Joe Sakic is the absolute no-brainer of the bunch.
But given their accomplishments, statistically and otherwise, it’s hard to find too much fault in the 2012 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame anywhere else.
In addition to his individual hardware, Sakic sits ninth in career points with an incredible 1,641, but Adam Oates is 16th and Mats Sundin 27th.
Pavel Bure, meanwhile, is well down the points list given injuries cut his career short, but is third in goals per game (behind only Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux in the modern era) and 25th in points per game – well ahead of other Hall of Famers who had short careers like Cam Neely and Clark Gillies.
So when those four enter the Hall of Fame on Monday night in Toronto, it’s unlikely there’ll be much protest. They were the dominant players of their generation, from when Oates entered the league in 1985-86 to Sakic and Sundin’s retirements in 2009.
Oates and Bure had to wait a little to get in – five and six years, respectively, from when they first became eligible – but hardly seemed to mind as the quartet picked up their rings and met the media at the Hall on Monday morning.
“It’s a tremendous honour,” Bure said. “I never even thought I would be able to play in the NHL, much less make it into the Hall of Fame.”
“Growing up, I was a guy who was kind of overlooked,” Oates said. “I look back and realize how lucky I was to have great coaches to help me along the way”
Thanking those who helped them get there will obviously be a major theme of Monday’s speeches.
Bure had his entire family on hand during Monday’s media sessions, including brother Valeri, a former NHLer, and said it was important to him to have everyone there.
Oates has been working on his speech for months, and will include everyone from a skating coach that helped him in college (Paul Vincent) to teammates from the St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals who will be in attendance in impressive numbers to watch the induction ceremony.
Sundin will likely be the marquee attraction given all of his years as Toronto Maple Leafs captain, something he referenced several times this week in the lead up to Monday’s gala.
“It makes me realize how privileged I was to play my entire career in Canada, where hockey really matters,” Sundin said. “Having my hobby and love for a sport become my livelihood allowed me to live out my dream.”
A key stat for each of the inductees:
Sakic: Only Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Hull, Anderson and Bossy scored more playoff goals
Oates: Recorded more assists than all but Gretzky, Francis, Messier, Bourque and Coffey
Sundin: The only players not in the Hall to have scored more than Sundin’s 564 goals? Jagr, Selanne, Shanahan, Andreychuk and Recchi – at least four of whom will definitely be there in the near future
Bure: Scored 50 or more goals five times
Globe’s MacGregor honoured with media award
On Monday afternoon, Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor and Buffalo Sabres play-by-play voice Rick Jeanneret were also honoured.
MacGregor received the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism and Jeanneret received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.