Best Served Chilled

The selections for this year’s inductees into the ice hockey Hall of Fame are out and they’re a fine bunch. They have picked four players this year (they usually pick 3; 4 is the maximum for a single year). The selections are Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Scott Stevens.

Obviously, as a Devils fan I’m most excited about Scott Stevens. He captained our team to 3 Stanley Cup victories as well as the loss in the final against Colorado in 2001. When it came to the playoffs there were no prizes for guessing whose job it would be to try and stop the best attacking players on the other team. As well as his determination and effort, one of the things I always liked about Stevens was that as a hard hitting defenceman, he was pretty clean. He hit people as hard as anybody in the league, but he kept his elbow in. They were clean hits. Compare this with what we’ve seen in this year’s Cup final where Pronger picked up a suspension for knocking a player out with a cynical elbow to the head.

Ron Francis knows all about Stevens’ talents. I remember a few seasons ago when we played Carolina, and a particularly hard hit left Francis wondering what month it was. It’s a fine line the physical defenceman walks – one has to hurt the opposing players enough to put them off their game and make them think twice about how much they want to be fighting for the puck in the corners, but not to seriously injure a guy or leave someone with brain damage. A big mid-ice hit can give a team a boost, but if the player has to be carried off in a stretcher all the momentum is lost and the other team wants to win for their fallen comrade.

Stevens Played 956 games for New Jersey, scoring 93 goals and 337 assists. It is not known how many goals he stopped their opponants scoring.

As for the other players, Mark Messier was always known for his leadership skills as well as his playing skills. He gained the 2nd most career points (goals + assists) and won 6 Stanley Cups, including one with the *spits* New York Rangers. He said that somebody should make a jersey that is half Edmonton and half New York. I remember when Bourque moved to Colorado to win a cup, there was someone who had a half Boston, half Colorado jersey.

Ron Francis was a top-notch playmaker and had a reputation for being a really nice bloke to boot. I’m not someone who memorises stats, so I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that he is 4th in career points and 2nd in career assists.

Al MacInnis was a solid defenceman known for his hard shots from the blueline. A regular in the All Star competition’s hardest shot contest, in games he demonstrated that an effective slapshot needs a quick release to go with the power. I remember him from his days in St Louis, when either him or Pronger would be on the ice at all times.

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~ by yorksdevil on June 29, 2007.

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