by PuckStopsHere on 02/07/14 at 02:31 AM ET
I like to keep track of what point I think a player crosses the point where he becomes a Hall of Famer regardless of what happens in the rest of his career and I think Pavel Datsyuk has crossed that point. He crosses it by being named captain of the Russian Olympic hockey team as they host the Olympics in Sochi. There was some question about whether or not he would be healthy enough to play in the Olympics but with his NHL game tonight it is clear that he will be there.
Datsyuk is a player who has won several of the lesser NHL awards in the Lady Byng (four times) and Selke (three times). That amount of hardware puts him near a Hall of Fame career. The problem had been that Datsyuk had never won any of the major awards (Hart, Ross, Smythe, Richard...). He had never made First Team All Star. In 2009, he made Second Team All Star and finished third in the Hart Trophy voting. That is his best single season showing and that alone is not enough. His career point totals are growing. He currently has 799 career points. His career totals are not yet on the surefire Hall of Famer level but he has the intangibles that show he is a better player than his point totals suggest. He is an award winning defensive forward (that alone would not make a Hall of Famer - it doesn't for Guy Carbonneau or Jere Lehtonen) and he is a good leader (chosen for the Olympic Team). The sum of these achievements makes him a Hall of Famer regardless of the rest of his career.
With Pavel Datsyuk added to my active Hall of Famer list, it has grown to 15. I am leaving Sergei Fedorov on it even though he only played one game in the Spengler Cup in his comeback so far. Time will tell if he plays another game. Here is my current list:
Martin St Louis
As hockey is played in the Olympics and the remainder of the season, I expect the list will grow.
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