Top of the Class

It was a special Monday for the NHL.

That’s because the Hockey Hall of fame inducted four players today, and not just any four players.

This was probably the greatest class of NHL retirees entered into the HHOF in NHL history. All had great careers, all made a difference, and all will be remembered.

Here we go, the class of ’07: 

Mark Messier

MARK MESSIER

1982-2004: 1,756 games; 694 goals; 1,193 assists; 1,887 points; +210

This is a no-brainer. Considered one of the best leaders in NHL history, the Moose has won six Stanley Cups and have appeared in 15 NHL All-Star games. His awards also includes two Hart Trophies, two Lester B. Pearson awards, and one Conn Smythe for playoff MVP. Not to mention we’ll always have his mug envisioned in our heads while eating Lays chips.

Messier made a name for himself early in his career with the Edmonton Oilers as he was part of the dynasty that won five Stanley Cups in the ’80s. He then got traded to the New York Rangers in 1991-1992 and led them to a championship title in 1994 against the Vancouver Canucks. Three years later in ’97, he would sign a three-year deal with the very same Canucks but failed to make the playoffs with the team. After, he returned to New York where he finished off his career, retiring in 2004.

Mess was the ultimate leader, and the heart and soul of the teams he played on. The question now is, will someone give him a shot at being general manager of a team? 

Scott Stevens

SCOTT STEVENS 

1982-2004: 1,635 games; 196 goals; 712 assists; 908 points; +393

Stevens started his career off as a goal scoring defencemen, but was later recognized for his punishing style of play. He was also one of the NHL’s greatest leaders, captaining the New Jersey Devils to three Stanley Cups in 13 seasons. Along the way, he collected a Conn Smythe trophy along with 14 NHL All-Star game appearances. When fans look back on his career, the most memorable aspect was his leadership, his bruising bodychecks – just ask Lindros or Kariya – , his shutdown defensive style, and his championship history.

Starting his career with the Washington Capitals, Stevens scored 60 or more points in five of his eight campaigns there. His fierce competitiveness and dominance came through as he made his way to St.Louis for a one-year stint and then to New Jersey. He ended up with the Devils after being traded for Brendan Shanahan. Stevens retired in ’05, leaving behind roomful of tapes used by coaches, as they educate their players on how to play defense.

The Kitchener native was the definition of toughness, dedication, and intimidation. He was the definition of a defensive, shut-down defensemen. He was the image of one of the best bruising backend players of all time. I’m pretty sure his middle name was ‘Intensity’.

Ron Francis

RON FRANCIS

1981-2004: 1,731 games; 549 goals; 1,249 assists; 1,798 points; -10

There is a reason why Francis is called the model of consistency. He has had 20 seasons with 20 or more goals and 16 seasons with 70 or more points. One of the quietest, in terms of attention, out of most top NHL elites, Francis ranks third in games played, fourth in all-time points and second in assists behind Wayne Gretzky. What a fitting class to be part of for this class act, who has collected three Lady Byng trophies,  two Stanley Cups, one Selke award for best defensive forward and four All-Star game showings.

Francis began his career with the Hartford Whalers where he played for 10 years. Three months after playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who he was traded to in 1991, he captured his first cup ring. One year later, he won his second one. Francis returned to play for the Carolina Hurricanes, leading them to a Stanley Cup finals. He ended his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, managing to get 40 points at the age of 40 in his final season.  

Francis was good in both ends of the rink, as he is effective stopping goals as well as setting up goals. Not only was he one of the NHL’s best helpers, but he was consistent in doing so. ‘The Quiet Star’ didn’t need to be vocal in the media to be good, he did his talking on the ice. Two decades of silent domination lands this Canadian centremen into the most storied induction class of all-time.

Al MacInnis

AL MacINNIS 

1981-2004: 1,416 games; 340 goals; 934 assists; 1,274 points; +374 

The shot. That’s what Al MacInnis will be known for, as he can lay claim to one of the hardest, yet accurate, shots in the NHL. And it’s definitely shown as he is third all-time in defensemen scoring, behind Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey. Not only does MacInnis have that honour to go with his name, he also boasts one Stanley Cup, one gold medal, one Conn Smyth Trophy, one Norris trophy for best defensemen and 13 NHL All-Star games.

The hardest shot in league history has only been on two teams. After being drafted by the Calgary Flames, MacInnis won his first and only cup in 1989 as he scored seven goals and 22 assists. He then went to the St. Louis Blues where he led them to consistent playoff appearances, but no Stanley Cup. MacInnis ended his career with the Blues in ’04, relieving many goaltenders and shot-blocking players around the NHL.

He will always be known for his cannon, which has won him seven hardest shot competition at the NHL Superskills. He will also be known for his leadership, and his legacy as one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. 

The greatest class ever to enter the HHOF, and deservedly so. Congratulations to these four legends.

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7 Responses

  1. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say this was the greatest class to enter the HHOF. However, all five to enter the HHOF were quality choices and the four players characterize the type of athletes hockey players are. There is toughness, tons of skill, heart, leadership and hey…all four are Canadian.

    As for Jim Gregory, he built himself up from a trainer of a Junior A team in Ontario and now look where he is. Talk about rising through the ranks. Hats off to him as well

  2. Can you name a better class? This is one of the best. Two of them are top four in points, you also have the hardest shot and one of the best point producing defensemen of all time, and also one of the best punishing hitters of all-time. Also all four are great leaders, and they have combined for 12 Stanley Cups. It’s probably as good as it gets.

    Read David Pratt’s article on Gregory in the Province today, haha he pretty much trashed Gregory.

    Hosea C

  3. Yea I can. The class that had Maurice Richard and the class that had Bobby Orr. those two (and others as well) were the forefathers -if you will- of hockey. The four that entered this weekend are great hockey players, but they are hockey players that were molded out of what guys like Orr, Richard did for the game in past years.

    Does that make sense?
    Cam

  4. Yes, but all four players in this induction were great, where as in Orr’s class, they was only him that’s recognizable. Maurice’s might be an exemption cause there were 17 other people going in as well.

    As a whole, this class has the most talent. I’m not saying they are the best players to be inducted individually, as a whole though, they were one of the best.

    In the words of Kurt Angle, you suck. 😛

    Hosea C

  5. Wow…way to phrase a WWE wrestler. what are you…10?
    If we make this 6 comments, it might break the record for most comments on one piece on this website. so beak back

  6. No actually, we had one post where we reached 10 or so.

    Try adding a 9 to that age number, oh wait, you can’t do math, that’s why you’re in journalism. So am I…

    Beak we shall, haha.

  7. Hey, you think Sean Avery will make it into the Hockey Hall of Fame? What a plug

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