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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

1990s Hall of Very Good

A fun debate in hockey circles is looking at who deserves to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame that hasn't yet been elected. One of the players featured in this post, Pierre Turgeon, is often included in that debate. He is currently the highest scoring Hall-eligible player to not be enshrined, and 32nd overall on the NHL all-time scoring list. You can jump ahead and read his bio in this post and judge for yourself if he is Hall worthy or not.

I also present to you the cases for four other high-scoring 1990s players, ranked in order of worthiness:

  1. Rod Brind'Amour. 1484 games, 452-734-1184 stat line. Was named to the all-rookie team and won the Selke Trophy in 2006 and 2007. Won a Stanley Cup in 2006 and played in one all-star game. He ranks 25th all-time in games played and 51st all-time in points.

  2. Alex Mogilny. 990 games, 473-559-1032 stat line. A two-time second team all-star (1993 & 1996) and won the Lady Byng in 2003. Won a Stanley Cup in 2000 and played in four all-star games. He led the league in goals in 1992-93 with 76, and scored 50+ goals twice. He ranks 56th all-time in goals and 80th in points.

  3. Theo Fleury. 1084 games, 455-633-1088 stat line. Was named a second team all-star in 1995. Won the Stanley Cup in 1989 and played in seven all-star games. Twice scored 50+ goals/100+ points and led the league with a +48 in 1990-91. He ranks 58th all-time in goals, 65th in points and 9th all-time in shorthanded goals.

  4. Vincent Damphousse. 1378 games, 432-773-1205 stat line. Won a Stanley Cup in 1993 and played in three all-star games. Ranks 48th all-time in points, 39th in assists.

Brind'Amour and Mogilny to me seem like slam dunks. They were both named to post-season all-star teams/rookie teams, won Cups and won individual trophies. Brind'Amour is an example of consistency over time and evolving ones game, while Mogilny was a scoring star that burned bright but played less than 1000 games.

I would put Fleury in the Hall too, but he does lack winning any individual awards. The intangibles of being a small player (5'6") during a time when size mattered in the game and the overcoming of various obstacles in his personal life puts him over the top.

Vincent Damphousse would be a no from me. He is the highest scoring player of the four, but he lacks any individual awards or post-season recognition. Sadly he is stuck in the Hall of Very Good.

Card 172 - Tony Granato

A right winger, Granato was drafted 120th overall by the New York Rangers in 1982, straight out of high school in New York. He would play four years at Wisconsin and then spent the 1987-88 season with the US National Team, playing at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. After the Olympics, Granato would turn pro and play in the IHL.

1988-89 would be his first NHL season, scoring 36 goals and 63 points, being named to the all-rookie team and finishing as a Calder Trophy finalist. Early in 1990 he would be traded to Los Angeles along with Tomas Sandstrom in exchange for Bernie Nicholls.

Granato would score 30+ goals in each of his first three seasons in LA, scoring a career-high 39 in 1991-92. In 1992-93 he would record a career-high 82 points, and then add 17 points in the playoffs as the Kings would fall to Montreal in the Stanley Cup Final.

1993-94 was a down year for Granato, scoring only 7 goals and 21 points in 50 games. He would miss 15 games due to a suspension for a vicious slash to the head of Neil Wilkinson. By the 1995-96 season Granato’s game was rounding back into form with 35 points in 49 games when he suffered a serious head injury that lead to bleeding on the brain.

He would return in 1996-97 with San Jose, playing in 76 games and scoring 25 goals. Granato would win the Masterton Trophy and play in the mid-season all-star game that season. He would play three more seasons with the Sharks, retiring after the 2000-01 season.

In 13 seasons, Granato would play in 773 games, scoring 248 goals and 492 points. From 2002-2009 he was a coach with Colorado, including a stint from 2002 to 2004 as head coach. Since then he been an assistant with Pittsburgh (2009-2014) and Detroit (2014-16) and has been the head coach of his alma mater Wisconsin since 2017.

YouTube clip: scoring the overtime winner in Game 3 of the Smythe Division semi-finals against Calgary.

Card 173 - David Volek

The Czech winger was drafted 208th overall by the Islanders in the 1984 draft. Volek played four seasons with Sparta Praha in his home country, leading the Czech league in scoring in 1987.

1988-89 would be Volek’s rookie season in the NHL where he would score 25 goals and 59 points, and be named to the all-rookie team. He would be a steady contributor to the Isles over the next three seasons, scoring 17+ goals each season, scoring a career-high 60 points in 1991-92.

In 1992-93 Volek would appear in only 56 regular season games, but made a major impact in the playoffs. The Isles would upset the two-time defending champs Pittsburgh in the Patrick Division Finals, with Volek scoring the overtime game winner in Game 7.

Back injuries would begin to take their toll on Volek, and he would play in only 32 games in 1993-94 and miss the entire 1994-95 season. In 1995-96 he would attempt a comeback with Sparta back in Czech Republic, but would play only 5 games before retiring for good. In six NHL season, Volek played in 396 games scoring 95 goals and 249 points.

From 1996 to 2005 Volek was a scout with Buffalo, and then coached for Sparta Praha from 2005 to 2010. In 2011 Volek would return to the NHL ranks, scouting with Calgary until 2016 and then Vancouver from 2016 to 2018.

YouTube clip: scoring overtime winner in Game 7 of 1993 Patrick Division Finals

Card 174 - Trevor Linden

A right winger, Linden was drafted second overall by the Canucks in 1988. As an 18-year-old rookie during the 1988-89 season he would score 30 goals and 59 points, be named to the all-rookie team and finish second to Brian Leetch in Calder Trophy voting.

Over his next seven seasons with the Canucks (1989-1996), Linden would score 30+ goals five times and 70+ points four times. He recorded a career high 33 goals in 1992-93 and 80 points in 1995-96, and was named team captain in 1990. During the 1993-94 season Linden would lead the Canucks to their second ever Stanley Cup Final appearance, scoring 12 goals and 25 points as the Canucks would lose the series in seven games to the New York Rangers.

In 1996-97 he would start to miss a significant number of games due to injury. In the eight seasons prior, his fewest number of games he played in a single full season was 73, and he set a franchise record with 437 consecutive games played. He did, however, win the King Clancy Trophy in 1996-97.

By 1997-98 the honeymoon was over as Linden had been stripped of his captaincy, with the C awarded to free agent signee Mark Messier. Later that season he was traded to the New York Islanders for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan MCCabe and a draft pick, a trade which worked out pretty well for Vancouver. Linden would last parts of two seasons on Long Island, being traded at the start of the 1999-00 season to Montreal for a first round pick.

At the 2001 trade deadline Linden would be moved to Washington with Dainius Zubrus and a draft pick for Jan Bulis, Richard Zednik and a 1st round pick. He would play 28 regular season games and one playoff round with the Capitals before being traded back to the Canucks for draft picks. Linden would spend six additional seasons with the Canucks, acting as a leader/mentor to Bertuzzi, the man he was once traded for, and the Sedin twins. He would retire after the 2007-08 season, just before the Canucks would go on to win five straight division titles and make the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

In 19 seasons Linden played in 1382 games, scoring 375 goals and 867 points. He played in two all-star games (91 & 92) and had his jersey retired by the Canucks. From 1998 to 2006 Linden was also the president of the NHLPA. From 2014 to 2018 he was the Canucks’ president of hockey operations.

YouTube clip: putting Jeff Norton thru the short glass at the old Pacific Coliseum

Card 175 - Mike Richter

Drafted 28th overall by the New York Rangers in 1985, goaltender Richter played two seasons of college hockey with Wisconsin before joining the US National Team for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. Upon turning pro, Richter would spend a season and a half in the IHL before playing 23 games for the Rangers in 1989-90, winning 12 games and earning some Vezina Trophy votes.

From 1990-93 Richter would share the Rangers crease with John Vanbiesbrouck, winning 20+ games two out of three seasons. In 1990-91 he would finish fourth in Calder Trophy voting and third in Vezina voting.

The June 1993 expansion draft forced the Rangers to choose who would be their goalie of the future. Vanbiesbrouck was dealt to Vancouver and eventually selected by the Florida Panthers. In his first season as starter, Richter would lead the NHL in wins with 43, and the Rangers would win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Richter would win all 16 postseason games and record four shutouts.

From 1996-2000 Richter would play 60+ games per season, winning 20+ games each year. The turn of the millennium would see Richter begin to play fewer games per season, but in 2000-01 and 2001-02 he would win 20+ games for the ninth and tenth times in his career.

Early in the 2002-03 season Richter would suffer a concussion after taking a slapshot off the side of the mask. Sadly that would mark the end of his career, officially retiring in September 2003.

In 14 seasons with the Rangers, Richter posted a career 301-258-73 record, .904 save percentage and 2.89 goals against average. He played in three all-star games (92, 94 & 00) and was the Rangers’ all time goalie wins leader until being surpassed by Henrik Lundqvist. Richter has also been named to the US Hockey Hall of Fame and had his #35 retired by the Rangers.

Although he played his entire career with the Rangers, he twice was technically the property of other teams. In 1998 as an unrestricted free agent he was selected by Nashville in the expansion draft; in 2002 he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers, again as a pending UFA. In both cases he had no intention of signing with those teams, but they did receive compensation in the form of draft picks.

From 2004-09 he was an assistant coach with Yale, earning a degree at the same time. Richter currently runs a private equity firm focused on resource efficiency and has also served on the advisory council for the Sierra Club, focusing on sustainability and environmental issues.

YouTube clip: Richter was known for his athletic saves since he was a shorter goalie (5’11”) and couldn’t rely on positioning. Enjoy the absolutely filthy glove hand saves in the video above.

Card 176 - Pierre Turgeon

A centre, Turgeon was the first overall pick in the 1987 draft, selected by Buffalo. After scoring 69 goals and 154 points with Granby in the QMJHL, he would jump immediately to the NHL, scoring 14 goals and 42 points in his rookie season. In his next three seasons as a Sabre, Turgeon would score 30, 40 and 42 goals respectively, breaking the 100 point barrier for the first time in 1989-90, the same year he would finish fourth in Byng Trophy voting.

During his time with Buffalo the Sabres would make the playoffs each year, but never advance beyond the Adams Division semi-finals. Early in the 1991-92 season Turgeon was traded to the Islanders in a seven-player swap that landed the Sabres Pat LaFontaine. Turgeon would take his game to new heights in Long Island, scoring 38+ goals in each of his three full seasons. In 1992-93 he would score a career-high 58 goals and 132 points, finishing fifth in the league in scoring, win the Lady Byng Trophy and finish fifth in Hart Trophy voting.

That season the Isles would advance to the Prince of Wales Conference Final before losing to the eventual Cup champions Montreal. Turgeon would score 13 points in 11 games, but miss six games after suffering a separate shoulder due to a Dale Hunter cheapshot in the division semi-finals.

1993-94 would be Turgeon’s final season as an Islander, finishing third in Byng voting. The following season he would be traded to Montreal in a five-player swap. In his only full season as a Hab, Turgeon would lead the team in scoring with 38 goals and 96 points and be named team captain. Nine games into the 1996-97 season he would be shipped to St. Louis for Shayne Corson, Murray Baron and a draft pick.

In five seasons (1996-2001) as a Blue, Turgeon would score 30+ goals and 70+ points twice. The team would make the Western Conference Final in 2001, with Turgeon scoring 15 points in 15 games.

Turgeon would play three seasons with Dallas (2001-2004) and two more with Colorado (2005-2007) before retiring prior to the 2007-2008 season. In 19 seasons, Turgeon played in 1294 games, scoring 515 goals (39th all-time) and 1327 points (32nd all-time). He recorded only 452 penalty minutes and played in four all-star games (90, 93, 94 and 96). Turgeon is the highest scoring eligible player who is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Outside of being an assistant coach with Los Angeles during the 2017-18 season, Turgeon has kept a low hockey profile since retirement.

YouTube clip: Turgeon had a habit of banking goals in from behind the net during his time with Avs, including his last NHL goal.

Card 178 - Jan Erixon

Erixon, a left winger, was selected 30th overall by the New York Rangers in 1981. He played three seasons of pro hockey in his native Sweden before coming to the NHL for the 1983-84 season. A defensive specialist, Erixon would score a career-high 30 points during his rookie season.

In 1986-87 Erixon would score a career-high eight goals and be named a finalist for the Selke Trophy, finishing third behind Guy Carbonneau and Steve Kasper. Suffering from durability issues, he would played more than 60 games in a season only four times during his 10-year NHL career. After the 1992-93 season in which he scored five goals and 16 points, Erixon retired from the NHL. He would play one final season of pro hockey in Sweden before retiring from pro hockey to raise his family.

In 10 NHL seasons, Erixon played in 556 games, scoring 57 goals and 216 points. He earned Selke Trophy votes in six straight seasons (1986-1992). From 2010 to 2017 he coached with his former Swedish pro team’s junior affiliate in Skelleftea. Erixon’s son, Tim, was drafted by Calgary in the first round of the 2009 draft. Tim would play

93 games for four different NHL teams in the 2010s, including 18 for the Rangers.

YouTube clip: scoring a shorthanded goal against the Jets on January 27, 1993. This would be the second last goal of his career, with his last goal coming later in the period, becoming the eventual game winner.

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