Ken Holland

Iginla headlines 2020 Hall class as 4th Black player elected

Jarome Iginla headlines the Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 after being elected Wednesday in his first year of eligibility.

Iginla will be the fourth Black player inducted after Grant Fuhr, women’s hockey pioneer Angela James and Willie O’Ree. Iginla and Fuhr are the only Black NHL players enshrined for their on-ice accomplishments, while O’Ree was chosen in the builder category in 2018 for breaking the league’s color barrier 60 years earlier.

The longtime Calgary Flames captain was the first Black player to lead the NHL in goals and points and was the first Black athlete in any sport to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. A first-generation Canadian whose father is Nigerian and mother is American, Iginla owns arguably the biggest assist in Canada’s history of international hockey. He passed the puck to Sidney Crosby for Crosby’s “golden goal” at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Iginla is joined in the 2020 class by winger Marian Hossa, defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, Canadian women’s star Kim St. Pierre and longtime general manager Ken Holland.

In addition to two Olympic gold medals in three appearances, Iginla won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy twice as the NHL’s top goal-scorer and in 2003 won the Art Ross Trophy for the most points and Ted Lindsay Award as MVP voted by fellow players. He also won the Canadian junior Memorial Cup twice and world juniors, world championship and World Cup of Hockey once each.

A power forward on the wing with a prolific scoring touch, Iginla had 625 goals and 675 assists for 1,300 points in 1,554 regular-season NHL games for the Flames, Avalanche, Penguins and Kings. He had 68 points in 81 playoff games and most notably led Calgary to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.

“This selection is hard to believe and makes me reflect and look back on my career,” Iginla said. “I was always just trying to make the NHL and this recognition means a lot to me and my family.”

Hossa was also elected in his first year of eligibility and joins 2015 inductee Chris Pronger as the only players to go into the hall while still under contract. Like Pronger, Hossa qualified because he hasn’t played in three years and retired in 2018 because of a skin disorder.

A skilled, two-way winger, Hossa won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He reached the final two other times, had 149 points in 205 playoff games and finished with 1,134 points in 1,309 games with the Senators, Thrashers, Penguins, Red Wings and Blackhawks.

Lowe and Wilson had to wait much longer to get in after retiring in the 1990s. Holland made it in the builder category after winning the Cup three times with Detroit, and St. Pierre will be the seventh woman in the hall.

The 18-member selection committee voted remotely for the first time because of travel difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Those living in the Toronto area met in a conference room to determine the inductees, who got congratulatory calls from chairman of the board Lanny McDonald.

It’s unclear if the hall will hold its traditional in-person induction ceremony in November. The NHL is still working on trying to resume its season after suspending play in March, with the playoffs potentially extending into October and delaying the start of next season until December or January.

2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class: Iginla, Hossa, Wilson, St-Pierre, Lowe, Holland

2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Iginla Lowe St-Pierre Wilson Hossa
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The Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2020 class of inductees on Wednesday. The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class includes: Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wilson, Kim St-Pierre and Ken Holland.

Yes, this means that both Iginla and Hossa are first-ballot Hall of Famers. Kim St-Pierre represents the sole woman inducted in this class (as many as two can be added each go-around), while Holland is being inducted under the “builder” category.

Inevitably, people will discuss snubs. Many will point to Daniel Alfredsson and Alexander Mogilny. There are plenty of women who are deserving, too, including Jennifer Botterill.

Both Iginla and Hossa make Hockey Hall of Fame on first (2020) ballot

No surprise with Jarome Iginla

Iginla spent 1,219 of his 1,554 NHL games as a member of the Flames. After breaking into the league in 1996, “Iggy” went on to score 625 goals, record 1,300 points, win two Rocket Richard Trophies, the King Clancy, the Art Ross, and the Ted Lindsay Award. The winger was a six-time All-Star.

Iginla managed two 50-goal seasons, and passed the 40-goal mark on four occasions. The power forward also distinguished himself before reaching the NHL, winning two Memorial Cups with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. On the international scene, he represented Canada at various levels, winning two World Junior Championships, one World Championship, one World Cup of Hockey, and two Olympic gold medals. Iginla set up Sidney Crosby‘s “golden goal” in overtime during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Marian Hossa recognized as a two-way star

Hossa joins Iginla as a first-ballot Hockey Hall of Famer.

Hossa won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, and was a playoff fixture, becoming the first NHL player to reach three consecutive Stanley Cup Final series with three different teams. So you might also consider his playoff production (149 points in 205 games) while noting his regular season accolades (525 goals and 1,134 points in 1,309 contests).

Hossa represented Slovakia at the World Championships eight times, Olympic Games four times, and played in two World Cup of Hockey tournaments — once for his home country and the other for Team Europe. In addition to those Stanley Cup victories, Hossa also won a Memorial Cup.

One knock against Hossa was a lack of individual awards, but success followed the two-way star.

[MORE: Who the PHT staff would have inducted into the 2020 HHOF]

Kim St-Pierre adds another deserving woman to HHOF

There are a lot of gold medals in St-Pierre’s trophy case.

Inside you’ll find three from the Olympics, five from the World Championships, and one from the Four Nations Cup. The netminder played 83 times for Canada, helping them win 64 times with 29 shutouts. She earned best goalie honors at the 2002 Olympics, as well World Championships in 2001 and 2004. St-Pierre also won the Clarkson Cup twice with Montreal Stars of the CWHL, and was named the league’s top goaltender two seasons in a row.

Wilson and Lowe get into Hockey Hall of Fame after long waits

Doug Wilson an easy case

Wilson scored 237 goals, 827 points as a defenseman, winning the 1982 Norris Trophy during his impressive and underrated career.

The current Sharks GM was an eight-time All-Star, and won Canada Cup gold. His name has sprung up in Hall of Fame discussions over the last few years, even after having been on the ballot for over two decades. He played during an era dominated by Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque, but examine his career and it was a pretty solid one. He finished his career in the top 20 in points by a defenseman and top 10 in points per game.

[MORE: Hall of Fame waits for Lowe, Wilson come to an end]

A fun piece of trivia via Sean McIndoe of The Athletic (sub required) that bolsters his case: “Here’s the complete list of players who both won a Norris Trophy (peak) and finished in the top 25 all-time in defenseman scoring (longevity), but haven’t been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame: Doug Wilson, and that’s it.”

As a side note, Wilson is putting together a decent Hockey Hall of Fame case with his GM work, alone.

Kevin Lowe’s best case — his trophy case

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson laid out defensive defenseman Kevin Lowe’s Hall of Fame case: he was the “conscience” of the Gretzky-era Oilers. Overall, Lowe won five Stanley Cups with Edmonton, and then one more with the Rangers.

“You look at Kevin’s Stanley Cups, the leadership on our team, the respect of all the players … that certainly would give me all sorts of statistical and psychological information to be in the Hall,” Glen Sather said. “You don’t have to pile up points to be a great player.

Lowe’s offensive stats won’t impress, but people stumped for his responsible game. It finally worked.

Lowe also served as a “builder” with the Oilers. Many would agree that it’s probably not the first point you’d argue for when saying Lowe deserved to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, though.

Ken Holland rounds out 2020 Hall of Fame class as a builder

The timing felt a bit surprising for Holland to be inducted as a builder. But, in the grand scheme of things, it was probably a matter of time.

The Detroit Red Wings won four Stanley Cups with Holland in prominent positions (one as assistant GM, three as GM). The Red Wings also won 10 Central Division titles with Holland at the helm, not to mention four Presidents’ Trophies.

Holland can still add to his resume if he can bring Connor McDavid and the Oilers to additional glories, too.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Crawford, Howard, and other interesting veteran NHL free agent goalies

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Earlier this week, PHT looked at uncertain futures for veteran NHL free agent forwards. The league’s other positions face just as much, if not more, uncertainty. So let’s keep this going by tackling veteran NHL free agent goalies.

As with that forward focus, this isn’t a comprehensive list of NHL free agent goalies. This revolves around veterans, with an admittedly arbitrary cutoff of 30 years or older.

Said veteran NHL free agent goalies must also hit a sweet spot. We’re ignoring goalies who should be no-brainer signings (Robin Lehner‘s been one of the best netminders, and he’s also only 28). We’re also going to skate past goalies with dubious chances of being signed to NHL contracts.

You might think such specific parameters would mean zero veteran NHL free agent goalies. Nope, there’s a pretty interesting list. Actually, if you feel like someone prominent didn’t make the cut, do tell.

(We’ll know you are trolling if you blurt out “Robin Lehner,” by the way.)

[Players who might be considering retirement]

Corey Crawford

I was tempted to leave Crawford off of this list. The reasoning is simple enough: Crawford has plenty of name recognition, and he was actually quite good (16-20-3, but with a .917 save percentage) this season.

Ultimately, Crawford warrants a mention, though. For one thing, he’s not that far removed from injury issues that credibly threatened his career. Also, with the Blackhawks firing team president John McDonough and other signs of turmoil, there’s increased uncertainty regarding Crawford’s future with his longtime team. Crawford is 35, too, so there’s the risk of a 35+ contract likely limiting his term options.

Honestly, the Blackhawks might be justified in flinching at bringing back Crawford for a more cynical reason. If Chicago wants to blow things up, or at least institute a mini-reboot, Crawford may foil such plans by … being too good.

The 2018-19 season stands as one of just two seasons where Crawford’s Goals Saved Against Average was on the negative side. With a 9.01 mark for 2019-20, Crawford ranked ahead of the likes of Carter Hart (4.47), stellar backup Jaroslav Halak (8.83), and resurgent Cam Talbot (7.53).

It would be absurd if someone didn’t want Crawford. The NHL can be an absurd league sometimes, though.

Jimmy Howard

During the 2019 NHL trade deadline, it was a little surprising that the Red Wings didn’t trade Howard. Outsiders can only speculate if it was more about then-GM Ken Holland asking for too much, or the market being truly, totally dry.

But, either way, Howard’s market value looks much different (read: worse) after a brutal 2019-20, both for the Red Wings and for their veteran goalie. The 36-year-old suffered through a lousy .882 save percentage this season after being steady for two seasons (.909 and .910) and fantastic in 2016-17 (.927).

My guess is that someone will be interested in Howard, but it would be a surprise if he wore a Red Wings sweater in 2020-21. I’d also guess he’s slated to be a clear backup.

Mike Smith

There are goalies teams talk themselves out of (like, seemingly, Robin Lehner). Then there are goalies who gain a lot of leeway, such as Smith.

Familiarity sure seemed to help Smith land with the Oilers. It’s safe to assume that Dave Tippett fondly recalled Smith’s outstanding work during the Coyotes’ 2012 Western Conference Final run. That nostalgia didn’t lead to enough timely saves, though, as Mikko Koskinen soundly surpassed Smith (and Talbot was better in Calgary).

At 38, and with two straight below-average seasons under his belt, Smith may be teetering out of the league. Then again, he’s a big goalie, can handle the puck, and some might weigh those increasingly distant memories almost as heavily as Tippett and the Oilers did last summer.

Other NHL free agent goalies

  • I assume that 34-year-old goalies Thomas Greiss and Anton Khudobin should earn ample interest. They’ve both been fantastic, so I didn’t feel they needed a section. If interest isn’t certain though … it should be.
  • For the most part, Ryan Miller‘s future hinges on his own choices, and preference to be in the California area. Still, he’s worth mentioning, being that he’s 39 and didn’t perform as well in 2019-20.
  • Brian Elliott, 35, came through at times for the Flyers when Hart was injured. The overall picture of his season wasn’t pretty, however. It was fair to wonder about his future last offseason, and he’ll need to keep his expectations modest if he wants to stick in the NHL.
  • The curious trend of Craig Anderson flip-flopping average and elite seasons ended a while ago. It’s now been three rough seasons for the 39-year-old. Maybe someone would believe he could regain some of his past form on a more … hopeful team than the Senators?
  • Aaron Dell ranked as one of the NHL’s better backups in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Then the past two seasons happened, casting serious doubt over the 31-year-old’s future. Perhaps a team might pin that on the Sharks’ system and give Dell, say, a competitive third goalie spot?
  • Could be mostly sad emojis for 30-year-old Keith Kinkaid.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Goldobin heads to KHL, moves on from Canucks, NHL

Goldobin leaves Canucks signs in KHL
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Nikolay Goldobin signed with CSKA Moscow of the KHL, ending his time in the Canucks organization. Naturally, this also ends his time in the NHL. At least for now.

Sports-Express’ Igor Eronko first reported that Goldobin signed a two-year deal with CSKA. TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal caught up with Goldobin, 24, who explained the move.

“The Canucks did not want to sign me,” Goldobin told Dhaliwal. “I was disappointed how it turned out in VAN but I am happy to sign in KHL and will try (in the) NHL again in two years.”

Ultimately, it seems like Goldobin couldn’t quite earn the trust of the Canucks, making his departure to the KHL easy to understand.

After generating 27 points in 63 games during the 2018-19 season, Goldobin appeared in a single NHL contest this season.

Otherwise, he spent his season with the AHL’s Utica Comets. Much like in 2017-18 (31 points in 30 games), Goldobin played well in the AHL, generating 50 points in 51 contests for the Comets.

While Goldobin is far from a world-beater, it’s a touch surprising that he couldn’t find a spot somewhere in the Canucks lineup. Failing that, you wonder if the Canucks might have been better off trading him for something.

One wonders if we’ll hear about more Goldobin-like tweeners leaving (or debuting in) the NHL soon.

Goldobin joins Slepyshev in KHL; quick thoughts on his Canucks departure

The Canucks acquired Goldobin from the Sharks during the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline. Jannik Hansen went the other way to San Jose, failing to make much of an impact during the rest of 2016-17. Hansen then played one more season with the Sharks in 2017-18. He wrapped his hockey career with (wait for it) CSKA in 2018-19.

Speaking (again) of CSKA, the KHL team also signed Anton Slepyshev. Slepyshev’s coffee barely got cold at the NHL level before things fell apart during the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season. So Goldobin can commiserate with Slepyshev, if nothing else.

Ken Holland told the Edmonton Sun’s Jim Matheson that there was an opportunity for Slepyshev, but the forward would’ve made less (at least in the short term) than Slepyshev will earn in the KHL.

“I met with Slep at a coffee shop in Russia just before Christmas and talking to him he thought he could play on a third line, and I felt for sure he could be a bottom-six forward,” Holland said. “I think he had a point in 20 straight games over there and the team obviously wanted to keep him. I feel very comfortable with the offer I made that it was fair based on where he was going to play in the NHL.”

Holland paints kind of a funny picture there, huh?

Anyway, it’s sometimes a shame to see things not work out for players like Goldobin and Slepyshev in the NHL. At least they have what seems to be an acceptable alternative in the KHL, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Puppies for players during NHL pause; 68-game rollback?

Puppies NHL players Boeser PHT Morning Skate
via Brock Boeser's Instagram account
Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

NHL players add puppies during the pause

• Emily Kaplan dives deep on doggos. OK, to be more specific, Kaplan takes a look at how NHL players are bringing in puppies and/or dogs during the coronavirus pause. Whether they’re fostering the furballs or making full-time additions to their families, it’s adorable stuff. (ESPN)

Say what you will about Tom Wilson, but this dog rules. And I’m not just saying it because the dog looks like a rounder version of my own doggo. (This post’s main image is of Brock Boeser‘s beast, sadly not named Bark Boeser, or Bark Pupper. Oh well, can’t win ’em all.)

(Would pause for the paws have been a better headline?)

Other hockey headlines

• TSN’s Frank Seravalli pitches the NHL dialing back all teams’ games played to 68 games to determine playoff seeding. Interestingly, such a format would include the same 16 playoff teams as would a system based on points percentage. Seravalli also points out that a 68-game setup would lead to fun matchups like a Battle of Alberta, Crosby’s Penguins vs. Ovechkin’s Capitals, and the Predators vs. Golden Knights. Interesting stuff, and it seems at least reasonably fair. (TSN)

• One question the NHL needs to answer is: how will conditional picks from trades be handled when this all plays out? Oilers Nation points out that GM Ken Holland told TSN’s Ryan Rishaug that he doesn’t believe Edmonton will receive the conditional pick involved in the James NealMilan Lucic trade. If not, it would miss the mark by a tiny margin. (Oilers Nation)

• Whether there are more regular season games or the NHL jumps to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flyers are in a good position. As long as there’s more hockey to be played. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff discusses how the pause affects prospect scouting and other parts of his job. For the most part, he’s comfortable with his front office’s preparation, even though the pause halted normal operations. (Winnipeg Free-Press)

• If the salary cap rises close to $84 million, Danny Webster argues that the Golden Knights could enjoy pretty nice space. Frankly, NHL teams might be happy if they get a slight bump from $81.5M, but the larger point about Vegas being in a better situation than expected remains interesting. (Knights on Ice)

• Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas went on Sportsnet’s Tim & Sid to add insight about signing Alexander Barabanov. In Dubas’ view, the KHL import can “play in June,” as in when the league’s … usually deep in the playoffs. Hockey DB includes some stats on the 25-year-old, by the way. (Sportsnet)

• The Avalanche reportedly rank among the teams aiming to sign free agent goalie Alexei Melnichuk. Mile High Hockey’s Tom Hunter wonders if the Avs could unearth another Pavel Francouz. Granted, there are some big differences, including age; Melnichuk is 21, while Francouz came over from the KHL at 27. (Mile High Hockey)

• Five potential destinations for pending UFA Torey Krug. Yes, the Bruins rank among those five destinations, even though it will be a challenge to retain Krug. (The Hockey News)

• Sean McIndoe (aka Down Goes Brown) goes over some of the NHL’s “one-hit wonders.” Not only do we recall the exploits of Jim Carey The Goalie and Chris Kontos’ four-goal game, but McIndoe also picks a musical one-hit wonder for each instance. My only critique is that no fake album cover included an “explicit lyrics” label. (The Athletic [sub required])

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.