Monday, November 27, 2006

I NOW Consider Mike Modano a Hall of Famer

I like to keep track of which players currently in the NHL have had Hall of Fame careers regardless of anything they can do in the future. When they have reached a point where, without projecting their success into the future, they have accomplished enough that no injury, retirement, slump, quitting on a team etc. would keep them from the Hall of Fame. The last player I thought was worthy for this honor was Scott Niedermayer.

Today, I think Mike Modano has joined that elite group. On Saturday, he scored his 1200th career point. That is a remarkable number, though in and of itself not hall of fame worthy. In fact, two active players that I don't consider hall of famers have more points. They are Pierre Turgeon and Mark Recchi. Modano is the 42nd highest scorer of all time. That is very good for somebody who lost a year and a half to lockouts (I figure it may have cost him 100 points or so). He played through both a highly scoring era and the "dead puck" era, so any attempt to normalize his scoring for the scoring rate doesn't change his totals much.

Mike Modano was a very good centreman, but he was never considered the best center in the NHL. In fact, he only once made the second team all star (in 2000). He appeared in six NHL all star games and was regularly called upon to play a frontline role for Team USA in international play. That along with his growing career totals cement his hall of fame position.

But what about the people who have more career points then Modano? What makes Modano more worthy? Mike Modano was considered the key player on his franchise for most of his career. I picked him as the best player in Minnesota North Star/ Dallas Star history during the lockout. Turgeon and Recchi would not have that honor with any franchise. Of course if they can continue playing well and increase their career point totals, I would have to eventually consider them as well.

Modano was also a very good defensive center for the last half of his career (after he played under Ken Hitchcock). This makes him more valuable than merely his offensive contribution.

Because of very good career totals and a career that is the best in his franchise's history, I consider Mike Modano a Hall of Famer.

Here are all the currently active players I consider Hall of Famers (regardless of what happens in the rest of their careers):

Ed Belfour
Rob Blake
Martin Brodeur
Chris Chelios
Peter Forsberg
Dominik Hasek
Jaromir Jagr
Brian Leetch
Nicklas Lidstrom
Mike Modano
Scott Niedermayer
Joe Nieuwendyk
Chris Pronger
Joe Sakic
Brendan Shanahan

As hockey is continued to be played this season, there will likely be further additions. There may also be some subtractions - particularly if Brian Leetch choses to retire instead of find a team to play with.

Comments:
Chris Pronger is one of my favorite players in the league, but I don't think he'd be HOF worthy if he retired today.
 
Why not?

MVP, Norris trophy, one time first all star team, 2 time 2nd all star team, worthy of Conn Smythe last year (though overlooked in a losing effort) a top defenceman on canada's Olympic and World Cup teams for a decade of so.

What is he missing?
 
I just think he needs a few more years... he doesn't have outrageous offensive numbers and that is what it should take to get into the HOF with less than 900 games under your belt.
 
He doesn't have outrageous offensive numbers because a good portion of his value is defensive.

900 games is a arbitrary value (all milestones are - 1200 points in Modano's case is one). I would argue that its unnecessary. Afterall Bobby Orr had an unquestioned hall of fame career in 657 games played. 800+ games with a Hart Trophy, multiple appearances on post season all star teams and what should have been a Conn Smythe trophy is certainly good enough for me.

Why do you pick out Chris pronger at 827 career games played as too inexperienced but not Peter Forsberg who is only at 660 games played?
 
I know I have discussed Sundin before and you thought he hadn't yet done enough to make your list but if Modano makes your list, shouldn't Sundin be awfully close. Their career numbers are almost identical.

Modano 1201 494 706 1200
Sundin 1174 505 682 1187
(games played, goals, assists, points)

In fact, both players have been extremely consistent and reliable point per game producers. Sundin was a second team all-star twice and played in the all-star game 9 times and has been a key player for the Leafs most of his career and has been a key component of Swedish teams in international competition including being a key component in an Olympic gold medal. When Sundin gets to 1200 points in a few weeks, does he make your list?

As for Pronger I would say he is a HOFer as well but the dispute about whether longevity or pure greatness is more important is a dispute that will go on forever. I look at a guy like Mike Gartner. There is no disputing his career numbers are outstanding but was he ever really considered an elite forward? His best year was 84-85 but he was 10th in the NHL in points and 9th in goals. If he had a 15 year career instead of a 20 year career he may have not made it. Does ~10 seasons as an elite player (Orr, Bossy) equal ~20 years as a good to very good player (Gartner)? Tough call.
 
I can see an arguement in favor of Modano going in over Sundin. Modano has been an excellent defensive forward for the latter half of his career and almost certainly a fair amount better then Sundin, or while pretty good himself and probably above average doesn't really stand out compared to Modano whose often been amongst the leagues best.

Of course Sundin has his own advantages, he's been considerably better in international play and often regarded as amongst the very best ever in that respect.
He's definitely a clutch player, and his playoff goals/GWG are amazingly good in terms of his career numbers... he'll be top few all time there. Presumably he'll get credit for playing with a slightly lackluster series of linemates, the best of whom probably being Roberts for two years, Sergei Berezin is probably up there as well as for all his flaws he had a few decent seasons offensively. Sundin has a fair edge in terms of consistency, but Modano's been amazingly consistent himself.

I'll leave intangibles out of the discussion as their more debateable, as is how much merit one gives to them.


I'll take Sundin without much hesitation personally, but it's not by a significant margin and Modano's near Selke caliber defensive prowess is an awfully strong argument in his favor.
 
Sundin is definitely close to a Hall of Fame career (I considered discussing him in the Modano post but chose not to).

Modano's advantages are better defence, a Stanley Cup and a few more career points. For now that gives him a small lead. I wouldn't be suprised if I wind up adding Sundin in the near future (1200 career points maybe... depends how he looks when he does it).

Should Sundin finish the season the way I expect him to, he will ikely be added to this Hall of Fame list, but lets see him do it and not jump the gun.
 
Quite confused about a contradiction you've made in your post here:

You write: "have had Hall of Fame careers regardless of anything they can do in the future. When they have reached a point where, without projecting their success into the future, they have accomplished enough that no injury, retirment, slump, quitting on a team etc. would keep them from the Hall of Fame."

Then you include Brian Leetch on that list (rightly so, IMO).

However, at the end of your post, you contradict things by saying: "There may also be some subtractions - particularly if Brian Leetch choses to retire instead of find a team to play with."

So what is it? Is Brian Leetch a player who'll be in or out no matter what, regardless whether he retires now or not?
 
Brian Leetch is on the list of players who are still active (non-retired) who should make the Hall of Fame regardless of what they do in the rest of their careers.

Should Leetch retire, he should make the Hall of Fame, but he won't remain on any list of active players.
 
Ah, right. Active being the key word here.

Sorry.
 
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