Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pierre Turgeon Scores 1300th Career Point

Friday night, Colorado defeated New Jersey 4-3 in a shootout. On two of the goals Pierre Turgeon assisted. These assists were his 1300th and 1301st career points. That is good enough to make Turgeon the 27th highest point scorer of all time. however, Turgeon is the highest scorer of all time that I do not think is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Here is my list of currently active NHL players who I think are worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame regardless of what happens in the rest of their careers:

Dave Andreychuk
Ed Belfour
Martin Brodeur
Chris Chelios
Dominik Hasek
Jaromir Jagr
Brian Leetch
Mario Lemieux
Nicklas Lidstrom
Luc Robitaille
Joe Sakic
Brendan Shanahan
Steve Yzerman

Clearly, there must be some player who is the highest point scorer of all time, but is not Hall of Fame worthy. Such a player would likely play in a high scoring era (the beginning of Turgeon's career where he scored his highest point totals were in the highest scoring era ever). Such a player would likely have never been considered the best player at his position and would likely have few if any individual awards. Turgeon is hardly the best centreman of his era (people like Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Yzerman and Sakic would all be well ahead of him). Turgeon won the Lady Byng trophy in 1993 and four times made the all star game. Such a player would likely lack defensive or other intangible skills that are not measured in career point totals. This is true for Turgeon when he is compared to most Hall of Famers. Such a player would likely have played a long career in order to get sufficient career point totals. Turgeon currently has 1240 career games played which is good for 53rd all time. So Turgeon is a reasonable candidate for such a player.

If Turgeon continues to score and continues to play well he will move further up the all time scoring list to a point where it will be unreasonable to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. Currently, the next player below Turgeon in career points that I do not consider Hall of Fame worthy is Mark Recchi (who has 1224 points so far and is seven places below Turgeon). Next comes Bernie Nicholls with 1209 points in 38th and Vincent Damphousse with 1205 points in 39th. All these players roughly share the same high scoring era of the late 80s and early 90s for their prime. Turgeon has almost 100 points more than any of them. If Turgeon considerably opens up this lead (or achieves more individual or team success) he would likely become a Hall of Famer. If Turgeon catches up to other players with roughly the same individual success who are Hall of Famers (people like Adam Oates for example) he would likely become good enough for Hall of Fame induction.

There are players who I consider Hall of Famers from the same era as Turgeon who have less points as he does (Brendan Shanahan for example has 1178 career points), but they offer credentials that Turgeon doesn't (Shanahan for example has twice made the First Team All Star - so he has been considered the best player in his position). This merely shows that points are not the ultimate measure of how good a player is.

This argument is quite similar to Curtis Joseph and his career win total, except that points are a better measure of good players then goalie wins are. I imagine that Turgeon could continue his career and establish Hall of Fame credentials, but he has not done so yet. He has been resurgent since he joined the Colorado Avalanche. If he can continue at this level for another year or two there is a good chance Turgeon will make it, but he is not yet there.

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