Gaining entrance into the Hall of Fame grants all members immortalization. No matter the sport, iconic names of yesteryear leaves people aching for days of past glory. Monday afternoon four players were inducted into the hockey Hall of Fame, and two of them have played for the Avalanche.
Rob Blake was acquired during the 2000-01 season by the Avs to help push the team over the top, and hopefully bring home a Stanley Cup. The plan doesn’t always work out, but playing on a team with Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy and Raymond Bourque made that team feel like one of destiny. The 6-4, 220-pound Blake brought more mean to an Avalanche blue line that already featured Adam Foote, and Blake also contributed offensively during the playoffs while the Avs took home the Cup. Although it was Blake’s only Stanley Cup as a player, he would win another as an executive for the Los Angeles Kings, the team where he spent most of his career. Blake won the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) in 1997-98, and scored 777 points in 1,270 career games. His 240 goals are 11th all-time among defenseman, and is likely out of reach for d-men playing now, unless Nashville’s Shea Weber (131 goals in 607 games) conquers father time.
Blake, for my money, was one of the best pure hip checkers in the league, who also had a bazooka from the point, could skate well and had a great wrist shot. Rob Blake is the type of defenseman who could play during any era of hockey.
Unfortunately, I don’t really remember Wayne Gretzky playing. I remember him a little bit during his time with the New York Rangers, but that was nothing compared to his days in Edmonton and Los Angeles, when Gretzky scored more than 150 points annually. I maintain to this day, that until Sidney Crosby showed up, Peter Forsberg was the best player that I’ve ever seen play.
The reason I maintain that argument is simple, Forsberg was the best player on the ice, whenever he was on the ice, and everyone knew it. Teams did everything to try and slow him down, but when Forsberg was healthy, nothing and
no one was going to stop him. Forsberg played in an era of the NHL where hitting, grabbing, hooking, holding, boarding and nastiness was allowed and not often called as penalties. As a marked man on the ice, Forsberg was an extremely creative player, who did things that no one else did at the time, and when he was mad the opposition was going to be in pain. In 708 career games Forsberg had 636 assists and 885 points for a career average of 1.25 points per game, good enough for eighth in NHL history. Forsberg won the Art Ross (most points regular season), Calder Memorial Trophy (best rookie), Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player in the regular season) and two Stanley Cups. Forsberg’s career eventually began to slow down after the injuries continued to mount, but each one of his 708 games is an absolute treasure.
Few players rip me apart like Mike Modano. I love that he is the highest-scoring American to play the game. Hated those Dallas Stars teams that he played on. Loved his blazing speed. Hated him going to play for Detroit.
I was always so torn when it came to Modano, but being the highest-scoring American who has a Stanley Cup, was a consistent All-Star, and has his number retired by the Stars has to be included in the Hall of Fame.
Dominik Hasek has a better save percentage than Patrick Roy (.922 to .910) and a better goals against average (2.20 to 2.54), so if using Roy as a template to get in, then beating his numbers should do it. Hasek was a fantastic goalie for many years, and narrowly avoided being the third
Red Wings goalie that Patrick Roy beat up during his career. Hasek was perhaps best known for his unorthodox style of play, neither stand-up or butterfly, just a man who did whatever it took to keep the puck out of his net.
Referee Bill McCreary and coach Pat Burns were the other two entrants to the Hockey Hall of Fame.