After one big day of free agency moves, the NHL offseason cooled down pretty quickly. However, that’s not an issue for at least today, as the 2013 class for the Hockey Hall of Fame has been unveiled. In addition to woman’s hockey player Geraldine Heaney and former Flyers head coach Fred Shero, three long time NHL players have been included: Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer, and Brendan Shanahan.
Well, there isn’t likely to be any quibbles about this year’s class, unless you are one of the many notable anti-Geraldine Heaney folks out there. Chelios, Niedermayer, and Shanahan all had long, storied NHL careers, and I certainly have no qualms with any of these players getting elected, with Chelios and Niedermayer being chosen in their first year of eligibility.
You may be surprised to find out that Chelios was in his first year of eligibility, because you may have thought he retired, like, a decade ago. This isn’t that unreasonable, considering he was drafted in 1981 and he began his NHL career in 1983. However, he played all the way until 2010, when he spent seven games with the Atlanta Thrashers to end his career. He clearly wanted to keep playing too, because he spent time in the AHL that year, even though he was well into his forties. To be more clear, he played until he was 48, which is staggering in and of itself.
Chelios began his career in Montreal, before moving on to Chicago and then heading to Detroit. While with the Wings, Chelios never scored much, but he was a strong defensive presence, even putting up a couple of plus-40 seasons. He had two 73 points seasons, one in Montreal and one in Chicago. He finished with 948 points in a whopping 1,651 regular season games, and you can throw on 266 playoff games. Chelios played for three Cup winning teams, two in Detroit and one in Montreal, won three Norris Trophies, and played for a bunch of All-Star teams. He also representing the USA in four Olympics. Plus, Cheli’s Chili is a thing people maybe know exists.
Niedermayer starting his NHL career in 1992 with the New Jersey Devils. Alongside Scott Stevens, Niedermayer powered the Devils and their trap defense, for which, in a dream world, Niedermayer would apologize for at his induction. He was excellent at moving the puck, strong on defense, and even chipped in on offense to some degree, particularly considering the era and his defensive responsibilities. He then moved on to Anaheim, where, freed, he had his two best offensive seasons, tallying 63 and 69 points for the Ducks. In his last season, he scored 48 points. In total, he had 740 points in 1,263 regular season games. He played in 202 playoff games as well, winning Cups with both the Devils and Ducks.
Scott also got to play with his brother Rob in Anaheim, which was, I presume, nice. He had a great playoff beard toward the end as well. Niedermayer only won one Norris, playing in the heyday of Nicklas Lidstrom will do that to you, and he also won the Conn Smythe in 2007 with the Ducks. He played in five All-Star Games and won two golds with Canada at the Olympics.
While Chelios and Niedermayer both made their living patrolling the blueline, Shanahan’s main goal was to score, leading to many an Irish jig while he was in Detroit. The second overall pick in 1987, Shanahan moved around quite a bit during his career, despite his prowess as a player. A big, strong winger, he started off, like Niedermayer, in New Jersey. He then moved to St. Louis where things really took off, went to Hartford (good times) for a season and a couple games before landing in Detroit, his longest home. Shanahan then spent a couple seasons with the Rangers before ending things in New Jersey to close the loop.
Shanahan topped 50 goals twice, both in St. Louis, and had a 100 points season there as well. He finished his career with a whopping 656 goals and 1,354 points in 1,524 games. He added 134 points in 184 playoff games. Shanahan also had a whopping 2,489 penalties, which isn’t good, but a lot of those came in fights, I imagine, which was something he did fairly often, and his role in the Red Wings-Avalanche brawls of the past is well known. He had some international success as well, and won a few Cups with the Wings. Sadly, he did not win one with the Whalers. He is now best known for handing out suspensions to NHL players and explaining why on the internets.
Like I said, a fine Hockey Hall of Fame class. Congratulations to Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer, and Brendan Shanahan. As a Wings fan, this is a particularly enthusing class for me, even with the presence of Niedermayer. The inductions will happen in November. Now, let us get back to this offseason and wondering what is going on with Roberto Luongo’s status.