On Monday, the Hockey Hall of Fame finally inducted its class of 2020, an honour delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Doug Wilson, Kevin Lowe, and Kim St-Pierre were inducted as players, while Ken Holland went in as a builder.
With no class of 2021, there will be a stacked class of players eligible for 2022.
Just one player who spent more than three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks is in the HHOF — Pavel Bure, who was inducted in 2012. Beyond Bure, there are four other players in the Hall who had brief stints with the Canucks but are better known for their accomplishments with other teams: Igor Larionov, Cam Neely, Mark Messier, and Mats Sundin.
But Bure could be joined by four more Canucks shortly.
Up to four male players and two female players can be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame each year.
Among the female hockey players eligible, Caroline Ouellette and Jeniffer Botterill seem like locks. Ouellette has four Olympic gold medals, six World Championship gold medals, and a Clarkson Cup with the Montreal Stars, making her one of few members of the Triple Gold Club among women. She was the first player in CWHL history to reach 300 points and is the league’s all-time leading scorer.
Jennifer Botterill, meanwhile, has three Olympic gold medals and five World Championship gold medals and was team MVP twice at the World Championships. She was also utterly dominant in college hockey, scoring 157 goals and 340 points in 113 games. She holds the NCAA records for most goals-per-game and points-per-game in a career by a wide margin, as well as the record for most points in a single game with 10.
On the men’s side, however, the four players likely to be inducted are a bit more up in the air. At the front of the pack, however, are four former Canucks.
Are the Sedins first-ballot Hall of Famers?
First up are Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who were first eligible this year, but had that eligibility pushed to next year because of the delayed 2020 class.
The Sedins each have a case for making the HHOF on their individual merits. Henrik is a two-time First-Team All Star, while Daniel was a First-Team All Star once and a Second-Team All-Star once.
Those All-Star Team nods are one of the most important criteria for making the Hall, as they indicate that a player was, at least for that one season, the best or second-best player in the NHL at their position. The two years the Sedins made All-Star teams were also the years they won back-to-back Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading scorer.
Daniel and Henrik each have one more major award. Henrik won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, while Daniel won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s best player as voted by the players.
They also each cracked 1000 career points — an important milestone — and are each in the top-100 scorers in NHL history. Daniel is also just outside the top-100 in all-time goals scored.
Alongside their on-ice performance, they were great people off the ice. Henrik won the King Clancy Award in 2016 for his leadership and humanitarian contributions to his community, then both Sedins shared the award in 2018. Henrik is the only player in NHL history to be awarded the King Clancy twice.
Beyond their individual merits, of course, there’s the unique element of the Sedins being identical twins, who spent their entire career playing on the same line for the same team. They brought new innovations to the game with the way they cycled and passed the puck, revolutionizing the way offensive zone puck possessions are played. Their story is utterly unique and should be celebrated.
How could they not go into the Hall?
Roberto Luongo has incredible career numbers
Because of the 2020 class getting pushed to 2021, the Sedins’ delayed first year of eligibility will coincide with the first year of one of their former teammates: Roberto Luongo.
Luongo’s case for the HHOF is rock solid. Unfortunately, the things he lacks are the things that some HHOF voters prize most highly: Stanley Cups and individual awards.
In terms of individual awards, Luongo was a Second-Team All-Star twice and shared the William M. Jennings Award for the league’s lowest goals against average with his backup, Cory Schneider, in 2010-11.
Those two Second-Team All-Star nods diagnose the problem: even in his best seasons, he was considered the second-best goaltender in the league, finishing behind Martin Brodeur for First-Team All-Star in both those years. As a result, he never won the Vezina as the league’s top goaltender.
Luongo was robbed of the Vezina in 2004, when he had an outstanding .931 save percentage while playing 72 games for a terrible Florida Panthers team, setting a modern NHL record for the most saves in one season. It’s arguably one of the greatest seasons ever played by a goaltender.
He somehow finished third in Vezina voting, with Brodeur and his .917 save percentage winning the award. It remains one of the worst awards snubs in NHL history.
The 2007 snub is somehow even harder to take. Luongo finished second in Hart Trophy voting behind Sidney Crosby as the most valuable player in the league for carrying a mediocre Canucks team to the playoffs. Somehow, he still finished second to Brodeur for the Vezina.
Beyond those individual snubs, however, Luongo’s career numbers make him a lock for the HHOF.
Luongo is second all-time among NHL goaltenders in games played — behind Brodeur, naturally — and is fourth all-time in wins, ninth all-time in shutouts, and second for the most career saves. Among retired goaltenders, Luongo has the sixth-best save percentage all-time.
Along with his career numbers in the NHL, Luongo’s international success helps his case. He won Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014, starting in the medal games in 2010. He also has two World Championship gold medal and a World Cup gold medal.
Luongo should be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and he should go in alongside the Sedins.
There’s one more former Canuck who should join them.
Alex Mogilny was an incredible goalscorer and trailblazer
At this point, it’s laughable that Alex Mogilny isn’t already in the HHOF. It starts with his incredible play on the ice but his impact on the sport goes beyond the rink.
Mogilny was a Second-Team All-Star twice, including once as a Canuck in the 1995-96 season when he racked up 55 goals and 107 points. His most impressive feat, however, was the first time he made a postseason All-Star team, when he scored a whopping 76 goals in 77 games to lead the NHL in goalscoring.
Regrettably, the NHL had yet to introduce the Rocket Richard Award for the NHL’s leading goalscorer, so Mogilny went without an individual trophy until he wont he Lady Byng Award in 2003.
Mogilny cracked the 1000 point barrier, putting up 1032 points in just 990 career games. He’s just outside the top-50 in all-time goals scored with 473 and is considerably higher if you look at goals-per-game. Among players with at least 500 games played, Mogilny is 29th in goals-per-game.
Mogilny won a Stanley Cup in 2000 with the New Jersey Devils after a trade from the Canucks. He also has an Olympic gold medal and a World Championship gold medal, making him one of just 29 members of the “Triple Gold Club” among male players.
Beyond all of that Mogilny’s journey to the NHL makes him one of the league’s trailblazers. Mogilny was the first hockey player to defect from the Soviet Union.
In 1989, at the age of 20, Mogilny hid from the KGB in Sweden after leaving the Soviet national team following their gold medal win in the World Championship. He and Sabres executive Don Luce jumped from hotel to hotel to evade the KGB as they waited for Mogilny to get clearance to fly to the U.S. and apply for political asylum.
Mogilny’s bravery set the example for many more Russian players to leave the Soviet Union in subsequent years but that wasn’t his only trailblazing moment. He was also the first Russian-born player to serve as captain of an NHL team when he wore the “C” for the Buffalo Sabres in the 1993-94 season while Pat Lafontaine was injured.
Between Mogilny’s on-ice accomplishments and his trailblazing off-ice story, Mogilny should absolutely be in the Hockey Hall of Fame already. Putting him in with three other former Canucks is the right thing to do.
Biggest obstacles to a Canucks sweep
The Sedins, Luongo, and Mogilny arguably have the best cases for making the HHOF in 2022 but they’re not alone.
Sergei Gonchar was arguably the second-best defenceman in the NHL behind Nicklas Lidstrom during his career. Keith Tkachuk had 538 goals and 1065 points in his career. Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson are two of the greatest Swedes in NHL history.
There are some other players who have been eligible for a long time and might finally break through with voters, like Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick, Rod Brind’Amour, Theo Fleury, and Curtis Joseph.
Will any of those players prevent the clean sweep for former Canucks?