Patrik Elias is not a Hall of Famer. I'm sorry, but he's not. He is a Devils icon and he deserves to have his jersey retired. If the Devils ever decide to install a team Hall of Fame at the Prudential Center, Elias should be one of the inaugural members. But Elias is not a Hall of Famer.
Admittedly, this is a bit of a staunch view and I openly admit that when it comes to Halls of Fame, I have strict standards that I believe should be followed. In fact, if, for some reason currently beyond my grasp, someone grants me the right to vote someone into a Hall of Fame, be it local, national or international, I will likely be one of those ridiculed for being a hardass. But that doesn't change the fact that Elias is not a Hall of Famer.
Yes, Elias' 366 career goals are already has more current HOFers Adam Oates, Rocket Richard and Bobby Clarke. Yes, by the time he's done, he very likely will have passed Cam Neely and Ted Lindsay and will also probably finish with more goals than fellow HOF candidates Paul Kariya, Eric Lindros and Markus Naslund. If you conservatively estimated Elias were to finish with an additional 100 points over the remainder of his career (considering he hopes to play another two to three years after this one), his 1,016 career points would carry him into the upper stratosphere of the NHL record books. We're talking Pat LaFontaine three points below and Dale Hunter four points above -- and that's with only 100 more points.
I understand that Elias should finish his NHL career with 400-plus goals, 600-plus assists and 1,000-plus points. Those are incredibly difficult numbers to dispute. But numbers are not at the crux of my argument. Dominance is. Greatness is.
When you look at the guys I mentioned above, guys like Kariya, Lindros, Naslund and LaFontaine -- those players were dominant forces in the NHL. Those players were among the greatest at their position on a nightly basis for 80 percent of their careers. Did you ever watch Elias play, no matter how sublime and truly wonderful his game can be, and say, "That is one of the three or four best players at his position, bar none." No, you probably didn't. That, to me, is what the Hall of Fame is about. It's about the smell test or the eye test or however else you want to brand the "test." When you look at a player over a five to six year stretch of their prime and are able to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that player will be remembered in 15, 20, 30 years as one of the best to every play the game. And Elias just doesn't pass that test.
Patrik Elias may be the greatest left wing in Devils history, but when measured against the greatest left wings to ever play the game, he falls short. He is the shining example of the "Hall of Very Good."
Not that there's anything wrong with that...