Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Announced

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.

Patrik Elias Night: Devils Win on Two Goals from Palmieri

Last night, the Devils honored a legend by retiring the number of their greatest offensive player ever. There were many former players and Devils greats in attendance to help pay homage to the past glories of a great franchise.

Kyle Palmieri led the Devils to victory with two goals on the night. Photo downloaded from Docsports.com

But the current team made a big step of their own, getting a big Metro Division win in a tight race in come-from-behind fashion. The Devils defeated the New York Islanders 2-1 off of two goals from Kyle Palmieri. Taylor Hall assisted on both goals to extend his personal point scoring streak to an amazing 21 games total.

First the ceremony. It was very well done by the Devils organization and featured prominent Czech players from Devils history who were also teammates of Elias’ both on the Devils and internationally. Players like Marek Zidlicky, Bobby Holik and his A-Line linemate, Petr Sykora. Among other teammates present were: one of the all-time underrated Devils, Sergei Brylin; Michael Rupp – who won a Cup with Elias in 2003; former Devils goalie Kevin Weekes; former Devils captain turned broadcaster Bryce Salvador and former Devils coach Robbie Ftorek, who also coached Elias with the AHL’s Albany River Rats.

Also present were the four previous Devils to have their numbers retired: Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedermayer and Martin Brodeur as well as dignitarites like current Devils GM Ray Shero, ownership and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. Elias’ family including his wife, children, parents and brothers were also in attendance.

Devils radio play-by-play man Matt Loughlin emceed the event and there were speeches from Stevens (representing past players), Josh Harris and David Blitzer (respresenting management), Daly (representing the NHL) and Travis Zajac (representing the current players – Zajac also spent about ten years as Elias’ teammate and is a close friend of his). There were also taped comments from former Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello (who is currently busy with the trade deadline for the Toronto Maple Leafs). In addition, the fans voiced their approval with chants of “Patty! Patty!” throughout the proceedings.

Highlight videos were shown, of which there are many to choose from for the man who is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer in goals, assists and total points. The main focus of most of the speeches was that Elias was the offensive heartbeat of a team that was known as being very defensive during it’s heyday.

Once the speeches were done, the banner featuring Elias’ number 26 was raised to the rafters of Prudential Center, never to be worn by a Devils player ever again.

Throughout the night, there would be taped segments shown on the big video board featuring fans and former teammates (including Zach Parise, who took the ceremonial faceoff with Andy Greene when Elias dropped the puck last game versus Minnesota) giving their memories and impressions of the career of Patrik Elias the player and the man.

But there was still a game to be played and one that was very important at that.

The Devils had a lot on their plate with the Islanders. But they also had the debut of former-Islander Michael Grabner, acquired from the Rangers on Friday. Roster-wise, he was in at forward while Jimmy Hayes and Mirco Mueller were the scratches.

WIth Cory Schneider still out, Long Island-native Keith Kinkaid got the start against his boyhood team. He made 30 saves on 31 New York shots. He also came up big when he needed to, playing a good game once again. Kinkaid is a solid backup and has largely played very well in his recent time in the spotlight. Against him was Jaroslav Halak for the Isles. He stopped 31 of 33 shots faced.

The game was pretty cleanly played and the officials let a lot go, as evidenced by the three power plays total in the game. The Devils were 0-for-1 with four shots on their man advantage while the Isles were 0-for-2 with a pair of power play shots.

Following a scoreless first period, it was the Islanders who got on the board at 3:55 of the second period. Jordan Eberle scored from Anthony Beauvillier and rookie phenom Mathew Barzal. That made it 1-0 New York and it would stay that way through the second intermission.

It seemed we were headed for a defensive struggle, possibly one the Devils would lose until an inspired Kyle Palmieri basically took over the game. He tied it up at 6:35 of the third period off assists from Hall and Nico Hischier. It came when Hischier made a nice defensive play in the Devils’ end to chip the puck up to Hall along the far boards. Hall gave it to a streaking Palmieri who skated up the left wing. He pulled the puck by an Islander defender just inside the New York blue line and fired at the top of the faceoff circle, beating Halak glove side to tie things up at one.

It was a nice goal and one that almost caught the crowd by surprise, he snapped the shot off so fast. With the assist on that goal, Hall extended his point streak to 14 games straight and 21 total.

But the Palmieri/Hall show was not over. Palmieri notched the game winner at the 11:11 mark of the third period. He got assists from Sami Vatanen and Hall. It occurred when Hischier won a board battle behind the Islander net and kicked the puck over to Hall in the far corner. Hall, who is having his number retired by the Windsor Spitfires on Sunday, wound the puck around the boards to Vatanen at the near point. Vatanen fired on net and Palmieri, camped in front of the net, tipped it by Halak to make it 2-1 Devils.

And that is where it would stand. The Isles would pull Halak with about 1:30 left in the game, but the Devils weathered the storm and pulled out the victory. Kinkaid would be named the game’s third star, Hall the second and Palmieri the first. Both of Hall’s assist announcements were met with chants of “MVP! MVP!” from a crowd hoping the NHL rewards Taylor’s heart with Hart this summer.

Vatanen led the team in ice time with 23:09, Palmieri led in shots on goal by a wide margin with eight, Brian Boyle and Andy Greene each led in hits, throwing four of them, Greene also led in blocks with three and Blake Coleman (who switched his jersey number to 20 with Grabner taking number 40) led in takeaways with two. The Devils won 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

Grabner played well in his debut, firing two shots on net with an even plus/minus rating and a takeaway. He did that in 13:34 of ice time (1:53 of which was on the penalty kill).

Next up, the Devils will face another stiff divisional test as they head to Pittsburgh on Tuesday to take on the Penguins. Hopefully they can carry over the momentum of a hard-fought, emotional win on what was a very emotional night.

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Note: the photo of Patrik Elias’ retired number banner at the top of this post was downloaded from 24-hours-news.com.