June 18, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Doug Gilmour

I'm actually a little bit surprised Doug Gilmour was not inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier than 2011. If only because the Hall is so Toronto-centric and there is no bigger legend in Toronto's recent history than Dougie Gilmour. Doug Gilmour is good for business, or maybe that is the cynic in me thinking out loud again.

He was first eligible for discussion in 2006. Patrick Roy and surprisingly old timer Dick Duff were inducted that year. The Hall decided to make Gilmour wait, which is fine, and 2007 like 2009 featured a stacked induction class with no room for many players. They could have included him 2008 alongside Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov, though, but chose not to.

Gilmour has reputation as a hockey warrior. He was an imperative piece of the 1989 Stanley Cup championship in Calgary. He willed Toronto to two consecutive final four appearances in the 1990s, not to mention two more in St. Louis a few years before that. He is seventh all time in Stanley Cup playoffs scoring, 5th in terms of assists. His points per game production actually increased in the playoffs. The only other of the NHL's top 50 all time to also be able to make that claim is Mark Messier. So there can be no doubting Gilmour's big game presence.

He played 20 NHL seasons, so the longevity is there. 450 goals is okay by Hall of Fame standards, while his near 1000 assists and over 1400 points are down right impressive. That places him 17th all time, and usually that means the Hall of Fame question is more about when than if.

Did he have a long enough peak to be considered one of the true greats of his era? You could probably argue he had three truly dominant seasons, the first three in Toronto. Before that he was quietly one of the league's best two-way performers in St. Louis and Calgary. Even when he was challenging for the scoring race he remained a dedicated defensive player, finally winning the Selke trophy in 1993.

Is he a borderline selection for the Hockey Hall of Fame, or are they punishing him for his off-ice issues in St. Louis by delaying or denying him his Hall of Fame induction? The answer is probably a little bit of yes to both of those questions.

Is Doug Gilmour worth of inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame? It's a tougher call than I thought it would be. Maybe that's why it took him longer than many expected for him to make the grade. But the Hockey Hall of Fame made the right call by inducting him in 2011.

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