While Public Enemy #1 Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan and Scott Niedermayer appear to be locks to get the nod to the Hockey Hall of Fame when the nominations are formalized, two ex-Flyers of note are once again on the fence.
Dan Rosen put together his short list earlier in the day, adding that cases can be made for Eric Lindros and Jeremy Roenick’s inclusion into that hallowed building on the corner of Front and Yonge in downtown Toronto:
First, the bona fides on the 40-year-old Lindros, who was in town today at an alumni golf outing, along with his former Legion of Doom teammates:
Eric Lindros (Flyers, Rangers, Maple Leafs, Stars) Despite having a career cut short by concussion issues, Eric Lindros was one of the top players in the League in the 1990s.
Lindros’ career was cut short because of concussion problems, but at one point in the mid-1990s he was arguably the best player in the League. Lindros, who was a featured member of the famed “Legion of Doom” line in Philadelphia with John LeClair and Mikael Renberg, won the Hart Trophy in 1994-95 with 29 goals and 41 assists in the lockout-shortened 48 game-season.
Lindros had 659 points in 486 games over eight seasons with the Flyers, a point-per-game average of 1.355. Bobby Orr is fifth all-time in NHL history with a 1.393 point-per-game average.
He won an Olympic gold medal in 2002 and twice won gold at the World Junior Championship (1991, 1992), but Lindros never won the Stanley Cup and had several off-ice issues, including his demand for a trade out of Quebec and his contract squabbles with the Flyers that led to him sitting out the 2000-01 season.
And then Roenick, 43, and four years retired:
One of the most outspoken and controversial players of his generation, Roenick also was one of the greatest scorers. He had 513 goals and 1,216 points over 1,393 games from 1989-2009.
Roenick scored 190 goals over a four-season span from 1990-94, including a career-high 53 in 1991-92. He then had eight straight seasons of 20 or more goals from 1995-2003.
However, Roenick never won any important team-oriented trophy, though he did go to the Stanley Cup Final with the Blackhawks in 1992 and he did win the silver medal with the United States at the 2002 Olympics.
Rob Blake, Alexander Mogilny and Keith Tkachuk are high on the remainder of Rosen’s list, yet Dave Andreychuk (22 years, NHL record-holder for most power-play goals), is dumped in the remainder bin.
While there’s no reason to shoehorn another nominee with the three who are presumed to be called, why not have Lindros as the fourth given the rest of the best? The Hall is running out of stone-cold mortal lock candidates, now left to decide who amongst a throng of above-average, long-term NHL players who arrived in the 1980s should be worthy.
Lindros was not blessed with length of years — or fully healthy ones at that — but none of us can dispute that, among the top eight Rosen cites, he is the only player who actually caused the fabric of the NHL game itself to change.
While it’s not a totally positive thing, Lindros’ size, skill, speed and physicality forced head coaches to design defenses to contain his largesse, while also necessitating the drafting and developing of taller and heavier players a on a much steeper curve than might have happened naturally.
And although the period where he was at the top of his game, lasting from January of 1995 through 2000, was nowhere near as long as some of his contemporaries, he was still the best single player in the NHL even as the Sword of Damocles kept gonging him in the side of the head and keeping him from further domination.
Lindros, to his credit, has sidestepped the issue in favor of living his life.
When he teamed up with John LeClair to host a fundraiser for Childrens’ Hospital back in December of 2011 in the run-up to the Winter Classic events here, that question was inevitably asked, and Lindros, with a nervous laugh and a bit of a blush, said he didn’t think about it, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if it never came.
One unintended benefit of a Hall call for Big E, is that it might finally awaken Ed Snider and the rest of the old-school holdouts in the organization of the need to kick-start the Flyers’ Hall of Fame with players from the 90s.
After all, an interminable wait to retire Mark Howe’s #2 despite the weight of history and multiple calls to do the same from fans, teammates and writers alike, was not fulfilled until Toronto came knocking in November of 2011.
It’s a bass-ackwards way to conduct business, but if Uncle Ed needs a prodding reminder from a place even higher than he occupies, then so be it.
Official word of the nominations will occur at 3 PM Eastern time on Tuesday.