The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted four more players today, including two former Canucks, Pavel Bure and Mats Sundin. Bure, Sundin and the other two inductees, Sakic and Oates are all full marks for their induction, but does anyone else find it odd that the Hall of Fame ignores the most important position in hockey, the goaltender?
Unless you’re the among the elite of the elite, you’re not getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a goalie. Consider this: since Billy Smith (the Islanders star goalie of the late 70s and 80s) was inducted in 1993, only three goalies have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Those goalies are Grant Fuhr, Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour.
Where are Curtis Joseph (4th all-time in wins), Mike Vernon (12th all-time in wins plus 2 Stanley Cups), John Vanbiesbrouck (13th all-time in wins and a Vezina Trophy) and Mike Richter (a Stanley Cup and World Cup winner)? You could even make a case for Ron Hextall (Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy winner) and Tom Barrasso (Vezina Trophy and 2 Stanley Cups).
It seems that the standard for goalies to enter the Hall is a lot higher than defencemen and certainly forwards. To get into the Hall of Fame as a goalie, you need to be the most dominant player at your position AND win a Stanley Cup. To get in as a forward, you need to be an excellent player for a long period of time.
Just look at Adam Oates’ induction this year. Oates is essentially the Curtis Joseph equivalent for forwards. He played in a lot of all star games, but never won a major award. He wasn’t a fixture on Team Canada and was rarely even considered for Team Canada. He was never considered one of the top 10 best players in the game at any time in his career. No, all Oates did was put up points consistently for a long time, never winning a Stanley Cup.
This may sound like Adam Oates bashing, but that’s not what I’m trying to say. He is 16th all-time in points and probably deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as per the current standards. But what about Joseph? All he did was excel year after year, often being his team’s best player on bad teams. He made bad teams good. True, he never won a Stanley Cup, though he had very few realistic opportunities to win one, given the mediocre players that played in front of him. Yet, he’s 4th all-time in wins.
It’s been almost 20 years and three goalies have entered the Hall of Fame. Compare that to 46 other players who have been inducted during that time. Over that time, a lot of very good (but not great) players have made their way into the Hall including Joe Mullen, Clark Gillies, Larry Murphy, Dick Duff, and Mark Howe.
If the Hall of Fame wants to keep a really high standard for goalies, great. But then stop being so lenient with forwards and defencemen. Fair is fair, and it’s time the Hall of Fame started being fair to the most important position in hockey.