Joe Nieuwendyk should make the Hockey Hall of Fame when the announcement is made on Tuesday. OK, I know many of you recall me making that bold prediction last year, when Nieuwendyk was not on the induction list.
I still don't get that. It was his first year of eligibility and the only thing I can figure is voters didn't want to put him in right away. I find that a bit ridiculous. He was just as much a Hall of Famer last year as he is this year. There was room for him to get in last year, just as there is this year. I think Tuesday will prove he's worthy of selection.
It's not difficult to make the case for Nieuwendyk. Check out this resume, which we also ran on this blog last year (there are a gaggle of hockey players very jealous of it):
* Three Stanley Cups with three different teams and in three different decades -- (Calgary in 1989, Dallas in 1999 and New Jersey in 2003).
* Few players were as clutch in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He played in 158 career postseason games and had 116 points, including 66 goals. He won the Conn Smythe Award (playoff MVP) in 1999, helping the Stars win the franchise's only Stanley Cup.
* He won a Gold Medal for Team Canada in 2002 and didn't win a medal with Team Canada in 1998 despite two goals in six games.
* Won the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year in 1987-88 with Calgary, scoring 51 goals.
* Played in 1,257 games for five different teams (Calgary, Dallas, New Jersey, Toronto and Florida). He scored 564 goals to go along with 562 assists for 1,126 points.
* He had two 50-goal seasons, two 40-goal seasons and four 30-goal seasons during his career.
* Was selected to the All-Star team four times (1988, 1989, 1990, 1994).
* He played 442 games for Dallas, scoring 178 goals and 162 assists.
What you don't see there is what Nieuwendyk did inside the dressing room of three different Stanley Cup-winning teams. Ask some of Nieuwendyk's teammates from that 1999 Stars team and they'll tell you that when Nieuwendyk had something to say, the guys listened. And his penchant for big goals at critical moments during that memorable playoff run got everyone's attention and showed his grit, determination and talent. It's why he won the Conn Smythe Award.
And it's those qualities, along with his impressive resume that make him a Hall of Famer. He's had to wait an extra year, but Nieuwendyk should get that phone call at some point on Tuesday letting him know he's in. He deserves it.