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Peter Forsberg’s Hall Of Fame Case

I continue looking at the 2014 Hall of Fame inductions today by posting Peter Forsberg's Hall of Fame case using the Keltner List.  This is a list of questins used to get to the heart of any Hall of Fame candidates chances.  It was developed for baseball, but works well for hockey as well.  I have already done this for Rob Blake and will do this in the future for the other player nominees Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano.

Here was the post in 2006 when I first considered Peter Forsberg to be a Hall of Famer and here was his retirement post.  This is Forsberg's Hall of Fame case:

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?

Forsberg won the 2003 Hart Trophy.  That is a strong argument that he was considered hockey's best player at that point.  I think many people considered him the best player in the game at other points but he often suffered injury and did not play full enough seasons to win the Hart Trophy in other years.  In fact his 75 game total in 2002/03 when he won the Hart was the third highest in his entire career.  I argue that Forsberg was hockey's best player in the five year period from 2000 to 2005; although the lockout in that period reduced the games played totals of all players and likely created the circumstances when Forsberg would look good despite his injury history.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

He certainly was the best player on the Colorado Avalanche for several years and that was no easy feat given that Joe Sakic in his prime was a teammate.  One certainly could argue that when healthy Forsberg was always the best player on his team, although sakic's presence makes that claim uncertain at best in many of the earlier years of his career.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

Forsberg played centre and that is a tough position to be the best in the league.  Nevertheless, he was a three-time First Team All Star in 1998,1999 and 2003 and that makes a very strong claim that he was the best centre in hockey at those times.  There were other years where he was likely considered the best centre in hockey but injury kept him from the post-season All Star teams.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

He definitely did.  He was a key player in the Colorado Stanley Cup victories in 1996 and 2001 and was a key player in the other Av playoff runs of that era.  All told he scored 171 playoff points in 151 playoff games and that is good for 18th best all time.  It is impressive that he ranks that high on an all time list given the injury-shortened nature of his career.

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

Injuries prevent us from having a clear answer to this question.  He didn't play much past his prime.  In his last full NHL season 2006/07, he was 33.  He tried two other times after that to play in the NHL.  The next season he only played nine games, but he did score 14 points.  In 2010/11 at age 37, he played two final NHL games.  I believe that if a healthy Forsberg existed, he could have played well beyond his prime, but Forsberg was rarely fully healthy.

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

I think Forsberg is the best Hall of Fame eligible player other than Dominik Hasek, who was also inducted in the 2014 class.

7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Due to an injury shortened career, he was limited to 708 games played.  His 885 career points is a low career total for a Hall of Famer in the modern age, but his per game scoring rates (particularly for assists and points) and among the best all-time.  His career playoff totals, as mentioned above, do measure up quite well to Hall of Fame players.  He was a three-time First Team All Star at centre and that is a Hall of fame total.  The answer to this question is not entirely a yes, but there are some positive indicators here.

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Forsberg's career regular season numbers are on the low side for a Hall of Fame career, but the other numbers, as discussed above, do meet hall of Fame standards.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Forsberg was a very good defensive forward and though he never won a Selke Trophy, he did get some consideration.  His defensive play does show that he was a better player than his offensive numbers show.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

Yes.  Forsberg is the best hall of Fame eligible centre who is not there.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

He won MVP in 2002/03.  He appeared on several ballots in 1996, 1998 and 1999.  There are other seasons he was an early season MVP candidate but injuries prevented him from playing a sufficient number of games to appear on ballots

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 to the Hall of Fame?

He played in seven All Star games.  He would have been added to a couple mre later in his career but opted out due to injury.  He also probably would have been in the 1995 All Star Game had one existed.  The lockout that season saw the game cancelled.  Most players who play in this many All Star Games are Hall of Famers, although a couple counter-examples exist.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

I would argue that the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup with Forsberg as their best player.  One could argue that Joe Sakic was in fact the best player during their cup wins, but it is debateable.  However, I think it is clear that a team with Forsberg as their best player could do well - even if you do not accept him as the best player in either cup run.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

I think Forsberg's biggest claim on hockey history comes from popularizing the NHL in Sweden.  He was one of the first Swedish NHL superstars and this helped to increase the NHL's popularity in Sweden.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

I cannot find any reason to argue that Forsberg did not meet the standards of sportsmanship and character.  He is a revered player in Sweden.  Because of his Swedish heritage and injuries, he was never an NHL captain, which is often used to support the answer to this question.

Peter Forsberg is a clear Hall of Famer.  He probably would have been one of the more elite Hall of fame selections if he had been able to stay healthier and have a longer career.  Even with a shortened career, he clearly belongs in the Hall.

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Do the same poll for Eric Lindros and see if he should get in. Stats and GP are very similar. Only difference is Stanley Cups, which could and should be argued is a team accomplishment. Lindros never had a team, and especially a goaltender, good enough to win a cup. If Foppa deserves to be there, Big E does as well.

Posted by ealdrid1 on 07/03/14 at 02:21 PM ET

Jaromir Blogger's avatar

The Forsberg-Lindros comparison is an interesting one. The big thing that sticks out for me is that Forsberg was a big-game player, while Lindros was not. I would also argue that Forsberg was a more complete player and a better leader. And the Flyers were significant favorites, if you can believe it, in the 1997 SCF against the Wings. If Lindros had elevated his game, that series could have turned out differently. But he had absolutely no answer for Lidstrom and Murphy, and turned in a crap series on the biggest stage of his career. The fact that they never returned isn’t merely a reflection on the Flyers’ goaltending carousel - it’s also a reflection on Lindros.

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 07/04/14 at 03:13 AM 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.

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