Alexei Kovalev retires: Is Hall of Fame next?

So Alexei Kovalev retired from the NHL yesterday, and already there is speculation that he should be a hall of famer.

Alexei Kovalev played for the Habs for a few years.

But is he good enough to be elected to the hall four years from now? I thought it would be fun to try and figure it out.

A couple of years ago, I said a hall of famer should meet most of the Stanley Cups, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons (ie- 50 goals), considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

So let’s see how many of these Kovalev hits:

Stanley Cups: He won a Cup with the New York Rangers back in 1994, and was actually one of the first four Russian players to have their names engraved on the Cup. He finished that playoffs with nine goals and 21 points in 23 games, which was third on the team.

Leadership: This all depends on who you ask. Some say he was great, especially in Montreal and in the playoffs. Others (such as me) believe he was more detrimental to the team, as he there were games he just wouldn’t show up for.

Better playoff performer than regular season: Yes, but just barely. In 123 playoff games, he had 45 goals and 100 points. Just like the regular season though, there were some games/series he showed up for, some he didn’t.

Individual awards: None, but he made the all-star team three times.

Great statistical seasons: None. He never had a 50-goal season, or even a 100-point season.

Considered a top player at their position during their career: No. He was once a second team all-star, but over his career, he was shadowed by Teemu Selanne, Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla Brett Hull and countless other right wingers.

Overall career statistics: He finished with 430 goals and 599 assists, for 1,029 points. So those are pretty decent numbers, especially since he played in the dead puck era.

International play: Won a world junior medal, an Olympic gold medal, an Olympic bronze medal and a bronze world championship.

Intangibles: Often called “the most talented player in the game,” usually preceded by “When he wants to be.” He had some sick moves, and opposing fans were always scared of him. And he was responsible for my favourite Darcy Tucker highlight of all-time.

In the end, Kovalev meets only four of the criteria. He was a decent player, but he wasn’t good enough for the Hall of Fame. Maybe if he wanted to be the most talented player in the game more often, it would be a different story.

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