Now that the NHL offseason is here, we’ve got NHL offseason stuff happening. The NHL Draft is coming, as is free agency, but first, we’ve got the Hockey Hall of Fame class for 2014, and, overall, I think it is a strong class. In the builders category, we’ve got referee Bill McCreary and, more notably, head coach Pat Burns. Then, amongst the players, we’ve got Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek, and Mike Modano.
First things first, let’s get to Burns. He coached for 14 seasons, from the 88-89 season until the 2003-2004 season. He coached four teams, won the Jack Adams for three different teams, and won a Cup in 2003 with New Jersey. He has 501 career wins. It was a very good career. You could, admittedly, go either way on him making the Hall, especially since analyzing coaches is difficult, but the Hockey Hall of Fame decided to let him in this year. Unfortunately, it is later than ideal, as Burns passed away in 2010 after a battle with cancer that caused him to retire when he did. There were people who wanted him to make it before he died, and if he was going to get in, as he did, it would have been great for him to have had the chance to see it. Alas, the voters did not take this into consideration, evidently, but Burns is in the Hall now.
OK, now onto the players. Of the four, Blake is clearly the least notable name. However, he still had an excellent career. Blake played 20 years, from the 89-90 season until the 2009-2010 season, mostly with the Kings. He also played with Colorado and ending his career with San Jose. Overall, he played 1,270 games, scoring 240 goals and notching 777 points. He also blasted a ton of shots, getting 3,896 in his career, 21st out of any NHLer. Blake also took a ton on penalties, which isn’t good.
Blake also made some noise in the playoffs, and won a Cup with the Avalanche, and he played for Canada in three Olympics. He made seven All-Star Games, won a Norris, and made four NHL All-Star Teams. I have no complaints about him making the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was a great player, if not one of the elite defensemen of all time. Unless you want a small Hall, and it’s a little late for that, he has to be there.
Forsberg is on a postage stamp, so he’ll always have that. He earned that before he even made it into the NHL, scoring the winner for Sweden in the 1994 Winter Olympics, and then he proceeded to play for Sweden three more times, and winning another gold. He also won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche, the team is he forever aligned with, even if you are a Nashville Predators fan. This is a reminder of the strange end to Forsberg’s career. Injuries really started to bother him late, and he bounced around a bit, briefly stopping in Philly and Nashville, and then he returned to Colorado. He proceeded to play nine games in the 2007-2008 season, leave the league and head back to Sweden briefly, and then returned for two games in the 2010-2011 season, before finally retiring.
So let up not forget how great Forsberg was in his prime. More of a playmaker than goal scorer, Forsberg scored 249 goals and 885 points in a mere 708 games played. He also scored 171 playoff points in 151 games. Forsberg won a Calder, an Art Ross with 106 points, and a Hart. He was also up for the Selke a few times, because he was a strong two-way player. Forsberg is fifth in NHL history in assists per game and eight in points per game. You have to be in the Hall of Game with numbers like that. He was one of the best of his era. If only he hadn’t had those injury issues.
Speaking of strange NHL career, Dominik Hasek! While he played from the 1990-1991 season until the 2007-2008 season, he did not become a start until he left Chicago for Buffalo and took over as the starter in the 1993-1994 season. He was always 29, and he won the Vezina, thus beginning, arguably, the greatest stretch for any goalie in NHL history. Hasek played in 735 games and had a career save percentage of .922. That is excellent. From that 1993-1994 season until the 1998-1999 season, his SV% dipped below .930 once, all the way down to .920. What a chump. In the 1997-1998 season, he had a .932 save percentage and 13 shutouts. Thirteen!
Hasek also had a .925 save percentage in the playoffs. He won two Cups, but they were in Detroit at the end of his career. He also willed the Sabres to a Cup once too. Also, for kicks, he played in the KHL at the age of 46. Dominik Hasek was great. He won six Vezinas and two Harts. As a goalie! That just doesn’t happen. He won the Czech Republic a gold. Hasek is sixth in career shutouts, first in SV%, although that is not a stat that goes back too far, and third in Adjusted GAA. Honestly, this may be the best goalie of all-time.
Like Hasek, Modano ended his career with the Detroit Red Wings, although it did not go well when he went back to his hometown team. No matter, because he is the face of the Dallas Stars, the foremost legend of that franchise. Also, he was in The Mighty Ducks. He never won any major awards, although he did help lead the Stars to a Cup (over Hasek’s Sabres) in 1999. More importantly, he played in 1,499 games and scored 561 goals with 1,374 points. Throw 146 playoff points on top of that.
He is 23rd in both career goals and points, which pretty much made his a Hall of Fame lock. He also scored 29 shorthanded goals in his career, which is 20th all-time. Modano is one of the best American hockey players in history. That doesn’t mean a ton, sure, but it’s probably worth something.
Like I said, this is a fine Hockey Hall of Fame class. Congratulations to all the selections.