Monday, April 10, 2006

I NOW consider Rob Blake a Hall of Famer

Earlier this season, I have added Peter Forsberg and Joe Nieuwendyk to the list of players who should make the Hockey Hall of Fame regardless of what happens for the rest of their careers. Today, I add Rob Blake. Here is a rough explanation of my hall of fame standards.

Blake has been a top defenceman since he broke into the NHL. He was chosen to the NHL's all rookie team in his 1990/91 rookie season. He quickly matured into a very good hitter and a solid offensive defenceman. He has appeared in seven NHL all star games. He won the Norris trophy as best defenceman in the NHL in 1998. Three other times, he has been chosen to the second team all star. He was an important member of the 2001 Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. He has been chosen as a member of the Canadian Olympic team in 1998, 2002 and 2006. In the 1998 Olympics he was selected as the best defenceman in the Olympic tournament. He has clearly been on a Hall of Fame track for a while.

I induct him today, because it is clear the Blake has had another good season. He has 50 points so far this year and is one of the better defenceman in the game (though he is not a serious player in the Norris trophy race). This season pushes Blake to 980 career games so far (consider that he lost a season and a half of his career to lockouts) with 636 career points so far. These are hall of fame numbers for a defenceman. The fact that he played well after losing last season to the lockout effectively appears to add two good seasons to his career. It is very logical to assume that had he been able to play in the NHL in 2004/05, then he would have put up another season similar to his 2003/04 or 2005/06 season. Had he tailed off this season (as Jeremy Roenick, for example) has, then there would be no reason to assume he would have been able to have succeeded in 2004/05.

There are other defencemen who appear to be on hall of fame tracks, such as Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer (and debatably others including Adam Foote, Mathieu Schneider etc.), but they have not gathered as many hall of fame credentials as Blake has. Given time maybe they will, but I think it is still possible (maybe not particularly likely) that the remainder of their careers could be dissapointing and they could fail in acheiving a hall of fame spot.

My list of currently active hockey players who deserve hall of fame induction regardless of what happens for the rest of their careers now has the following players:

Dave Andreychuk
Ed Belfour
Rob Blake
Martin Brodeur
Chris Chelios
Peter Forsberg
Dominik Hasek
Jaromir Jagr
Brian Leetch
Nicklas Lidstrom
Joe Nieuwendyk
Luc Robitaille
Joe Sakic
Brendan Shanahan
Steve Yzerman

This summer may lead to the retirement of a few players on this list. At the same time, the rest of the season and the playoffs offer plenty of time for another player to emerge as a hall of famer if he plays well enough.

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