Comparing Hall of Fame résumés: Pavel Datsyuk vs. Brad Richards

When trying to evaluate a hall of fame resume, it can sometimes be an exercise in futility. The powers that be have criteria that needs to be met and because of it, you’ll never truly know where you stand before your induction. 

In the age of analytics and ever-advancing ways to evaluate the game, the Hall of Fame is still something that’s a mostly confusing place to figure out how you get into.

Do points matter? Trophies? It is a pretty subjective process, but let’s try to break down Brad Richards’ and Pavel Datsyuk’s NHL careers.

Head to head

When looking at other players’ hall of fame credentials, points seem to be one of the main criteria when selecting someone to join their hallowed halls. Much like 500 home runs in baseball, 1100 points seems to be the historical mark to pass. Only a few players who have crossed that mark aren’t in the Hall of Fame and those players have only just recently retired.

Brad Richards is at 932 career points and Pavel Datsyuk is at 918 career points. Richards played one more year in the league than Datsyuk and obviously Datsyuk is continuing his playing career in the KHL. 

Do either of these players have a case? 

Richards has a Lady Byng and Conn Smythe trophy on his resume with 105 career playoff points, not to mention two Stanley Cups. 

He also has impressive marks that almost place him at a point per game in the postseason. 

These are good stats to have, but they aren’t meeting the threshold of current Hall of Famers. He falls just short in multiple categories and if he would’ve stuck it out a couple of more years, he could’ve been in consideration with ranking up his point totals a little higher. However, it’s likely he’ll be remembered as “very good, just not good enough for the HOF”.

Datsyuk has a multitude of factors that will come into play when considering his hall of fame status. The amount of individual trophies he has won is nearly unmatched in the modern era, and he was one of the best two-way forwards, if not the best of his era.

Four Lady Byng awards and three Selke trophies will forever be attached to Datsyuk’s name. But while both trophies are impressive, neither are for being a scoring forward… which is often what gets pushed into the Hall of Fame.

Additionally, he also won two Stanley Cups over his fifteen year career. 

He will have a slight leg up over Richards and every other player who’s  since his playing career is not yet over. 

The problem then becomes trying to count his KHL seasons. Should they be taken into consideration? We have seen a couple of Russian players make the hall of fame without ever playing in the NHL before, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

He did top 80 points four times and 90 points twice. But if the selection committee does feel like Datsyuk just didn’t score quite enough to get in, it could be a problem.

Will the selection committee take the way he left into consideration? He did leave for the KHL while still having a year on his contract, family concerns or not.

What about his archaic stance on homosexual people? 

Datsyuk outside of Detroit isn’t as universally loved as many like to think. He is “The Magic Man” still, but the sheen around his image has just dulled over time. 

The truth about these types of inductions, is that your impact with the media can be taken into consideration almost as much as your play on the ice. 

Datsyuk has ruffled a couple of feathers and because of it, could pay the price.

Conclusion

Neither of these players were ever the undisputed best at their position at any point in time during their playing careers. Datsyuk may lay claim to being one of the best defensive forwards of his generation but how are voters supposed to measure that? Maybe Corsi could come in to play. If either had a claim on being the games best at any point in time I could see the possibility of nostalgia getting them into the hall of fame. They both don’t have the cache to carry them, if Datsyuk is able to recover and be a player that can play in the KHL for a little while, he may be able to sneak in. For now, don’t get your hopes up.

(all stats courtesy of HockeyReference.com)