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The Hockey Hall of Fame will announce its 2020 inductees today. While there are a few question marks around exactly what that’ll bring, there’s at least one certainty: long-time Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla will be enshrined this fall.
After that, who knows. Marian Hossa has a good chance as a first-time eligible player. There’s also players like Daniel Alfredsson and Doug Wilson who have been passed over in recent years but have many supporters.
And then there’s Alexander Mogilny.
The Russian forward played 16 seasons in the NHL, scoring 1032 points in 990 games. It’s a points-per-game mark just shy of Gordie Howe’s, and ahead of recent Hall of Famers like Teemu Selanne, Mats Sundin and Paul Kariya.
Of course, Vancouver Canucks fans will remember Mogilny for spending four and a half seasons on some particularly sad-sack late-90s teams. Even then, though, the guy produced. After putting up 107 points in his first season with the team, he managed to hover around a point-per-game for most of his tenure with the Canucks.
But since retiring in 2006, Mogilny has heard radio silence from the Hockey Hall of Fame. So why would this year be different? In a word: Vaclav Nedomansky.
The Czech forward put up 253 points in 252 NHL games. Nice numbers, but usually not near enough games for the Hall. But he was inducted last year, mostly because his defection from then-Czechoslovakia in 1974 was a game-changer for swaths of European players who would go on to play in the NHL.
Mogilny, of course, was the first player to come over to the NHL from the Soviet Union in 1989. His journey inspired a whole host of Russian players of his generation like Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov to also make the leap.
But while Fedorov and his former Canuck running mate Bure have already made the Hall, Mogilny has had to wait.
So, does he get in?
We’re going to say yes. The Hall of Fame committee is known to be a clandestine, secretive bunch—they never give out their reasoning or show vote totals, even when the decision begs for it, like acting commissioner Gary Bettman being inducted in 2018.
But in the last couple of years, the panel has seemingly tried to right some wrongs while making a statement or two. Along with Bettman in 2018, Willie O’Ree, the first Black NHLer, was inducted (talk about overdue). And with 2019’s arrival of Nedomansky, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the league bring in Mogilny, in part because of the harrowing journey he took 31 years ago.
Again, it’s overdue, but probably better late than never.