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Why Sundin?

from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,

I always suspected Mats Sundin would be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but not on the first ballot.

With all due respect to the big Swede, I always felt there was enough ammunition for not voting him into the Hall that, at the very least, he would have to wait a few more years before being enshrined.

No Stanley Cup. No trips to the Stanley Cup final. No major league awards. He finished in the top 10 in NHL scoring just once. He was never a first team all-star.

Despite an otherwise great career, there just seemed to be too many reasons to force Sundin to wait longer than the required minimum of four years a player needs to be retired to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. And I certainly didn’t see him getting in ahead of Brendan Shanahan who won three Stanley Cups and was one of the games most feared combinations of goals and grit.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: hockey+hall+of+fame, mats+sundin

Comments

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Couldn’t the same article be written about Oates? Is it Sundin being a Swede. Is it about getting more hits writing an article about a former Leaf? Or is there some kind of misguided disappointment that Sundin could not lift the Leafs to a Cup on his own? Seems like he was good enough to get Sweden an Olympic gold in the NHL-Olympic era.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 06/27/12 at 02:56 PM ET

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Couldn’t the same article be written about Oates?

Not sure I understand what you mean.  Oates isn’t a first-ballot inductee, he’s been eligible for five years.

Posted by Garth on 06/27/12 at 03:02 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Shanahan deserved in, but I think over Bure or Oates, not Sundin. Brophy needs to look a little deeper into Sundin’s accomplishments.

For team accomplishments, Sundin has won a gold medal as an Olympic captain, and three goal medals at the World Championships (remember, this is the Hockey HOF, not the NHL HOF).

For individual accomplishments, it isn’t just about where he stands in the all-time NHL lists, but where he stands among Swedish peers. He may not be a trailblazer of the ilk of Salming but his accomplishments in the NHL have certainly had a major impact on young hockey plays in Sweden, and that impact is meaningful. He’s the all-time leading scorer in NHL history for all three major scoring categories among Swedes (and don’t forget he’s still cracking 500 goals and 1300 points).

He also tops scoring lists in Leafs history, which is important given the age of the franchise, the amount of media exposure it gets, and its importance to the health of the overall NHL, and as a result, game of hockey.

While it is true he never won a major individual award or led the league in a major statistical category over a single season, he was one of the era’s models of consistency in performance. He scored 20 goals every year in his career except his last season (which was shortened). This includes over 20 goals in the ‘94-‘95 season. He was a consistent 30 goal scorer through what was arguably the most difficult era in which to score goals. He finished his career as a PPG player.

Considering differences in era, he is very comparable to guys like Mike Gartner and Marcel Dionne in terms of his overall consistency, but lack of single-season performances that outshone everyone else.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/27/12 at 03:37 PM ET

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Sundin scored at or above .90 points per game for 16 straight seasons—all but his first and last years in the league.

He led the Leafs in scoring every season he played there. In 18 seasons, he led his team in scoring 15 times (every Leafs year, plus once with Quebec) and finished second twice.

From 1995 - 2008 (12 full, non-lockout shortened seasons), individual Leafs players cracked the 70-point barrier 15 times. Alex Mogilny did it once (79 points). Steve Thomas did it once (73). Doug Gilmour did it once (72). Sundin did it all 12 years.

Sundin is brutally underrated. He had a better career than Brendan Shanahan. But because 1) he’s not North American, 2) the Leafs were terrible most of his tenure there, and 3) people really seem to hate the Leafs, he doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 06/27/12 at 03:59 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Do you want Sundin’s list of “accomplishments”?

8-time NHL All-Star
1-time Olympic Gold Medalist

That’s it.  No Stanley Cup.  No NHL Awards (that Messier Leadership award thing is a joke and does not count).  No NHL 1st Teams (twice 2nd Team).  Nothing.

That’s why his first-ballot induction is a complete joke.  End of story.

Posted by Primis on 06/27/12 at 05:03 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Do you want Sundin’s list of “accomplishments”?

8-time NHL All-Star
1-time Olympic Gold Medalist

That’s it.  No Stanley Cup.  No NHL Awards (that Messier Leadership award thing is a joke and does not count).  No NHL 1st Teams (twice 2nd Team).  Nothing.

That’s why his first-ballot induction is a complete joke.  End of story.

Posted by Primis on 06/27/12 at 03:03 PM ET

Nope, not end of story. Please read the two posts above yours.

I don’t agree with Sven that Sundin is better than Shanahan. I think the two players are different but equally deserving of induction this season. The real mistake was inducting Oates and Bure over Shanahan.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/27/12 at 05:59 PM ET

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The real, real mistake was not inducting at least Oates (and probably Bure as well) in a previous Hall of Fame class. That the likes of Dino Ciccarelli and Glenn Anderson were inducted, with extra openings available in their classes, while Oates and Bure were eligible is madness.

Also, fact: it’s much, much harder for a center to make the postseason all-star team than a winger. Look at the list of first- and second-team all-star centers over Sundin’s career, and you see a whole lot of the greatest players of all time: Lemieux, Gretzky, Forsberg, Lindros, Fedorov, Yzerman, Modano, Sakic, Crosby, Malkin, Thornton. The only real oddball is Alexei Zhamnov, who made a second-team during the lockout-shortened 1995 season; everyone else except maybe Eric Staal, Vincent Lecavalier and Alexei Yashin (all of whom only made the second team) are Hall of Famers, likely Hall of Famers, or at least unquestionably had Hall of Fame talent.

On the other hand, some of the wingers who’ve made appearances over that time frame: Adam Graves, John LeClair, Theo Fleury, Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, Patrik Elias, Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund, Bill Guerin, Milan Hejduk, Thomas Vanek. Not a shabby group of guys by any stretch, but most of them will not be getting calls from the Hall anytime soon, if ever.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 06/27/12 at 06:51 PM ET

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Oates isn’t a first-ballot inductee, he’s been eligible for five years.

To me first ballot or not means little, you are either a Hall of Famer or you aren’t.  If Oates career makes him eligible then so did Sundins.  If you are going to make Sundin wait, make him wait because there are better candidates, not to make him wait more than four just years.  A solid case can be made for Shanahan being more worthy than Sundin, the same case could be made against Oates as well.  It shouldn’t matter how long any of them have to wait if there is someone more worthy.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 06/27/12 at 06:56 PM ET

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Brophy is absolutely correct.  Sundin is not a 1st ballot player, not by a longshot.

Sakic definitely fits the criteria for 1st ballot enshrinement.

Sundin was going to make it at some point, but by letting him in this early they’ve lowered the standards for 1st ballot enshrinement.  It doesn’t really have much meaning anymore.

Posted by really on 07/02/12 at 12:42 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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