Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

I NOW Consider Roberto Luongo A Hall Of Famer

One question I find interesting is exactly when in a player's career does he establish himself as a Hockey Hall of Famer regardless of what may happen in the remainder of his career.  I think Roberto Luongo has reached that threshold.

Luongo has been a top goaltender in the NHL for many years.  The problem has been that I have been waiting for that one final big accomplishment that cemented his case and it hasn't come.  Luongo has never won the Vezina Trophy - though he has had several Vezina worthy seasons and could easily have been a multiple time winner in his career.  He has never won the Stanley Cup.  In part this is because he did not play of a team that was capable of winning the cup until a few years into his run with the Vancouver Canucks.  He probably should have won a cup there.  He famously melted down in the 2011 finals when Boston won the cup.  These could have been the final Hall of Fame securing achievement if they happened slightly differently.

Nevertheless he has some significant achievements.  He was the starting goaltender on the 2010 gold medal winning Canadian Olympic Team.  He was a backup who posted a shutout in his only game during the gold medal run in 2014.  He has twice made the NHL's second team all star.  In 2011 he won the Jennings Trophy for being part of the team with the best goals against average.  He has made four NHL All Star Games.  These accomplishments may not be enough to make the hall of Fame by themselves but they put him on the right track.

Sabermetrically, Roberto Luongo comes out a much better goalie than his individual achievements show.  In the "inter-lockout" period between the 2004/05 lockout and the 2012 lockout, Luongo led the league in point sharesLuongo had the best goaltending season ever according to point shares (and it didn't even fall in that period).  He had two other seasons in the top 10 all time by goaltending point shares as well.  Essentially goaltending point shares measures the goalie who faced the largest number of shots and still saved them.  A goalie who faces a lot of shots is a goalie on a bad team.  A bad team will not get a lot of wins.  A goalie without a lot of wins tends not to be seriously considered for post-season awards regardless of whether or not they deserve it.  Luongo's individual awards clearly underrate him.  His career totals also tend to underrate him.  During his time in Florida (his first run) he was as good as any goalie in the NHL and perhaps better but he didn't record many wins or shutouts since Florida was a poor defensive team.  He played on a better team in Vancouver, but that is nowhere near enough to recover from the suppression of his career totals from his time in Florida.

Nevertheless, Luongo's career numbers are starting to reach the level that they are clearly Hall of Fame numbers.  He passed Patrick Roy on the all time shutout list this week.  He is 13th all time in career shutouts.  No goalie who is Hall of Fame eligible (Martin Brodeur isn't eligible yet) has that many career shutouts and is not in the Hall of Fame.  He is also 13th all time in wins.  Since wins are not much of an individual stat, there are a few goalies above him in career wins.  They are Curtis Joseph, Chris Osgood, Mike Vernon and tied with Luongo is John Vanbiesbrouck. 

Luongo has had an underrated career.  He should have won more individual awards than he has.  While I have been waiting for that one more significant achievement to cement his Hall of Fame case,  he has instead brought his career totals into Hall of Fame levels.  That is why Luongo is now a player I consider a Hall of Famer.

This increases my list of active Hall of Famers to fourteen.  They are:

Daniel Alfredsson
Martin Brodeur
Zdeno Chara
Sidney Crosby
Pavel Datsyuk
Sergei Gonchar
Jarome Iginla
Jaromir Jagr
Roberto Luongo
Evgeni Malkin
Alexander Ovechkin
Martin St Louis
Tim Thomas
Joe Thornton

There are three players on this list who are not signed to play with any team this season.  They are Daniel Alfredsson, Martin Brodeur and Tim Thomas.  All are candidates to retire.  In fact Luongo is the only active goalie on this list as long as Brodeur and Thomas are unsigned.  Likely more players will be added to this list as hockey is played this season.

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I think Luongo probably deserved at least 3 Vezina Trophies, all of which ultimately went to Martin Brodeur (2003, 2004, 2007). There’s little doubt in my mind that Luongo is the best of his generation and was very badly undervalued for most of his career.

He’s definitely a deserving Hall of Famer, and hopefully if this current trend of increased statistical literacy among fans and analysts of the game continues, by the time he’s Hall-eligible the Hall voters and the general public will be able to appreciate and recognize just how good he was.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 10/19/14 at 01:40 PM ET

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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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