Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Making the one-sentence case for and against 25 Hall of Fame candidates

The Hockey Hall of Fame will announce the class of 2020 today, and time will tell if they did a better job than our picks on Tuesday. For now, let’s consider the cases for and against some of the candidates, as we break down 25 of the biggest names up for consideration.

Wait, twenty-five?

Yeah, there are a lot of candidates out there who can, at the very least, make a plausible case for induction. I wound up with a list of 25, and I’ll still be excluding at least a few names that some readers will be expecting to see.

This is for the men’s player category only, since the drama around the women’s side appears to be mainly whether the committee stops at Jennifer Botterill or inducts two players for the first time since 2010, and the builder category always feels like a total crapshoot from the outside. I’ve also focused on players who made their names in the NHL, although the committee could look to some of the underrepresented international leagues for at least a spot or two.

Still, 25 names is a lot. I’m not even dipping all that far back into history with most of these, which may be a mistake since the committee will occasionally induct a player who’s been eligible forever. And of course, we occasionally get picks that seem to come out of nowhere; if I’d written this piece last year, I doubt I’d have included Guy Carbonneau, but he made it in. At the same time, the committee has 18 members and each can only nominate one candidate, so several of the names below won’t even be discussed in this year’s proceedings.

With 25 names to get through, we’ll limit the case for and against to one sentence each. In a few cases, one run-on sentence, but only one. And while the whole point of this sort of thing is to give us something to argue about, we’ll start with what should be the one candidate that everyone can agree on.

Jarome Iginla

The case for: He’s Jarome Iginla.

The case against: With over 600 goals and 1,300 points to go along with being one of the most respected leaders in the sport, there really isn’t one, and the committee should take roughly three minutes of discussion to wrap this one up before moving on to the tougher calls.

Daniel Alfredsson

The case for: He finished with 1,157 career points and won a Calder to go with a King Clancy and that weird Mark Messier award, not to mention Olympic gold, and if feels like we all just assumed he’d get in eventually when he first became eligible.

The case against: That eligibility came back in 2017, and every year it seems like there are a couple of new candidates that push him off enough ballots that you start to wonder if he’s destined to become the poster child for the Hall of Very Good.

Pierre Turgeon

The case for: At 1,327 points, he’s the leading scorer among eligible players who haven’t been inducted yet by well over 100 points.

The case against: With no awards except for a Lady Byng and only one season in a 19-year career where he received so much as a single Hart vote, Turgeon might be the all-time example of a player who racked up big numbers without ever being considered one of the game’s elite.

Doug Wilson

The case for: I made it in more detail earlier this week, but Wilson was one of the very best defensemen of the 1980s, winning a Norris and finishing in the top 15 in career scoring.

The case against: He was considered a tier below the Ray Bourques and Paul Coffeys of his generation, and his production trailed off just enough after the age of 32 to leave his career numbers a bit short of slam dunk territory.

Theo Fleury

The case for: One of the most memorable and entertaining players of his generation, the diminutive Fleury went from a longshot to even crack the NHL to a Cup-winner and 50-goal scorer who had two 100-point seasons and over 1,000 career points.

The case against: Partly because of some personal struggles, his career didn’t last long enough to rack up the sort of numbers the Hall typically looks for in an 80s/90s offensive star; he didn’t crack 500 goals and his 1,088 points rank just 70th all-time on an era-adjusted basis.

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