Why hasn’t Theoren Fleury made it into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Updated: November 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm by Ryan Pike

It’s Hall of Fame Induction Day today, as Sergei Makarov, Eric Lindros and Rogie Vachon join the elite group of male hockey players that have been inducted into the hallowed halls of hockeydom. Annually around this time, conversation turns to stellar National Hockey League players that are not yet in the Hall of Fame.

Most frequently mentioned by Calgary Flames followers: Theoren Fleury. Just 5’6″ and 160 pounds with his gear on, and besieged by horrible off-ice problems illustrated in his book Playing With Fire, Fleury nonetheless put together a tremendously productive professional career. So how come he’s not yet in the Hall? The short answer, it seems, is that his retirement had some awful timing given the other players who were eligible at the time.

To illustrate that, let’s look at the 27 male players that have been inducted instead of Fleury since he became eligible for induction.

Fleury’s Resume

  • 1,088 points in 1,084 NHL regular season games (and 79 points in 77 playoff games).
  • Won Stanley Cup.
  • Also won a Canada Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a World Junior gold medal.

Fleury never won a major individual trophy in the NHL. The players inducted since he became eligible in 2009 generally have better resumes than he does for a few reasons.

  • Higher points production, either due to longevity (more career points) or due to having a short, productive career (higher points-per-game).
  • More Stanley Cups.
  • More individual trophies.

The Breakdown

Player
Inducted
Points
Per Game
Stanley
Cups
Trophies
Brett Hull 2009 1.096
Longer career
2 1x Lady Byng
3x Goal-Scoring Leader
Brian Leetch 2009 0.853
Longer career
1 1x Conn Smythe
2x Norris
1x Calder
Luc Robitaille 2009 0.974
Longer career
1 1x Calder
Steve Yzerman 2009 1.159
Longer career
3 1x Masterton
1x Selke
1x Conn Smythe
Dino Ciccarelli 2010 0.974
Longer career
0 None
Ed Belfour 2011 n/a 0 1x Calder
2x Vezina
4x Jennings
Doug Gilmour 2011 0.959
Longer career
1 1x Selke
Mark Howe 2011 0.920
Longer career
0 None
Joe Nieuwendyk 2011 0.895
Longer career
3 1x Calder
1x Conn Smythe
1x King Clancy
Pavel Bure 2012 1.100
Shorter career
0 1x Calder
3x Goal-Scoring Leader
Adam Oates 2012 1.062
Longer career
0 None
Joe Sakic 2012 1.191
Longer career
2 1x Hart
1x Lady Byng
1x Conn Smythe
Mats Sundin 2012 1.002
Longer career
0 None
Chris Chelios 2013 0.574
Longer career
3 3x Norris
Scott Niedermayer 2013 0.586
Longer career
4 1x Norris
1x Conn Smythe
Brendan Shanahan 2013 0.888
Longer career
3 1x King Clancy
Rob Blake 2014 0.612
Longer career
1 1x Norris
Peter Forsberg 2014 1.250
Shorter career
2 1x Calder
1x Hart
1x Art Ross
Dominik Hasek 2014 n/a 2 6x Vezina
2x Jennings
2x Hart
Mike Modano 2014 0.917
Longer career
1 None
Sergei Fedorov 2015 0.945
Longer career
3 2x Selke
1x Hart
Phil Housley 2015 0.824
Longer career
0 None
Nicklas Lidstrom 2015 0.730
Longer career
4 7x Norris
1x Conn Smythe
Chris Pronger 2015 0.598
Longer career
1 1x Norris
1x Hart
Eric Lindros 2016 1.138
Shorter career
0 1x Hart
Sergei Makarov 2016 0.906
Shorter career
0 1x Calder
Rogie Vachon 2016 n/a 3 1x Vezina

Most of these guys have a bunch of hardware, both in terms of Stanley Cups and individual trophies. Out of the players with no significant individual hardware, all had longer professional careers (in terms of games) than Fleury and amassed more points. Sergei Makarov also has the historical significance of being a really great Russian player.

Looking Ahead

First-time eligible players for Hall of Fame induction in 2017 include Teemu Selanne, who’s a slam dunk, and Daniel Alfredsson, who has a strong case. Beyond that? Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk, Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick, Bernie Nicholls, Vincent Damphousse and Rod Brind’Amour all have more career points than Fleury.

How do they compare to Fleury in a wider sense?

Player
Points
Per Game
Stanley
Cups
Trophies
Teemu Selanne 1.004
Longer career
1 1x Calder
1x Masterton
3x Goal-Scoring Leader
Daniel Alfredsson 0.929
Longer career
0 1x Calder
1x King Clancy
Mark Recchi 0.928
Longer career
3 None
Dave Andreychuk 0.816
Longer career
1 None
Pierre Turgeon 1.026
Longer career
0 1x Lady Byng
Jeremy Roenick 0.892
Longer career
0 None
Bernie Nicholls 1.073
Longer career
0 None
Vincent Damphousse 0.874
Longer career
1 None
Rod Brind’Amour 0.798
Longer career
1 2x Selke

Based on electing guys with long careers with a lot of pretty good seasons but no super-elite years (Ciccarelli, Oates, Howe, Sundin, Modano, Housley), it seems like Fleury’s in tough over the next year or two of Hall of Fame voting. Selanne is a lock, while Alfredsson will likely be voted in, leaving just two spots for 2017.

Sum It Up

There have been stronger candidates for the Hall of Fame than Fleury for every year of his eligibility so far, and there are enough eligible players that have as good a case as he does for induction that the next couple years could continue to see Fleury get shut out of the Hall.