This is the third of my Hall of Fame cases for the male players in the class of 2013. I have already written about Chris Chelios and Scott Niedermayer. Today I turn my attention to Brendan Shanahan. Here is what I wrote when I first considered him a Hall of Famer and here is what I wrote when he retired. In order to make his Hall of Fame case I will use the Keltner List, which was developed for baseball but was easily adapted to hockey.
1.Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball? I can't think of any reasonable argument that anyone ever made to suggest Brendan Shanahan was the best player in hockey.
2.Was he the best player on his team? Perhaps the only time Shanahan was the best player on his team was during his season in Hartford. In Detroit, Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom were the best players on the team. In St Louis, Brett Hull was the best player on the team. It is a bit unfair to say that Shanahan had to play on a weak team like Hartford to be the best player on his team, but that is what happened. In Detroit where he played his prime seasons there were better players. He might have been the best player on a more average team, but he was not the best player on the strong team he played with.
I am writing about the Hall of Fame cases for the three male players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the 2013 class. I have already written about Chris Chelios. Today is Scott Niedermayer's turn and Brendan Shanahan is still to come. Here is the post I wrote when Niedermayer retired and here is my post when I first considered him a Hall of Famer. In order to make my case I will use the Keltner List, which was developed for baseball but is easily transferable to hockey.
1.Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball? No. There is no clear argument that Scott Niedermayer was the best player in hockey at any point.
2.Was he the best player on his team? I would argue that he was but not for a long period of time. In New Jersey both Martin Brodeur and Scott Stevens were better players. In Anaheim I would argue that Chris Pronger was a better player when he was on the team, but in the years Pronger was in Edmonton before coming to Anaheim and Philadelphia after leaving Anaheim, I think Niedermayer was their best player.
Probably the biggest shock of the off-season is the retirement announcement of Ilya Kovalchuk. He is 30 years old and his contract with the New Jersey Devils runs until 2025. The New Jersey Devils have voided his contract with his signing of retirement papers. This allows him to play in any league outside the NHL. He is expected to sign with St Petersburg in the KHL - where he played during the lockout.
This is a surprise move but I will suggest motivations for why this may have occurred. Kovalchuk enjoyed his time in the KHL and was not enjoying playing in New Jersey. They are a non-playoff team and a lot of the blame for that falls upon his shoulders as their highest paid player. He leaves behind a significant amount of money by getting out of his contract. There is $77 million that he is due to still be paid. Obviously this is not a purely financial decision. Kovalchuk is already extremely rich from money he has already made playing in the NHL and he will be well paid in the KHL. There is an expectation that he may be paid as much as $20 million this year to play in the KHL and be taxed at a lower rate. In fact he is looking at a short term pay raise. Likely he will lose money longterm. I cannot imagine his salary remaining this high for well over a decade.
The 2013 Hall of Fame class was announced yesterday. Inducted were three male players in Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan. Over the next few days I will make the Hall of Fame cases using the Keltner List, which is originally constructed for baseball but it is easily transferable to hockey. Today I want to start with Chris Chelios. Here is what i wrote when he retired from hockey.
1.Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball? No. I cannot make a serious argument that Chelios was ever considered the best player in hockey in any meaningful way.
2.Was he the best player on his team? In his Chicago days I think he was clearly the best player on his team. I would not argue that he was better than Patrick Roy in his Montreal days. I would argue that Steve Yzerman and later Nicklas Lidstrom were the best players on his team in his Detroit days. This makes Chelios the best player on his team in his upper 20s and the first half of his 30s and this is probably a longer period of time one might expect a normal Hall of Famer to be the best player on his team.
There were five inductees to the Hall of Fame announced in 2013. Three male players inducted are Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan. For Chelios and Niedermayer it was their first year of eligibility and for Shanahan it was his second. Also inducted was female player Geraldine Heaney and former Philadelphia Flyer coach Fred Shero.
The male players are the three obvious choices this year. I think there is a backlog of other players who should be inducted and an opportunity was wasted by not adding a fourth player.
I am supportive of the idea that more female players should be inducted. Before this year there were only two in Angela James and Cammi Granato. Geraldine Heaney is a worthy inductee, although I am not certain she is the most worthy eligible female player. I suggest Danielle Goyette might be more deserving although both deserve induction.
As for Fred Shero, I am not sure what to make of builders in the Hall of Fame. Much of the group is the people who made poor decisions for the future of hockey in order to increase their profits. Also in the group are people who were GMs and coaches of top teams. The distinction between that and being the best GMs and coaches is one that I want to make that is instructive about how I feel about Fred Shero.
A few days ago I posted a 2013 All UFA Team. This is the best possible team you could acquire by buying free agents. This will be a team that will be paid above the upcoming salary cap without being a particularly strong team. In a best case this team might be able to make the playoffs but they will not be able to have a deep playoff run.
I have been posting these teams for several years and I am interested in how good the 2012 All UFA Team was in the 2013 season.
Here are the players that were on the team:
We have seen a lot of activity over the last few days. NHL free agents could be signed beginning last Friday. Free agents who became free agents because of contract buyouts had been signing before that. It all means very little in the relative rankings of teams. Last summer I posted a top 50 players list and not one of them changed teams over the weekend. Those are the difference makers in the NHL. The supporting staff moved around. That doesn't mean that nothing changed at all. I think the biggest result is Boston has dropped a bit. They lost a considerable amount of depth.
The widely reported story in the media that is false is that the NHL had to be shutdown for the first half of this season to "save" itself financially and the GMs are back with their reckless spending that broke it in the first place. The lockout occurred because fans have allowed it to. As long as the fans come back after any lockouts there is no reason not to have more. The financial changes will not save the financially troubled teams like the Phoenix Coyotes and Florida Panthers. It will make more money for the big teams like Toronto and the New York Rangers. Since the total salary paid by the NHL is linked to revenues, it doesn't matter how much players are paid on the first day of free agency or any other day. It doesn't change the bottomline for the league.
The media story of how horrible the new contracts are will help pave the way for the next lockout. The reality is the last weekend of signings probably changed little.
Every year I like to make a team of the best possible players available via unrestricted free agency. Here is last season's team.
Generally the point to the team is to show that you cannot build a team via free agency. Even if you signed all of the best free agents available, you still wouldn't have a top team and you would have exceeded the salary cap significantly. As obvious as that lesson may be, NHL teams have not learned it. The Calgary Flames are a bottom-feeding team that appears to want to rebuild with free agents.
This year our team includes players who reached UFA status by normal circumstances and players who got bought out by their former teams. I will include Vincent LeCavalier because he was a free agent this summer due to a contract buyout who signed before the deadline for other free agents to sign.
Here is the 2013 All UFA Team:
Most of the NHL awards were announced during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Outstanding was the First and Second All Star Teams. These were finally announced today. I can now definitively announce that if I had an award ballot, the nominees for all the awards I was interested in would not have changed.
The First All Star Team consists of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, PK Subban, Ryan Suter and Sergei Bobrovsky and the Second All Star Team consists of Alexander Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, Martin St Louis, Kris Letang, Francois Beauchemin and Henrik Lundqvist. Ovechkin is the first person ever to make two different All Star Teams in the same season. He made First Team All Star on right wing and Second Team All Star on left wing. Perhaps this is the reason the NHL attempted to bury the post-season All Star teams by announcing them the day before July 4th. It does seem a little silly but it was inevitable. Last year James Neal made First All Star Team at right wing and came within one vote of making Second Team All Star at right wing. The problem is that most wingers today spend time playing both wings and it is an antiquated idea to pick them as left wingers or right wingers.
Perhaps the most interesting free agent this summer is Tim Thomas. Thomas was the 2011 Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner. He had the best season a goalie has recorded in recent memory and arguably ever. His 2011/12 season was good enough for him to wind up in the All Star Game, but it seemed like a disappointment given the heights he rose to in the previous year. There were off ice distractions as Thomas isolated himself with some right wing political leanings, including his refusal to join his team as they met with President Barack Obama for winning the Stanley Cup. He appeared to burn himself out and opted to take the 2012/13 season off.
During the year he was traded to the New York Islanders. He was traded for a conditional second round draft pick. The condition was he had to play a game for the Islanders for that second rounder to change hands. The Islanders wanted him for his salary cap hit. They would have otherwise fell below the salary floor and been punished for this. Tim Thomas offered them a salary cap hit with no actual salary to pay since he was taking the season off. Now the Islanders could have tolled his contract into this upcoming season if they chose to. They haven't. The Islanders could use his goaltending if he is in form. Evgeni Nabokov, their starter, posted a relatively average .910 saves percentage in 2013.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???