It all started with one simple statement made by Flyers great Eric Lindros during his jersey retirement speech.
“Johnny remains my good friend, and I’ll be honest with you, I think he belongs in the hockey hall of fame. Just saying.”
The Johnny that Eric is referring to is former teammate, linemate, and good friend John LeClair, who between the two, made up two thirds of one of the most infamous lines in all of hockey history, the Legion of Doom.
Of course, people are all going to take a step back and think, “Is Eric right? Does LeClair belong in the hockey hall of fame?” After a statement of that magnitude. Does John LeClair deserve to be enshrined in hockey history beside folks like Gordie Howe, Bobby Ore, even Wayne Gretzky? Why not at least look into it.
Throughout his career, LeClair played four full seasons for the Montreal Canadiens, about nine and a half with the Flyers, and almost two with the Pittsburgh Penguins. During his tenure in the NHL, LeClair registered 406 goals, 413 assists, totaling 819 points in a matter of 967 games. LeClair is almost a point per game player. Most guys in the Hall Of Fame are. So what makes him so deserving of a spot in the hall?
It’s pretty obvious if you think about it. Look at the WWE Hall of Fame. No, the NHL and WWE Hall of Fames are not similar, but the WWE Hall of Fame presents a unique argument. When you look up who their HoF consists of, you see names, of course, but you also see groups, tag teams. Names ranging from the infamous “Four Horsemen” consisting of Ric Flair, Arn and Ole Anderson, and Tully Blanchard. You have the Von Erichs consisting of Fritz, Kerry, Kevin, David, Mike, and Chris. Oh, and not to mention a team that shares it’s name with the Flyers top line that dominated hockey for a large part of the 90’s and into the 2000’s, the Legion of Doom with Hawk and Animal.
If the NHL would adopt a similar process that the WWE already has in place, what better way to induct it’s first line into the Hockey Hall of Fame than to put the entire Legion of Doom line in all at once? You have Eric Lindros, who is already a member, followed by Mikael Renberg, and the man in question, John LeClair. It’s an interesting idea, and maybe it isn’t foolproof, but it’s innovative and could get people talking. Quite honestly, Gary Bettman is no stranger to controversy to begin with, so why not go for it?
It’s tough to say who gets in and who doesn’t from a fan standpoint, even an analyst standpoint. Stats are usually the telltale sign that points to whether or not someone is deserving of a spot. LeClair’s stats are pretty good. He posted three straight 50 plus goal seasons, all in a row, and topped the 90 point mark thrice more as well. He had a stretch of five years in which he scored 40 goals or more, and in the same five years, never had less than 36 assists.
The thing that will all but assure LeClair’s spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame is the fact that he is American. No, there is no bias towards American’s, but he had great success on the national teams that he played on. He played 14 games in two years at the World Junior Classics, and put up 16 points. He played in the 1996-1997 World Cup of Hockey and put up ten points in 7 games. Between his two times in the Olympics, he scored 8 points in 10 games. LeClair thrived when it came to international play, and we all know that getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame isn’t all about NHL success, just ask Valeri Kharlamov.
Overall, LeClair has a pretty strong case when it comes to making it into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His point totals are stellar, and his international play is impressive. If that won’t get him in, let’s not forget that he was part of potentially the most dominant line in all of hockey, and then that might be enough to get in enshrined in hockey history.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports