Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tales from the HHOF

ESPN's Scott Burnside has a pretty complete wrap-up of the Hall of Fame day that was, including this story from Scott Stevens that I'd forgotten to get into my coverage:
Speaking of hits, Stevens said the hardest hit he ever took came from journeyman forward Bryan Smolinski, not known as the game's most physical player. Stevens said he woke up in the trainers' room and looked up at teammate Bobby Carpenter.

"I said, 'Why are you wearing a suit?'" Stevens said. He had forgotten that Carpenter was injured and wasn't even playing.
There are also some good bits in there about Igor Larionov, who absolutely deserves to get in next year (despite what some have said locally). He's incredibly decorated internationally (including two Olympic golds) and put up some solid NHL seasons in his 30s after escaping an awful team in Vancouver.

There's a reason he lasted 1,010 more NHL games than countryman Vladimir Krutov.


At 2:17 a.m., November 13, 2007, Blogger Adam C said...

According to Simmons, he didn't play enough first line centre. Someone should tell Francis and Messier that they don't belong either....

At 5:38 a.m., November 13, 2007, Blogger Stan the Caddy said...

But Adam, those guys sold newspapers, and selling newspapers = HOF candidate. I don't ever remember Igor's mug on the front page of the paper, do you? And really, how else could we measure quality?

I guess the people in Toronto don't know quality hockey since there team has never been champion of a league larger than six teams.

Ok so the sarcasm doesn't look/sound as good in print as when I said it to myself. I wish this nation's media would stop being afraid of complimenting European players for fear of reprisals from... Grapes? Last I checked, no one was calling it the "NHL Hall of Fame," nor should they.

I'd love to see international hockey better represented with more (worthy) inductees to the Hall. Personally, I'd take Larionov before Claude Lemiuex any day of the week.

At 8:37 a.m., November 13, 2007, Blogger RJ said...

An 'awful' team in Vancouver, James?

He left after the 1991-1992 season, a season in which the Canucks actually won their division for only the second time in the team's history. (The Canucks went on to win the division for the second consecutive year in 1992-1993, after Larionov had departed. The core of those teams also provided the backbone for the 1994 run to the cup finals.)

Seriously, your insistence on maligning the Canucks at every possible opportunity is puzzling.

At 10:53 a.m., November 13, 2007, Blogger sager said...

The Canucks had 96 points that season and lost out in the second round to an 82-point Oilers team.... not awful, but not a juggernaut either.

At 12:31 p.m., November 13, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Igor Larionov should be automatic choice. At his best days with CCCP he was there against Team Canada which included Gretzky, Messier and Lemieux.

Did he look out of place? He is one of the best players ever. There's a lot other great Russian players that should get in there, too.

Firsov, Maltsev, Ragulin...

Canada Cup 1981 CCCP beat Canada 8-1 and there's no HHOF potential there?

At 12:33 p.m., November 13, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

You're right RJ — I had just remembered how bad they were when Larionov and Krutov got there. They were definitely one of the league's worst teams his first two years.

At 1:00 p.m., November 13, 2007, Blogger RJ said...

Now that is certainly true, I can't argue with that.

At 1:26 p.m., November 13, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

If Igor Larionov doesn't make the Hall of Fame they might as well sell it and put up some condos. Consider:

1 Canada Cup Gold Medal
2 Olympic Gold Medals
3 Stanley Cups
4 World Championship Gold Medals

He is one of just five players to achieve the "grand slam", the others being Slava Fetisov, Brendan Shanahan, Joe Sakic, and Scott Niedermayer. All of them are obvious first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Larionov's NHL stats are not overwhelming (including playoffs, 1071 GP, 741 points, +113) but he was already past his theoretical prime before he got over here, and already had substantial Hall of Fame credentials in his CV. It is startling to realize that he played his first NHL playoff game at the age of 30, yet finished his career with 150 GP in the post-season.

What a long and interesting career he had! Just 20 when he won that '81 Canada Cup, Larionov was 41 when he won his last Stanley Cup. He was probably the best player in the Finals that spring of 2002, for sure scoring the biggest goal of the series to decide Game 3 in triple OT in Carolina to put the Wings ahead to stay.

Igor was a creative and responsible two-way player, a must in the Russian system where the wingers (Makarov and Krutov in his case) were usually in full attack mode. He was one of the smartest players I've ever had the privilege to watch, and a class act besides.

At 3:16 p.m., November 13, 2007, Anonymous PPP said...

I am shocked, SHOCKED, to see that Steve Simmons has made a ridiculous argument.

Check out www.coxbloc.com for more instances of this and then we can all start ignoring him and hopefully he'll go away.

At 5:15 p.m., November 13, 2007, Blogger Baroque said...

Check out www.coxbloc.com for more instances of this and then we can all start ignoring him and hopefully he'll go away.

Joe Morgan hasn't gone away yet, so unfortunately I don't see him doing anything other than sticking around and continuing to squawk like a demented parrot, either.

I remember that goal in Game 3 in 2002. I thought it was hilarious that as the game went on and on and on, the oldest player on the ice was the one to end it.


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