2016 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

While the actual induction ceremony won’t be for some four-and-a-half months, the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees have been announced, a list that includes at least one contentious and long-awaited name.

Joining the hallowed Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Nov. 14 will be Hart-winner and singular talent Eric Lindros, Russian legend Sergei Makarov, three-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Rogie Vachon, and respected coach and general manager Pat Quinn in the builder’s category.

2016 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Eric Lindros – Center

Lindros’ nomination has been debated within the hockey community since he became eligible following the 2009-2010 season, and there have been strong arguments on both sides.

As a junior scoring phenom who put up a massive 71 goals and 149 points in only 57 games for the Oshawa Generals in 1990-91, as well as his whopping 17 points in leading Team Canada to World Junior gold that year, Lindros was the most hyped prospect since Mario Lemieux in 1984 heading into the 1991 draft. His combination of size, strength, finesse and sublime offensive instincts made him a sure-fire franchise player.

Unfortunately for Lindros, the argument against him entering the Hall began even before he suited up for an NHL contest. The Quebec Nordiques held the first overall pick, and therefore the right to choose Lindros in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. The problem was, Lindros’ parents informed Quebec that their son would not report if chosen by the team.

Undeterred, Quebec made the selection anyways, and Lindros fullfilled his end of the bargain by holding out. Lindros then went through a strange 1991-92 season in limbo, suiting up for Oshawa as well as Team Canada at the 1991 Canada Cup, the 1992 Olympics and the 1992 World Juniors, as the stalemate continued.

The strange tale of how Lindros was ultimately traded is documented elsewhere and would have a long-lasting impact, but he would finally begin his NHL career as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1992-93.

Lindros’ impact in Philadelphia on the ice was immediate. He scored 41 goals and 75 points in his rookie year, setting off a run of seven straight seasons of at least 29 goals and 70 points. For a three season span from 1993 to 1996, Lindros was the dominant force in the NHL, and the 1994-95 lockout shortened season was likely his best. He scored 70 points in just 46 games to capture both the Hart and Lester B. Pearson trophies.

So while Lindros is remembered for the contentious start to his career and his run of dominance, he is most likely best recalled for his horrible history of concussions, which played a large role in ending his career early.  Due to his agressive style of play, Lindros was often the target of many violent hits, with his first concussion likely coming in 1998 on a hit from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Darius Kasparaitis.

While Lindros would have one last dominant 93-point season in 1998-99, that was the beginning of the end. Lindros would be traded by the Flyers to the New York Rangers in the summer of 2001 and play three seasons with the Blueshirts before one-season stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars before. He retired after the 2006-07 campaign.

All told, Lindros retired from hockey with an impressive albeit truncated resume, which likely also delayed his Hall induction, but with Cam Neely and Pavel Bure (who both has very impressive careers shortened by injury) entering the Hall in recent years, the door was opened.

In 760 games Lindros compiled 372 goals and 493 assists for 865 points, along with one Hart Trophy, one Lester B. Pearson Award, and was named to seven All-Star Games.

Internationally, Lindros posted 42 points in 29 junior-level matches and 34 points in 36 senior-level matches while winning two gold medals at the World Juniors (1990, 1991), a gold (2002) and a silver (1992) at the Olympics and the 1991 Canada Cup.

Sergei Makarov – Right Wing

Makarov serves as a reminder that it’s not the “NHL Hall of Fame” but rather the Hockey Hall of Fame, as while he did have a short but very good NHL career, his legendary status was established many years before that in Russia.

Simply put, Makarov may have been one of the most skilled players to ever lace them up but was a virtual unknown in North America before he jumped to the NHL in 1989. Makarov broke into the old Soviet Championship League for the 1976-77 season with his hometown Traktor Chelyabinsk before moving to the powerhouse CSKA Moscow for the 1978-79 season. It was in Moscow where his run of dominance would begin.

In 11 seasons with CSKA while playing on the famed KLM line with Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov, Makarov lead the league in points nine times (and goals thrice), was named MVP in three seasons and was an 11-time All-Star. What’s more, CSKA won the Soviet League championship all 11 years. His best year was likely his 1980-81 season, when at just 22 years old he managed a staggering 42 goals in 49 games. Before even suiting up in the NHL, Makarov scored 322 goals and 710 points in just 519 Soviet League games.

When Makarov jumped to the NHL with the Calgary Flames, he was more than just a curiosity to fans in North America, he was a trailblazer. Along with Larionov, Krutov and a number of other players, Makarov helped usher in the era of Russian players moving to North America, precipitating a boon of international stars joining the NHL’s ranks which would forever change the face of the league.

Makarov’s impact in Calgary was immediate, as he scored 24 goals and 62 assists for 86 points in 80 games en route to winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie at 31 years old. Here too Makarov would make an impact, as moving forward a rookie had to be under 26 years old to qualify for the Calder Trophy – the Makarov Rule.

His time in the NHL would last just six seasons (plus a four-game twirl with the Dallas Stars to end his NHL career in 1996-97), but they were productive, as he amassed 384 points in 424 games, very good numbers for a player on the downside of his career.

Another major factor which cannot be ignored when considering Makarov’s induction is his international resume, which is nearly immaculate. Makarov would represent the Soviet Union at 11 World Championships, winning gold eight times, to go along with a silver and two bronzes. He would also suit up for the Big Red Machine at three Olympic Games, winning two golds and a memorable bronze in 1980, as well as two World Junior Championships (both golds).

All told Makarov participated in 19 major international tournaments and went home with a medal after every single one. In 145 senior-level international matches Makarov scored 83 goals and 172 points.

Rogie Vachon – Goaltender

Vachon has often been overlooked for playing on a powerhouse Montreal Canadiens club early in his career that included Hall of Fame netminders Gump Worsley and Ken Dryden, yet a quick perusal of his resume shows why he belongs in the Hall.

After one season with the Huston Apollos of the old Central Professional Hockey League, Vachon joined the Canadiens for the 1966-67 season as Worsley’s back up. The undersized Vachon saw little action that season, until the playoffs where he would appear in nine of the club’s 11 playoff games before falling to the infamous 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Final.

The next season Vachon would split both the starts and the Vezina Trophy with Worsley, as the trophy at the time was given to the goaltenders on the team with the lowest goals against average. Vachon and Worsley combined for just 2.26 goals against per game for the Canadiens that season, the lowest total by any team in nearly a decade.

Vachon would win three Stanley Cups with Montreal, in 1968, 1969 and 1971. Unfortunately, the only year when Vachon was the Canadiens clear-cut starter, 1970, the club failed to make the playoffs, and by the spring of 1971 his role had been usurped by the glorious post-season debut of Dryden.

It is perhaps unsurprising then that Vachon, in an incident which in retrospect seems eerily similar to one which would occur nearly 25 years later, requested a trade from Montreal after he allowed four goals in just one period. His wish would be granted and in November 1971 he joined the L.A. Kings.

In Los Angeles Vachon would have some of his finest seasons. In six seasons as L.A.’s starter, Vachon would lead the club to five post-season berths and record a sub 3.00 goals against average in all but one of them. His best season was likely 1974-75, when he posted numbers very impressive even by today’s standards with a 2.24 goals against average and .926 save percentage while propelling the Kings to a club record 105 points and 4th overall in the NHL. Vachon would narrowly finish second in Hart Trophy voting to Bobby Clarke.

He set numerous Kings records, including most games (389), most minutes (22,922), most wins (171), most shutouts (32), lowest single-season goals against average (2.24) and most single-season shutouts (eight). Though those last four statistics would eventually be surpassed by current Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, there is no debate that Vachon was one of the club’s greatest between the pipes.

Internationally, Vachon made just one appearance for Team Canada, however he was instrumental in leading the team to the inaugural 1976 Canada Cup, playing in all seven games and allowing only 10 goals.

Vachon would retire after the 1981-82 season with 355 wins in 795 games and a career 2.99 goals against average, along with three Stanley Cups, a Vezina Trophy and three All-Star Game appearances.

Pat Quinn – Builder

While Quinn had a solid playing career as a mountainous defenseman with over 600 NHL games to his credit, he is being inducted into the Hall in the builder category for his distinguished post-playing career as a coach and general manager.

Before turning professional as a player, Quinn helped the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Central Alberta Hockey League win the 1963 Memorial Cup on a team which featured Glen Sather. He would bounce around the minor leagues for a number of years playing for such teams as the Knoxville Knights, Tulsa Oilers, Memphis Wings and Seattle Totems before finally joining the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 1968-69 season. Unfortunately the only highlight of his time with Toronto would be a dangerous hit delivered to none other than Bobby Orr, with whom he had a fierce rivalry.

In the 1970 Expansion Draft Quinn would join the Vancouver Canucks (a team with which he would cement his legacy further down the road) but he would quickly be on the move again, this time to the Atlanta Flames in the 1972 Expansion Draft. During Quinn’s time in Atlanta he would serve as team captain, but was forced to retire due to injury in the 1976-77 season after just 18 goals and 131 points in 606 career games.

Quinn would make the transition to coaching shortly after and was the full-time bench boss for the Flyers during the 1979-80 season. That year he would lead the Flyers on a magical run that included a Patrick Division championship, an NHL record 35-game winning streak and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final that culminated in Quinn’s first of two Jack Adams trophies as the league’s best coach. However, as the shelf life of coaches is generally short, Quinn was fired during the 1981-82 season as the Flyers faltered.

Quinn would then move to the Kings for three seasons behind the bench, but his time in L.A. is best remembered for when he was suspended from coaching in 1987 after accepting a bonus to become president and general manager of the Canucks the following season while still under contract to the Kings.

Unable to coach until the 1990-91 season, Quinn nevertheless joined Vancouver in a managerial capacity for the 1987-88 season. In Vancouver, Quinn would do some of this finest work as an executive, building a core that included future captain Trevor Linden, goaltender Kirk McLean, and, perhaps his most notable coup, snatching Bure in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft when many other teams thought he was ineligible.

Quinn moved behind the bench after his ban was lifted in 1990 and drove the Canucks to their first Smythe Division championship since 1975 during the 1991-92 season. For his efforts Quinn would win his second Jack Adams Award as top coach, one of just four coaches in NHL history to win the award with two different teams.

Quinn’s early success in Vancouver would culminate in the club’s second-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, when they were narrowly defeated by the New York Rangers in Game 7. However, a change in ownership eventually lead to Quinn’s dismissal in November 1997.

Prior to the 1998-99 season Quinn was named head coach of the Leafs, and true to form he lead the club to a large improvement in his first season behind the bench. Quinn’s Leafs made the conference final that year, and he was named a Jack Adams finalist for his effort, in addition to being promoted to Toronto’s general manager position, a role he would hold for three years.

In seven seasons behind the bench in Toronto, Quinn’s teams were incredibly competitive, regularly hovering around the 100 point mark, yet the club was not able to break through in the playoffs, with another Eastern Conference Final appearance in 2002 being the team’s most successful run.

In 2006 the Leafs missed the playoffs for the first time under Quinn’s tenure, and he was fired as a result. Quinn would have one more shot at coaching at the NHL level in 2009-10 for the Edmonton Oilers, however the team was moribund, finishing dead last, and he retired after being replaced by Tom Renney in the summer of 2010.

Quinn coached 1,400 games in 20 seasons as an NHL coach, leading his teams to 15 playoff appearances, and he had a career .555 points percentage.

Quinn also made his mark as a builder internationally for Team Canada. He coached for Canada in two Olympic Games, famously bringing home the gold medal in 2002, as well as a World Cup victory in 2004. He then coached Canada at the 2006 Spengler Cup, narrowly losing to HC Davos 3-2 in the final. Quinn also has two junior-level gold medals to his name, one from the 2008 U-18s and one from the 2009 World Juniors.

Quinn passed in 2014 and his contributions to hockey were honored by a number of NHL teams at the time. With his extensive coaching resume, two Jack Adams awards, two Memorial Cups (he won his second as a part owner of the Vancouver Giants in 2007) and a number of international championships, he is certainly worthy of induction in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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