There are many factors that attribute to the decision to induct a player into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Some are more obvious – their on-ice production and the awards they won for instance.
But other factors are more convoluted and have to do with the player’s off-ice contributions and the importance that they had on a team and their role within that market.
Patrick Marleau’s career thus far has a very high chance of being regarded for the Hall of Fame.
When he signed that contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs last Friday though, he changed his name to being just pencilled in, to being almost a sure thing that he gets his name and portrait on a pane of glass in that building on Front and Yonge.
ON-ICE PRODUCTION SO FAR
With the San Jose Sharks for the past 19 seasons, Marleau has put up 508 goals and 1082 points in 1493 games. That is one successful career and can already be argued worthy of the Hall of Fame.
He has reached to become just this past season, a member of the 500-goal club. The membership of this club is highly-sought after by so many players and is just another achievement to put forth as an argument towards whether a player’s career was Hall of Fame-worthy.
Only 45 players have reached it so far in the NHL’s 100-year existence. Of that 45, five are still active players today, and five are retired but have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Keith Tkachuk, Pat Verbeek, Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick and Peter Bondra all have surpassed the 500-goal mark, but have not been inducted yet. There is still plenty of time for these players to be inducted, and they likely will eventually.
All five of these players and Marleau have something in common though. They have never won the cup.
It arguably shouldn’t be considered in whether a player should be inducted or not, but is inevitably always. It is viewed as a player’s final triumph and they have proven that they have the “stuff” to win. All of that intangible stuff that Ovechkin doesn’t have, obviously.
Marleau has already had a successful career just in the regular seasons he has played, but winning the cup would be the extra push to make him cemented as a name in the Hall of Fame.
With Toronto, he has as much of a shot at having his name engraved on that trophy, as with any team right now.
Face it. If a player is exposed more Nationally, they have a higher chance to be inducted.
Being in Toronto for at least two more seasons, Marleau has the chance to expose more of his game and become more of a well-known player to more casual fans in Toronto. Popularity matters.
Also there is a clear – but unspoken – bias towards the Maple Leafs organization when inducting players to be in the Hall of Fame. The hall itself is in Toronto after all.
There is a reason why ten players from the 1967 Stanley Cup-winning Toronto Maple Leafs, are in the Hall of Fame. Winning the cup and playing in a massive market like Toronto.
I’m not saying that Toronto will win the cup while Marleau is here, but they again, have as much as a chance as any other successful team does. But if Marleau lifts the cup as a Toronto Maple Leaf, he is no doubt going to be on a pane of glass at Front and Yonge.
Without all that daydreaming, Marleau is going to be playing in Toronto for a significant amount of time and will be considered a member of the Leafs more than Brian Leetch, Ron Francis or Eric Lindros ever were.
He already has established a career in San Jose, now let’s see if he can make enough of an impact in Toronto so that he can start writing his speech as soon as he plays his last game in the NHL.