January 08, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? The Hart Trophy Winners

Did you know that all but two Hart Trophy winners who are eligible are in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

That's right, every league MVP since 1924 who is HHOF eligible in enshrined except for 1942 winner Tom "Cowboy" Anderson of the NY Americans and 1954 winner Al Rollins, pictured, of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Which leads me to wonder if we will one day see another Hart Trophy winner fail to make the Hockey Hall of Fame. The answer is yes.

Let's go back and look at the Hart Trophy winners since 1994, as none of these players are eligible for the Hall of Fame yet, either because they remain active or have not been retired long enough.

Sergei Fedorov
(1994), Eric Lindros (1995), Dominik Hasek (1997 & 1998), Jaromir Jagr (1999), Chris Pronger (2000), Joe Sakic (2001), and Peter Forsberg (2003) are all obvious Hall of Fame inductees, at least in my mind.

I won't look at post-lockout winners. Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton and Alex Ovechkin are already likely inductees, but we'll let their careers play out a bit longer first.

That leaves two Hart Trophy winners I haven't mentioned: Jose Theodore (2002) and Martin St. Louis (2004). Keeping in mind that their careers not yet complete, my question is: Will these Hart Trophy winners make it into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Jose Theodore - Theodore absolutely amazing in the 2001-02 season, also earning the Vezina Trophy with a 30-24-10 record, 2.11 GAA and .931 save percentage. He almost singlehandedly got the Montreal Canadiens into the playoffs, where he in turn upset the highly favored Boston Bruins in the opening round.

But aside from that one great season Theodore has been better known for flirting with Paris Hilton, his family's criminal background, Propecia and his toque. On the ice he was been average to down right bad, occassionally good.

I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue that Jose Theodore should be a Hockey Hall of Famer. Chances are very high that Theodore will join Anderson and Rollins, a fellow goalie, as Hart Trophy winners on the outside looking in at the HHOF.

Martin St. Louis - Martin St. Louis is more likely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, although I am not convinced it will be easy.

That one spectacular season nicely pads his resume, as not only did he win the Hart but also the Art Ross, the Pearson and first all star team status. Oh yeah, and another trophy you may have heard of - the Stanley Cup.

But if you remove that season and examine the rest of his career, only on one other occassion, 2006-07, was he an all star and amongst the goal and point scoring leader boards. He's having another strong season this year, so it's probably too early to close the book on him, anyways.

I suspect St. Louis will one day get into the Hall of Fame, though thanks mainly to that one spectacular season. He has been an upper-echelon forward for the better part of six seasons and counting now. He can add a World Cup title and the 2006 Olympics to his resume, and is one of the most likeable guys in the league which rightly or wrongly will sway a few votes.

Does that place St. Louis ahead of the likes of Dave Andreychuk, Dino Ciccarelli, Pavel Bure, Adam Oates or Doug Gilmour, all of whom continue to wait for induction themselves? I'm not so sure.

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