Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Luc Robitaille’s Hall Of Fame Case

This is the final of the Hall of Fame cases for 2009.  Here is the case for Steve Yzerman, here is the case for Brett Hull and here is the case for Brian Leetch.

I am comparing these players to my Hall of Fame standards by using the questions Bill James asks about potential baseball Hall of Famers.  These are very good questions that clearly get to the heart of the matter of what makes a Hall of Famer.

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Brian Leetch’s Hall Of Fame Case

This is the third Hall of Fame case I am making this year.  Here is Steve Yzerman’s case and here is Brett Hull’s.

I am comparing them to my Hall of Fame standards using the questions Bill James asks about potential baseball Hall of Famers.  I think this is an insightful group of questions that quickly hits at the heart of what makes a player a Hall of Famer

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Brett Hull’s Hall Of Fame Case

The second of the players among this year’s Hall of Fame inductions that I will make the case for his induction is Brett Hull.  Here is my write-up for Steve Yzerman and here are my basic Hall of Fame standards. 

I think one of the best methods to look at potential Hall of Famers is Bill James 15 questions he asks about potential baseball Hall of Famers.

Here they are:

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The Draft

The NHL Entry Draft is underway.  It is a media spectacle that I tend to avoid.  Most of the players who will be drafted are players I have never seen play a game.  Even the few that I have seen, I probably haven’t seen very much.  Scouting reports can be found for just about anyone online, but I think it is quite reasonable to be skeptical of them most of the time. 

Of the players selected in the draft, few will make an impact in the NHL in the immediate future.  Often people selected may be five or more years away from impact and when those players become ready they will have done something that will make the avid hockey fan notice them, even though they are nearly anonymous today.  It is nearly impossible for anybody, including an NHL scout, to indentify those players reliably.  In general, the draft is a crapshoot.

There are a few things we can say about the draft which are probably true.

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Sergei Fedorov Signs In The KHL

I am going to interrupt the Hall of Fame profiles to discuss a trend that is not a good one for the NHL.  Increasingly, some of the marquis names in the NHL are choosing to play in Europe at the tail end of their careers.  A big reason for this is the salary cap.  They find that they can get paid more to play in Europe than in the NHL as teams would rather fill their roster with young players who might out-perform their contracts instead of playing some of the future Hall of Fame players in the league.

The most recent example is Sergei Fedorov signing in Russia with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.  He joins Jaromir Jagr in the KHL - although many rumors have Jagr returning to the NHL this summer.  Reportedly, Fedorov will make around $3.8 million US for two seasons.  He will be a teammate of his brother Fedor.

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Steve Yzerman’s Hall Of Fame Case

With the recent Hall of Fame inductions, I want to lay out what I think is the case for each of the four players inducted.  I will start with Steve Yzerman as he is the most worthy of the bunch for his induction.  Here is a write up about what I think the standards for the Hall of Fame are/should be.  I think one of the best methods to look at a potential Hall of Famer is by looking at the questions Bill James asks of Baseball Hall of Famers.

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Hall Of Fame Inductions

The annual Hockey Hall of Fame inductions occurred today.  They went as I predicted.  In are Brett Hull, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille and Steve Yzerman.  Also inducted was New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello who enters as a builder.  He built a New Jersey team that has won the Stanley Cup three times.  All are well deserved choices.

Next year, the class may not be as strong.  There are two first time eligible players who I think deserve induction in Eric Lindros and Joe Nieuwendyk.  They will also look to past candidates who have been eligible for a few years and likely induct from that group due to a smaller class of first time candidates.  Doug Gilmour heads that group.  It is quite likely that four players will not be inducted next year.

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Post Season Award Voting and Elite Goalies

One of the more controversial comments I made is when I claimed during the semifinals of the playoffs that there were no elite goalies left in the playoffs.  At that time, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nikolai Khabibulin of the Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Osgood of the Detroit Red Wings and Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes remained as the playoff goaltenders.  Were there elite goalies in the bunch, it stands to reason that they would have been among the leaders in the voting for the Vezina Trophy and post season all star teams.  Assuming they are injury-free, it certainly stands to reason that any elite goalies in the league should get strong support for these awards and possibly even win them.

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Selke Trophy Voting:  All Messed Up

They asked 131 sports writers to name the five best defensive forwards in the NHL in the 2008/09 season and found they received 70 different answers.  Even the most popular answers were missing from 10% or more of the ballots.  The winner Pavel Datsyuk was named on 120 of 131 ballots.  The runner up Mike Richards appeared on 113 ballots.  Clearly there isn’t any uniformity in the way hockey writes judge defensive forwards.  The voting can be found here.

Some of the choices which were relatively popular look like pretty poor choices.  David Krejci of the Boston Bruins faced a near average quality of opposition and posted a league leading +37 +/- rating.  He wasn’t used as a shutdown guy in Boston.  He finished in sixth place in the voting.  Travis Zajac was another high +/- guy.  He led the New Jersey Devils with a +33 rating.  He wasn’t their main shutdown player.  He finished seventh in the voting.  Among many voters, there was a tendency to vote for high +/- ratings who are not exactly defensive forwards.

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Montreal Canadiens Potentially Sold

The Montreal Canadiens have an agreement in principle to sell the team.  Current owner George Gillett bought the Habs and the Bell Centre (then called the Molson Centre) for $185 million US.  Over the past year he has looked at his world wide holdings in an effort to adapt to the current economic downturn and decided to sell some assets including the Montreal Canadiens.  An agreement in principle exists for Geoff, Andrew and Justin Molson to buy the team.  Exact details have not been released, but it is expected that the Molsons could pay as much as $550 million.  NHL approval for the sale may not come until August.

This sale and its price clearly show that there are “two NHLs”.  There are high valued franchises in good markets with rapidly escalating values.  These teams have no problem with payroll and could easily afford to pay well above the salary cap were it allowed.

There is also an NHL of teams like the Phoenix Coyotes.  These teams are struggling financially.  In Phoenix’s case, it isn’t clear that anyone wants to keep them in their current market.

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About The Puck Stops Here

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.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com

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