The 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame class was announced on Tuesday, and there were four very qualified names called for induction.
Yet, for some reason, great Blackhawks forward Steve Larmer hasn’t received that special phone call yet. In an effort to point out where the voters are getting lost, let’s look at how Larmer’s Hall of Fame credentials stack up against some other greats still waiting to get in.
First of all, let’s assume Larmer doesn’t get into the Hall in 2012. The Hockey Hall of Fame limits each class to four inductees per year, and next year’s class has certain first ballot locks in Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan and former Hawks forward Jeremy Roenick in a deep group also including Mats Sundin and Curtis Joseph, among others.
In 2012, Scott Niedermayer and Rob Blake will be the likely first ballot Hall of Famers, but there’s no reason to keep Larmer out longer than this year.
Let’s begin our analysis by comparing Larmer to some other worthy Hall of Fame candidates that are still on the ballot.
- Dave Andreychuk
- Adam Oates
+/- : +35
- Steve Larmer
+/- : +204
- Pavel Bure
+/- : +42
These are four very strong candidates for induction. Yet on each one, Larmer has an edge statistically.
Yes, Andreychuk has a gaudy point total. But he also played more than 600 games more than Larmer, and wasn’t a point-per-game player in his career.
Yes, Oates has a huge assist total (thanks, in large part, to Brett Hull). But Larmer scored 100 more goals in 331 fewer career games, and his plus-minus is 169 points better than Oates.
Yes, Bure was, in many ways, the Barry Sanders of hockey – dominant, but gone far too soon. The fact that Bure, and Eric Lindros for that matter, didn’t play in 1,000 games absolutely impacts the Hall credentials of both.
In postseason play, it’s hard to compare Larmer to anyone else on this list but Oates based largely on volume of games played. Larmer did not miss the playoffs (or a game) for a decade.
Larmer played in 140 postseason games, scoring 56 goals and adding 75 assists (131 points/.936 points per game). Oates played in 163 postseason games, scoring 42 goals and adding 114 assists (156 points/.957 points per game). Both had seven game-winning goals in the postseason, and Larmer had a slight edge with 21 power play goals to the 17 of Oates.
You also, however, need to consider the individual accolades of each player.
Calder Memorial Trophy
2 time All-Star
1 100-point season
884 consecutive games played
1994 Stanley Cup Champion (with the Rangers)
1990-91 NHL “Man of the Year” by The Sporting News
5 time All-Star
3 100-point seasons
NHL Second All-Star Team (1991)
2 time All-Star
2004 Stanley Cup Champion (with the Lightning)
Calder Memorial Trophy
6 time All-Star
NHL First All-Star Team (1994)
NHL Second All-Star Team (2000, 2001)
2 time Rocket Richard Trophy winner
3 time NHL goal scoring leader
2 100-point seasons
As you can see, only two of these gentlemen won the honor for the league’s best rookie: Bure and Larmer. Bure played in the most All-Star Games.
Larmer played in fewer All-Star Games than Oates, but has something Oates doesn’t – a ring. And while Andreychuk has as much jewelry as Larmer, he doesn’t have nearly the rest of the resume that Larmer does in personal accolades.
And Larmer is the only one of these four that was named the “NHL Man of the Year.”
The story of Larmer has always been a footnote because he wasn’t the sexy player. He didn’t spin like Savard, so he didn’t get the most attention on his own team.
And he was on a great Blackhawks team that happened to play at the same time as two of the great dynasties in NHL history, the early-80s Islanders and mid- to late-80s Oilers. Indeed, during Larmer’s career (1983-1995) seven different organizations won the Stanley Cup: the Oilers (4), Penguins (2), Canadiens (2), Islanders, Flames, Devils and Rangers (with Larmer).
Furthermore, only nine right wings from the modern era have been selected for Hall of Fame enshrinement in the last 20 years. Of those nine, only four – Mike Bossy, Joe Mullen, Jari Kurri and Brett Hull – averaged better than a point per game. The other five – Glenn Anderson, Dino Ciccarelli, Cam Neely, Mike Gartner and Lanny McDonald – did not produce as regularly as Larmer.
To take the positional argument one step further, Larmer is one of only 21 right wings in NHL history to post 1,000 points.
Yes, the fact that he’s one of the greatest Blackhawks of all-time clouds my judgement on this matter; I won’t even try to hide the fact that Larmer is my favorite player of all-time. But the numbers are there to back up his case to be in the Hall of Fame.
On another note, the Chicago Blackhawks need to do the right thing and put Larmer’s #28 in the rafters next to his former linemate, Denis Savard. This honor is well overdue.