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The Puck Stops Here

I NOW Consider Zdeno Chara A Hall Of Famer

One interesting question I try to track is at which point an active player cements his case as a Hockey Hall of Famer.  At what point should he be inducted regardless of what happens in the rest of his career?  I think Zdeno Chara has reached that level.  This is not because of any single recent event, but rather looking at the totality of his career at this point. 

Chara has won the Norris Trophy as best defenceman in the NHL in 2009.  He was also a first team All Star in 2004 as well as his 2009 Norris year.  In 2006 and 2008, he was a second team All Star.  He has been a strong performer for Slovakia in international play, having been on their last two Olympic teams.

We are essentially halfway through the current NHL season and Chara is having another solid season.  He leads the Boston Bruins in ice time.  When ranked by ice time per game, Chara ranks third in the league (behind Dan Boyle and Duncan Keith).  He is clearly having another very good season and is extremely important to his team.

He is a darkhorse candidate to get a Norris Trophy nomination this year.  The Norris Trophy is often a trophy that requires a good defensive reputation to win.  It is arguable that it has never been won by a player who hasn’t been a serious Norris Trophy candidate in a previous season.  This year, several of the top defencemen have not been Norris candidates in the past.  Players like Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Letang will find it hard to receive enough votes to win it because they have never been serious candidates in the past.  This leaves Nicklas Lidstrom the top candidate in many minds, since he is a proven Norris winner in the past.  Lidstrom however has not done so well at even strength.  He only has 14 even strength points this season (though he has been a beast on the power play).  This is reflected in his puck possession stats such as Corsi and +/- and shows that he is not playing at the level he was during his prime, but no other defenceman has stepped up to take his place.  Chara does not have the offensive numbers of the current top Norris Trophy, but he has strong defensive numbers and a good reputation as a past Norris Trophy winner.

The fact that Zdeno Chara is a former Norris Trophy winner and a multiple time post season all star, who has such a strong reputation to be a Norris Trophy candidate in a year when there are few frontrunners, he is a Hall of Fame defenceman in my book.

Zdeno Chara is the 15th player on my list of currently active hockey players who should make the Hall of Fame regardless of what happens in the rest of their careers.  This list is:

Martin Brodeur
Zdeno Chara
Sidney Crosby
Sergei Fedorov
Peter Forsberg
Dominik Hasek
Jarome Iginla
Jaromir Jagr
Nicklas Lidstrom
Mike Modano
Alexander Ovechkin
Chris Pronger
Mark Recchi
Teemu Selanne
Joe Thornton

This list is likely to grow as more hockey is played this season, as more players might make it.  It may also shrink as it seems a Peter Forsberg retirement announcement may come soon.

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Comments

Da lil Guy's avatar

I’m a big Chara fan, but I don’t think I could add him to any such list before adding Martin St. Louis.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 01/06/11 at 05:26 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

I know it isn’t the main point of your post, but if you don’t think Nicklas Lidstrom is playing as well this year as he ever has, you aren’t watching games. The numbers don’t show how dominant he has been this year.

The prior two seasons, I would’ve (and did) deny that his game wasn’t as strong as previous seasons. But after seeing the way he’s playing this year, I now realize that his last two seasons were a little off, by his incredibly high standards.

And to be clear, I’m not talking about his offense. I’m talking about things that do not show up on the scoresheet, even in the advanced metrics that you like to use.

Every game, it seems like he single-handedly kills a couple of opposition 2-on-1s with perfect positioning and a perfect stick. He is catching cross ice passes out of mid-air with his stick to nullify odd-man rushes and scoring chances a handful of times each game. And as usual, he continues to rank near the top of all d-men in quality of competition.

If you’ve watched him play, there’s literally no explanation for his middling +/- rating. I challenge anyone to give me a reasonable explanation for this. His first pass is as good as ever, he’s still near automatic when he has a chance to clear his zone, and he rarely gives the puck away. It’s really baffling. Best I can guess is look at the giveaway numbers for the two guys he’s mainly played along side this year…

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/06/11 at 05:49 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Well I.m sure this is the seal of approval Chara needed to get into the HoF gulp  LOL

Posted by Evilpens on 01/06/11 at 06:38 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Lidstrom however has not done so well at even strength.  He only has 14 even strength points this season

I’m sorry, but does this matter?

In your previous defenses of Matt Greene, you stated that putting up points was always excellent, so why does it make a difference what percentage of Lidstrom’s league-leading points-per-game come on the power play?

Main point of the article = ok.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/06/11 at 07:39 PM ET

Avatar

It is arguable that it has never been won by a player who hasn’t been a serious Norris Trophy candidate in a previous season.

Only if you argue while ignoring facts. But I guess that’s sort of your SOP. Here’s a list for you:

Larry Robinson
Randy Carlyle
Doug Wilson
Rob Blake

Not one of these four ever made the top ten in Norris voting prior to their winning years. And if you consider “serious” candidates to be actual nominees (top three), then these guys weren’t “serious” prior to their winning years either:

Tom Johnson (4th place only top ten finish before winning)
Harry Howell (5th)
Rod Langway (5th, 9th)
Chris Chelios (6th)
Brian Leetch (10th, 4th)
Scott Niedermayer (5th)
Duncan Keith (6th)

Posted by shep on 01/07/11 at 02:19 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/06/11 at 05:39 PM ET

Also, note that Lidstrom is only 13th among defensemen for PP TOI. And he’s outscored everyone in front of him with more ice time.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/07/11 at 10:28 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I think people want to discuss Nicklas Lidstrom (in that he plays for Detroit) instead of this topic.  I will write a post on that in the future.

In the meantime, lets address this:

I’m a big Chara fan, but I don’t think I could add him to any such list before adding Martin St. Louis

This is an obstructionist tactic.  Martin St Louis has nothing to do with Zdeno Chara.  They are hard to compare to one another given that they play different styles and different positions.  This is often a method to have a temper tantrum and say that you won’t do anything until your special cause gets addressed.

That said, I will try to address why Zdeno Chara is currently a better Hall of Fame candidate than Martin St Louis.  Chara has made first team all star twice and second team twice.  St Louis has made first team once and second team twice.  This gives Chara a lead.

Chara’s major award is the 2009 Norris Trophy.  St Louis’s is the 2004 Hart Trophy, which is a bigger award, but nobody seriously listed St Louis as the best player in the NHL.  The Hockey News listed him 9th in their top 50 that season and one year after the lockout (after St Louis’s next NHL season) dropped him all the way to 47th.  He has since rebounded in their rankings, but this is not the case of a player who was considered the best player in hockey - he was merely the best player that season (while other players who were thought of as better for whatever reason did not outplay him in 2004).  Chara however remained nearer the top of the rankings more consistently.  He has been ranked in thetop 10 to the 20s consistently for more than half a decade.

St Louis has had five complete seasons where he scored at point per game rate or better which would make him a potential all star.  Chara has had about 7 seasons (from 2002/03 onward) where he has been a potential all star.

I argue that Zdeno Chara is more qualified for the Hall of Fame than Martin St Louis at this point.  St Louis may get there someday, but he hasn’t yet.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/07/11 at 10:15 PM ET

Avatar

I think your list of guys who should be inducted at this point is essentially spot on. However I am curious who you think is borderline at the moment. Which guys need a couple more good seasons to put the feather in their cap?

For example, would you say Luongo or Thomas go in if they win the cup as a starter. Do the Sedin’s/Hossa/Datsyuk//Martin St. Louis get in with a couple more elite seasons?

Posted by Muninn on 01/08/11 at 04:40 PM ET

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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.

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Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com