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Tough questions for five new inductees for the Hockey Hall of Fame

Tough questions for five new inductees for the Hockey Hall of Fame
Tough questions for five new inductees for the Hockey Hall of Fame

 


As your friendly neighborhood hockey Hall of Fame enthusiast, I'm happy to declare Hall of Fame season.

With the name Class of 2024 on it Tuesday June 25, were within two weeks of discovering who will be honored with induction this fall. There are five fresh NHL faces on the ballot, and each comes with a compelling question about the Hall and its future.

The ultra-secret election procedures are designed to keep us guessing. Apart from detailing the mechanics of the processthe HHOF is a covert operation. No candidate list. One sentence in a regulation establishing selection criteria. The number of votes is kept secret.

The good news? It's fun to speculate.

I have publicly curated one for the past two seasons fair standard to serve as a starting point for HHOF discussions. With the PPP system now accessible, it's time to take a closer look at five fascinating newcomers on the 2024 ballot Pavel Datchuk, Shea Weber, Patrick Marleau, Ryan MillerAnd Pekka Rinne. What will this year's decisions reveal about the Halls' evolution?


1. Pavel Datsyuk

The difficult question: How will the venue deal with Russian players?

PPS score: 279 (+44 vs. standard)
PPS level: Qualified
Mid-day: #7
Public polls: 91%
Career Competitions: Paul Kariya; Henrik Zetterberg; Daniel Alfredsson

All against: Datsyuk played during times of low scoring and multiple exclusions and failed to surpass 1,000 games and points. Until the age of 27, he scored just three goals in 42 playoff games, taking his time to shake off the ghost label of the playoffs.

Everyone benefits: Datsyuk, a three-time Selke winner, served as an era-adjusted 85-point player throughout his career. He added 279 points in Russia's top professional league. A physics-defying magician, Hart Trophy finalist, four-time Byng winner and member of the Triple Gold Club, his candidacy checks all the boxes.

The tricky answer: Playing in parallel with Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Kane, Thornton, the Sedins, etc. left less air space for the understated two-way artist. But if Datsyuk doesn't scream Hall of Fame talent, who does?

The elephant in the plaque room is his passport. Russian teams are excluded from international competitions at least until the 2024-2025 hockey calendar. The HHOF has yet to make a public statement on the matter, an understandable move for a nonprofit museum that wants to avoid politics.

But now the Selection Committee must take a position on a Russian candidate. Dodging the problem by passing on old insults Alexander Mogilny or Sergei Gonchar? That was easy to do the past two years. Datsyuk is different. He's a definite Hall of Famer and everyone knows he was at 91%.

Will the committee simply ignore the matter completely and vote in Datsyuk based on his play? Or should the HHOF as a public institution deny a notoriously propagandistic nation its global platform? Anyway, Datsyuk's decision shall make a statement.

2. Shea Weber

The difficult question: Will the Hall start picking defenders fairly?

PPS score: 274 (+5 vs. standard)
PPS level: Boundary line/above
Mid-day: #3
Public polls: 46%
Career Competitions: Rob Blake; Doug Wilson; Eric Desjardins

All against: Critics of Weber's will note that he never won two major trophies, the Norris Trophy and the Stanley Cup. His only appearance after the second round came on his last legs at the age of 35.

Everyone benefits: The thriving two-way presence finished in the top 10 of the Norris voting nine consecutive times an impressive example of excellence and consistency. He went 3-for-3 in best-on-best international play, anchoring Canada's deadly blueline at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, plus the 2016 World Cup.

The tricky answer: Of the 100 post-expansion NHL inductees, only 24 are defensemen. Positionally they represent a third of the ice, suggesting that there were about nine short. By selecting Henrik Lundqvist, Tom Barrasso and Mike Vernon in 2023, the committee brought the representation in goaltending back into proportion. Yet the defenders are groping in the dark.

With only old holdovers Sergei Gonchar (298) and Gary Suter (277) topping Weber in PPS, his case is to the very best of eligible blueliners. Highly qualified contemporaries Zdeno Chara and Duncan Keith are in a stacked ballot in 2025, so it would be wise to prioritize the deserving Weber in this cycle, even though this is his first year of eligibility.

During his 16-year career, Weber scored more goals (224) than any other defenseman while maintaining an excellent reputation offensively, defensively and off the ice. That's a Hall of Famer, folks. Fans are often obsessed with respected but fringe candidates like Bernie Nicholls or Steve Larmer. Weber is a titan available at a position underrepresented in HHOF history. Choose the man.

3. Patrick Marleau

The difficult question: Does the all-time games record deserve induction?

PPS score: 227 (-8 vs. standard)
PPS level: Boundary line/bottom
Mid-day: #12
Public poll: 57%
Career Competitions: Dave Andreychuk; Mike Gartner; Erik Steel

All against: Without a Stanley Cup, a year-end All-Star nod, a top eight MVP finish, a 15-point playoff year or a 90-point season, Marleau was never elite, but rather the definition of very good for a very long time.

Everyone benefits: Playing the most games in NHL history (1,779), including 910 in a row, Marleau is hockey's most durable and dedicated warrior. Adjusted for era, the Sharks' modest leader has 637 career goals combined with two Olympic gold medals.

The tricky answer: With an average of 3.7 male players out of a maximum four in the past twelve cycles, it has long been a big venue, at least for male players. While fans or media can create their own standard for what the HHOF should generations of selection committees have made their choices inclusive. Randomly raising the threshold today is both illogical and bad for business.

If Marleau started the HHOF from scratch, would he make my Hall? No. In 23 seasons, he rarely moved the needle. Statistically, Marleau peaked as the #12 NHL forward, which feels good. PPS agrees that he fell a bit short as a compiler of counting statistics, if ever there was one.

No, playing a long time doesn't make you a Hall of Famer. Matt Cullen, Shane Doan and Glen Wesley are all in the top 30 of career games played. But a borderline candidate with a record of sustainability will resonate with the committee, as 10 of the 18 members have long careers at the highest level. While there shouldn't be a rush to hire Marleau, HHOF precedent says there is a place for him.

4.Ryan Miller
5. Pekka Rinne

The difficult question: Will the three-goaltender class of 2023 change the norm?

Ryan Miller

PPS score: 314 (+3 vs. standard)
PPS level: Boundary line/above
Mid-day: #3
Public poll: 26%
Career Competitions: Sean Burke, Carey Price, Tom Barrasso

All against: Miller's run at the top of the NHL was short-lived. Outside of his signature year of 2009-2010, he earned Vezina votes just once in 18 seasons. The Michigan-born puck stopper won just 28 playoff games.

Everyone benefits: Miller was reportedly once the best goalkeeper in the world. In six months, he convincingly won a Vezina, finished fourth in the MVP voting and nearly stole a gold medal from the U.S. as Olympic MVP. Miller, a Hobey Baker Award winner, retired with 391 NHL wins, mostly on mediocre teams.

Pekka Rinne

PPS score: 287 (-24 vs. standard)
PPS level: Hall of Very Good
Mid-day: #6
Public poll: 42%
Career Competitions: Andy Moog, Mike Richter, Miikka Kiprusoff

All against: The Finnish-born Rinne had an inconsistent career, combining mediocre seasons with brilliant seasons. Without a cup, international title or notable career figures, his cause doesn't stand out among his generation.

Everyone benefits: Rinne, a four-time Vezina finalist who won the award at age 35, was the driving force behind Nashville's middling selections for more than a decade. He led the Preds to the 2017 Cup Final and retired with the King Clancy Trophy for Humanitarian Contributions.

The tricky answer: By selecting three goaltenders last year, the HHOF corrected the longstanding imbalance at the position. Lundqvist (PPS of 344) was an easy first selection. But Barrasso (311), a respectable pick, and Vernon (261) have collectively lowered the post-expansion goaltender standard slightly from 317 to 311. In doing so, it inherently opens the door for more goaltender candidates.

On the other hand, perhaps the Committee had the goalie full, allowing the position to sit for a while. The PPS prefers Miller's longer career and a more stable peak (i.e., best seven-year run), but Vezina's vote and public opinion polls favor Rinne. However, neither is an overly convincing or weak candidate.

Price and Tuukka Rask will be eligible in 2025. Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Quick will likely follow in 2028, with Sergei Bobrovsky not long after. Do Miller or Rinne stand out from that pack? Certainly not. Neither is a better option than holdover Curtis Joseph (454 wins).

By choosing three goalkeepers in one fell swoop, you can of course more easily massage your arguments from Chris Osgood or Mike Richter. But the committee would be wise to take a moment to reflect on Miller and Rinne so that the modern standard of puck stopping can be recalibrated over the next half-decade given the intriguing cases before us.


To follow@AdaptedHockeyon X; Dates ofHockey-Reference.com,NHL.com;
Public polls were conducted in June 2023 (example: 1,688 responses)


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