February 06, 2009

HHOF Worthy - Rod Brind'Amour?

I have never been a big fan of the plus/minus statistic. I have always felt it is a very weak way of measuring defensive ability.

The only value I find in the plus/minus stat is when you look at it in relation to their teammates. If there are extreme abnormalities, that tells us something.

Take Rod Brind'Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes. He is just a season removed from consecutive Selke trophies as the best defensive forward in all of hockey.

Two seasons later he is a league worst -30 on a team where most of his teammates are somewhere around the even mark. Only two teammates, Ray Whitney and Dennis Seidenberg, are also in negative double digits, -11 and -13 each.

That is quite the discrepancy, showing just how terrible of a season the 38 year old veteran is having.

Brind'Amour is nowhere near the first excellent player to lose his game suddenly. So we best not worry about this season when assessing his career. He was a real solid NHL citizen for 20 years, excelling at both ends of the ice and seemingly getting better with age.

In his prime he was a point-a-game player. By the time his career is done he should finish around an impressive 1200 career points, and probably will finish shy of 500 career goals. Regardless, he will retire among the top 50 players all time in points and games played.

But it was the intangibles that can not be quantified where he excelled. He always faced te top line of the opposition, night in and night out for most of his career. He starred on both specialty teams units, and taking key faceoffs. He was a coach's dream.

He was also a great leader, captaining Carolina to the 2006 Stanley Cup championship. There are not too many players in NHL history that have that on their resume.

He was also a regular on Team Canada, representing his country at the Olympics, the world championships and the world junior championships.

So . . . is that enough to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

As much as I want the kid who was raised down just down the road from me (he spent some of his youth in Prince Rupert, BC), I have to say no.

As much as I like players like Brind'Amour, ultimately he was a very good player, never an elite star. His points were scored quietly. His career stats are padded by his longevity, but unlike most Hall of Fame forwards he is not a point-per-game career man. His offensive numbers come up short.

In fact, if it were not for two career seasons late in his career, at age 35 and 36, where he won the Stanley Cup, his career almost certainly would not warrant consideration. While his longevity is impressive, two great seasons simply is not worthy enough. In my mind a Hall of Famer should be an elite player for an extended period of time, like 6 or 7 straight seasons.

Look at Doug Gilmour, a very similar player with a very similar resume. So far he has had no luck becoming enshrined in the Hall. Since I would rate Gilmour as better than Brind'Amour, I don't expect Brind'Amour to have much better luck getting inducted either.

The Hockey Hall of Fame is, or at least should be, reserved for the very best players. Brind'Amour was wonderful, complete player who could play on my team any time. But he was not one of the all-time greats.


Anonymous said...

i love rod the bod and i think if he hadnt played in the shadow of eric lindros his career numbers would be even better. that said i agree that he is comparable to gilmour but id argue both deserve enshrinement in the hhof.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed watching Brind'Amour play here in Philly for many years. I find it sad that the best grinders rarely make it to the hall. In the corners, along the boards, whatever it took to win. A true blue-collar talent. It made me feel good when he got his cup in Carolina, even though his loss ripped the soul out of the flyers. He was the team's unofficial cheerleader, and a great locker room presence. He and Gilmour should both be in the Hall.

DrFrankLives said...

The decline in his stats is directly attributable to his knee injury. In fact, at the end of last season, he started to come on again, and willingly accepted a lesser role on a younger team.

He's a great player, and was absolutely vital to the success of the Hurricanes Franchise. It won't be the same not seeing #17 out there on faceoffs, and around the net at every crucial juncture.

When you look up hockey player in the dictionary, there should be a picture of his ravaged mug, fierce determination burning in his eyes, and a lunch pail at his side.

THanks for the memories, Captain.