SAN JOSE The Hockey Hall of Fame welcomed one of its strongest classes in recent memory on Monday when Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe, Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour were enshrined in Toronto.
Should longtime Blackhawks defenseman and current Sharks G.M. Doug Wilson be next?
Wilson is perhaps the best blueliner to ever play for the storied Blackhawks franchise. He won the Norris Trophy as the NHLs top defenseman in 1982, and was named to eight All-Star teams in his 16-year career (seven with Chicago, one with San Jose). He was the first captain in Sharks franchise history and helped build the fledgling organization into what its become today, both as a player and in management.
And, his numbers compare favorably to one of the players enshrined this year in Howe.
In 929 career NHL games with the Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, Howe recorded 197 goals and 545 assists for 742 points. In 1,024 career NHL games with the Blackhawks and Sharks, Wilson had 237 goals and 590 assists for 827 points and is the Blackhawks highest scoring defenseman of all-time (779 points).
The Hockey Hall of Fame is known to look more positively on a player who has a Stanley Cup on his resume, but Howe, like Wilson, never got to hoist the chalice as a player (Howe has since as a member of the Red Wings front office).
To be fair, Howe did have a very distinguished career in the WHA before he even joined the NHL, playing mostly as a winger. In 426 career WHA games, Howe tallied a whopping 504 points playing alongside his father, Gordie, and brother, Marty with the Houston Aeros.
Wilson, though, has a very impressive resume since his playing days concluded at the end of the 1992-93 season. Hes put together a string of successful teams in San Jose, including five Pacific Division titles, since taking over as executive vice president and general manager in 2003. Hes a past president of the NHLPA, and has served on the board of the Canadian Hockey Association helping Team Canada to four consecutive gold medal wins in the World Juniors (1994-97).
He has one staunch supporter in current Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.
Theres a significant guy who should be considered. Hes won the Norris Trophy, and hes our boss, said McLellan. He had a hell of a career as a player, hes contributed from the players association side, hes now contributed as a manager. hes spent his whole life in the National Hockey League and has been elite in every position hes had.
Unfortunately for Wilson, it wont be any easier next year. Possible selections up for a vote include Brendan Shanahan and Joe Sakic all but automatic as well as Mats Sundin and Jeremy Roenick.