Thursday, June 10, 2004


Hockey Hall of Fame - Cam Neely Shut Out Yet Again

There is no doubt that the Hockey Hall of Fame is a �big� hall, meaning that it�s relatively easy to get into compared to some of the other HOF�s out there (Especially baseball).

As the HHOF will be set to introduce Paul Coffey, Raymond Bourque, and Larry Murphy into the shrine of legends in November, there is one player that is being left out in the cold, much to my (and ESPN�s John Buccigross�) chagrin.

In Toronto�s Hockey Hall of Fame, longevity, rather than peak value, seems to count more toward entrance than any other factor.

If you have a long career as simply a �good� player, and put up consistently �good� numbers that add up (counting numbers), you are pretty much a shoo-in.
If you have a short or injury-rattled career as an elite player, than you�ll have a much tougher time getting in as you wouldn�t have piled up the counting stats.

That is why guys like Mike Gartner are voted into HHOF, and why guys like Cam Neely have a much tougher time.

Comparing the goal-scorers - Both players were known as goal-scorers who often had more goals than assists throughout their career.

Gartner was never as good as Neely in relation to the league (Can you name a time when Gartner was a ever considered a �top� player?), but Gartner piled up over 700 goals and 1300 points, so he was able to pile up some nice numbers when his career was over after 1400+ games.

Gartner finished his long career with not a single post-season award, and just one top-10 finish in league scoring (10th in 1984-85). For a 19-year career, you would expect a �top� player to finish at least 10th in league scoring more than just once.

Neely, on the other hand, played only 726 games played in his shortened-career, just finishing shy of the 400 goal plateau (694 total points). In his peak/best seasons (Ages 24-30, 7 seasons), Neely averaged 0.74 goals per game, while in Gartner�s peak/best seasons (Ages 25-32, 7 seasons), Mike only averaged 0.56 goals per game.

On top of that, Gartner had only ONE 50-goal season in his 19 year career, while Cam Neely had THREE in 10 seasons, including 50 goals in just 49 games in 1993-94.

At their respective peaks, Neely was a far more valuable player to his team, as he was the elite �Power Forward� in the game. Neely was pretty much the NHL�s second ever true Power Forward (Gordie Howe being the first), and was a pioneer of sorts with combination of power, strength, determination, and style of play.

Gartner, on the other hand, was a fairly good goal scorer, had no physical element to his game whatsoever, and was panned as being awful defensively. Gartner was nowhere near being considered one of the top players in the league at any given time.

I�m not saying Gartner isn�t a worthy a HOF candidate, given his overall numbers, but it�s a shame that Neely has not yet been inducted, simply because he wasn�t around long enough to cross the magical 1000-point plateau, or whatever reason the voters choose to use to keep him out. To me, the HHOF is merely the �Hall of the Very Good�, rather than the �Hall of the Excellent�

The major thing around the Penguins Message Board was that Herb Brooks and Bob Johnson were also shut out of a deserving hall of fame selection.
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