Every month on the 28th we celebrate the career of Blackhawks legend Steve Larmer (#Retire28). He should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame and his number should have been retired years ago by the Chicago Blackhawks. My hope is that, someday, the committee that selects inductees for the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto does the right thing and recognizes what Larmer brought to the table and puts him in his rightful place among the game’s all-time greats.
When I look back at Larmer’s career, he was a goal-scoring phenom. Some people will say his numbers need to be considered against the generation of players against whom he played, so let’s do that.
From the first full year Larmer joined the Blackhawks (1982-83 during which he won the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year) through his final full season with the Rangers (1993-94), Larmer scored 427 goals. When we limit stats to that window of time, Larmer ranks tenth in the NHL. The nine in front of him:
- Wayne Gretzky — 609
- Mike Gartner — 498
- Mario Lemieux — 494
- Jari Kurri — 491
- Steve Yzerman — 469
- Michel Goulet — 452
- Joe Mullen — 446
- Dino Ciccarelli — 440
- Dale Hawerchuk — 439
What do these nine players share in common? They’ve all been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Larmer’s 56 game-winning goals in that timeframe are tied for sixth with Stephane Richer and Goulet, one behind Gretzky. Glenn Anderson (a Hall of Famer) ranks first, followed by Mullen, Gartner, Kuri and Gretzky.
He was great in all situations. His 159 power play goals rank sixth in that timeframe. Larmer also ranks 14th in that window of seasons with 23 short-handed goals. And his 54 short-handed points ranks seventh. No player from that window of time had that combination of short-handed and power play goals.
In 1987-88 Larmer had 11 short-handed points (including 7 short-handed goals). During the window of seasons we’re using, there were only 24 individual seasons in which a player had 11 short-handed points. And those instances came from an elite group of players: Gretzky (5 times), Mark Messier (4 times) and Lemieux (twice) were almost half of the total seasons. Some others: Sergei Federov, Yzerman, Paul Coffey, Denis Savard and Kurri are all in the Hall of Fame as well.
Only 19 players in that time window averaged a full point-per-game in at least 700 regular season games played. Of the other 18, all but one — Bernie Nicholls — has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He was a complete hockey player. He produced offense whether his team was on the power play or short-handed. And he made it count. If we’re comparing Larmer to his contemporaries, it’s clear that he should have been inducted into the Hall years ago.