The draft has come and gone, and we’re approaching free agency. Hockey isn’t known to spread out good things - unless it’s the playoff schedule - so the Hockey Hall of Fame announcement comes during this down time.
There are no slam dunk first year NHL players for this year’s class, so it may be time to play catch up on some players who missed the cut for a few years....or decades.
Tomas Kaberle - D - Czech Republic
Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens
Eligible Since: 2019
NHL Stats: 984GP - 87G - 476A - 563Pts - 0.57PPG
International Stats: 93GP - 9G - 43A - 52Pts - 0.52PPG
Awards: World Championships Gold (05), World Championships Silver (06), Olympic Bronze (06), Stanley Cup (11)
Okay, I’m just getting the Leafs bias out of the way early, but if I was on the voting committee I’d sneak in a vote for Tomas Kaberle just because he’s one of the highlights from my entry into Leafs fandom.
Vincent Lecavalier - C - Quebec
Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings
Eligible Since: 2019
NHL Stats: 1212GP - 421G - 528A - 949Pts - 0.78PPG
International Stats: 26GP - 6G - 11A - 17Pts - 0.65PPG
Awards: Stanley Cup (04), World Cup Gold (04), World Cup MVP (04), Richard Trophy (07), King Clancy Trophy (08)
Dubbed the ‘Michael Jordan of hockey” when he was drafted by an overzealous Lightning GM, Lecavalier was a huge part of the Lightning’s growth (before it was killed by the cancelled season and crappy ownership) and his #4 has been retired by the team. He’s probably not a first ballot guy, but he may get there eventually.
Brad Richards - C - Prince Edward Island
Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings
Eligible Since: 2019
NHL Stats: 1126GP - 298G - 634A - 932Pts - 0.83PPG
International Stats: 26GP - 7G - 9A - 16Pts - 0.62PPG
Awards: Memorial Cup (00), CHL MVP (00), CHL Top Scorer (00), Memorial Cup MVP (00), QMJHL Championship (00), QMJHL Most Points (00), World Juniors Bronze (00), Lady Byng (04), Conn Smythe Award (04), Stanley Cup (04, 15)
Like Lecavalier, Richards played a big role in the rise of the Lightning in Tampa, and was the team MVP after winning the Stanley Cup in 2004. He doesn’t have stand on your head numbers, but remember this is a hall of fame, not a hall of generational players.
Mike Richter - G - Pennsylvania
New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers
Eligible Since: 2003
NHL Stats: 666GP - .904sv% - 2.89GAA - 24SO
International Stats: 68GP - 4.05GAA
Awards: NCAA Rookie of the Year (1986), Stanley Cup (1994), Olympic Silver Medal (2002), USA Hockey Lester Patrick Trophy (2009), USA Hockey Hall of Fame (2009)
Mike Richter was the USA’s goaltender for a decade. He was the goalie who ended the New York Rangers never ending Stanley Cup drought. He was the first New York Ranger to win 300 games before having to retire in 2003 due to injuries. For a generation Mike Richter was the goalie to look up to and emulate, and after having his #35 retired by the New York Rangers and being inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame, perhaps it’s time to get into the one in Toronto.
Theo Fleury - RW - Saskatchewan
Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks
Eligible Since: 2009
NHL Stats: 1084GP - 455G - 633A - 1088P / 1.0PPG
International Stats: 57GP - 23G - 50A - 83P / 1.46PPG
Awards: WHL Most Points (1988), U20 Gold (1988), IHL Champion (1988), Stanley Cup (1989), World Championship Silver (1991), Olympic Gold (2002), EIHL Champion (2006)
One of the best examples of “He’s too small” being bullshit, alongside Martin St. Louis, Fleury roared into the NHL and showed that being an agitator who can score isn’t a skillset limited to the bigger guys. Being around for many historical moments is something not many can lay claim to: Playing on the only visiting team to win the Stanley Cup in the Montreal Forum, his spot on the Canadian U20 team during the “Punch Up in Piestany”, and playing on the first men’s Canadian team to win a gold medal in the Olympics in half a century should more than overshadow his final years in the NHL, which were covered honestly and without fear in his autobiography. Now an outspoken advocate for those who have suffered abuse, Fleury could join those he angered in the game so long ago in the hall of fame.
Paul Henderson - RW - Ontario
Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Toros, Birmingham Bulls, Atlanta Flames
Eligible Since: 1984
NHL/WHA Stats: 1067GP - 376G - 384A - 660P / 0.62PPG
International Stats: 15GP - 9G - 4A - 13P / 0.87PPG
Awards: Memorial Cup (1962), OHA Most Goals (1963), Summit Series Championship (1972)
Putting the fame in “Hall of Fame” is the man who scored the most famous goal in the world (beating the Soviets was so done and over with by 1980). Paul Henderson wasn’t a superstar player by any means. His numbers are average, in video clips he looks like any hockey player, and the teams he payed on weren’t world beaters. Except one. In the 1972 summit series Henderson sealed a comeback victory for Canada in game 8 (yes, 8, don’t ask).
There’s been a strong push from some people to get Henderson in the hall, and while he has his moment in Canadian hockey history, I’m still not sold on him myself, but who predicted Rogie Vachon and Dino Ciccarelli getting in?
Alex Mogilny - RW - Russia
Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs
Eligible Since: 2009
NHL Stats: 990 GP - 473G - 559A - 1032P / 1.04PPG
International Stats: 139GP - 61G - 46A - 107P / 0.77PPG
Awards: Olympic Gold (1988), U20 Silver (1988), U20 Gold (1989), World Championship Gold (1989), Stanley Cup (2000), Lady Byng Trophy (2003)
Mogilny isn’t someone I would have ever thought of as missing from the HHoF, until I looked at his accomplishments, and read his story. A young Soviet star who lined up against Theo Fleury in the Punch Up in Piestany, and then fled cloak and dagger style to join the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL. A member of the Triple Gold Club, his skill and legacy is more than enough for me to put him in the hall. Maybe the committee never thought of it either?
Jeremy Roenick - C - Massachusetts
Chicago Blackhawks, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks
Eligible Since: 2012
NHL Stats: 1363 GP - 513G - 703A - 1216P / 0.89PPG
International Stats: 41GP - 28G - 25A - 53P / 1.29PPG
Awards: Olympic Silver Medal (2002)
A very, very good player, an excellent video game character, and on-camera weeper, Roenick has been passed over for five straight years, and considering who he’s up against, talent alone may not be enough to get him in.
Daniel Alfredsson - RW - Sweden
Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings
Eligible Since: 2017
NHL Stats: 1246GP - 444G - 713A - 1157P / 0.93PPG
International Stats: 190GP - 62G - 99A - 161P / 0.85PPG
Awards: NHL All Rookie team (1996), Calder Trophy (1996), Olympic Gold (2006), King Clancy Award (2012), Messier Award (2013), Olympic Silver Medal (2014), IIHF Hall of Fame (2018)
Ottawa Senators fans will most likely point to Mats Sundin already being in the hall as enough to get Alfredsson in. Sundin was PPG in nearly everything he played in, and was never a Red Wing or Senator, but was a Maple Leaf for life so he has advantages there.
Alfredsson was an excellent hockey player, and he will be in the hall of fame one day. With St. Louis and Broduer getting the spotlight this year, Alfie’s best bet may be to wait until a year he has a chance to be the star to get in.
Saku Koivu - C - Finland
Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks
Eligible Since: 2017
NHL Stats: 1124GP - 255G - 577A - 832P / 0.74PPG
International Stats: 172GP - 62G - 124A - 186P / 1.08PPG
Awards: Finnish Player of the Year (1994, 95), World Championship Silver (1994, 99), World Championship Gold (1995), Olympic Bronze (1994, 98, 2010), Bill Masterson Trophy (2002), King Clancy Award (2006), Olympic Silver (2006), World Championship Bronze (2008), Finnish HHoF (2016), IIHF Hall of Fame (2017)
The majority of Montreal Canadiens fans who will read this will have an emotional reaction to asking if Koivu should be in the Hall of Fame at first. He was the heart and soul of the Canadiens for over a decade. Coming onto the team after the mid 90’s purge of talent, Koivu played his way to the captaincy and he held onto it for nine years. Missing the majority of the 2001-2002 season recovering from cancer, his comeback for the final games of the season remains one of the most touching moments in Canadiens history. His impact outside of Montreal wasn’t as large as other players have had, but on the international stage, few were more dedicated to their country than him.
1,904 regular season games
261 Playoff games
13 Stanley Cup Finals
This was my big ‘hot take’ pick after I chickened out and didn’t pick Gary Bettman to make the 2018 class. I guess I learned I shouldn’t be afraid of writing anything.
Kerry Fraser was an on-ice official for 30 years, from debuting in 1980 and calling his final game in 2010. One of the most famous referees to ever skate with the orange armband, Fraser made a name for himself with his perfectly coiffed hair acting as his helmet until the league forced all referees to sacrifice beauty for protection.
His hair was his signature until May 27th, 1993 when he must have also been blinded by Wayne Gretzky, missed a bleeding Doug Gilmour and gave us the ol’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
After being named enemy #1 in Leafs Nation for what some would call far too long, and others would say hasn’t been long enough, Fraser continued to be the go to become a name in NHL officiating until his final game in Philadelphia in 2010.
His game worked matches those of other officials in the hall and there is probably no other referees name (aside from Tim “Oh no, not him tonight” Peel) more famous. There’s always room for a builder or official, is this Kerry’s year?
Now this is the space you should be asking “Hey, where are the women candidates”? Nafio and Annie covered them in today’s Women’s Hockey Wednesday. You can read up on the eligible players here:
WHW: Hayley Wickenheiser... and who else? Names for the HHOF
If you want to see a longer list of who’s eligible, the Hockey Hall of Fame has you covered here.