It’s easy to look at Bill Cowley’s numbers and think he might be one of the greatest offensive NHL players ever, and certainly one of the league’s greatest passers.
But his best years came during World War II when a number of NHL players were in the military and so competition wasn’t as good. Also, Cowley sometimes wasn’t even the first line centre on his own team.
The question isn’t just, does Bill Cowley belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? It’s how do we evaluate his gaudy numbers given when he played and his role when Milt Schmidt was on the team? And why did it take the Hall 20+ years to induct him?
So far, in covering our Best and Worst Trades by Point Shares, we’ve focused on either the best or worst for each franchise. However, the Original Ottawa Senators are a special case. The most successful early hockey franchise, they existed for decades before the NHL existed, but then they only made it to the 1930s.
So, there are two issues with creating this list:
The first is that there aren’t that many NHL trades compared to the Original Six franchises.
The second is that, due to the length of the season at the time, the trades didn’t result in huge point share increases or decreases.
Bernie Federko has extremely impressive assist and point totals and rate stats; he remains in the Top 15 in APG all time and Top 20 in PPG.
But he’s a controversial inducted – some see him just as a “compiler” or a “good stats bad team” guy. And it’s safe to say that, had he been born 20 years earlier or 20 years later, he wouldn’t have the numbers he does.
So does Bernie Federko belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?