Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't forget the 'fame' in Hall of Fame

Bure was one of the most dynamic players the NHL's ever seen

Pavel Bure was a Dominique Wilkins on ice. He had highlight reel goals, locomotive speed and an excellent sense of The Moment. Maybe he didn't persist with Recchi-like longevity, but he dazzled like few others.

Eric Lindros was supposed to be The Next One. Few will forget - and many will never forgive - Lindros for holding out as the #1 pick of the Quebec Nordiques only to be traded for a bunch of players, including the superior Peter Forsberg. His parental over involvement and squabbles with Bobby Clarke certainly did not impress.

But for a brief period of time, Lindros was an irresistible force. Even Cam Neely didn't provide a more unreal combination of brutality and deft artistry. With fellow power forward John LeClair and hockey trivia filler Mikael Renberg, Lindros lead the feared Legion of Doom line (which, by the way, is the last hockey line to have an awesome nickname) to dominance. My hockey youth was spent hating Lindros and reveling in Darius Kasparitis taking advantage of Lindros keeping his head down, but there might not be a player in sports who scared me more.

Bure and Lindros couldn't be more different - everything from their playing styles and national origin are complete opposites. They do, however, share at least three traits: they both fell a round short of a Stanley Cup, had injury ravaged careers and most importantly ... they both deserve to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Sports pundits get wrapped up in numbers, whether they are Stanley Cups, point totals or Vezina trophies. But they lose track of the fact that they're voting to decide who makes it into the Hall of Fame.

These two players transcended their sport in the ways that only super stars can and that's what they were: super stars. There's only a handful of players every generation who can change the course of a game or playoff series by sheer force of will. Bure and Lindros were two of those players, even if they didn't do it for 15 years.

Evil, but effective: the "Legion of Doom" line

Still, if you really need it, there are some numbers that help their cases for a HoF induction.

Both Bure and Lindros fell well short of 1,000 career points, but they both averaged more than a point per game in the regular season (Bure: 779 in 702 GP; Lindros: 865 in 760 GP) AND in the playoffs (Bure: 70 in 64 GP; Lindros: 57 in 53 GP). At their best, both players were near unstoppable in clutch situations.

In the trap-ravaged, obstruction era of the NHL Bure still managed two 60 goal seasons (92-93 and 93-94), as well as 59, 58 and 51-goal seasons. Keep in mind, two of those 50-goal seasons came as the only real offensive threat on profoundly awful Florida Panthers teams. And Bure also managed one of the greatest scores a Russian athlete can hope for: Anna Kournikova. If that's not HoF worthy, then what is?

Few hockey people would question Peter Forsberg's rightful place in the HoF (whenever he realizes that his seemingly young but eternally injured body is no longer capable of NHL work), but Lindros fails to garner that same level of respect. Even though, as Joe Pelletier points out, their career numbers are surprisingly similar.

In the old tale, the tortoise beats the hare. But the HoF should smile upon that hard charging hare, not promote a "slow, but steady wins the race" type mentality. Besides, if you were playing a hockey pickup game, who would you rather have: Recchi or a healthy Bure/Lindros?

If you answered Recchi, go away. Just get the fuck out of here.

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