Late last week, it was announced that Kevin Lowe would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020.
Huh? is what I announced, to no one in particular, upon hearing the news.
First of all, I would like to make it clear that I don’t believe, in any way, that Kevin Lowe had a bad career, his career was obviously great, even if it wasn’t Hall of Fame great. Secondly, I do realize that judging defencemen, especially ones from Lowe’s era, by the statistics available at that time has its limitations, to say the least.
Having said that, this is true:
Kevin Lowe had one season in his career where he scored more than 25% as many points as his team’s leading scorer.— Corey Travers (@CoreyTravers) June 25, 2020
1989-90: 33 points (Messier led team with 129) (33/129 = 0.256).
Lowe’s goal-scoring peak was in 1980-81, when he scored 10 of the team’s 328 goals. His point-scoring peak was in 1983-84, when he factored in on 46 of the team’s 446.
Using Hockey Reference’s Adjusted Points, Lowe’s career high production (36 adjusted points) would have fallen slightly short of Oscar Klefbom (40, despite missed time) and Darnell Nurse’s (38) production in 2019-20, among Oilers defenders.
The real shame in all this, is that there are plenty of qualified candidates who have been passed over for induction.
Last year, I wrote about what the Hall of Fame’s standard for induction should be for forwards. I developed a statistic called Points Above Threshold, which is derived from the following formula:
Adjusted Points / (Games Played / 2)
Here are the top 20 in Points Above Threshold, among players who haven’t played since at least 2017, and are not in the Hall of Fame:
Among these 20 players, only Pavel Datsyuk is ineligible for the Hall, based on still being being an active KHL player as of last season.
For reference, Pierre Turgeon’s 668 PAT is the exact same number as Jerome Iginla, a slam-dunk selection from this year’s class, had in his career.
If I lowered the scoring standard to 200 PAT, and 50 adjusted points per 82 games played, but also looked only at players with at least 8.5 points shares per 82 games played, here are the top 9 most qualified Hall of Fame snubs (skaters only), plus Datsyuk, sorted by total career point shares:
These are the players that should be considered for the four Hall of Fame spots every year. I don’t mean to be negative about Lowe, but if guys like him (or Guy Carbonneau) are going to get in, that will keep more qualified guys out.
Lowe was a good player, and a part of some of the best teams ever. He won six cups. But, those are team accomplishments. The Hall of Fame is an individual honour, and without citing team accomplishments as his credentials, I don’t know what basis there is to consider Lowe to be a Hall of Fame player.