They unveiled a statue of Dave Andreychuk just outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum the other day. Maybe one day, they’ll roll out the red carpet at the Hockey Hall of Fame for him.
If it were strictly about numbers, Andreychuk would be in the Hall already. He first became eligible in 2009 and has been overlooked five times now. And why is that?
Most of Andreychuk’s credentials revolve around his durability, goal-scoring and leadership. On the surface, it’s remarkable that the 14th all-time goal-scorer in the history of the game isn’t in the Hall. His 640 career regular season goals are 200-plus more than HoFers Pavel Bure, Yvan Cournoyer, Steve Shutt, Bill Barber and Cam Neely. They’re 150-plus more than Norm Ullman, Darryl Sittler, Denis Savard, Pay LaFontaine, Alex Delvecchio, Peter Stastny and Doug Gilmour, all honored members.
And get this: Andreychuk’s 274 power play goals rank first all-time, nine ahead of Brett Hull and 19 ahead of Teemu Selanne.
So why isn’t this guy in the Hall of Fame yet?
Members of the Hall of Fame selection committee obviously look at the numbers, but perhaps the No. 1 criteria they use in determining who becomes a Hall of Famer is that gut feeling question they ask themselves: “Was he great?”
The perception with Andreychuk is he was very, very good for a lot of seasons, but never really great.
The people of Tampa will tell you differently. Andreychuk showed tremendous character and leadership in guiding the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup, even though at 40 he was no longer the team’s primary offensive weapon.
There’s also the unfair perception that 43 percent of his goals came with the man advantage, when it’s easiest to score. But he scored on the power play better than anyone in the history of the game. That must be worth something, no?
Andreychuk ranks sixth in all-time regular season games at 1,639. That should be a feather in his cap, not used as rationale for explaining all the goals he scored.
Another misconception is Andreychuk scored all his goals in the live-puck era, when even your Uncle Albert was a 20-goal scorer playing blindfolded. Truth is, of the 11 consecutive seasons when NHL scoring hit its peak at seven goals per game or higher, Andreychuk was a full-time NHLer just the last six of them.
When NHL scoring was at its modern-day high-water mark of 8.025 goals-per-game during the Wayne Gretzky peak years, Andreychuk was still in junior with the Oshawa Generals.
Twelve of his 23 NHL seasons were played when scoring was trending down to below the six goals-per-game mark.
Andreychuk never won an individual award and was never named an NHL first or second-team all-star, obvious strikes against him in his Hall of Fame quest.
But sometimes, it should be strictly about the numbers, the way it was for Mike Gartner, Dino Ciccarelli, Mats Sundin, Michel Goulet and other 500-goal snipers, who also lacked the award credentials.
Andreychuk’s day at the Hall of Fame will come. He may have to wait another half decade or so, but eventually the numbers will become too loud to tune out.
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This is the seventh in a series of Hall Monitor blogs. Others have been on:
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN