Players who needed another great season to have a legitimate HHOF career

  1. Big Phil Registered User

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    Can you think of a player that needed just one more great year - or even just one great playoff run or something else happening to them - that would have given them a rightful spot in the HHOF?

    Here are a few that come to mind:

    Theo Fleury - He might still get in. But if he finishes that 2001 season in where he is flying all over the ice then we are talking about a year where he could have cracked another 100 point year. Instead he unfortunately ended up in rehab. While he did win a Cup as a rookie in 1989, it wasn't "his" team so to speak. Had the Flames won in 1991 we are talking a different story here. Fleury always went above and beyond in the postseason in Calgary, but they got bounced out of the first round all of the time.

    Rick Middleton - I don't even know if he needs a great season, because his career was every bit as good as Lanny McDonald's, I think, and Lanny got in on his first try. I would say this, there probably isn't a player who needed a Cup to secure his induction more than him. His final year his Bruins made the Cup final and got swept badly by the Oilers. A year later McDonald, who did less in the playoffs than Middleton did a year earlier in 1988, gets that famous critical goal in the deciding game (not the game winner like everyone thinks though, that was Gilmour the next period) and the vision we always have is him clenching his fist sitting over the Cup and then calling it a day. Look, I'd induct Lanny. He was physical, he was a sniper who scored 500 goals and his career totals are less stellar only because he got a slow start to his career and had a slow ending. His prime he was pretty darn good. And if Lanny isn't in today, I guarantee he is a name we often bring up as to why, similar to Middleton. But let me tell you something, if Middleton won a Cup, he's in there too. And I can trace it not to one season, but to one play that might have made the difference. Game 7 1979 vs. Montreal he has the game of his life, 4 points. He scored the go-ahead goal with a few minutes left. Then the Habs tie it and then in overtime Middleton is coming down the right wing, tries his usual nifty move in between the legs of a defenseman and gets turned away. That defenseman was Serge Savard. He sees it coming, takes the puck away from Middleton rather than have it go between his legs and passes it to centre where Rejean Houle tips it to a streaking Mario Tremblay who passes it to Yvon Lambert and into the net. Game over. I honestly think that singular play is what has kept him out of the HHOF. Think about it, Middleton could have fooled Savard and if he did he is in alone on Dryden who had a very shaky game. Middleton scores and that's his 5th point of the game and he is forever known as the guy who ended the Habs' dynasty. They play the Rangers in the final and they win. Middleton had 12 points that spring for Boston, only trailing Ratelle on the Bruins who had 13. There is a healthy chance he wins a Conn Smythe. Honestly, we are talking about a single play here.

    Jeremy Roenick - Another guy who is in had his very good Hawks teams won the Cup. The image of "JR" being the leader on a popular Hawks team would be hard to forget. Sure there is Chelios who probably wins the Conn Smythe in 1992 anyway, but Roenick still makes an impact overall. But either way, his three 100+ point straight seasons lasted until Ovechkin tied it from 2007-'10. Then McDavid tied it in 2019. But still, incredibly no one has surpassed it since Roenick. Call it a perfect storm because we needed lockouts and injuries/retirements from having either one of Mario, Jagr, Gretzky, McDavid, Crosby, to pass it. Even Adam Oates needed one extra point in 1992 in order to have 5 straight 100+ point years, but it is still a big feat. But imagine him with another great season, either in Chicago or Phoenix. All of the sudden his career looks a little different.

    Markus Naslund - It is a decent argument that he was the best player in the NHL from the 2001-'04 years. That's three years in a row. He's a first team all-star all three years at LW, he wins the Pearson Award in 2003 over Forsberg and in those three years his Hart voting was 2, 5, 5. Not bad. Is he making a much better case for himself if he has a great season in 2001 or in 2006? He was more or less an afterthought after the lockout and was never the same after Moore hit him, I don't think. Had a wicked wrist shot and I just can't understand how he was such a late bloomer, then had a huge three year peak, and then aged poorly. Does another elite season put him in the conversation?

    Pete Mahovlich - While his two big years in 1975 and 1976 are often thought of as Lafleur-induced the truth is he still finished 7th in Hart voting in 1976. Meanwhile he finished 10th in 1971. So his stats aren't always an indicator of how he played. His penalty killing was important, as it was on Team Canada in 1972. Not to mention he comfortably makes Team Canada in 1976 as well. He is a 60-65 point guy with intangibles normally, and then a 105 and 117 point guy playing alongside Lafleur. Early in the 1978 season he is traded out of Montreal though. Does he need one, or maybe two, great seasons to get in? His stats are not terribly different from Steve Shutt, who is in, and who declined coincidentally at the same time Lafleur's constant injuries and shortened seasons kicked in. Big Pete was a strong force in the playoffs as well. I don't think 5 or 6 Cups makes a difference considering he already won 4. But maybe a couple more 100 point years?

    Mike Liut - Does the stain of the 1981 Canada Cup forever get held against him? Or is another great season by Liut good enough? As it stands, it is him, not Billy Smith or Grant Fuhr, with the goalie that has the most wins in the 1980s, and these were not always with some very good teams. I could be wrong, but I think only he and Markus Naslund are the two players in NHL history with at least three seasons of being in the top 6 of Hart Trophy voting and not be in the HHOF. His Hart voting looks like this: 2, 3, 6. How many people even realize Liut finished 3rd in Hart Trophy voting behind Gretzky and Bourque in 1987? His Vezina voting looks like this: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7. That's pretty darn good, and he isn't the only goalie that would be in the HHOF with a mediocre playoff record. Then again, if his great seasons are often forgotten, would it be that easy to remember him having a Hart-caliber year in 1988?
     
  2. Hobnobs Pinko

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    I think Fleury and Middleton are in imo. And the other ones I wouldnt oppose I guess either.
     
  3. bobholly39 Registered User

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    Here's a few:

    Bernie Nicholls. One of 5 players in hockey history to top 150 points in a season....and his next best are 112, and 100 point seasons. Big drop off (especially in such a high scoring era, where `100 points is more common). I think if he had one more such season, it's enough to get him in. He doesn't even need to hit quite as high as 150, but if he hit....~135+ points, I think it would power him through - even if it was playing with Gretzky (obviously, he wouldn't hit it without him). His playoffs are also quite lacking. OP says "...or even just one great playoff run". Maybe if Kings had won the cup in 1989 with Nichols being a 1-2 punch with Gretzky - even if he finished behind Gretzky for smythe - the combination of cup + great playoff run would be enough to propel him to HHOF, to go with his 150 point season.

    Jose Theodore. He wins Hart, Vezina in 2002...and never again gets a single vezina vote in his career. If he had had a second great season with a second vezina (doesn't even need Hart, as I think that would make it slam dunk) - I think you at least have a conversation. This would be a tricky one - but a hart and 2 vezinas is a great trophy case. If he somehow had a 2nd hart, that's almost a slam dunk.

    Corey Perry. Same idea as Theodore - only one great season with his hart. He does have more career longevity/accomplishments than Theodore of course, but at the top end it's very weak. If he had one more season with a hart, or Ross, or even a top 2 - combined with his overall career numbers, it gets him in. It's not impossible that he'll get into the Hall of Fame without that - but to me his case is very very weak. One more great season, and he's an easy in.

    Jamie Benn. He won the Ross in 2015, and finished 3rd in hart the next year...but to me he needed one more true great season. Maybe an actual hart win, or at least another Ross. He's declining quickly, no cups yet and weak overall playoffs (not many playoff appearances). But hall of fame is largely based on peak, so give him one more truly great season with an award, and I think he'd get in.

    Tim Thomas. He has 2 fantastic seasons - but his longevity is way too lacking. He might get in anyways with his peak, but his lack of longevity hurts him. If instead of those 2 peak seasons with Vezina/high hart voting, he had a 3rd such Vezina season, I think it's enough to make him a slam dunk.
     
  4. NYR94 Registered User

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    Naslund's short period of elite play hurts, but I'll defer to more knowledgeable fans regarding the Canucks because I didn't watch a lot of him during his peak on the west coast. Roenick and Fleury are good picks for being one more big season or a Stanley Cup away. That consecutive 100 point seasons stat is crazy when you think about all the names that probably should have done it but like you said lockouts and injuries robbed guys of opportunities.
     
  5. Professor What Registered User

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    @Big Phil I think optics get in the way for three of your picks. I don't disagree with your comparison if Middleton and McDonald, but Middleton not only didn't win a Cup, but he also didn't get to 500 goals or 1,000 points, whereas McDonald did all three in rather dramatic fashion to finish off his career.

    Roenick and Fleury are similar cases to one another, in my opinion, as I think that their saying things that are rightly or wrongly seen as controversial doesn't help. Let's face it. Any athlete who comes across as political is going to earn their fair share of haters from the other side, and for the two of them, I think it might be enough to play a role in their induction difficulties.

    I'm not saying that I agree with any of that. I think McDonald's induction, which I have no real problem with does suggest that Middleton bears a closer look. I also don't care about an athlete's politics (though I admit that it's not something I'm generally interested in hearing, whether I agree or not), so if I'm right about that being a source of resistance to JR or Fleury, I have a problem with that. But it also means that athletes with a reputation for being outspoken might have a higher bar to clear, whether we like it or not.
     
  6. billbillbill Registered User

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    With Roenick, one more big season certainly would've helped, but I think the biggest factors working against him are 1) how unremarked upon those Phoenix teams were 2) the "what happened to Roenick?!" perception - the idea that he dropped off the planet after those big years in Chicago. Looking at his adjusted stats, the drop off from Chicago to Phoenix is 5-10 points rather than 30.

    I'll submit Eric Staal. He has a cup and a great postseason performance to go along with it. He has Olympic gold. He has 1000 points. 500 goals is possible. He was the face of a team for 11 years. Does he have enough elite seasons?
     
  7. Sanf Registered User

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    If the lockout season did not happen there is possibility that Miikka Kiprusoff would have three elite seasons in a row. He was Hart 4. and Vezina second with a Stanley cup final run in season prior and Hart runner-up and Vezina winner the season after. (Well he was Vezina third in 06-07, but with rather small amount of votes so that does really count only as supportive season for Hall of Fame case.) That wouldn´t make him a sure Hall of Famer, but certainly would make a case for it.
     
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  8. GlitchMarner Typical malevolent, devious & vile Maple Leafs fan

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    Perry has two elite seasons. He was top five in scoring and a First-Team All-Star in 2014. His problem is that there is a rather large drop-off between those two seasons and his next best ones.

    I think one more elite season would have gotten him into the Hall for sure considering he's won everything. He's really declined hard the last three years and obviously isn't going to come close to having another big season. He seems to be having a Lecavalier-esque finish to his career. If he had been able to do a better job of padding his stats in the last five or six years of his career than he will have done, he would stand a better chance at being inducted.
     
  9. Hobnobs Pinko

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    I'd say Näslund is a victim of circumstances. He started to break out with Pittsburgh but then they did that fatal Stojanov deal and Näslund ended up in a pretty poor situation. The Keenan era canucks. I think the instability of that team as well as being young stagnated him a little or freezed his development a bit. I don't remember who played with most of time only that he had some ice time with Linden and Mogilny. Both who werent there most of the time during Näslunds initial two years. In Keenans last year is when Näslund started making progress but he was far too alone (iirc both Messier and Bure had injury troubles that season).

    Then the proto-westcoast express started to form a bit with him Cassels and Bertuzzi. And then superstar peak, injuries, controversies (moore incident for example) and lockout and here we are.
     
  10. NHL WAR Registered User

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    John LeClair
     
  11. Weissy Baby Registered User

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    I think Corey Perry gets in. He won everything there is to win in junior, the NHL, and internationally, has a Hart and a Rocket. Honestly a couple more years of compiling plus a decent playoff run and he's in
     
  12. The Pale King I hope it lands... Sponsor

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    One more healthy season for Ziggy Palffy and he'd certainly be closer to HHOF contention. Even if he stuck around a while longer as a PPG player as part of Pittsburgh's return to relevancy post-lockout he'd have a better case.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
  13. The Panther Registered User

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    That's a really good choice. I do a double-take every time I see Palffy's career stats, because they're so consistently impressive. He was top-10 in PPG five times in seven years, and he led two franchises in scoring -- both multiple times.

    His limitation was, of course, a shortened career and injury, but he was also somewhat a victim of circumstances. He became an NHL regular just as scoring was declining, and then the Lock Out took away another possibly late-prime season.
     
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  14. TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Lots of good answers so far.

    Two more off the top of my head are Kovalchuk and Mogilny.

    Though Mogilny might get in because his best season was in 93.
     
  15. crobro Registered User

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    Tim Kerr another 50 goal season would of given him 5 plus a 48 goals in 68 games season
     
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  16. Professor What Registered User

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    I haven't done any digging into this at all, so there might be nothing to it, but with the way scoring generally cratered after the early 90s, I wonder after reading your comment how many players on a similar level to Palffy might have been put in a position where they had to do more to be considered for the Hall. My gut says that the stat "collapse" might mean that there might have been players of that era that needed another top level season or so to get in that might have pulled it off on their numbers being a bit higher had they shown up just a few years earlier. If a voter was too stat-based, 120-130 point seasons might have spoiled them to the point that they wouldn't view a solid 95-point season in the dead puck era too kindly.
     
  17. buffalowing88 Registered User

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    Thanks for taking the time to write them all up. A case can be made for any of these guys to be hall of famers. With that said, I personally dump the bottom three. I feel the worst about Liut the more I look at it. He reminds me of a Ryan Miller quite a bit. I'll reevaluate him.

    Pete Mahovlich doesn't do it for me. I think he was, as you stated, a part of something bigger than him when he had his best seasons. Not his fault, but he doesn't warrant my own consideration, personally.

    Naslund is what he is. The best player from 01-04 is like being the best player during the WW2 years to me. I just don't like the competition from that time. Probably just a personal bias, though.

    But yeah, the rest of them all deserve in. Roenick was actually a dominant player for several years, Middleton doesn't even need any further endorsement. He was incredible and people are finally starting to recognize that. Fleury will hopefully catch similar support. I remember being like 10 or 11 when he went to the Avs for the big playoff run and he backed it up. And then some. His playoff performances are impeccable. Put that man in the HHOF asap.
     
  18. BigBadBruins7708 Registered User

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    I really hate the 500/1000 argument against Middleton.

    It's garbage and reinforces the idea that compiling numbers is more important than actual greatness in the HOF's eyes.

    Middleton had 448 goals and 988 points. The idea that he needed to play 1-2 pathetic "hang on too long" seasons to hit to be hall worthy is beyond wrong.

    If you have Hossa as a HOF'er then Middleton is. Middleton was the better player.

    Edit: to answer the thread, Kiprusoff. I think he should be in already, but another great season makes him a slam dunk
     
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  19. The Panther Registered User

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    Mike Liut...?
    [​IMG]


    I don't see Middleton as a Hall of Famer, either, to be honest. Likeable player and everything, but I think if you're a fairly one-dimensional offensive player (which he was) you need to be a top scorer at least once in your career... which he never was. How many times was Middleton top-10 in points per game, for example? That would be never. Did he won the Cup? Nope. He did have a few nice playoff runs, but he also had a few terrible ones to balance them out.

    I'd have to hear the argument for why Middleton should be in the Hall, while Pierre Turgeon (five times top-10 PPG, longer career, similar playoff stats) shouldn't.
     
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  20. Tkachuk4MVP 31 Years of Fail

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    I think Keith Tkachuk (username checks out :D) probably gets in with one great playoff run. As of now that lack of postseason success will probably keep him out.
     
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  21. BigBadBruins7708 Registered User

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    In what world was Middleton 1 dimensional? H
    was a 200ft player and one of the originators of the high scoring defensive winger, finishing as high as 4th in Selke voting
     
  22. Big Phil Registered User

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    I am not sure how Perry gets in to be honest. There are lots of players - Mike Richards being another - who "won everything". It is a nice cherry on top to win at every level but doesn't prove greatness. Perry is easily behind Ryan Getzlaf in this argument for the HHOF and I think Getzlaf is in but not a slam dunk. His playoff resume is what will get him over the top. Perry on the other hand has 797 points in 1045 games. Getzlaf 1053 games and 965 points. He'll get 1,000 points. While he could have used another "elite" season in his arsenal I think his entire package will get him in. He had lots of deep playoff runs where he was very good. Plus he has 0.92 PPG, so that's not terribly far off from even a 1.0 PPG. I also think he probably was better than what his stats show, the eye test with Getzlaf was better than his stats. Perry had two good/great seasons, but there are gaps and that is it with him. Twice a 1st team all-star, but then there is a huge gap. Already has 0.76 PPG and that won't improve. Doesn't have anything to counter that with either. Even in the playoffs he is below Getzlaf. I can see him being the rare Hart winner who doesn't get in.

    Good call. I don't think Pete will ever get in either, nor should he I guess. He comes across to me as someone you want to see in there, but there is a big points drop off from those two big years that is hard to ignore. But man, did you ever want that guy on your team when the chips were down. On Montreal or Team Canada. Lots to like about him, but a great career? There are just better who aren't in there.

    That is a weird era with Naslund too. You have maybe Iginla, Brodeur, Lidstrom and Sakic who are considered the best in that three year span. A bit of a perfect storm too with some things. Mario had some injuries, Forsberg did too. Thornton just was starting to burst out and Crosby and Ovechkin weren't there yet. Jagr had his mid-career slump at that precise time. If Naslund shows he is great outside of those years then we are talking.

    I think Liut trumps Miller here though. Miller had that spectacular year in 2010 but a drop off otherwise. Like Liut, he had nothing special in the postseason and wasn't generally on a team who should have won either. He's on the wrong end of the Crosby goal, but then again the U.S. losing was not an upset, if anything had they won it would have been.

    Here is an interesting thing. If Mike Liut and Team Canada win in 1981 is he in? I don't mean even by any dramatic way. Let's say it is a 4-2 score against the Soviets. I honestly can see him in there solely because of that and the stigma being gone from the reality of that final.
     
  23. Big Phil Registered User

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    Here is another good name - Ken Hodge.

    Had huge years in 1969, 1971 and 1974. For whatever reason he followed up all of them with lacklustre years and doesn't have another truly great one in there. Throw in the fact he is considered to be a huge product of Esposito and Orr. Had 800 points in 880 games, was one of those guys who needed 1,000 points to get in, I think. Was out of the game at 33, so that doesn't help. Yet when the Bruins went deep or won the Cup he was there in 1970, 1972 and 1974. It might help if he warranted some Hart consideration for himself. But I do have to admit, if Steve Shutt is in you would think Hodge would have gotten the same sort of love. I think another great season puts him in the conversation.
     
  24. Marotte Marauder Registered User

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    I don't think I have ever heard The Little M and HOF together before. Not worthy IMO
     
  25. Moose Head Registered User

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    I still recall arguments with Bruin fans in the early 80’s who said he was the best winger in the game because of his all round game which they found put him ahead of Bossy, despite Bossys better stats.

    That said, he was probably as good a scorer as McDonald and a better checker. McDonald gets a ton of Mileage out of his folk hero persona. Everyone and his dog loved Lanny, and Middleton was the guy who never won the cup and had substance abuse issues. Really a perception thing.
     
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