by PuckStopsHere on 07/03/11 at 05:47 PM ET
Now that the majority of the free agent signings have occurred in a two-day frenzy, we can return to what we were talking about before interruption. I was spelling out the Hall of Fame cases for the 2011 inductees. I have already published the case for Ed Belfour and today move onto Doug Gilmour.
I think the best way to spell out a Hall of Fame case is using the Keltner List, which was popularized by Bill James in baseball. I discuss it here. It is a series of largely qualitative questions that cut to the heart of any hall of Fame case.
Here is the Keltner List for Doug Gilmour:
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?
Some people did consider Gilmour the best player in hockey in 1993 or 1994, though it wasn`t a majority opinion. He was a very good two way player who finished among the top ten scorers in the league both of those seasons and won the 1993 Selke Trophy and was runner up to the 1994 one. He was runner up to Mario Lemieux in the 1993 Hart Trophy race. Given that he finished eighth in scoring that season, some argued that he was overrated by playing in the Toronto media market, but he was clearly one of the best players in hockey at the time and worthy of being in the discussion for best player in the league.
2. Was he the best player on his team?
Undoubtedly Doug Gilmour was the best player on the Toronto Maple Leafs for several years in the 1990`s. Prior to his time in Toronto he played on a Stanley Cup calibre Calgary Flames team. It is more debatable as to whether he was the best player on the Flames as Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk and Joe Muller were among his teammates. Gilmour`s career started with the St Louis Blues. He had a spell as their best player in the time after Bernie Federko and Brian Sutter began to age but before the development of Brett Hull. After his Toronto time, Gilmour bounced around to New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo, Montreal and back to Toronto, by this stage of his career he was no longer the best player on his team. There was an approximately ten year period from when Gilmour was considered by many the best player on the St Louis Blues to the last time he was considered the best player in Toronto. That is a significant stretch as best player on his team.
3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
Most people did not consider Doug Gilmour the best centreman in hockey at any point, though some did around 1993 and 1994. At this point
Mario Lemieux was missing time due to injury, Wayne Gretzky was starting to show a decline, Sergei Fedorov won a bit of a surprise Hart Trophy and was seen as the best Detroit centreman ahead of Steve Yzerman who had taken on an unfair reputation as a playoff choker. With all of that talent at centre, some thought Doug Gilmour was the best centreman in hockey. That is quite impressive given the competition at the time. Nevertheless, it was a less than majority opinion.
4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
Yes. Gilmour was a point per game player in the Calgary Flames 1989 Stanley Cup victory. He led the St Louis Blues in scoring in their 1986 trip to the semifinals and he led the Toronto Maple Leafs in scoring in their 1993 and 1994 semifinal appearances. In 1993 he scored 35 points in 21 games and despite not playing in the finals finished second in playoff scoring. Gilmour is the eighth highest scorer in Stanley Cup playoff history with 188 career points. This is a successful playoff career.
5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
Gilmour played in the NHL until age 39 (just short of his 40th birthday). It was a knee injury that prompted his retirement. This was well past his prime. He was a second or third line forward for the last three or so years of his career.
6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
Yes. I think Gilmour was the best player in hockey history who is not in the Hall of Fame. He had the highest scoring career of all eligible players who were not in the Hall except for Adam Oates (whom he is 6 points behind with over 100 games fewer in his career)
7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame
Gilmour scored 1414 career points. This is the 17th highest total in hockey history. This is the highest total among Hall of Fame eligible players who were not inducted except Adam Oates. I believe Oates will soon be inducted, but that doesn`t change this answer. All but one players with Gilmour`s career point total have been inducted. All players who are eligible with Gilmour`s playoff scoring total have been inducted. Gilmour clearly has Hall of Fame career totals.
8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
Definitely they do. The delay in his induction was hard to explain given that he clearly had Hall of Fame calibre numbers, but had not been inducted.
9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
Doug Gilmour was a very good two-way player who won a Selke Trophy. His value was greater than his offensive numbers because he offered strong defence. So Gilmour was a better player than his numbers suggest and his numbers are clearly hall of Fame calibre.
10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
Yes Gilmour is the best centreman who is eligible for the Hall of Fame. He has some competition from Adam Oates, but offers a better point per game (while both played lengthy careers), more career goals, better playoff totals and better defence.
11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
Gilmour has two seasons where he was a solid MVP contender in 1993 and 1994. In 1993 he was voted runner up to the Hart Trophy, but as he finished 33 points behind Mario Lemieux in the scoring race it was a somewhat distant second. In 1994 he received some consideration for the Hart again, but finished fourth in the voting. That is two times he was somewhat close to winning a Hart Trophy.
12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go into the Hall of Fame?
Gilmour only played in two NHL All Star Games in 1993 and 1994. This is a low total for a Hall of Famer. Gilmour could easily have played in significantly more All Star Games than that. He had six point per game or better seasons including a 105 point year in 1986/87 where he was not in selected to the All Star Game, but he was in fact chosen to play on Team Canada in the Canada Cup. From 1987 through to about 1997, Gilmour could have played in the All Star Game in any given season. It is due to team depth and finite sized All Star teams that he was left off. It is remarkable how many good seasons Gilmour had when he was not selected for All Star teams.
13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
When Calgary won the 1989 Stanley Cup, Al MacInnis was the best player on the team, though Gilmour was one of their best players. It was in Toronto that Gilmour was clearly the best player on his team. In both 1993 and 1994 Toronto made the semifinals. The 1993 team was very close to a final appearance and the Leafs went seven games with the Los Angeles Kings. Toronto fans still debate whether or not their team would have won were it not for a missed penalty call against Wayne Gretzky of the Kings. That would have put the Leafs in the finals, which is the equivalent of winning the pennant in baseball (as baseball has two leagues). Gilmour was good enough that a team where he was their best player could have won the hockey equivalent of the pennant, though they never did despite coming very close.
14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
The biggest impact Gilmour made on hockey was being part of a resurgent Toronto Maple Leaf team that got closer to the Stanley Cup than they had been at any time since the 1960s, when they won it. Since this is Toronto, this is a bigger deal in hockey history than if it had been any other market. Gilmour was also part of the transition in the Selke Trophy where players with big offensive totals started to win it. When Gilmour won the Selke in 1993 he scored 127 points. This is the highest offensive total for a Selke Trophy winner in the year in which he won the award. This change in Selke voting is not a good thing and I hope to see it reverse in the future but it is a somewhat significant change that Gilmour brought in. He was the first top scorer who was seen as good enough to win the Selke Trophy.
15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?
Gilmour was a very popular captain in Toronto and a very hard working well liked NHL player. Thus people might answer yes to this question, but this requires them overlooking a scandal in his St Louis Blues days. He was named in a civil suit alleging sexual improprieties with a teenage babysitter. Gilmour denied the incident and no charges were ever placed, but it led to his trade from St Louis to Calgary. Gilmour is on his third marriage, so his status as a family man is definitely in doubt. Gilmour was a quintessential character hockey player, but he has off-ice issues that clearly keep me from being able to answer yes to this question.
Doug Gilmour had a lengthy career and posted some very good offensive numbers. His career is better than these numbers suggest due to his leadership and defensive play. Some argued he was the best player in the league in the mid-90`s when Toronto had a strong run but failed to win a Stanley Cup. He is a clear Hall of Fame player. It is alarming that it took five years of eligibility for him to be inducted, but this has finally been corrected
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