It would be an understatement to say Bill Dineen has had a lifetime in hockey. He’s had several lifetimes in hockey. Some of them are named Kevin and Peter and Gord and Shawn and Jerry.
The Dineen family patriarch was today inducted into the American League Hall of Fame along with three others – three-time Calder Cup champion coach Al MacNeil, prolific scoring defenseman John Slaney and four-time Calder Cup goalie Bob Perreault.
The one thing we do know is that Hall of Famer and five-time Stanley Cup champion Paul Coffey was recently suspended for three games by the Greater Toronto Hockey League for a new Hockey Canada rule governing “discriminatory slurs.” Much of the rest of the story is shrouded in mystery, since all the parties involved have closed ranks and no one is speaking about it.
What thn.com can confirm is Coffey, who coaches the Toronto Marlboros midget ‘AAA’ team, was involved in an altercation last Friday during a playoff game against the Mississauga Senators. Read more
Martin Brodeur caused a stir when he told Star-Ledger reporter and THN contributor Rich Chere he would consider waiving his no-trade clause for the right opportunity.
There was buzz on the Internet and airwaves, but there wasn’t massive shock. We’ve come to accept, if not expect, star players, even greatest-ever types, to change laundry at least once in their careers.
In fact, if Brodeur stays put until the day he retires, he’ll be one of the rarest of exceptions: a Hall of Fame goalie of the modern era who played his entire career with the same franchise. The only other netminder of that ilk – one who played a chunk of his career post-1967 expansion – is Montreal’s Ken Dryden, who became an honored member more than 30 years ago, in 1983.
Tim Thomas didn’t play in the NHL until he was 28 years old. You’d think that late start alone would be enough to keep him out of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Know this though. The great Johnny Bower was a few weeks shy of his 28th birthday before he donned an NHL sweater and he’s a Hall of Famer and recognized as one of the top 25 goalies of all-time. (Bower was ranked 87th in the 1998 book The Top 100 NHL Players of All-time.)
So can Thomas make the Hall based on parts of only one terrific decade of hockey?
It’s a long shot, but this is what he has working in his favor.
The Alberta Jr. Hockey League turns the magical 50 this season and the folks did an online poll to determine the top 50 players who passed through its doors.
It’s a fascinating list of prairie boys, many of whom went on to star in the NHL. Mark Messier (Spruce Grove Mets) and Lanny McDonald (Lethbridge Sugar Kings) made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The AJHL broke down the top 50 list into five decade groups of 10 players apiece. Voters were encouraged to base their selection on their accomplishments in both the AJHL and NHL.
Forty-three players from the top 50 played in the NHL. Eight of them won Stanley Cups. Thirteen of the 50 are still active in the NHL I personally got to see most of the first two decade all-stars play when I was growing up in Alberta. Most of the latter three decade all-stars I’ve watched play in the NHL.
To his harshest critics, Joe Thornton wears a label of being a playoff underperformer who has never been able to lead his team to a championship.
While it’s true Jumbo Joe has never guided his team to the Stanley Cup through 15 seasons, he does have an Olympic gold medal in his top drawer and a Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy on his mantle. Thornton will also go down as one of the most unselfish stars in the history of the game.
Those accolades, along with offensive stats that will one day rank him among the top 20 of all-time, will be enough to land Thornton in the Hall of Fame three years after he retires – Stanley Cup or not.
Eric Lindros was on a trajectory to super-stardom in the 1990s that prompted this to be said about him in the 1997 book The Top 100 NHL Players of All-Time: “No NHL player has ever combined Lindros’ size, skill and skating ability with such willingness to play physically.”
The 50 voters who established that esteemed ranking put Lindros in the No. 54 slot, which was incredibly remarkable seeing that he was only 24 at the time with just five years service in the NHL. The thinking at the time was Lindros would surely continue to climb that list and settle in the top 10.
Lindros was an exceptional goal scorer, playmaker, power forward and difference maker for multiple seasons. He was a lock for the Hall of Fame by his mid-twenties. No one thought otherwise.
If Jarome Iginla never scores another point in the NHL and the Stanley Cup eludes his grasp, has he done enough to make the Hall of Fame?
In a word, yes.
Iginla has enough individual awards and the statistical numbers to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, three years after he’s retired.