons. The only other time he missed the post season was in the 2000-01 season, playing for the Phoenix Coyotes. The COYOTES. He actually made a postseason with that team in one other year. The rest of his career, Lemieux spent his springs killing himself to win games.

He scored 80 career playoff goals which (according to Wikipedia) is eighth all time in the NHL. The top 5, according to NHL.com. are Wayne Gretzky (122), Mark Messier (109), Jari Kurri (106), Brett Hull (100) and Glenn Anderson (93, and another Hall oversight).

Lemieux is 3rd all time in post season games played at 233. Patrick Roy is first with 247, and Mark Messier is 2nd with 236. Scott Stevens is tied with Lemieux.

Lemieux is 3rd all time in post season game winning goals (19). Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull are first with 24 apiece. Behind Lemieux are Maurice Richard, Joe Sakic, Mike Bossy and Glenn Anderson.

Lemieux won the Conn Smythe trophy in 1995, playing on a team with Petr Forsberg, Joe Sakic, and Patrick Roy. He played better than all of them.

Claude Lemieux is one of only 4 players (I'm pretty sure 4, though I can name only 3) that has won the Stanley Cup with 3 different teams.

Claude Lemieux has won the Stanley Cup 4 times.

He played for Canada in the '87 Canada Cup, taking home first place in that famous 3 game series against the Soviets.

Hell, those statistics make some of the guys who got in look bad.

The Hall has made exceptions for other dirty players; Mark Messier for instance, was no saint.

Now, I know there are a lot of guys who deserve to get into the Hall, and haven't yet been inducted. Glenn Anderson, and from this year, Adam Oates (the man who was always 5th best, and that's a compliment. Poor guy always seemed to come up just short, but he was as talented as any of them, just never had the luck) and especially Igor 'the professor' Larionov.

But right now, there is no player I can think of that is more deserving to get into the Hall.

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