The 2014 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame has just been announced. Players Dominick Hasek, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake and Mike Modano will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on November 17th. In the Builder category, Coach Pat Burns, who won the Stanley Cup as coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2003 in addition to coaching the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, was also included in this year’s class.
There is no doubt in my mind that Coach Burns as well as the four players voted in; all deserve this highest recognition. That being said, I am disappointed yet again that Dave Andreychuk has not been voted into the NHL’s Valhalla.
For those who don’t know, Dave Andreychuk played in the NHL for 23 seasons. He played for the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and our own Tampa Bay Lightning for four years. Today, Andreychuk is the Vice President of Corporate and Community Affairs for the Tampa Bay Lightning. One thing Andreychuk isn’t right now, but should be, is a Hall of Famer.
I know what constitutes the argument against Andreychuk. He played so long that his numbers, especially goals and power play goals are diluted. He has as many as he has, the argument goes, simply because he played so long.
Yes it is true, Andreychuk played 23 years. In and of itself, is something that should be celebrated not something to scoff. The fact that he played so long means that every training camp, he brought out enough toughness, grit and determination not to be cut from the team.
It meant he kept himself in pretty good shape, to make the squad, year after year, TWENTY THREE TIMES. I won’t even get started on the year he missed during the lockout year of 2004-2005. He should be lauded for playing the game this long, not punished for it by failing to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
I’m not a stats guy but for this article, I wanted to take a look at how Andreychuk compared to his contemporaries that have been enshrined. For this purpose, I began looking at the Centers who have made the Hall, who played the majority of their careers when Dave Andreychuk played.
Please note that I excluded players whose last name was either Gretzky or first name was Mario. It just seemed to me that since both of those HOFers were given a pass on the standard three year wait, with good reason, it would be fairer to the 10 Centers and Andreychuk to omit them from this project.
So it begins with Mark Messier, elected in 2007 and ends with Forsberg and Modano who just received the call yesterday. It includes players such as: Ron Francis; Steve Yzerman; Doug Gilmour; Joe Nieuwendyk; Adam Oates; Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin. Any way you slice it, pretty lofty company.
Since the argument against Andreychuk seems to be that he just played too long, I took some basic stats on these 11 players: Goals; Assists; Games Played; Power Play Goals and Years of Service. To make it fair and to overcome the Andreychuk Argument (too many damn years), I averaged out these stats.
What I found just makes me want to dig in my boots even more for Mr. Andreychuk:
- In Years of Service, Andreychuk ranks 4th out of our 11 players. I know what some of you are thinking. This was a gimme for him. Maybe, but in a category that I thought he’d win for sure, there were three ahead of him – Messier, Francis and Gilmour
- In Games Played, Andreychuk ranks 3rd out of the 11. Remember this is an average games played per season for their careers. Only Sundin and Modano laced them up year in and year out more often per season than Andreychuk.
- In Goals Scored, this is the stat that Andreychuk seems to be hurt the most. Not stats wise, because he is the highest goal scorer in league history that is NOT in the Hall of Fame. That nasty argument about his playing too long rears its ugly head. So, averaging everyone’s goals per season, Andreychuk ranks 4th on this list. That’s right people. Only Yzerman, Sundin and Sakic scored more goals per season, year in and year out than my boy, Dave. Here is where his length of service should help him. He was as consistent a scorer in the NHL during his playing time than most of his peers. Period. In fact, he scored more goals per year than seven HOFers from this list.
- In Assists, this is the stat that actually hurt Andreychuk. He ranks 10th of the 11 on my list. Clearly, he had a score first mentality and didn’t accumulate enough helpers to be higher among his contemporaries. He beat only Nieuwendyk on this stat line. If this is the only reason he isn’t in the Hall then there ought to be an investigation.
- In Power Play Goals, I admit I included this one because Andreychuk has more power play goals than any other player in league history. So, naturally he ranked 1 out of the 11 in this category. Perhaps, this is a knock against him too. That he was a special teams player. Maybe, but he was a damn good one for a long damn time.
So there it is. Taking away the longevity bias. Comparing him to players who played his position in the NHL when he played. In these four important categories plus years of service, he ranks at #4, #3, #4, #1 and #10. Out of 11 players. Ten who made the Hall already and Dave Andreychuk.
So, I implore the Hall of Fame Committee to review Mr. Andreychuck closer. Maybe you guys need to increase the number of players elected per year. For some reason, you limit it to four per year. Maybe this rule needs to change.
The league now has 30 teams. Prior to its first expansion in 1967, the NHL only had six teams. From 1945 when the first people were elected to the Hall, to 1966, the last year of the Original Six, on ten different occasions, more than four players were elected to the Hall. This includes 1963, when 23 players were elected for enshrinement. That was almost four per team.
I don’t understand why in this day and age, when there are 30 teams in the league, that only four players per year get the call to the Hall. Players like Dave Andreychuk deserve better. They deserve the recognition from the game they gave so much.
Dave Andreychuk, Hall of Famer. He deserves that. He’s earn that. His numbers stack up against those already in the Hall. He has the numbers, he generated those numbers against many who have already been inducted. C’mon NHL Hall of Fame Committee, time to rectify this wrong. Dave Andreychuk deserves to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.