Re: Who gets the Hall call on Monday?
posted at 6/23/2014 11:10 AM EDT
I thought I posted something on the Neely/Lindros comparison, but I guess it didn't stick.
New version then, including Forsberg this time: Every Hall has its set measuring sticks, and if you don't tick off a few of them, no matter what your overall career looks like, your case is weakened significantly. In hockey, and for forwards: 50 goals. 100 points. 500 goals. 1000 points. Major Awards and Year End All Star selections.
Each of these guys would have been easy locks if not for injuries. Neely's goals/game is tenth highest in league history (though who knows if he'd played out his career how far that might have fallen as he aged). His 50 in 44 is unlikely to be matched any time soon, so he'll be second to Gretzky in that regard probably for as long as I live. He had 3 50 goal years and was the second team AS at RW four times. Add that to his rep as THE power forward wing of his generation and he's a lock. What helps him here is that the injuries that ended his run prematurely really impacted the end of his career, not season by season over time. He played 69 or more games for 7 straight years, so he had big seasons and hit the big marks. He didn't last to get the 500 goals or 1000 assists, but because of the big seasons, it's easy to imagine him getting there.
Lindros gets killed under those criteria. He only played more than 65 games twice the entire time he was in Philly. He only topped 80 points 3 times, over 100 once, and he never hit 50 goals. He missed those season marks and probably more individual hardware because of yearly injuries. The year he had 115 points, he only played 73 games. He ended with 47 goals that year. Two other years, he was on pace for 124 points and 50+ goals but only played 46 and 52 games. The first of those years, he would have missed the Art Ross by 6 points to Gretzky and he would have outscored the eventual Hart winner, Fedorov. The second of those years, 124 would have given him the Art Ross and a good shot at the Hart (Hasek won that year, so who knows...). If he's healthy those years alone, the additional points would have gotten him close to 1000 for his career. Moral of the story - better to miss whole years than parts of every year if you want your legacy to show you dominated the league.
Forsberg actually doesn't fare as well against Lindros as Neely does. Two 100pt seasons, with two others where he missed 10 games or so and would likely have made the 100 threshold if he had - but doing so wouldn't have won him additional hardware. He wins in major trophies because he won the Calder. Lindros, you'll recall, lost the Calder to some Finnish rookie who scored 76 goals. Forsberg would have lost to Selanne, too. In terms of perceived dominance, Forsberg was the first team AS C three times, and in two of those years, he beat Lindros for the honor (Lindros played 63 and 71 games those years; Forsberg 72 and 78). But the biggest stick in Forsberg's bag is the 2 Stanley Cups. 1.31 points/game in the playoffs for Forsberg, even if Sakic and Roy took home the Smythe. 1.075 and no Cups, significantly, for Lindros. Neely also 0 Cups (if you had forgotten) and almost a perfect 1 point/game (exclude his one-legged final playoff appearance).
All in all, it doesn't take much to look at what Lindros did accomplish and show that only a truly dominant player, even hampered by injuries, could have done what he did over his 8 years in Philly and his first year with the Rangers. But when you look at the list of players who are eligible, and the limits on how many guys can go in in a year, it must be pretty easy to fall back on Lindros never quite actually hitting those yardsticks when other guys did.
Are you not entertained?!?!