Monday, June 27, 2022

Celebrating 20 guys who won't make the Hall of Fame, but belong in the Hall of Very Good

The Hockey Hall of Fame will announce its class of 2022 today, the first in two years thanks to the pandemic. It’s a big day for fans like me, who love to argue over this stuff – who made it, who didn’t, who shouldn’t have, and why.

But while I’m sure I’ll ending up debating the merits of the Sedins and Roberto Luongo and Henrik Zetterberg today, I wanted to go in a different direction for this post. Instead of the Hall of Fame, I want to write about some guys in the Hall of Very Good.

That’s a phrase we break out often around this time year, and we usually mean it as an insult, or at least a way to diminish a player. Someone will make the Hall-of-Fame case for a Rod Brind’Amour or Guy Carbonneau or Daniel Alfredsson or Kevin Lowe, and someone else will immediately dismiss them with a wave and a “Nah, it’s supposed to be the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good”.

That’s not what today is about. Instead, I want to make a roster of 20 guys who we could probably all agree aren’t Hall of Fame material. I’m not doing guys like Alexander Mogilny or Jeremy Roenick, or even the Chris Osgoods or Pierre Turgeons. All of those guys still have a chance to get in some day. I mean that guys who almost certainly won’t, but who still had great careers that are worth recognizing. (In other words, if your favorite player isn’t on here, just assume it’s because I think he’s going to the real HHOF someday instead of yelling about it in the comments.)

Fair warning, this is pretty much going to be a list of guys from the 80s and 90s. Pretty much everyone from the Original Six era who was any good is already in the Hall of Fame and most of the more recent stars could still be getting consideration, so we’ll focus on a window that just happens to line up nicely with my childhood. And for extra fun, even though the real HHOF doesn’t work this way I’m going to induct each one of these guys with one specific team, just to make sure we still have something to argue about at the end of this.

It’s the Hall of Very Good, only as a celebration. Let’s remember some guys, even if the HHOF committee never will.

First line

C Saku Koivu, Canadiens

In pretty much the ultimate Hall of Very Good achievement, Koivu played 18 years in the league without ever getting a single all-star vote. Instead, he consistently put up 15 to 20 goals and 50+ points every year, while playing a two-way game and serving as Habs captain for longer than anyone since Jean Beliveau. And of course, there was inspirational return from battling cancer in 2002, one that included one of the loudest ovations in hockey history.

Retire his number, Montreal. Yeah, I know, you want to be one of those special teams that reserves its rafters for Hall of Famers. This guy beat cancer, and every one of your fans love him. Do it.

RW Tim Kerr, Flyers

In the mid-80s, if you absolutely needed a winger to go out there and score you a goal, you turned to Mike Bossy. But if he wasn’t available, Tim Kerr was usually your next best option.

After going undrafted, Kerr burst onto the scene with the Flyers with a 54-goal season in 1983-84. It was the first of four straight years with 50+, making Kerr one of only ten guys to ever have that many in a row. (Among the players who never accomplished it: Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Bure and Mario Lemieux.) Injuries ended the streak when he barely played in 1987-88, but he came back with a 48-goal season the next year and won the Masterton for it.

Taking out the injury year, Kerr had a peak of 272 goals over five straight seasons. We can wonder what Bossy would have done over a full career if he’d stayed healthy, but when we’re having that conversation we may want to wonder it about Kerr as well.

LW Kevin Stevens, Penguins

I get paid to write about hockey, but I’m not sure I can find the words to make you understand how dominant Kevin Stevens was back in the early 90s. He was an absolute wrecking ball, not quite the traditional power forward (because he didn’t fight much) but just an unstoppable force on a Penguins team that was built on finesse. He scored 190 goals in four seasons, including 109 during a two-year run in 1991-92 and 1992-93 that also saw him post 234 points. The devastating injury he suffered in Game 7 against the Islanders derailed his career and his life, and probably cost the Penguins a third straight Cup. But in his prime, few guys had a beast mode like Stevens did.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

(Want to read this post on The Athletic for free? Sign up for a free trial.)

No comments:

Post a Comment