Quick Strikes: Marty is officially in the Hall of Fame

Congrats, Marty. You deserve it.

The Bolts

Last night, Marty St. Louis became the first player to go into the Hall of Fame who will be remembered primarily as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Justin covered it for us from tomorrow. His feature on the induction is more than worth your time.

On Monday night, underneath the vaulted ceiling of the Allen Lambert Gallaria, the biggest picture, he was officially inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame along with Gary Bettman, Willie O’Ree, Alexander Yakushev, Jayna Hefford, and Martin Brodeur.

As was typical of Marty St. Louis, he did not speak of his accomplishments. Instead he spoke of his family and of his teammates. “As a winger, the most important guy on the ice is your centerman. I went from playing with Brad Richards to Vinny Lecavalier and to Steven Stamkos. That’s unbelievable...thank you so much, boys.”

With the Lightning playing in buffalo tonight, they were conveniently located close enough to surprise Marty and be in the building for his induction. This was a nice touch on a big night for the organization. This management group seems to always get these moments exactly right.

Lightning broadcaster Dave Mishkin share his thoughts on Marty’s induction. Not only was he a great player, but he changed the way teams evaluate talent. He showed that size shouldn’t be a limiting factor for players who have the skill to make an impact.

The fact that St. Louis accomplished all of this before the rule changes is remarkable. And it had an effect. General Managers recognized that smaller players could not only survive in the league, but excel. Coaches weren’t as hesitant to put them in big-minute roles. Furthermore, the kids were watching and gaining inspiration from St. Louis’ journey. A “smallish” youth player with NHL dreams learned that his size might no longer be an insurmountable obstacle. Many of those kids idolizing St. Louis in the early 2000s have grown up and are now playing in the NHL.

Speaking of small overlooked players, we also dove deep on Yanni Gourde’s new contract and the conundrum of late-blooming stars.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about just how well Gourde has played. Over the last two seasons, Yanni Gourde ranks 7th among all NHL skaters in WAR via Evolving-Hockey. Corsica hasn’t released WAR data for this year yet but he was in the top 50 last year. Gourde is 12th in even-strength scoring rate over the last two seasons. He’s 25th in game score over the last two seasons. Keep in mind, these numbers are among ALL NHL SKATERS.

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch named Cory Conacher the player of the week. He hasn’t missed a beat since joining the Crunch. He’s right back to being one of the best forwards in the AHL and he’s been a big part of getting the team headed in the right direction after a slow start.

The Game

The NHL tentatively settled the concussion lawsuit. The result is much worse for the players in the suit that many expected based on the outcome in the NFL lawsuit. Players get some help with medical coverage and a cash payout of about $22,000 each. The total cost to the NHL will be around $20 million. That’s nothing compared to the $1 billion NFL settlement.

Hours before commissioner Gary Bettman will be enshrined as part of the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2018, the NHL declined to “acknowledge any liability for any of the Plaintiffs’ claims in these cases,” according to a statement. “However, the parties agree that the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution and that it is in the parties’ respective best interests to receive the benefits of the settlement and to avoid the burden, risk and expense of further litigation.”

Rick Westhead reported that the negotiations were contentious with the the NHL pushing for language denying the existence of CTE.

For some reason, Fortnite is still a topic in NHL locker rooms. Given all of the stories we’ve heard about how NHL players spend their free time, it seems like video games would be harmless in comparison. But as with anything that suggests a shift in the culture that dominates the game, the people carrying that culture are resistant. Alex Ovechkin summed up my thoughts pretty well:

“If somebody going to tell you don’t play video games on the road or at home, I’m not going to listen to it,” Ovechkin said. “I think it’s people’s choice, right? If you watch movie, you watch movie. If you play video games, you play video games. I play games on my phone as well. …

“For me, if I play on the road, I play a couple games. I’m not going to play all night long. I’m not at that age. But sometimes, there’s nothing to do at home and on the road especially. Okay, you go to the restaurant and you stay at the hotel. Okay, you watch TV, watch one movie and then what? So, a video game, you can chat with your friends from all over the place — Russia, U.S., Canada.”