Ron Francis undoubtedly belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Skaters who played as long as he did and were as consistently good as he was always get in.
But the real question is, how good was he? He was never really a top offensive star and his best years came as the second line centre on a team with two of the best forwards in history (and one of the two candidates for best centre ever).
Guy Carbonneau was inducted in 2019. His induction is virtually unprecedented as Carbonneau has probably the worst offensive stats of any forward inducted to the HOF to have played since the league expanded in 1968. (Bob Gainey would be the only other forward in the Hall with comparable offensive numbers.)
Of course, Carbonneau is not in because of his offense. He’s in because of his three Selke trophies and numerous Top 5 Selke voting finishes.
So, does he belong? And what kind of precedent does he set for the Hall of Fame going forward? Listen to us talk about him here:
It might seem like a silly question. However, as if this writing, Jere Lehtinen is the only eligible player with at least three Selke trophies not in the Hall of Fame. (If Datsyuk doesn’t get in once he’s eligible, there will be two.)
In this episode we discuss Lehtinen’s case in light of Guy Carbonneau’s induction in 2019.
A friend of ours used to claim that Doug Gilmour didn’t belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame because he had “one good year.” This friend used to compare Gilmour’s stats to Kirk Muller’s, apparently because he didn’t know he could look them up on the internet.
Gilmour was only rarely a star offensively but was one of the elite defensive forwards of his era, receiving numerous Selke nominations. In this episode, we discuss whether he should have been inducted and where he ranks among the great players of his era.
Pavel Datsyuk was arguably the best two-way forward of his era, able to dominate other teams defensively without taking many penalties, while scoring enough to sometimes rank in the Top 10 in league scoring. He was the NHL’s first “Corsi God,” a player who drove possession so well that, once the NHL started tracking possession numbers, Datsyuk was simply the best player in the league by those metrics.
However, Datsyuk does not have the gaudy offensive numbers of other NHL Hall of Famers, and he was often played as the second best forward on his own team.
So where does Datsyuk rank all time? Listen to us talk about Pavel Datsyuk here: