January 19, 2009

HHOF Worthy - Joe Nieuwendyk?

Joe Nieuwendyk was one of my favorite players. So it should come as no surprise that I will argue that Joe Nieuwendyk should one day be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Joe Nieuwendyk was a winner. He won three Stanley Cup championships with three different teams - Calgary, Dallas and New Jersey. Plus he won an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in 2002.

In 1999 he was so important to Dallas' Stanley Cup championship that he was named as the Conn Smythe trophy winner - about as prestigious of an individual award a hockey player can earn.

That was not his only major award either. In 1988 he won the Calder trophy as best NHL rookie, and in 1995 he won the King Clancy award for his leadership on and off the ice.

Statistically speaking his numbers are also worthy. 564 goals and 1126 points in 1257 games once upon a time guaranteed a player inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nowadays a new standard is trying to be established, given the much higher scoring era of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Surprisingly, Nieuwendyk's career statistics could be a sticking point for some Hall voters. Injuries really slowed him, although he always remained a clutch player. He did not average a point per game. And his career totals lands him in a group of 1980s/1990s players who had similar statistics but are debatable Hall of Famers - players like Dino Ciccarelli (608 goals), Dave Andreychuk (640 goals), and a host of players who squeaked into the 500 goal club.

Nieuwendyk's advantages are his championships, his awards, and his impeccable reputation in the community - something the Hall of Fame definitely takes into consideration.

Knowledgeable hockey fans know that Nieuwendyk was one of those guys who brought more to the rink than any statistic can quantify. That might seem odd to say given Nieuwy spent much of his career primarily as a top marksman, but he was a complete player. Aside from chronic back injuries, he had no real weakness in his game. And he brought a lot to the organization off the ice, both in terms of dressing room leadership and community involvement.

When will Nieuwendyk get into the Hockey Hall of Fame? He is not eligible until 2010. Assuming the 2009 class goes as predicted - Steve Yzerman, Luc Robitaille, Brian Leetch and Brett Hull - Nieuwendyk will find himself in consideration with other first time nominees Eric Lindros, Peter Bondra, and Pierre Turgeon, as well as backlog of previously passed over stars such as Ciccarelli, Andreychuk, Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Brian Bellows, Doug Gilmour, Tom Barrasso, Mike Richter, Alexander Mogilny and Phil Housley, amongst others.

Can he be honoured in his very first go around? That has been a rare feat in recent years, highly reserved for the true superstars. However I suspect Nieuwendyk just might do it in 2010, possibly inducted with good friend Doug Gilmour at the same time.


Gary Bellman said...

HHOF for Joe?


Anonymous said...

Just like with Curtis Joseph I think you have to get past the numbers and just look how important he was to any given team. Then when you add the hardware Joe Niewendyk's a shoe in.

Tom said...

Not a first-ballot guy by any standard, but I think he should make the cut somewhere down the road. He's definitely in that "borderline" group with guys like Ciccarelli and Andreychuk, but Nieuwendyk was always more of an impact player than those guys. Considering the roundedness of his game and especially his role in multiple Cup runs in different places and times, he should be enshrined at some point.

Scotty Hockey said...

Now how about Claude Lemieux? While he didn't have the numbers that Niewendyk did, he certainly played his role to the best of his ability and won Cups, and a Conn Smythe ... and has the opportunity to have a fourth Cup with a fourth team this season, when he very well should be a member of AARP ...

Super-E said...

He is definitely good enough for the HHOF. For example, Glen Anderson was inducted and he was never that good, but was always with a good team. Nieuwendyk was moved to teams like Toronto and Florida and was still a key figure. Like it said in the article, he won 3 Stanley Cups on 3 different teams. Now they're talking about about adding Lindros, come on!

He is a true leader and a true winner, with evidence (e.g. 3 Stanley Cups) to prove it.

Armon said...

I do agree Joe Nieuwendyk is hhof material, i do not believe this will be his year. So many top notch players ahead of him. Adam Oates, Dave Andreychuk, Phil Housley, etc...
He will be a great choice in a couple years. I have always enjoyed watching him play. He alway's played with such class.

Anonymous said...

If Joe Nieuwendyk isnt a first ballot HOF'er then who is?? Plain and simple Joe is a winner with class. He has to among the top of the list of skaters winning percentage a rare and obscure stat but telling to say the least. He is one of the most accomplished hockey players in history. He's got all the criteria 50 goal seasons, 500 career goals, 1000 career pts, Calder, Conn Smythe, King Clancy, AND Lord Stanley. There isnt even any competition on this first ballott outside of Barrasso, and Andreychuk. I think Tom is delusional including him in the same group as Cicc and Andry; Cups, awards and community recognition get you into the hall along with your stats and thats what puts Joe into the hall immediately....theres no gray area here peeps, one of the all-time greats!!