Hall-of-Fame caliber players almost never spend their entire careers with one team any more. Nick Lidstrom will be next, followed by Martin Brodeur if he stays put in Jersey. But who would be next?
Martin Brodeur caused a stir when he told Star-Ledger reporter and THN contributor Rich Chere he would consider waiving his no-trade clause for the right opportunity.
There was buzz on the Internet and airwaves, but there wasn’t massive shock. We’ve come to accept, if not expect, star players, even greatest-ever types, to change laundry at least once in their careers.
In fact, if Brodeur stays put until the day he retires, he’ll be one of the rarest of exceptions: a Hall of Fame goalie of the modern era who played his entire career with the same franchise. The only other netminder of that ilk – one who played a chunk of his career post-1967 expansion – is Montreal’s Ken Dryden, who became an honored member more than 30 years ago, in 1983.
The other 11 on the list all had multiple fixed NHL/WHA addresses. (To save you looking them up, the roll call includes shoo-in Dominik Hasek plus Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy, Grant Fuhr, Billy Smith, Tony Esposito, Ed Giacomin, Gerry Cheevers, Bernie Parent, Jacques Plante and Gump Worsley).
As for skaters, the phenomenon is similar, though not as stark. Joe Sakic (2012) and Steve Yzerman (2009) are the only ones to accomplish the feat since Mario Lemieux got his plaque in 1997. That’s two of 43 in our sample group from that time span. Nick Lidstrom will join them in 2015, then, well, who knows?
Here, in order of likelihood, are eight candidates to enter the Hall having only belonged to one NHL franchise. To qualify for consideration, players must be at least 30 and be on target to attain low-end Hall of Fame benchmarks. Note, all have no-trade or no-movement clauses except Henrik Zetterberg:
1. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit. The Red Wings magician is a solid bet to ride his two Stanley Cup rings and three Selke Trophies into the Hall. And considering Detroit’s tradition of loyalty, he’s in the right environment to join the one-and-done club. Age when current contract expires: 38.
2. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver. With a Hart Trophy and Art Ross on his resume, along with two first-team all-star berths and Olympic gold, Henrik has a good shot to get in the Hall. A Stanley Cup would seal the deal. Age when current contract expires: 37.
3. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver. Daniel isn’t quite as decorated as his marginally older twin brother, but isn’t far off. His baubles include an Art Ross, the Ted Lindsay , first- and second-team all-star honors and Olympic gold. Chances are, if Henrik gets in, so will Daniel. Age when current contract expires: 37.
4. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit. Beloved in Motown among fans and teammates, Zetterberg has been named playoff MVP, won a Cup, Olympic gold and earned all-star honors, giving him a decent crack at the Hall. He doesn’t, however, own a no-trade deal. Age when current contract expires: 40.
5. Duncan Keith, Chicago. A key piece on two Cup winners, an Olympic gold medalist and Norris Trophy blueliner, Keith in inching his way into Hall-of-Fame territory. If he continues to play at this level over the next few years and adds more all-stars to the first-team nod he got in 2009-10, he’ll be a strong candidate. Age when current contract expires: 39.
6. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers. Lundqvist’s new deal might keep him a Ranger for life, but he has some work to do to secure Hall votes. He has won the Vezina once and made one post-season all-star squad. He also guarded the net for Sweden when they capture gold in Turin. Age when current contract expires: 39.
7. Patrick Marleau, San Jose. Marleau doesn’t fit the same profile as the aforementioned since his only major decoration is Olympic gold. No Cups, no individual awards or post-season all-star nods. But he could squeak in on the basis of longevity, in the mold of a Mike Gartner. Age when current contract expires: 37.
8. Patrik Elias, New Jersey. While he doesn’t have the typical Hall pedigree, he’ll reach the 1,000-points plateau, has two Cups and was a first-team all-star in 2001. He’s a long shot, but his credentials will match or exceed some players already inducted. Age when current contract expires: 40.