Paul Kariya will not play next season; If his career is over, is he Hall of Fame worthy?

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Thumbnail image for paulkariya1.jpgIt’s been a night of bad news for veteran NHL hockey players, with Nikolai Khabibulin receiving a guilty verdict for extreme DUI charges and now, apparently, the future of Paul Kariya’s career in greater doubt.

Kariya’s agent Don Baizley released this statement for his client.

“Paul Kariya will not play hockey during the 2010/11 season. After being examined by concussion specialist Dr. Mark Lovell, Paul is not able to play hockey due to post-concussion syndrome.”

The interesting thing about that statement is that Baizley says he will miss the 2010-11 season, but doesn’t outright say that Kariya is retiring from hockey altogether. Still, considering the fact that the once-great forward will turn 36 around the beginning of next season, it’s pretty difficult to avoid the assumption that this is it for Kariya.

If this is indeed the last we’ve seen of Kariya, he’ll leave the game as an interesting Hall of Fame question. He scored exactly a point per game in his regular season, with 989 points in 989 games (402 goals and 587 assists). From a mere “neat and clean numbers” standpoint, you have to think he’d look a lot better if he eked out 11 more points to hit the 1,000 mark. Kariya hit a solid 39 points in 46 playoff games, as well.

His final two seasons weren’t very impressive, though, with 43 points in 75 games last season following an abysmal 15-point, 11-game 2008-09 campaign.

My instinct is to say that Kariya is a few strides short of Hall of Fame quality, despite the great years he had running shotgun with Teemu Selanne in Anaheim. Still, that’s just my opinion. I want to know what you readers think: if this is it for Kariya, did he accomplish enough in his 15-year NHL career to make the Hockey Hall of Fame? Vote below.