Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Remembering 8 NHL stars who were Hall-of-Fame locks, until they weren’t

Nicklas Backstrom stepped away from hockey last week, and it got me thinking about the Hall of Fame.

Granted, that doesn’t take all that much. As my readers know, I love a good HHOF debate. In fact, we’ll be having a few later this week, as the Hall gets set to welcome its class of 2023.

If Backstrom’s career is over, he won’t be eligible for three years. I don’t think he makes it, but I suppose it’s not a sure thing. (The committee occasionally surprises us, to put it kindly.) But there was a time when Backstrom absolutely seemed like he was on a Hall of Fame track. Back in 2009-10, he was just 22 and coming off a 100-point season when those were exceedingly rare. If you’d gone around the league back then and placed bets on future Hall odds, he would have been high on anyone’s list. Just not anymore.

That’s not a rare story in the NHL, where we’re often a little too quick to slap the “HHOF lock” label on a player, only to see their candidacy fade – sometimes slowly, sometimes dramatically.

So today, let’s look back at eight NHL stars who sure seemed like future Hall-of-Famers, right up until they weren’t. I’ll give you the details, you see if you can guess the name.

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