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I NOW Consider Daniel Alfredsson A Hall Of Famer

One longterm question that I like to think about is which current NHL players will make the Hockey Hall of Fame and at which point in their career have they cemented that honor regardless of what happens in the remainder of their career.  I think Daniel Alfredsson has recently surpassed this threshold. 

Alfredsson is the first line right winger with the Ottawa Senators.  He currently has a respectable 16 points in 23 games played at age 38 (two days before his 39th birthday).  He is a good player well past his prime years.  If the All Star voting ended today, he would be voted a starter in the game this year.  That is not to say that he is one of the best three forwards who would deserve that position based on his current play, but based upon nostalgia he is a compelling pick.

The 2012 All Star Game will be held in Ottawa and Daniel Alfredsson has been the best player in Ottawa Senator (the newer incarnation) history.  He is their all time leader in seasons, games played, goals, assists and points.  He has been their captain since 1999.  He is the face of the franchise.

That alone does not guarantee he is a Hall of Famer.  Some newer franchises have not produced any Hall of Fame calibre players.  But Alfredsson has a strong case.  He has 1039 career regular season points.  This places him 64th all time in career points.  This places him ahead of contemporary players such as Jarome Iginla and Joe Thornton (who are both future Hal of Famers) in career points.  He has fewer games than Iginla.  Alfredsson has been a near point per game player over the course of his career.  He has 1079 career regular season games.  He did this in the low scoring “dead puck” era.  He did this despite losing a season in the prime of his career (the year before his career best 103 point year) to a lockout.  He did this despite a late start in his NHL career.  Alfredsson turned 23 in his rookie season.  He did this despite several injuries that kept him out of three of his first NHL seasons.  If Alfredsson has his career to do over, he likely would have a higher career point total.  Despite that, he is climbing in the top scorers of all time.

Alfredsson won Olympic gold in the 2006 Winter Olympics.  He was Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year back in 1995/96.  In 2005/06 he made the second team All Star.  In the 2006/07 season when Ottawa made the Stanley Cup finals, Alfredsson led the NHL in goals and points.  He would likely have won the Conn Smythe Trophy had Ottawa won the Stanley Cup.  Alfredsson has also been considered a contender for the Lady Byng and Selke Trophies in various years of his career.  His defensive play makes him more valuable than his point totals suggested in many years of his career. 

Alfredsson has a relatively low number of individual awards for a Hall of Famer, but many Hall of Famers have similar award resumes or even fewer awards to show for their careers.  Alfredsson played the majority of his career as a right winger, though in some periods he played center.  It is reasonable to think that most right wingers who are Hall of Famers should have more post-season All Star berths.  Among active players, Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla, Teemu Selanne and Martin St Louis (future Hall of Famers all) are the only people with multiple All Star berths (they all have at least four in their careers).  Alfredsson has several years where he was among the top couple of right wingers who did not on the All Star teams.  He has the career numbers to show for that he was a dominant player for a long period of time, although he was usually just behind the most dominant players in his position.

Daniel Alfredsson is the face of the Ottawa Senator franchise.  He has moved beyond 1000 career points in a situation where he would likely have had more points were it not for playing in a low scoring era.  A lockout occurred in the prime of his career.  He was a late starter in his NHL career and took several years to be healthy enough to regularly play a full season.  That makes him a Hall of Fame player.  It would be a very nice story if he is voted a starter in the 2012 All Star Game, but with or without that honor he should make the Hall of Fame.  The fact that a compelling nostalgia case for Alfredsson can be made shows how valuable he has been to the Ottawa Senator franchise and that is evidence of a Hall of Fame career.

With Alfredsson’s addition to my active Hall of Fame player list, we are up to 14 players.  Here they are:

Daniel Alfredsson
Martin Brodeur
Zdeno Chara
Sidney Crosby
Sergei Fedorov
Dominik Hasek
Jarome Iginla
Jaromir Jagr
Nicklas Lidstrom
Alexander Ovechkin
Chris Pronger
Martin St Louis
Teemu Selanne
Joe Thornton

As hockey continues to be played this season, I expect the list may grow.  It also may shrink with retirements.  Dominik Hasek is the top contender to retire.  He is officially not retired, though he is taking the season off.  That may be a prelude to a retirement.

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Comments

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Nope sorry… not a Hall of Famer.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 12/09/11 at 04:32 PM ET

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No, No, No. Good not Great, the HOF isn’t for Good, its for great, its for game changers, really impacted the game and led the team to something special. A Stanley Cup apprearence isn’t that special.

Posted by RyanS on 12/09/11 at 05:28 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

The idea that a player has to lead a team to the Stanley Cup to make the Hall of Fame is clearly false if you look at its membership.  Its also a poor way to evaluate players.  Teams win championships.  Not individual players.  that said, Damiel Alfredsson was a key member of the 2006 Team Sweden that won Olympic Gold.  He was the top scorer on the gold medal winning team.

Alfredsson was a game changer.  He is the face of the Ottawa Senators.  They are a smaller market team so they haven’t had the same media attention as a bigger market team.  This has reduced the press Alfredsson received.  Ottawa was such a good team that they forced the lockout.  It looked like teams like Ottawa and Tampa Bay could dominate the NHL for the next several years in 2004 and a new system was needed to tear them apart and let the bigger markets win.  That worked after a lockout season.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/09/11 at 05:37 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

How many forwards are in the hall of fame? about 150, right?

Alfredsson has more points than more than half of them.  He’s had a hell of a career. If Alfredsson were born in Ontario this would be a no-brainer, possibly a first-ballot even.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/09/11 at 05:57 PM ET

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It looked like teams like Ottawa and Tampa Bay could dominate the NHL for the next several years in 2004 and a new system was needed to tear them apart and let the bigger markets win.

Really?  Any evidence to support this?  I’ve read a lot about the lockout both before, during, and after and never heard anything even remotely related to this assertion.

Additionally:
Alfreddson, not a HOF.
Iginla, Chara, St Louis, Pronger, and Thorton are not all necessarily HOF worthy .  Datsyuk should be on the list before at least 2 of them in that group.
Crosby and Ovechkin look potentially headed in that direction, but not if their careers ended tomorrow.

Posted by HockeyFan on 12/09/11 at 06:06 PM ET

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@gretzky_to_lemieux: Oh wow. What a compelling rebuttal that is. You should take your talents to the Harvard Debate Team, because you’re letting them go to waste in places like this!

Posted by dzuunmod on 12/09/11 at 06:24 PM ET

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@gretzky_to_lemieux: Oh wow. What a compelling rebuttal that is. You should take your talents to the Harvard Debate Team, because you’re letting them go to waste in places like this!

haha.  ok, sorry…. nevermind.  Go sweeden!

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 12/09/11 at 06:26 PM ET

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Well, really. The author spends many paragraphs outlining his arguments. You don’t get to just dismiss him with a wave of your hand and be taken seriously.

Posted by dzuunmod on 12/09/11 at 06:28 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

So far we’ve had “Alfredsson has had an incredible career, despite some things which have held him back. His numbers compare favorably to contemporary players which are considred hall-of-fame track players and his place among all-time leaders is very impressive. Aside from that, he is an international champion.”

countered with… “Nope.. hasn’t won a cup.”

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/09/11 at 06:32 PM ET

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You don’t get to just dismiss him with a wave of your hand

Sorry.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 12/09/11 at 06:39 PM ET

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countered with… “Nope.. hasn’t won a cup.”

also countered with, “Nope, Not a Hall of Famer”

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 12/09/11 at 06:39 PM ET

Chris from NOHS's avatar

I’d say HOF’er, but then again, noone really cares about the day that I think he’s a HOF’er.  I know this, which is why I don’t write articles with titles that make it seem as if my opinion is the only important one.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 12/09/11 at 07:13 PM ET

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TPSH

I really have no issue with Alfredsson and the HOF but rather…

“It looked like teams like Ottawa and Tampa Bay could dominate the NHL for the next several years in 2004 and a new system was needed to tear them apart and let the bigger markets win.  That worked after a lockout season”

What????

I mean I thought Detroit fans liked to don the tin foil, I know I always have my roll or three ready - but man that is just about the oddest thing I have ever read on your blog.

Posted by paulklos on 12/10/11 at 05:21 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Paul

The lockout is another story not related to Alfredsson directly. 

The short story is that the NHL benefits when its biggest markets are winning.  They don’t have to win every year but they cannot be out of contention (see the New York Yankees in baseball as an ideal situation).  In the pre-2005 CBA, a team held the rights to its players until they were 31 (at least) and could afford to significantly raise payroll to do so in markets such as Denver, Colorado and East Rutherford, New Jersey (not big markets by any stretch of the imagination - see the NHL today if you disagree - the propaganda of the time had fans convinced they were big markets).  Three teams had been dominant Detroit, New Jersey and Colorado and had won most of the Stanley Cups of the last decade. 

Tampa Bay won in 2004 and Ottawa had the best group of young talent in the league (Alfredsson, Hossa, Chara, Redden, Spezza…).  They could easily be the dominant teams of the next decade under the current situation.

Meanwhile the New York Rangers had spent significant money and missed the playoffs for eight years running (the propaganda of the time was that this was an unfair advantage and had to be stopped).

There were multiple reasons for the lockout (and the failing southern teams is clearly one of them) but one clear reason was that the NHL looked poised to have small markets dominate the next several years.

The solution.  A salary cap.  This prevented those markets from keeping their talent.  Ottawa shed Hossa, Chara, Redden.  Tampa shed Khabibulin, Richards, Boyle.  That keeps the wrong market from keeping too much talent for too long.  Now to get the talent into the good markets you need liberalized free agency (why else was this part of the new CBA?).  You cannot win buying 31 + year olds.  Maybe 25 year olds (27 if they didnt make the NHL as teenagers) would work better.  This would put the best talents in the league on the market.  They would gravitate to the big markets because they would have better shots at other income streams like advertising while playing in them (think Messier or Gretzky would have had as many national TV ads playing in Edmonton?).  Sure the salary cap wouldn’t allow a big market to buy all such players, but they could buy the one or two difference makers. 

The problem to this theory had been the really long term deals that players signed that kept them from the free market.  The NHL has cracked down on those.  It is only a matter of time before a superstar in his prime is a UFA and when he is he wont sign in an Ottawa or Tampa Bay.  He will sign in LA, New York, Chicago etc.

I think that theory fits the facts very well.  It is a co-motivation for the lockout.  It was the reason the big markets went along. 

That said, this is a post about Daniel Alfredsson, so I would rather not discuss this here (and I am not exactly sure where best to discuss it - if sufficient interest exists I could write a post).

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/10/11 at 06:12 AM ET

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Iginla, Chara, St Louis, Pronger, and Thorton are not all necessarily HOF worthy .  Datsyuk should be on the list before at least 2 of them in that group.
Crosby and Ovechkin look potentially headed in that direction, but not if their careers ended tomorrow.

I think your standards for the HOF are too high, then. Pronger, absolutely. Thornton, one of the most prolific assist-men in the history of the game (for example, 90 assist seasons twice, only a handful have hit 100). St. Louis has everything you could ask for save a Richard. Chara, except a gold. Iginla has scored 28+ goals in 12 straight seasons coming into this one and got robbed of an MVP at least once (he was clearly a top-3 forward in the league in early 2000s.

Datsyuk should definitely be there when it’s all said and done, but he has only 651 career points. Yeah, that’s a lot…I’ve always said that to be in the HOF you need a high peak and you need a sustained peak, and Datsyuk hasn’t had the same longevity as some of the other guys, even though he’s not at an age disadvantage.

I don’t think it’s cut and dry at this point (but I see that as a fault of the induction process, emphasis on points and the “big” hardware, over being, say, one of the most exciting players and best two-way players in the game for 5 years in a row).

Regarding Sid and AO, I read somewhere that a only a couple of Ross winners have not made the HOF. Every season or two you hear AO is a top 5 or 10 goal scorer in his first X seasons or first X games, and same with Crosby. If their careers ended tomorrow (and I hope not), like Orr and Bossy, they’d be in, even if it was short.

Posted by Ralph on 12/10/11 at 06:50 PM ET

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I think he does get in…eventually.

There are a LOT of players with flashier resumés and a ton more international acclaim that aren’t in:

Sergei Makarov, one of the best wingers at the international level and a Calder winner, not in.
Alexei Kasatonov, really a forgotten man at the NHL level a but a multo-Soviet All-Star, not in.
Vladimir Dzurilla was an exceptional goaltender for Czeckoslovakia, not in.
Pavel Bure, not in.
Adam Oates, not in.
Paul Kariya, not in but not yet eligible.

What DOES help Alfie? He plays in Ottawa, a MAJOR NHL market and the local media here will beat the drum incessantly for him once he retires. He has a recent Cup finals. He’s a two-way player and has over 1,000 points and 400 goals (he’ll score another goal…).

He’s one of those “In at some point” guys. Don’t think he gets in on the first ballot but he will get in…eventually. Of course, I also expect Rick Nash to get in eventually, etc. etc.
Basically if you get points and don’t rock the boat off the ice, you should get in.

Posted by SENSible Musings from Ottawa on 12/31/11 at 04:11 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com