On Tuesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2020 was announced with Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wilson and Kim St. Pierre going in as players and Ken Holland in as a builder.
Notable omissions include Alexander Mogilny and Patrik Elias.
While I would like to extend congratulations to the people who did get in, I am going to have to talk a little bit about the two snubs here from a Devils fan point of view.
We’ll start with Elias, since he is a little bit of a tougher case.
Patty is nowhere near a sure thing to get in. As Devils fans, we definitely value him. But from an outsiders’ perspective, he is more comparable to a Daniel Alfredsson, who has yet to get in as well.
Alfredsson was drafted in 1994 by the Ottawa Senators, the same year Patty was drafted by the Devils. Each played just over 1,200 games in the NHL (1,246 for Alfredsson and 1,240 for Elias), each had just over 400 goals – falling short of 500 by about 50 or 60. Alfredsson had 444 while Elias had 408. In terms of assists, Alfredsson finished with more at 713 for a total of 1,157 points while Elias had 617 assists to finish with 1,025 points.
Not overwhelmingly impressive from either player, but keep in mind that both players missed a full season and a half due to lockouts. Patty also missed a half season with his bout with Hepatitis C following the 2004-05 lockout and missed half of a season late in his career with back problems. I am not certain about Alfredsson’s injury history.
In the playoffs, both are similar as well, although we know what a clutch player Patty could be in those situations.
Patty played a few more postseason games at 162 to Alfredsson’s 124. Elias notched 45 goals in those games while Alfredsson got six more at 51. Patty nearly doubled up Alfredsson’s number of assists with 80 to 49. This totaled Elias’ points to 125 while Alfredsson finished with an even 100.
Neither player won a major individual award, the highest Alfredsson finished in Hart Trophy voting with fifth in 2005-06 while Patty finished sixth for the same award in 2000-01. Elias won two Stanley Cups with New Jersey in 2000 and 2003. Patty is also the Devils’ all-time leading scorer in goals, assists and total points.
In my mind if Alfredsson gets in (which he is bound to at some point), Elias gets in. Though this is no sure thing, it would be great to see Patty in at some point.
Now on to the curious case of Alexander Mogilny.
Greg Wyshynski wrote a piece on ESPN.com on June 25 that pretty much summed up the reasons Mogilny should be in the Hall.
He applied the criteria of induction to Mogilny’s career: was he the best player in the NHL at his position? Wyshynski says that the right winger made the postseason NHL All-Star team twice.
Did he have a dominant stretch of peak performance? Wyshynski gives you his 76 goals in 1992-93 and 55 in 1995-96 as proof.
Did he make contributions to his team? Wyshynski’s answer? “Mogilny is one of only 29 players in NHL history in the Triple Gold Club, winning a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold and an IIHF world championship.”
Did he exhibit sportsmanship? Wyshynski cites his 2003 Lady Byng Trophy win.
Did he have character? Wyshynski points out that he was the first Russian-born captain in the NHL, serving in the position with the Buffalo Sabres.
Then a major one. Did he make contributions to the game of hockey? Wyshynski counters with the fact that he “was the first player from the Soviet Union to defect to the United States as a 20-year-old, in a story that plays out like a spy thriller.” The last part links to a video on Sportsnet.ca called Defector: The Alex Mogilny Story that is a great watch and shows just how harrowing Mogilny’s defection was back in 1989.
Wyshynski also points out that “Mogilny’s 0.478 goals per game average is better than this year’s selections Jarome Iginla (0.402) and Marian Hossa (0.401) for a total of 473 goals. His 1.04 points per game average is better than over 30 Hall of Fame forwards.”
The Hockey Hall of Fame has continually snubbed Mogilny and there is little understanding of why. But, as Wyshynski pointed out: “Part of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s unique charm is that the candor of its internal processes makes a Scientologist look like a YouTube vlogger.”
Wyshynski likened the snubbing of Mogilny to Pat Burns’ Hall of Fame odyssey. The former Devils’ bench boss was nearing the end of his life, dying of cancer, when the Hockey Hall of Fame declined to induct him in the builders’ category in 2010. Burns died that November, around the time the actual enshrinement ceremonies happen in Toronto.
He was again snubbed in 2011, 2012, 2013 (the year, Wyshynski points out, that Scott Niedermayer, who was coached by Burns in New Jersey, and Chris Chelios, who was coached by him in Montreal, went in, both advocating for Burns to be inducted).
He was finally inducted in 2014, “four years,” Wyshynski said, “after he could have celebrated his induction with friends and family, Burns was selected as a builder. The timing was infuriating.”
Former Los Angeles Kings goaltender Rogie Vachon had to wait 37 years before he was inducted a few years ago. Even this year’s inductees Kevin Lowe (19 years) and Doug Wilson (24 years) had to wait sometime before getting the nod. Let’s just hope this is not the case with Mogilny and he gets in sooner rather than later.
And let’s just hope he and his family can enjoy it too, and he is not a posthumous induction a la Pat Burns.
The 2021 competition for both Elias and Mogilny features such heavyweights as the Sedin twins. As Wyshynski notes, both Daniel and Henrik are likely to go in as a duo – although he does concede that that this is “the Hall of Fame selection committee we’re talking about” and this may not be as certain as it seems.
We will find out next year, but in the meantime, it is another round of trying to figure out just why Alexander Mogilny is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame already.
We’ll see you later tonight for coverage of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.