by PuckStopsHere on 03/02/10 at 01:38 PM ET
One question I find very interesting is exactly when I think a player is worthy of Hall of Fame induction based on their career to date, with no projection into the future.
I think Jarome Iginla has recently met that standard. Iginla has had considerable individual success. He is a three time First Team All Star on right wing. He is a two time Maurice Richard Trophy winner as top goal scorer in the league (once he tied for the award). He is a onetime Art Ross Trophy winner, Pearson Award winner and a very close Hart Trophy runner up. He was the top goal scorer in the 2004 playoffs and recently the top goal scorer in the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament. All of that individual success is enough to cement a Hall of Fame induction.
Why did it take so long for Iginla to get to that level given that his list of NHL awards and times leading the league statistically? His problem is that his career totals are not that impressive when compared to most Hall of Fame forwards. To date, Iginla has 904 career points (with 436 career goals) in 1004 games played. He is well below point per game level. He is below 500 career goals or 1000 career points, which are significant milestones but in and of themselves are often not enough for Hall of Fame induction. Iginla has never had a 100 point season. He has only four times had a point per game season. Those numbers are a strong contrast to his awards.
Of course there are mitigating circumstances. Iginla played in the “dead puck era” for most of his career. That lowered his career point total. He wasn’t an instant offensive star when he joined the NHL - giving him a few seasons of well below point per game totals to lower career averages. His fifth season was his first point per game year (it was a 96 point season where he won the Art Ross Trophy - that is a low total for an Art Ross win). Iginla lost a season near his statistical peak due to the lockout year (although that would likely not be enough by itself to bring him to 500 goals or 1000 points).
Jarome Iginla’s Hall of Fame case is made by some strong individual success in a lower scoring era. It is rare that an Art Ross Trophy winner or a two time top goal scorer or a three time First All Star Team member does not make the Hall of Fame. It is also rare for a modern era player who plays a full career to have as low offensive totals for his career to make the Hall of Fame. This is in part due to the low scoring era in which he played. It is also due to some well below Hall of Fame seasons at the beginning of his career. There isn’t any easy comparison to Iginla’s situation. Scoring rates were similar in the original six era, but games played totals were lower. There are no clear examples of players who had league leading goal or point totals, as Iginla has, with a similar point per game total in a similar game total. I think there are enough reasons for his low scoring rate and enough individual successes to make up for it. Jarome Iginla has had a Hall of Fame career and likely has several more seasons to come.
This increases the list of my currently active future Hall of Famers to sixteen. Here is the list:
As hockey continues to be played this season, I expect this list to grow. Several players on this list are at the tail-ends of their careers and there exists potential for retirements reducing it as well.
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