August 09, 2009

Jeremy Roenick

Ever since Jeremy Roenick retired, the media, who loved the always quotable JR, began campaigning for his inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

So the question is simple - was Jeremy Roenick's career good enough to get him in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Roenick was a face of the game for a long time, both in the United States and in Canada. Fans loved him, almost as much as the media. He was wildly popular, and his ritzy personality generally good for the game.

And make no mistake, he was a very good hockey player. For a short window of time he was even a great hockey player. At his peak he was as good as, or even better than, many of the players in the Hall of Fame right now.

On top of that, he was one of the greatest American players of all time. Top ten? Probably. Top 5. Possibly. Not that citizenship should enter into the equation, but it seems to for top American players.

The question that lingers though is this: Was Jeremy Roenick's career great enough to enshrine him in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Was he a winner? As Patrick Roy would be quick to point out, Roenick has zero Stanley Cup championships on his resume. He was part of two Olympics, picking up the silver medal in 2002. He participated in the 1991 Canada Cup, but he was not a member of the victorious 1996 World Cup of Hockey American squad. He never won a major NHL award, either.

Was he one of the truly elite players of his era? From 1990 through 1994, most definitely. Otherwise he was a very good player. Is four years at the elite level good enough? Does Roenick's longevity make up for that enough?

Are his career numbers good enough? 500 goals was once basically a guarantee of inclusion, but that has changed and the new benchmark is still trying to be established. Roenick's 513 are impressive, the 36th most in NHL history at the time of his retirement. But Dave Andreychuk has 640, and Dino Ciccarelli has 608, and they waited a long time.

Roenick's 1216 career points ranked him 39th all time at the time of his retirement. Among the players ahead of him are quite a few players who do not get a lot of Hall of Fame mention: Adam Oates, Dave Andreychuk, Pierre Turgeon and defenseman Phil Housley all have more.

Most people want to see the popular Jeremy Roenick in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day. If you take out the emotional attachment people seem to have for JR and just look at his career by crunching numbers against his peers, he would be placed among a group of Pierre Turgeon, Phil Housley, Pat Verbeek, Vincent Damphousse and Rod Brind'Amour.

But hockey is not a game that can be measured by statistics. It is a game of emotion. Roenick was one of the best blends of skill and mayhem the game has seen, bringing more to the table than goals, assists and plus/minus. Perhaps his intangibles will raise him above others.


Dan said...

Yes JR deserves it as well as Pierre Turgeon, Rod Brindamour, CuJo, Oates, Andeychuk, Verbeek, etc, etc...

CrackerJack said...

Without a doubt J.R. is a Hall of Famer, no question!... JR could play and play a a two way style which included a lot of hitting!.. At 170lbs he sure could hit! Terrific player and one of my all time favorites!...236Greg G

Long Branch Mike said...

JR was a lot of talk and bluster, but never won the Cup. Patrick Roy had the best retort, when JR trashed talked him after a game. Roy simply responded "I couldn't hear him, I had two Stanley Cup rings in my ears."

So JR belongs in a sports trash talk Hall of Fame, but not the Hockey Hall of Fame.