Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Glenn Anderson. Really? Glenn Anderson?

When it comes to the Hockey Hall of Fame, there are things I get and things I don't. I have been there a few times, and it's always a very cool experience each time. You really need more than a day to take in everything, and the feeling of history and nostalgia and awe that you get walking in is palpable. You can see the coolest artifacts, like the scoring leaders sheet from when Gretzky was nine or something, playing with 13-year-olds, and he has 391 goals and the second place kid has 41. That kind of stuff really is cool, and awe-inspiring. But as you walk around, from plaque to plaque, that awe comes and goes. There's Bobby Orr, and Bobby Hull, and Guy Lafleur and Mario Lemieux. Bossy and Tretiak and Potvin and Dionne. Each of these names can fill you with a sense of wonder, whether you go as a small child or an adult. Then you see Joe Mullen. And Bernie Federko. And Larry Murphy. And you go...oh, right. Them.


All good players, don't get me wrong. Terrific talents, a joy to watch, I remember them all well from my childhood. But Hall Of Fame? Good players, but not great. Not the kind of players I will remember when I'm 50. Oh, you should have seen Joe Mullen play! He was...with...the Flames? I think? And now Glenn Anderson. Again, a good player. In fact, a very good player. But a great one? Hardly. And this now seems to be the standard - which slips a little lower every year - he was pretty good, right? Won some Cups? OK, push 'im on through. Igor Larionov, who also made it this year, is deserving. At one point, in his Red Army days, he may well have been one of the top three players in the world, if not the very best. Yes, put him in the Hall of Fame.


But Anderson? Now, I like Glenn Anderson. As a kid, he was one of my favourite players, along with Dale Hawerchuk. But what makes him special? What puts him above all the other really good players who played at the same time? He was never, at any point in his career, one of the top five players in hockey. A case could be made that he was never even one of the top five players on his own team. But I guess the others - Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Kurri, Fuhr - are all in the Hall. And Anderson did win five cups. And he did score 30 goals nine times. But then, Dave Semenko scored 12 goals playing with that Oilers team. Pat Hughes scored 27 in 1983. Mike Krushelnyski scored 43 in 1984. Esa Tikkanen, Craig Simpson, Jimmy Carson, Ken Linseman, Dave Lumley, Blair McDonald, Stan Weir, Petr Klima...they all had 30+ goals with that team.

And Stanley Cups? Does this mean that Craig MacTavish, Charlie Huddy, and Esa Tikkanen should be in? Shall we be making a case for Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and Darren McCarty? I don't get it. When the year is thin for NHLers, there are always other categories. I mean - a linesman and a builder both made it this year. With Ray Scapinello enshrined into the linesman wing, which is a tremendous honour that comes with a plaque which people can pass by without looking on their way to the Gordie Howe exhibit, and Ed Chynoweth enshrined in the "builder" category for the people who are tremendously interested in the history of hockey, and Larionov put in for his overall international excellence, why do they need another guy?

Of course, the same can be said for most other Halls of Fame as well - George Kelly, Dave Bancroft, Lloyd Waner, Ray Schalk, Harry Hooper, Goose Goslin and Ross Youngs in Cooperstown? Come on. The Lovin' Spoonful and The Bee Gees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Please. The problem here is that each year the idea is no longer to honour the mightiest hockey players, baseball players, and rock stars, and recognize them for their brilliance. It is to make an announcement, garner some attention, and move on to next year. Next year, when a deserving class of player becomes eligible. Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, and Luc Robitaille. And just to inflame those of you who are already irritated with me - one last word. I think a better case could have been made for Pavel Bure to make the hall this year than Anderson. Although I don't think he should have made it either.

7 comments:

  1. I agree with that blog 100%, half of those names don't mean squat to me. I believe to be in the Hall of Fame, you should be famous. Fame, The condition of being a celebrity, whether by reputation or notoriety.

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  2. Yep!!!!,,I've got another Name of a different Sport,,Pete Rose !

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  3. I voted for Glenn Anderson. He was awesome in Edmonton especially during the playoffs. He certainly is the most deserved.

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  4. The main problem isn't guys like Pete Rose though - his case is political - no one would ever question that as a player he had the credentials. No, the problem is a player like Ross Youngs, who was probably one of the above-average players in baseball in his day, but his stats show absolutely nothing that's deserving of the Hall of Fame. But now that he's in there, does he become the benchmark? Should all players better than Ross Youngs also make the Hall? Well then, make way for Jim Rice and Tony Fernandez and Lloyd Moseby and Tim Wallach and Pedro Guerrero. And six thousand others. Inclusion of players who were just very good sort of undermines the exclusivity of these things.

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  5. Oh, and Glenn Anderson WAS an excellent playoff performer too. But then, does that mean Claude Lemieux deserves consideration? Patrick Sundstrom? Steve Payne, Kevin Stevens, Mikko Leinonen? And consider this, about Anderson's playoff performances: The top five in terms of playoff points in history? Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Anderson and Coffey. Hmmm. Count Grant Fuhr, and Anderson is still the...sixth-best player on his own team, playoffs included.

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  6. True Eric,very true,& I don't know the whys & hows someone gets into the hall of fame,besides their merits,eg Ross Young,,is it political,monetary,or who's still alive that year,they are not dead yet,,,
    But I can't help revert back to Rose.What Parlay Pete was doing after the fact,any different than what Wayne Gretzky was doing after the fact.
    But the old question still lingers,,,,,,,,,Would they have stripped Mr Gretzky's hall of fame status,if he admitted the gambling ??? I don't think so !!!!!,,,SSHhhhh,,Just deny it Wayne ,,& it will all go away,,cause there's no way we can take YOU out of the hall.
    PJR ,,F & F .

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  7. Glenn Anderson belongs in the HHOF because of his accomplishments.

    As much as I appreciated Gretzky and Messier, there still has not been a player who caused as much excitement in the building as Anderson did when he did his trademark kamikaze rushes.

    They were a sight to see, and somehow, especially in the play offs, he seemed to either find the goal, or have his line mate Messier set up for the rebound.

    If you did not see it, it is hard to explain, but none of us who lived that era in hockey will forget it.

    Glenn, it is about time that you finally get the honour.

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