Hall of Fame crop (cont.)
A three-time 50-goal scorer (and two-time 40-goal man), the American-born LeClair was an elite power forward with Montreal, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, winning a Cup with the Canadiens in 1993. His greatest years were with the Flyers on the famed Legion of Doom line with Lindros and Mikael Renberg. It was in Philadelphia that LeClair became the first American-born player to score 50 goals in three consecutive seasons. Critics will claim that he rode the coattails of Lindros and Renberg, but LeClair scored two overtime goals in Montreal's surprising run to the 1993 Cup and was considered clutch around the net when the game was on the line. His lack of speed limited his game somewhat and he was sometimes criticized for not using his size to the Flyers' physical advantage. In terms of perception, LeClair is considered to be a good-to-very good player, but shy of great in his overall numbers (406 goals in 967 regular season games and 89 points in 154 playoff games). That puts his chance this year at about a 3.
He's a two-time 50-goal scorer and one of 41 NHLers to enter the 500 goals club, but his overall lack of playoff success and leadership skills works against him. Likely a 2 this time around.
The first overall pick in 1987, Turgeon piled up points in Buffalo, Long Island, Montreal, St. Louis, Dallas and Colorado, but also constantly battled a reputation for not knowing how to win or even perform in big games. He scored 1,327 points in 1,294 regular season matches, but never won a Cup and he often struggled in the playoffs and with what was expected of him. Rating this year is a 2.
Pavel Bure: a prolific goal-scorer, but he never endeared himself to the NHL in part because of his me-first attitude and some dubious off-ice dealings.
Doug Gilmour: a former teammate of Andreychuk in Toronto where he won accolades as one of the all-time great Leafs because of his penchant for playing beyond his size.
Tom Barrasso: a two-time Cup winner with Pittsburgh and both the Calder and Vezina Trophy-winner as an 18-year-old netminder with the Sabres.
Guy Carbonneau: a Canadiens standout for his faceoff, penalty-killing skills, he won the Selke Trophy three times as the league's best defensive forward and was a mainstay on Montreal's 1986 and 1993 Cup teams. He later won a third Cup with Dallas in 1999.
Phil Housley: Like Barrasso, he was a teenage sensation when he broke in with Buffalo in 1982. Housley went on to play 21 seasons as one of the league's better offense-oriented defensemen, scoring 338 goals and 1,232 points (fourth all-time).
All are considered longshots, but Gilmour has a following among some voters, and though it's likely to be an emotional vote, former Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Bruins and Devils coach Pat Burns has a shot in the Builders category. Burns won a Cup with the Devils, improved every team he coached, and three times won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. Give him a 4.
It often takes awhile, but no one could ever accuse New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello of not taking care of one of his own. Lamoriello on Thursday named John MacLean his head coach for the 2010-11 season. The GM has passed over this loyal soldier numerous times, but it always seemed to be with MacLean's best interest in mind. In getting him the time he needed to become a functioning head coach, Lamoriello also gave MacLean a necessary opportunity to prepare for success. Time in the AHL (after years as an NHL assistant with the Devils) was likely time well-spent. MacLean led the Lowell Devils to a franchise-best 39-31-4-6 record last season, including its first playoff spot in four years. One could make the case that MacLean wasn't ready the first few times his name came up as a possible coach for the NHL Devils. It would be darnn near impossible to make that argument any longer...
A tip of the proverbial hat to Cam Neely, the former premier power forward who put time into learning how to be a hockey executive. This week, Neely was named President of the Bruins. To many, it's a title without a lot of clout, given how owner Jeremy Jacobs keeps a close hand on the tiller of the Bruins' operations not to mention their corporate wallet, but I expect Neely to be his own man and fight the battle of direction and budget with Jacobs and the hockey department. Neely was that way as a player and it's not likely he'll change...
And to that we'll add a heartfelt goodbye to Mike Ramsey who has stepped down as an assistant coach with his home state Minnesota Wild. Seems like only yesterday that he was a teenaged defenseman with the Team USA squad that won the historic Olympic gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. His stellar career also included a stint as an outstanding NHL defenseman -- runs with Pittsburgh and Detroit just missed getting his name on the Stanley Cup -- and as an assistant coach with Buffalo. He left the Wild of his own accord in order to devote more time to family.
"I've been in the game for 30 years now, and I've been with the Wild for 10," Ramsey said. "It's been an awesome 10 years, and at the end of the year, you start reflecting on all the things you've done with the team and the time you spent at the rink, and the travel, and this and that. Going forward, I thought it was a good time for me to step down and pursue other things."
He will be missed.