Hall of Fame talk used to be a lot more fun.
Since the steroid scandal of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s in Major League Baseball too many of the available player pool has been contaminated. Moreover, most if not all of the recent conversations about Cooperstown have sadly since been poisoned or worse, become too tedious to engage in. It’s joyless.
Bummer, because I used to love Hall of Fame talk.
In that spirit, I’m taking this opportunity to detour away from Cooperstown and across the northern border to a happier land, Toronto, for a little Hockey Hall of Fame talk. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce a topic and a candidate whose viability for the Hall has been on my mind since last postseason.
Bradley Kevin Marchand.
Remember Game 2 of the second round series loss to Tampa Bay? The Bruins lost that one but that was the night this thought first occurred to me. Marchand scored twice in a losing effort but after his second goal, some compelling historical team statistics started to pour in.
- Marchand moved past the great Bobby Orr (Hall of Famer) for seventh-place in all-time Bruins postseason points with 94.
- He tied Ray Bourque (Hall of Famer) for eighth-place in Bruins postseason goals with 36.
- He tied Phil Esposito (Hall of Famer) for second-place in Bruins multi-point postseason games with 29.
- He’s tied for eighthin Bruins team history with Bobby Orr and David Krejci for multi-goal postseason games.
That’s when the idea that Marchand could be a Hall of Famer first occurred to me. So I dug a little deeper.
Including the first five games of this 2021 season, Marchand has scored 294 goals in 10 plus years. In baseball terms, at 32 years old, Marchand is still in maybe the sixth inning of his career. A career where we’ve seen him steadily improve basically every year. Here are his seasonal goal totals:
- 2011 – 21 goals
- 2012 – 28 goals
- 2013 – 18 goals (but in just 45 games).
- 2014 – 25 goals
- 2015 – 24 goals
Here comes the big jump.
- 2016 – 37 goals
- 2017 – 39 goals
- 2018 – 34 goals
- 2019 – 36 goals
- 2020 – 28 goals (70 games).
Marchand is a two-time All-Star. He’s a one-time Stanley Cup Champion, participating in another two Stanley Cup finals as well.
He leads the NHL in playoff points since the 2017/2018 season with 52 points.
Additionally, he’s an International Champion winning the 2016 World Cup of Hockey / Canada Cup Championship.
- He scored the game-winning goal in that Championship Final.
- Was the tournament’s top goal scorer.
- Was a tournament All-Star.
Once I researched the most compelling statistics to date, I sought out some comparisons. Here are two to consider:
Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg. Played professionally from 1995-2011 (14 years in the NHL). Forsberg scored 249 goals (Marchand has 294 to date in 10-plus years). He was an otherworldly career plus-238 in plus/minus. WOW. He was a three-time All-Star (Marchand has two so far in less time). Forsberg was a two-time Stanley Cup Champion (Marchand has one to date).
That 2019 Cup. Ouch.
Here’s an old friend; Hall of Famer Adam Oates. Now we all know Oates was a pass first, assist machine, but just to underscore Marchand’s trajectory consider this. Oates played 19 years, scored 341 goals, was an All-Star just once and won no Stanley Cups.
And another thing… how many Hall of Fame players had to reinvent themselves midway through their career? Marchand has. He was a pest first, scorer second for a long time. A highly skilled pest, but a pest first for say the first five years or so of his career. Marchand has grown and so have his point totals and right now, he’s the best left wing in the game. He has been for a couple of years now in my opinion.
So you can pour one out for on-the-fence baseball guys like Curt Schilling if you like. I would have voted for him in each year of his eligibility if I had a vote by the way, despite disagreeing with pretty much everything he’s ever publicly said since his retirement. To me he’s an absolute Baseball Hall of Famer for his utter dominance on the field. Or you could pour one out for the steroid guys if you must. I’ll sit that one out.
No, I’m rather focusing my Hall of Fame energies towards the ice and that little ball of hate that the rest of the NHL may despise, but we all love. Love aside, we have another Hall of Fame talent in our midst and every game he gets a little closer statistically to reaching that hallowed ground.
You’ve got to enjoy that.