Sunday, November 21, 2010

2011 HHoF: The Case for Ed Belfour

ed belfour hall of fame
Here’s the third post in a four-part series examining which players should be selected for the 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame induction class. I’ve already made the case for Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros, and today’s feature will focus on a first-year eligible player that statistically ranks among the greatest goalies in the history of the NHL.

Ed Belfour didn’t take the normal route to the NHL. After playing junior hockey for the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, he decided to play NCAA hockey after going undrafted. In 1986-1987, his first season at the University of North Dakota, Belfour helped his team win the NCAA championship, which ultimately led to a contract offer from the Chicago Blackhawks. Belfour played one and a half seasons with the Saginaw Hawks of the International Hockey League before being called up to the NHL for the remainder of the 1988-1989 season.

Belfour played for five teams over the course of his career. Everyone remembers Chicago, Dallas, Toronto, and even his brief stint in Florida. But I’m sure most people have forgotten that he spent a unmemorable 13 games with the San Jose Sharks in 1996-1997 after the Hawks traded him when it became apparent they couldn’t re-sign him. I totally forgot. I remember it was bizarre seeing him on San Jose at the time.

Statistically, there are not many goalies better than the Eagle. Belfour's 484 career wins place him third all-time, behind only Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. His 76 career shutouts are also tied for 9th all-time. The only goalie with more who isn't in the Hall of Fame is Dominik Hasek and he certainly will be by the time he is eligible. He’s also fourth all-time in games played, with a remarkable 963, which is only less than Terry Sawchuk, Roy, and Brodeur.

His playoff statistics are just as impressive. He is fourth all-time in wins with 88, while posting 14 shut-outs, and a miniscule 2.17 GAA, accompanied by a .920 SV%. Belfour led the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Final in 1992 as a 26-year-old, but was swept by the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins. Belfour eventually won a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, best remembered for Brett Hull's controversial foot-in-the-crease goal.

Belfour won the Calder Trophy for best rookie in 1991, and won two Vezina Trophies for the league's best goalie in 1991 and 1993. He won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the goalie(s) that allows the fewest goals in the league four times (1991, 1993, 1995, and 1999).

And if you’re tired of statistical drivel and want to hear some opinionated flair, then you have to admit that not only does Belfour have two all-time great nicknames – “Crazy Eddie” and “Eddie the Eagle – but his eagle emblazed mask is one of the coolest of all-time as well.

He garnered the nickname “Crazy Eddie” through a series of off-ice antics which are generally pretty hilarious. In 2000, Belfour plead guilty to a misdeamenor charge after police subdued him after a woman he was with became frightened by a wasted Belfour in their hotel room. Allegedly, as Belfour was being transported to jail, he offered the police a billion dollars for his release. There are also great party pictures of him online.

When he played for the Leafs he was never very good at playing the puck, so I always used to refer to his trips from the net as Ed Belfour Adventures. It was always assumed that he had alcohol in his water bottle, which made his daring antics funnier to watch.

All joking aside, Ed Belfour is one of the best goalies of all-time. The last two players that I’ve argued should be in the Hall of Fame are more controversial figures. There should be no controversy with Ed Belfour. He’s a no-doubt Hall of Famer and he should be inducted this year without hesitation.


Ted Rigby said...

Can't argue with this. Eddie should be in there pronto. No diggity... no doubt.

Gorknak said...

The story of him offering the cops a billion dollars would be an allstar video on youtube if only it had been captured. Better yet, if it had been capture on Cops

Anonymous said...

No doubt the Eagle is one of the best of all time and deserves it. The HHOF is for playing hockey and he was one hell of a great player.

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