Philly Sports Live

NHL Hall of Fame class of 2012

Photo Credit: Sports World Report 

The only bright spot this fall in relation to hockey was the induction of four new Hall of Fame members. I had the privilege to grow up watching these great players play the game I love to play and watch. Adam Oates, Mats Sundin, Pavel Bure and Joe Sakic are the NHL Hall of Fame class of 2012.

Adam Oates, an undrafted player born in Weston, Ontario in 1962, is best known for his time spent in Boston during the 90s. During his time as a Bruin, Oates put up great numbers playing with Cam Neely and Ray Bourque. He had 142 points in the 1992-93 season, by far his best season in the stats department. Oates was known as a play maker, and what I remember most was him setting up Brett Hull while in St.Louis and Cam Neely while in Boston with slam dunk goals. Adam Oates finished his career with 1337 games played, scoring 341 goals, and 1079 assists for 1420 points in his NHL career. He saw the ice the way Gretzky did, and although not quite the same player as Wayne, he had the ability to slow the game down and orchestrate a dominant offense. He is currently the head coach of the Washington Capitals and should bring much knowledge to players like Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. This is a well deserved honor to a great hockey player in Adam Oates.

Mats Sundin, born in 1971 in Stockholm, Sweden, was the first overall pick in the 1989 draft, selected by the Quebec Nordiques. Some players live up to their draft selection and others don’t. Well Mats most definitely did live up to being the first pick. Spending his first five seasons in Quebec, he put up remarkable numbers. He set his career high in points with 114 in 1992-93 season, but was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 94 season. Toronto is where Sundin calls home. This is where he put his stamp on the NHL as one of the most dominant power-forwards to ever play the game. Sundin holds Maple Leafs records in most goals and most points. There wasn’t much you could to do stop him. He was big, fast, and physical with great hands. I still remember him knocking the Flyers out of the playoffs and him being so hard to contain on the ice. He ended his career with Vancouver, where he went and tried to win the cup one last time with fellow countrymen Henrick and Daniel Sedin. I was rooting for him that year; it would have been nice to see someone that gave so much to game get his name on the cup. Mats Sundin finished his career with 1346 games played, for 546 goals, 785 assists, amassing 1349 points. It was only fitting that he be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Pavel Bure, or the ‘Russian Rocket” as he was called, was the most explosive player I have ever seen play the game. It was only a matter of time before he made it into the Hall of Fame. Bure was born in Russia in 1971 and taken 113th overall, in the 1989 NHL draft.  He didn’t play his first season until the 1991-92 season, but he won the Calder trophy that year and went on to score back-to-back 60 goal seasons the following two. He was a pure offensive threat in the NHL. In my opinion, Bure was in the top 5 most dangerous players of the 90s. If he could have stayed healthy he would have gotten to the 600 career goal mark. Injuries plagued him throughout his whole career. Bure still managed to put up tremendous numbers, retiring at the age of 32, after the 2002-03 season. Bure’s career stats look like this, 702 games played, 437 goals, 342 assists for a total of 779 points. Could you imagine what his stats would have looked like if he would have played well into his 30s? He was the human highlight reel and led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals in 1994. It’s only fitting that Pavel Bure be the first Vancouver Canuck inducted into the hockey Hall of Fame.

It is an honor to wear the “C” for any hockey team. You are the captain, the leader, the guy everyone looks up too when times get tough. Joe Sakic was everything that you could have wanted in a captain. He spent his whole career playing for one franchise; he led them on to win multiple Stanley Cups and did all this after he was initially criticized for being a poor leader.  Joe Sakic was born in 1969 and was taken 15th overall in the 1987 NHL draft by the Quebec Nordiques who later would move to Colorado. He reached the 100 point mark in only his second season and continued to put up similar numbers all the way until his final full season in 2006. Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman were the two most consistent captains that I’ve got to see in the NHL. Joe Sakic led the Avs to win the cup in 1996-97 and then again in 2000-01. In the 01 season, he played on one the greatest hockey teams ever assembled. They were hungry for the cup and even hungrier for Ray Bourque to win his only Stanley Cup. When they did win, the first person that Sakic handed the cup to was Bourque. He was one of the classiest players in the history of the game, a constant competitor that brought success to a hockey club for 15 years. With all talent that those Avalanche teams had, he was the rock. He was the guy that you knew would lead them into the playoffs. Peter Forsberg, arguably one of the best players in the last 30 years, had a career plagued by injuries. When Forsberg was playing it was really just a bonus, because Avalanche fans knew that Joe Sakic would be there to lead the way. He led by example and by his play on the ice. The most wicked wrist shot in the NHL, Joe could put the puck in from anywhere on the ice. He beat goalies time after time with that wrist shot. He has won almost every award that one could imagine. He is a Conn Smythe winner, Lady Byng Memorial trophy winner and also won the Hart trophy. Sakic ended his career with 1378 games played and during that time he scored 625 goals, 1016 assists for 1641 career points. With all of those accolades, it is no wonder he was a first ballot Hall of Famer.

It has been a rough year for hockey fans, but this right here is what makes hockey the greatest sport. Players like these four are the reason so many of us watch and play this game. So for now, let’s just hope that the lock out ends and we get a chance to watch future Hall of Fame players in the NHL.