Earlier today, Dave Andreychuk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. I was not expecting this to happen. It was such an unrealistic possibility in my mind that I wrote up a post decrying the selection committee’s continual oversight. I filed it and jumped on the bus to go to work. Somewhere between Fullerton Ave and North Ave Beach, I checked Twitter to see that he had indeed been elected along with Mark Recchi, Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne, Danielle Goyette, Clare Drake, and Jeremy Jacobs.
I hit the panic button and asked the editor to stop the presses until I could make a couple of changes. Below is my original piece with just a few minor changes...JustinG.
Another year passes and
once again Dave Andreychuk is finally not passed over by the Hockey Hall of Fame. It is was bordering on ridiculous at this point that someone who had scored 640 goals in the National Hockey League doesn’t didn’t have a bust in Toronto. One thing and one thing only wins hockey games: scoring goals.
This isn’t the Hall of Pretty Skating or the Hall of Super Awesome Breakaway Goals or the Hall of Winning Individual Awards. It shouldn’t matter that 90% of his goals were scored five inches in front of the goaltender’s face. What matters is that he scored them. He scored 640 goals in the NHL. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. Stamp approve and move on.
The argument that he was a compiler, as in the only reason he scored more goals on the power play than anyone in the history of the NHL was because he played in 1639 games, was always bullshit. The reason he played for 23 seasons was because he was productive. Until his final season, at age 42, he was scoring 20 goals on a regular basis.
Seventeen players in NHL history have appeared in over 1500 games.
Five Three players on that list aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Those three players are technically still playing (Shane Doan, Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla) and the other two are were Andreychuk and Mark Recchi. Both of those players should be are now in the hall.
When did playing in an elite league for a long time become a bad thing? Average players don’t last 20-plus years in the league. Maybe 10 or 15, but not 20. At some point someone comes along and takes their spot. That didn’t happen to Andreychuk until the league changed the very rules it played by. His longevity and relative health should have been a positive in his Hall of Fame case, not a detriment.
At no point in the three seasons prior to the lockout was an article written about Dave Andreychuk taking up someone’s spot on the Lightning roster. He wasn’t just hanging on adding stats while he was with the Lightning. He was an active contributor. In his first season with the Lightning (2001-02) he led the team in goals, was fourth in goals the next year, and fifth the year they won the Cup.
Was his final year a bit of a mess? Sure, but that was the year of the go-go NHL when refs called things like obstruction and interference and the game was a bit fast for the 42-year-old Andreychuk. Guess what: If you lop off that season, he still has more than enough on his resume to be inducted into the Hall.
The argument that he was never the “best player in the league” when he played was also absurd. If that was the criteria for being named a hall of famer then there would only be Wayne Gretzky and 10 other guys who played before Gretzky was born.
The criteria for being elected to the Hall of Fame as a player is simple: Playing ability, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to his or her team or teams and to the game of hockey in general.
Playing ability - check
Sportsmanship and Character - check (he had some Lady Byng votes)
Contributions to his or her team - big check
Go back to the Lightning of 2000-01. They finished their ninth season of play with a whopping 24 wins and 59 points. There was a foundation in place with Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, and Marty St. Louis, but there was no veteran leadership. In 2004, Richards told Sports Illustrated,
“He [Andreychuk] brought credibility to the room and accountability to the players. It's been totally different since he's been here.”
With the way the organization is run now, it’s kind of hard to imagine how different it was back in the pre-Stanley Cup days. It might be a bit of a stretch to say it was a lawless locker room, but there wasn’t anyone that had the gravitas to hold the young players accountable. Enter Andreychuk and, to a lesser extent, Tim Taylor.
The most common anecdote, as mentioned in the SI article, was Andreychuk instituting a fine for any player or member of the team that stepped on the logo in the dressing room. In the grand scheme of things it’s a little silly. After all, it’s just a piece of carpet. However, for a team that had lacked leadership for their entire existence, it was important.
Andreychuk was letting players know that it was time to pay attention to detail. If he was holding them accountable in the locker room, he was going to do the same when they were on the ice. There wouldn’t be tolerance for gliding around on the ice during the games with Andreychuk (and an ornery young John Tortorella) any longer.
As former GM Jay Feaster told the Buffalo News in 2004:
"This is a guy that's all about the team.It's about your teammates, it's about the game, it's about being a professional and showing other guys how to be professional. He's meant everything to us. The guys in that room look to him, and they recognize the kind of leadership he brings."
If that isn’t considered a “contribution to a team” then nothing is. That’s just his tenure in Tampa at the end of his career. Factor in his years with Buffalo and it’s just so insane that this was a debate for so long.
So, whatever, Hall of Fame selection committee. I hope you at least feel a little bit bad about
leaving him out this year taking so long to induct him. Who knows, maybe another year will give you time to reconsider some of the folks left on this list .