Earlier today the Hockey Hall of Fame announced it’s Class of 2012 consisted of Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic, and Mats Sundin. Oates, who had some of his best years as a Bruin, and Bure who had a stellar but short career waited five and six years respectively while Sakic and Sundin got in on their first year of eligibility which is three years after retirement.
Sakic was the biggest no-brainer of the bunch. Sakic compiled 625 goals and 1016 assists in his 20 seasons with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise, of which he captained for nearly all 20 years of his career. He won two Stanley Cups, made 13 All-Star Games, is a member of the Triple Gold Club and is regarded as one of the best hockey leaders of the last 25 years, if not ever.
Pavel Bure was a little bit more of a question in the eyes of the voters. He topped 50 goals five times in his 12 NHL seasons, two of which he scored 60 goals, and his talents were undeniably atop the league’s best while he played but a lack of longevity and a few injury-plagued seasons left voters on the fence. Despite the injuries he averaged better than a point-per-game for his career. Anyone who saw Bure on the ice knows his skills were certainly at a Hall of Fame level.
Adam Oates had to wait a while as well. Oates went from an undrafted player to Hall of Famer through his intelligent passing game and slick hands. Oates also had the help of exceptional wingers such as Cam Neely, Brett Hull, and Peter Bondra, all of whom he helped to scoring titles. Oates had 1420 points in 1337 games and has sixth most assists of any player ever. He also has the unfortunate distinction of having the most career playoff points without a Stanley Cup.
Mats Sundin, who was far and away the best player on the Leafs for over a decade also made the Hall in his first year. He’s 27th all-time in points with 1349 in 1346 games but never won any major awards never mind a Cup. Sundin racked up points consistently on a terrible team but I wonder if he would have made it if he played for Minnesota/Dallas his entire career. He was merely consistent during the offensive-explosion years of the 90′s and consistency shouldn’t make you a Hall of Famer.
Lastly, I’d like to address the fact that Pat Burns was once again passed over for the Hall of Fame. The Anti-Phil Jackson, Burns took on bad teams and made them into contenders. Granted, he only won one Stanley Cup but he turned the Habs, Leafs, and Bruins into teams worth a damn when before his tenure they were laughing stocks. He was tough on the media, which may be keeping him out, but bygone’s should be bygone’s after the man’s untimely death.