In 2020, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its latest bunch of inductees, iconic hockey players who made major achievements playing the game and are well known, maybe even iconic, to those who follow the game. As usual, there were players who were not inducted that many would argue ought to be.
My goal is to argue a case for a number of players who, for one reason or another, should be in the conversation. Bear in mind this list is subjective, and is more presenting an argument in favour of a player’s induction rather than a definitive statement that “player X should be in the Hall of Fame.” The names of many players came up in my research, I tried to keep to rules I imposed on myself, and I ensured that the number of players on the list would be a multiple of five (plus one, more on that eventually).
I may have gone too far in a few places.
When making a list like this, I generally err on the side of inclusivity rather than exclusivity. I know what you’re all thinking, that that’s just the mentality when discussing who should be in the Hall of Fame, but I couldn’t see much reason to take anyone off the list as I added to it.
I decided on a number of different criteria for the players on this list, which hopefully will make more sense of why a player is on the list, even if you don’t personally agree he deserves induction. Those criteria are:
- Stanley Cups: Nothing makes a player famous like going all the way and winning a Stanley Cup. Why else does anyone remember who Stephane Matteau is? Now he’s not on this list, but agree or not, it’s clear a player can become downright iconic by winning a Cup or two. Not everyone who won a Cup is on the list, and not everyone on the list won a Cup, but a Cup or two may be the difference between seeing them on this list and not.
- Individual Awards: Players definitely get a better shot at consideration if they can win a few awards or not. I think most will agree that as far as individual awards go, Art Ross/Rocket Richard -> Hart/Ted Lindsay -> Conn Smythe -> Vezina/Norris - > Selke -> Calder -> Lady Byng -> William M. Jennings -> Masterton -> King Clancy/Mark Messier Leadership Award is a decent hierarchy for NHL awards.
- Personal Numbers: Players who score a lot/save a lot tend to get a lot of notice. ‘Nuff said.
- All-Star Games: Between biased coaches, fans voting making more of a mockery of the event than they already believe it to be, and the NHL’s insistence on having every team represented at the All-Star Game, an All-Star game appearance on its own is no criteria to be in the Hall. On the other hand, surely a player who played in many must have done enough, even if they lack championships or big scoring numbers, to be considered a worthy consideration on that basis.
- Reputation: Many of the players that get into the Hall have some of reputation about their time as a player that elevates their case for the Hall even if they’re not at the top of the scoring leaderboard or owner of a full trophy case. Many of the players on the list were a part of the various Stanley Cup dynasties to come out of the latter half or so of the 20th Century, who were winners of major awards or appeared in All-Star Games. Every player who won a Cup in Edmonton and played in an All-Star Game is on the list, as are many more from the dynasty who didn’t, but who had All-Star calibre seasons (I’ll point such players out in justifying their place). Many members of notable lines, named or not, are included on the list. Some of the players on the list may not have won a Cup or a major award, or even finished particularly high on the all-time scoring list, but are particularly popular, especially with a particular team (Saku Koivu, Wendel Clark, and Trevor Linden come to mind for specific franchises), who appear on the list. If a low-scoring defenceman is on this list, this is where he fits.
- Guaranteed criteria: Every player who has won a Hart or Ted Lindsay Award, the league’s two regular season MVP awards; the Conn Smythe Trophy, its playoff MVP award; or the Art Ross Trophy or Rocket Richard Trophy, the two scoring leader trophies, including those who led in goals or points before the existence of those trophies, is on the list, as are every player who has at least 500 goals or 900 points. All Norris Trophy winners are included as well.
Included on this list are five players who last played in 2019. Ordinarily, a player becomes eligible to be inducted into the Hall of Fame once they’ve gone three seasons without playing a game. Those who last played in 2019 won’t become eligible until 2022, but 2022 is the next induction anyway because COVID issues put the kibosh on any inductions for the year 2021, so included them anyway.
Before we proceed, I will also warn that there are some players who are on the list who have said bad things, which I specify when talking about the players in question, provided I’m aware of it. I do note condone the bad things a player has said, but I still opted to such players in spite of that based on their playing careers. If you disagree, I respect your opinion.
In constructing this list, just listing everyone’s NHL boxcars was causing the editor to lock up on me (again, I may have gone a bit overboard), so this piece will be divided into blocks of 20, as follows:
Part 1: Keith Acton, Daniel Alfredsson, Tony Amonte, Tommy Anderson, Al Arbour, Jason Arnott, Larry Aurie, Dave Babych, Ralph Backstrom, Tom Barrasso, Bob Baun, Brian Bellows, Red Berenson, Todd Bertuzzi, Jeff Beukeboom, Peter Bondra
Part 2: Dan Boyle, Carl Brewer, Danny Briere, Rod Brind’Amour, Neal Broten, Jeff Brown, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Herb Cain, Randy Carlyle, Lorne Carr, Wayne Cashman, Shawn Chambers, Jonathan Cheechoo, Dave Christian, Wendel Clark
Part 3: Odie Cleghorn, Geoff Courtnall, Roger Crozier, John Cullen, Vincent Damphousse, Adam Deadmarsh, Pavol Demitra, Corb Denneny, Eric Desjardins, Shane Doan, Kris Draper, Chris Drury, Steve Duchesne, Patrik Elias, Theoren Fleury, Lee Fogolin
Part 4: Adam Foote, Marian Gaborik, Danny Gare, Martin Gelinas, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Scott Gomez, Sergei Gonchar, Butch Goring, Danny Grant, Adam Graves, Ron Greschner, Bill Guerin, Alexei Gusarov, Vic Hadfield, Ted Harris, Craig Hartsburg
Part 5: Derian Hatcher, Kevin Hatcher, Bill Hay, Dany Heatley, Anders Hedberg, Milan Hejduk, Paul Henderson, Ron Hextall, Ken Hodge, Benoit Hogue, Bobby Holik, Flash Hollett, Tomas Holmstrom, Bronco Horvath, Charlie Huddy, Dale Hunter
Part 6: Al Iafrate, Arturs Irbe, Craig Janney, Doug Jarvis, Mark Johnson, Tomas Jonsson, Curtis Joseph, Tomas Kaberle. Valeri Kamensky, Alexei Kasatonov, Tim Kerr, Nikolai Khabibulin, Miikka Kiprusoff, Petr Klima, Saku Koivu, Olaf Kolzig
Part 7: Vladimir Konstantinov, Alexei Kovalev, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Niklas Kronwall, Mike Krushelnyski, Uwe Krupp, Pavel Kubina, Chris Kunitz, Andre Lacroix, Jamie Langenbrunner, Dave Langevin, Steve Larmer, Pierre Larouche, Reed Larson, Reggie Leach, Vincent Lecavalier
Part 8: John LeClair, Gary Leeman, Jere Lehtinen, Claude Lemieux, Doug Lidster, Trevor Linden, Ken Linseman, Ed Litzenberger, Mike Liut, Hakan Loob, Roberto Luongo, Vic Lynn, John MacLean, Rick MacLeish, Jamie Macoun, Craig MacTavish
Part 9: Peter Mahovlich, Vladimir Malakhov, Rick Martin, Dennis Maruk, Brad McCrimmon, Mike McEwen, Marty McSorley, Rick Middleton, Dmitri Mironov, Fredrik Modin, Alexander Mogilny, Doug Mohns, Garry Monahan, Andy Moog, Gus Mortson, Kirk Muller
Part 10: Joe Murphy, Evgeni Nabokov, Mark Napier, Rick Nash, Markus Naslund, Mats Naslund, Bob Nevin, Bernie Nicholls, Kent Nilsson, Ulf Nilsson, Owen Nolan, Teppo Numminen, John Ogrodnick, Fredrik Olausson, Ed Olczyk, Chris Osgood
Part 11: Sandis Ozolinsh, Wilf Paiement, Ziggy Palffy, Barry Pederson, Stefan Persson, Brian Propp, Jean Pronovost, Claude Provost, Brian Rafalski, Rob Ramage, Bill Ranford, Paul Reinhart, Mikael Renberg, Chico Resch, Brad Richards, Stephane Richer
Part 12: Mike Richter, Rene Robert, Gary Roberts, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Rogers, Al Rollins, Bobby Rousseau, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Mikael Samuelsson, Ulf Samuelsson, Tomas Sandstrom, Miroslav Satan, Marc Savard, Mathieu Schneider, Al Secord, Daniel Sedin
Part 13: Henrik Sedin, Patrick Sharp, Ray Sheppard, Mike Sillinger, Charlie Simmer, Craig Simpson, Lars-Erik Sjoberg, Jiri Slegr, Bobby Smith, Steve Smith, Kevin Stevens, Gaye Stewart, Blaine Stoughton, Gary Suter, Brent Sutter, Petr Svoboda, Darryl Sydor
Part 14: Petr Sykora, Jean-Guy Talbot, Marc Tardif, Dave Taylor, Jose Theodore, Steve Thomas, Tim Thomas, Bill Thoms, Jimmy Thomson, Esa Tikkanen, Kimmo Timonen, Keith Tkachuk, Rick Tocchet, John Tonelli, JC Tremblay, Pierre Turgeon
Part 15: Ian Turnbull, Oleg Tverdovsky, Garry Unger, Carol Vadnais, Rick Vaive, John Vanbiesbrouck, Mike Vernon, Pat Verbeek, Cam Ward, Doug Weight, Ray Whitney, Alexei Yashin, Scott Young, Zarley Zalapski, Henrik Zetterberg, Alexei Zhamnov