Jarome Iginla and the Hall of Fame

Iginla

On Monday night, Colorado Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla tallied his 600th career NHL goal. That’s a pretty exclusive honor, something that only 18 other players in history can claim they’ve done.

Over the course of his 19-year NHL career, which puts him over 1,400 games played in that time, Iginla has notched some pretty impressive totals. In addition to his 600 goals, he has tallied 1,200 points which is something less than 50 players have ever accomplished.

Simply put, Iginla put himself into truly rarefied air on Monday night. But does that mean he should be in the Hall of Fame?

While his accomplishments are certainly impressive, it took him nearly 1,450 games to do it. Granted, there are others who have played as many games and not come nearly as close in points, so that’s not to discount what he’s done. It’s still impressive, it just leaves us to wonder just how impressive it actually is.

Here’s something else to consider: ahead of him on the list is a similar player named Dave Andreychuk. “Dump and run Davey” had 640 career goals and over 1,300 points. But guess what? As of today, he is still not in the Hall of Fame. May he get in at some point? Sure, but his case for isn’t overwhelming and it would take an especially weak year.

Iginla is in the same vein as Andreychuk. Both were clearly very good players, but both obviously benefitted from longevity and good health. Neither missed significant chunks of time due to injury and were thus able to be in the lineup on a nightly basis to add to their totals. That shouldn’t necessarily be a detriment; the ability to be that durable is a rare thing, too.

There’s a case made for players like Iginla and Andreychuk — and Dino Ciccarelli, Mark Recchi, Mike Gartner — that they were simply a product of their time/environment, making them not great players but players of great fortune and circumstance. Some of it is correct, some of it is clearly not.

Iginla has been very good over his nearly two decades in the NHL, but he has rarely been elite. He had a few years in Calgary that qualified, one that nearly won him the Hart Trophy as league MVP (he lost to Montreal’s Jose Theodore). But for the most part, he was simply near the top of the heap in terms of goal-scorers and not the guy.

This is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good, though given his career numbers, his good standing with the media and the general consensus that he’s a great guy, he’ll likely get in without any worries. Which leaves the question: why him and not Andreychuk?

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @kindofawriter

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