Poll: Is Mark Recchi’s career Hall of Fame material?

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A season after Chris Chelios retired, older players managed to steal the spotlight with startling frequency. The most obvious example was Nicklas Lidstrom, who at 41 years old wasn’t just the Detroit Red Wings’ best defenseman but maybe the best blueliner in the NHL. Teemu Selanne (40) recorded 80 points in 73 games and six goals in six playoff contests. Dwayne Roloson (41) was one of the stories of the 2011 playoffs, taking the Tampa Bay Lightning within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Yet 43-year-old Boston Bruins winger Mark Recchi outlasted them all in the 2011 playoffs. When you think about legacies, Recchi’s career might generate some serious debates in the Hockey Hall of Fame whenever he decides to finally hang up his skates.

The argument in favor of Recchi

The biggest numbers in favor of Recchi making the Hall of Fame are the most obvious ones: he has 1,533 points scored in 1,652 regular season games and 140 points in 182 career playoff games. Those 1,533 points rank him 12th all-time in total points while his 577 regular season goals rank him 19th in league history. Recchi won two Stanley Cups – one in his first career trip to the postseason with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1990-91; 34 points) and another with the Carolina Hurricanes 15 years later (2005-06; 16 points). Recchi made seven appearances in All-Star Games in his lengthy career, with the most recent trip coming in 1999-2000.

Digging deeper with hockey-reference.com, here are a few seasons in which he ranked in the top 10 in points: 90-91 (113 points; 4th place), 92-93 (123 pts; 10th) 93-94 (107 pts; 5th), 99-00 (91 pts; 3rd). He also was ninth in the NHL in goal scoring once, finding the net 43 times in 91-92. His career high for a single season is 53 goals in 92-93, his only 50+ goal season.

The argument against Recchi

Recchi is the a superb example of the “quantity vs. quality” paradigm. Sure, he was very good for a long time, but how often was he truly elite? He made one Second All-Star team and never made the first team in his career. Recchi hasn’t made a regular All-Star team in 11 years, spending a decade going from a very good player to a good one to his current state as a remarkably plucky and useful asset. That’s an outstanding achievement (with an impressive 10 points in 13 games in the 2010 playoffs), but is it the kind of run that makes him a worthy Hall of Fame inductee?

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If the Hockey Hall of Fame had a reputation for being extremely exclusive, I would flatly deny Recchi’s worthiness. Being very good for a long time (and at least solid for a ridiculously long time) is an astounding achievement, but some will point out that he may not have been a truly elite player for much – if any – of his career.

That being said, the HHOF tends to reward longevity, big overall totals and strength of character more than a player’s relative dominance. Having some championship jewelry doesn’t hurt either. Recchi gets a big check mark in those essential areas, so my guess is that he would make it in pretty easily. After all, it’s tough to stare down 1,533 points and deny him enshrinement.

What do you think, though? Does Recchi deserve to be in the Hall of Fame once he retires or not? Let us know in the poll.

Jets’ Enstrom undergoes second knee surgery in 12 months

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There’s not much left for Winnipeg to play for — just five regular-season games left, and no playoffs on the horizon — so today’s news that Tobias Enstrom has undergone season-ending knee surgery isn’t a crippling development.

Can’t be good, though.

Enstrom’s had a difficult year health-wise and, at the time of surgery, was dealing with a concussion suffered on a Tom Sestito hit back in early March. Prior to that, he missed time while attending to a family matter in his native Sweden and, prior to that, was shut down late last season to undergo knee surgery.

It’s unclear if today’s procedure was related to the one Enstrom had last March.

It is worth noting that, at the time of last year’s surgery, head coach Paul Maurice noted the 32-year-old had been dealing with the injury for months.

“He’s been able to get through it because of blocks of days off. If he can get a two day block, he’d get a little better and it’s just getting worse,” Maurice said, per Global News. “It got to the point that he’s not recovering and he hasn’t been. He hasn’t been for almost a month now. He’s not recovering enough on his days off for the pain ever to subside.”

All told, Enstrom appeared in 60 games this year, scoring 14 points while averaging just under 22 minutes per night. Next season will be the last of a five-year, $28.75 million deal that carries a $5.75 million cap hit.

Lundqvist will start four of five remaining games

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Henrik Lundqvist has had two tough starts since returning from injury.

The 35-year-old allowed five goals in his first game back, a 6-3 loss to Anaheim Sunday, and five more in his second game, a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose Tuesday.

But Lundqvist is still the No. 1 in New York, and for that reason he’s scheduled to start four of the Rangers’ five remaining regular-season games, with the hope he’ll be able to play his way back into form in time for the postseason.

Lundqvist was not happy after Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, even though the point the Rangers gained earned them a playoff berth.

“I’m extremely disappointed right now,” he told reporters. “I’m glad we’re in, but I want to get the job done. I want the win. We found a way to lose this one at the end.”

With the loss, Lundqvist’s save percentage fell to .911 on the season. If it finishes at that number, it would be the lowest save percentage of his NHL career.

Antti Raanta‘s save percentage, meanwhile, sits at .922. In his last start, he shut out the Kings in Los Angeles.

The Rangers host Pittsburgh tomorrow and Philadelphia Sunday. Next week, they’re in Washington Wednesday, Ottawa Saturday, and then they close out their schedule at home to Pittsburgh Sunday.

Raanta will start one of the final two games.

The Rangers are likely to face Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.

Reinhart suggests benching was a stretch

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Two days after Sam Reinhart was bolted to the pine for the entirety of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Columbus — his punishment for showing up late to a team stretch — Reinhart discussed the incident, and didn’t sound overly thrilled about how it played out.

“It’s a coach’s decision. It’s a management decision,” Reinhart said, per the Buffalo News. “From my perspective, I would have rather battled it out with my teammates.

“I don’t think five minutes in the morning is going to influence my preparation for a game, but it was a team stretch and I should have been there on time.”

Reinhart also had this to say:

Discipline of this nature is pretty common, though the way Reinhart’s played out was a bit more dramatic. Rather than park him in the press box as a healthy scratch, the Sabres — who didn’t have an extra forward, as Kyle Okposo was out sick — dressed the 21-year-old, then sat him for the entire 60 minutes.

The Buffalo News said the move “would seem to send a deeper message than merely being scratch,” adding that “there has been friction between players and [Sabres head coach Dan] Bylsma throughout the season.”

In the club’s defense, Reinhart is hardly the first young player to be punished for lateness. Nikita Zadorov had repeated issues with punctuality and, after being suspended, was eventually traded to Colorado. Evander Kane was parked for a game last season after sleeping in and missing a practice.

Of course, each situation is unique and some will argue showing up five minutes late for a stretch isn’t on par with what Zadorov and Kane did. Which is fair. That could be why Bylsma said the club might consider a policy change.

And that could by why Reinhart’s teammate, Jack Eichel, tried to put things in perspective.

“We’re obviously not going to hold it over his head here,” Eichel said, per the News. “He didn’t really do too much wrong.”

North Dakota’s Poolman turns pro, signs with Jets

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Another day, another North Dakota departure.

Having already lost freshman Tyson Jost (signed with Colorado) and sophomore Brock Boeser (signed with Vancouver), the school has now learned that junior blueliner Tucker Poolman has signed an entry-level deal with the Jets.

Poolman, 23, was taken by Winnipeg in the fifth round (127th overall) at the ’13 draft. From the Free Press:

UND’s top defenceman was playing between 25 and 30 minutes per game and was the fourth-highest scoring blue-liner in the NCHC. He finished the season with seven goals, 30 points, 14 penalty minutes and a plus-18 rating in 38 games.

Poolman’s final campaign ended on a sour note. He suffered a shoulder injury during the NCHC championship game and was unable to play in North Dakota’s season-ending loss to Boston University in the NCAA championships.