Here’s why it took so long for Housley to make HHOF grade

Brian Costello
NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 08:  Assistant head coach Phil Housley of the Nashville Predators coaches against the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena on February 8, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Housley

Phil Housley retired as the fourth-leading defenseman scorer in the history of the NHL. Only Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey and Al MacInnis had more points from the blueline than him. So why did it take him 10 attempts to get voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

There are a couple of theories. The first is Housley spent a good chunk of his early seasons with the Buffalo Sabres playing forward and racking up points. That’s a misconception. Housley made the massive jump from Minnesota high school to the NHL as an 18-year-old (after being selected sixth overall by Buffalo in 1982) and managed 19 goals and 66 points in 77 games as a rookie defenseman. Sure, it was the live puck era, but it was a celebrated feat nonetheless.

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Pronger making headlines again when Hall of Fame vote comes down

Brian Costello
Chris Pronger signs autographs at the 2014 NHL Awards in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Just a couple days after seeing his playing rights traded to Arizona from Philadelphia, Chris Pronger will be in the spotlight again when the Hall of Fame announces he and Nicklas Lidstrom are two of this year’s inductees.

The Hall of Fame’s 18-member selection committee is meeting today to discuss this year’s candidates. Former players and builders need at least 75 percent approval (or 14 favorable votes). Pronger, who last played during the 2011-12 season and has been on the Flyers long-term injury ever since, is as sure-fire a candidate as you’ll see. So is Lidstrom, the most decorated defenseman in the history of the NHL not named Bobby Orr.

Pronger, of course, was a brilliant two-way defenseman who was a major player in Anaheim’s 2006-07 Stanley Cup triumph. He also was a key cog in two other teams getting to the Cup final, the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. Pronger had 157 goals and 698 points in 1,167 games over 18 seasons. He won both the Norris Trophy and Hart Trophy in 1999-2000, while with the St. Louis Blues, one of five teams he played for.

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Chris Pronger deal another example of NHL salary cap follies

Chris Pronger (Getty Images)

FORT LAUDERDALE – All right, let’s see if we have this straight. If the Arizona Coyotes can somehow keep their disputed lease in effect, the good people of Glendale will be giving money to a team that is paying a guy $575,000 to not play for them and another guy making $3 million who will actually play for them. That will cost them $3.6 million total, a little more than the $3.2 million they were paying to the guy they traded away, who will likely get paid by his new team to not play for it. The guy making $575,000, by the way, will likely be elected into the Hall of Fame in a couple of days and he now works for the league, while still being paid by the teams who are paying him to not play for them.

Only in the NHL. Shortly after the draft wrapped up Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes consummated a convoluted trade that saw defenseman Nicklas Grossmann head to the desert in exchange for Sam Gagner and the rights to Chris Pronger. The reason for the deal? The Coyotes will gain $1.5 million to help them get up to the salary floor, since Pronger’s deal is for $575,000 each of the next two seasons in real money and $4.94 million against the cap, and the Flyers will get some relief at the upper level. Pronger will also become the first player in history to be taken off the league’s long-term injury list without actually being activated.

Carry on, then.

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Hall Monitor: Hossa still has work left to make the grade

Brian Costello
Marian Hossa Cup fans Bill Smith

You heard it as much as I did the past few weeks. Future Hall of Famer Marian Hossa this…. Future Hall of Famer Marian Hossa that… Did the Chicago Blackhawks’ right winger officially add that moniker to his passport?

Hossa has had a terrific 16-year NHL career, but he’s hardly a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Hearing so many hockey analysts calling him one is both premature and dangerous. He’s a very good player entering the final few seasons of a very good career. But a lot of very good players have retired in the past decade and not made it to the Hall of Fame. Here are some names: Mark Recchi, Owen Nolan, Adam Foote, Paul Kariya, Rod Brind’Amour, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Gary Roberts, Curtis Joseph, Trevor Linden, Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Keith Primeau.

And that’s just the past decade.

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Gordie Howe ‘comfortable and happy’ after second stem cell treatment

Ken Campbell
Gordie Howe (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hall of Fame legend Gordie Howe is “comfortable and happy,” after undergoing his second stem cell treatment at a clinic in Mexico Monday night, said his son, Murray.

“Our dad continues to participate in a clinical trial where stem cells are being used in the treatment of a stroke,” Murray Howe said in an email to thn.com. “We’d like to wait until the first phase of that clinical trial is complete before providing any more updates. At this time, our dad is comfortable and happy. That remains our goal. We want to thank everyone for their ongoing support for Mr. Hockey.”

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Guy Lafleur’s favorite players today include Gallagher, Plekanec

Ryan Kennedy
Guy Lafleur (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

QUEBEC CITY – Few players inspire as much awe in Quebec as Guy Lafleur, so it was no surprise that the Hall of Fame right winger was a popular man when his 1971 Remparts reunited for this year’s Memorial Cup festivities. And since ‘Le Demon Blonde’ was one of the most electrifying players to ever lace up skates, it only made sense to ask him which current NHLers catch his eye.

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Hall of Famer Larry Robinson on the ’89 Canadiens: “We screwed up.”

Larry Robinson (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s hard to top Larry Robinson’s resume. Not only did the Hall of Famer win six Stanley Cups as a defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens, but he also hoisted the trophy as head coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2000. Now the director of player development for the San Jose Sharks after three years as an associate coach, Robinson has been helping this generations’ defenders hone their craft in Northern California.

But there’s always the one that got away and for Robinson, it came in 1989, when he played his last season for the Habs, before joining the Los Angeles Kings the next year. Montreal faced off against Calgary in a rematch of the 1986 final (won by the Habs) and despite the fact the Flames had a slightly better record in the regular season, Robinson believes the Canadiens should have won the Cup.

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Russians should play back home until they’re 28: Slava Fetisov

Vladimir Tarasenko (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Relations between Russia and North America are a little frosty right now. Discipline is expected from the IIHF after the Russians took off during the Canadian national anthem at the World Championship, while the newest issue of Harper’s magazine reveals that 81 percent of Russians today have a negative view of the United States, compared with just 25 percent in 2013.

And now a hockey legend has waded into the fray.

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