Toronto Maple Leafs: Deciding the Hall of Fame Fate for Jason Spezza

Toronto Maple Leafs - Jason Spezza (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Jason Spezza (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Toronto Maple Leafs player, Jason Spezza, has had an incredible career but was it good enough to earn him a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a roster that’s full of stars.

On a given night, any of them could play the hero. Though as deep as they are in talent, only a select number of them will even get significant consideration to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Already working in the organization is one Hall of Fame player, Brendan Shanahan. He oversees daily operations as the team’s president and alternate governor.

Time will tell which of his current players should be joining him and enshrined in the Hall with the best the game has ever produced. Should Jason Spezza be one of them?

The Hockey Hall of Fame should be reserved for the elite of the elite. That doesn’t mean that every All-Star level player should have their name etched into history. Instead, the honour should be reserved for those who stood well above their peers when they played the game.

Jason Spezza

Jason Spezza joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in the offseason looking to finish his career in his hometown of Toronto.

Though his year had a rocky start thanks to the treatment he received from coach Mike Babcock, Spezza managed to rebound well.

This season, while playing mostly on the fourth line, he managed to put up very respectable numbers. In 58 games Spezza popped in nine goals and added 16 helpers for a total of 25 points. He did this while only playing with an average ice time of 10 minutes and 50 seconds. (All stats 

Before joining the Leafs, Spezza was an exceptional player. He played an all-around strong game with an ability to score goals and set up his teammates. Despite an impressive career, Spezza is not a Hall of Fame player.

For his career, Spezza played 1123 games over 17 years in the NHL. He had 940 points over that span which included 341 goals and 599 assists. Impressively, 52 of those goals were game-winners.

His numbers are slightly better than a player who is already in the HOF, Eric Lindros. The Big E recorded 372 goals and 493 assists for a total of 865 points. 46 of his goals were game-winners.

The difference is that Lindros put his total together through far fewer games. He played 760 games over 13 years in the league.

Spezza’s achievements aren’t jaw-dropping. The second overall pick from the 2001 NHL Entry Draft has managed to do great things on the ice and has been rewarded for it, but he will be remembered as “excellent”, not “elite”.

Spezza has only made two All-Star teams. He was named to them in 2008 and 2012. He finished both those seasons with 34 goals for the Ottawa Senators. That wasn’t even the best total on his own team.

In 2008, Dany Heatly scored 41 goals and Daniel Alfredsson had 40. In 2012, Milan Michalek was the team’s goal-scoring leader with 35. However, Spezza did manage to finish both those seasons with the most points for the Senators.

Those two seasons were Spezza’s best relative to his peers. They were his only two years where he finished in the top ten in NHL scoring. In 2008 he came sixth in the league with 92 points and in 2012 he had fewer points with 84 but managed to finish fourth overall.

The highest Spezza ever finished on the points per game leaderboard was fourth. He did that in 2006 with a rate of 1.32 points per game. He had 90 points in 68 games. If he were able to sustain that level of play, this would be a far different argument.

Winning the Stanley Cup isn’t a good measure for determining who should be in the Hall of Fame. That’s good for Spezza because it’s an award that has eluded the centerman. He did, however, capture the Les Cunningham Award as league MVP in the AHL when the NHL was in a lockout.

The most team success that Spezza ever saw was in international play. He won a gold and two silver medals at the World Championships, a silver and two bronze medals at the World Junior Championships, and a gold at the Spengler Cup.

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While there’s no doubt that Spezza has had a great career, unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough to propel him into the Hockey Hall of Fame.