During what is now a Hall of Fame career, Nicklas Lidstrom garnered so much respect that he earned the nickname, The Perfect Human. Not The Perfect Hockey Player. Not The Perfect Defenseman. The Perfect Human. People called Chris Pronger lots of things during what is now a Hall of Fame career, too. None of them is suitable for publication on a website that might be viewed by young people. Many of those words begin with the letter ‘F’.
It was not easy to play the game the way Lidstrom did, but he made it look that way. Playing the game and preparing for it the way Lidstrom meticulously did and maintaining a ridiculously high standard on and off the ice presented its fair share of challenges. But it’s also not easy going to the opposing rink from the time you’re a kid and knowing that you’re going to be the most hated guy there. But like Lidstrom, Pronger embraced his role and status. Lidstrom wore the white hat and Pronger donned the black, and both of them managed to do it while becoming two of the most dominant defensemen of their generation.
Now that Sergei Fedorov is taking his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame and Pavel Bure was finally inducted in 2012, nine long years after he retired, there is an empty spot that needs to be filled. And next year might just be the time to do it.
Because if Alexander Mogilny is going to find his way into the Hall of Fame, 2016 presents a golden opportunity. For one of the few years ever, there is not a slam-dunk Hall of Famer who retired after the 2012-13 season, so the Class of 2016 is wide open for the likes of Mogilny and Eric Lindros.
And Fedorov, for one, believes Mogilny should be in the Hall of Fame immediately.
Whether or not the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings enter the annals of the most decorated teams in the history of the game is now up solely to Pavel Datsyuk. The Magic Man must be inducted after he retires for that team to join the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs with the most players who reside in the hallowed hall.
With the additions of Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov, that Red Wings team now has a total of nine Hall of Famers, which currently stands just one behind the standard bearers in that category, the 1955-56 Canadiens and the 1966-67 Maple Leafs. How good was that team in Detroit? Well, consider that team had a fourth line that consisted of Igor Larionov centering Luc Robitaille and Tomas Holmstrom. Their fourth line. Think about that for a minute.
The AHL has announced its Hall of Fame class of 2016, and Bruce Cline, Ralph Keller, Jean-Francois Labbe — all of whom played for the Hershey Bears — and Bruce Landon will make up the 11th group of inductees into the league’s Hall of Fame.
Cline, 83, was a career AHLer who spent the bulk of his career with three teams in the minor league. He began his AHL tenure with the Providence Reds and spent three seasons with the club before a one-year stint with the Buffalo Bisons. After moving on from Buffalo, Cline spent four years with the Springfield (Mass.) Indians and five with the Hershey Bears before his playing career ended in 1968.
Over his 823 game AHL career, Cline notched 321 goals and 773 points. He was the AHL rookie of the year in 1955-56 and scored three goals and six points in the post-season to help Providence to a Calder Cup victory. In Springfield, Cline helped the team capture three consecutive Calder Cups from 1960 to 1962. Read more
Separated by only a couple of hours and about 150 miles, two of the greatest players of their generation were born on this day in 1965. So, Happy 50th Birthday to Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy.
Google tells me that Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe were born on precisely the same day. So were Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. But the best parallel we can make for two people of bound by precisely the same birthday and excellence in the same craft are B.B. King and Charlie Byrd, who were a couple of pretty decent guitar players.
The Sedins are old.
Not old-old, like me. But hockey old. You know, 35. Thirty-freakin-five.
As I was scanning the Vancouver Canucks roster for the 2015-16 season and checking the ages of the players, it suddenly hit me – barring a miracle, Daniel and Henrik are not going to win the Stanley Cup.
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.
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.