By DAVID SHOALTS
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
TORONTO -- The 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame players' class is an interesting one - two artists, two plumbers and perhaps one with a skate in both camps.
Plumber may be a term that is a bit harsh when it is applied to Dave Andreychuk and Mark Recchi, but compared to Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya, who could bring fans out of their seats during their NHL careers, they were definitely blue-collar. Danielle Goyette, on the other hand, was one of the best players over a long career in women's hockey but was never one of the most spectacular.
Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and legendary University of Alberta men's coach Clare Drake in the builders' category. All five former players were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night along with Boston.
In the days leading up to the induction, there was some grumbling that, once again, the selection committee made it the Hall of The Very Good as opposed to the very best by picking Andreychuk and Recchi. Their achievements - Andreychuk is 14th on the NHL's career scoring list with 640 goals and Recchi is 20th at 577 along with winning Stanley Cups with three different teams - are impressive, but were helped along by sheer longevity.
Recchi is fifth in the NHL in gamesplayed with 1,652 appearances over 22 seasons from 1988 to 2011 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.
Andreychuk played in 1,639 games over 23 seasons, finishing in 2006 to sit seventh on the NHL's career list with six teams, including the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Lightning.
Andreychuk scored most of those goals (his career high was 54 in 199293 with the Leafs and Sabres) by parking his large frame in front of the net and converting feeds and rebounds from centres such as Doug Gilmour. Recchi did not have Andreychuk's size but matched him in work ethic in order to pile up those goals.
However, there is something to be said for players who can last that long in such a physically demanding environment and be consistently productive.
That in itself puts Andreychuk and Recchi above the ordinary, and when it's combined with more than one placing the top 20 in history, it is worth recognition.
Considering Andreychuk's background - he grew up in Hamilton, the ultimate working-class city - his NHL career suited him just fine.
"Both my parents, both steelworkers, installed the values I continue to use," Andreychuk said during his induction speech. "They were with me day-in, day-out."
As for his lack of flash, Andreychuk said, "Kind of slow at times, really slow at times. But as my final coach John Tortorella said to me, 'Slow, but gets it done.' " That kind of durability kept both Recchi and Andreychuk in demand for almost their entire careers. Recchi is one of just 10 players to have won Stanley Cups with three different teams. His first came in 1991 with the Penguins, the second in 2006 with the Hurricanes and his third in his final season, in 2011 with the Bruins. It is also noteworthy that Recchi, who must have had his skates on when team statisticians measured him at 5-foot-10, managed to thrive in an era when coaches preferred big players.
"I thought I'd be lucky to play five or six years, let alone 22," said Recchi, who stands 12th on the NHL's career points list with 1,533.
Andreychuk finally won his lone Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Lightning after going 22 seasons without one, which is an NHL record he holds along with Ray Bourque. But he was not some old-timer holding on to get that Cup. Andreychuk was the captain of the Lightning that year and one of the team's most important players with 14 points in 23 playoff games.
Kariya's career was cut short by concussions, but he still managed to play for 15 seasons, from 1994 to 2019, and had 989 points in 989 games. His best years were with the Anaheim Ducks, where he and Selanne anchored the most potent line in the league for several years in the 1990s.
Selanne was a force for almost his entire career. He exploded on the NHL scene as a rookie with 76 goals in 1992-93 and scored 684 times in his 21-year career to rank 11th on the league's career list.
"Teemu, I wouldn't get the chance to stand here tonight if it hadn't been for you," Kariya said to Selanne during his induction speech. "We will always be brothers, in this life and the next."
Kariya also thanked the long-time centre on that line, Steve Rucchin, "for doing all the things I couldn't do, forecheck, backcheck and go in the corners."
Dave Andreychuk is honoured for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame at Air Canada Centre on Sunday.
BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES
Mark Recchi is honoured for his induction into the Hall of Fame prior to a game at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday.
BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES