Photo credit: Brian Bahr
As I was rifling through a few stories this weekend, one in particular by Avs beat writer Adrian Dater, caught my eye.
This year’s Hall of Fame ballot is filled with shoo-ins and recognizable names such as Brendan Shanahan, Mats Sundin, and former Capital Olie Kolzig. Dater used his article to wax poetic about one of my favorite players back in the day, longtime captain of the Avalanche, Joe Sakic.
Super Joe is on the ballot for HHOF inclusion, having retired after the 2008-09 season, and the 18-member HOF selection committee would have a hard time keeping him out I would guess.
Sakic and Brendan Shanahan are probably the two most likely players to be named in their first year of eligibility on a list that also includes guys like Mats Sundin, Jeremy Roenick and former Avs such as Claude Lemieux, Greg de Vries and Ken Klee (yes, those two former D-men are on the ballot).
Ken Klee is on the ballot?! How did this happen?
While Klee played in the NHL for a long time, by most accounts he had a pedestrian career. A ninth round pick in 1990, the Indianapolis, Indiana-native was at best a top four defenseman for the Capitals in his prime. He never had more than 30 points or 10 goals in a season, and was not particularly productive in the playoffs, tallying just 2 goals and 2 assists in 51 games.
In total, Klee scored 55 goals, tallied 195 points, and went plus-30 in his 14 NHL seasons. His most note-worthy accomplishment? 13 of his 55 career goals were game-winners, the highest percentage in NHL history. Klee, now 41-years-old, played nine seasons in Washington and retired from hockey in 2008-09, while with the Phoenix Coyotes.
But how did a guy who never got his name on the Cup or nominated for a major award get his name on the Hall of Fame ballot? This seems counter-intuitive. Like how flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.
The Hockey Hall of Fame explains their eligibility list as such:
The [list includes] only first-year eligible goaltenders that have played a minimum 500 NHL regular season games and first-year eligible forwards and defensemen who have either played a minimum 700 NHL regular season games or recorded a minimum of 300 goals, 700 assists or 1,000 points.
While Klee never got close to accumulating 300 goals, 700 assists, or 1000 points, he did play in 934 career games –an amazing feat for someone drafted so late and from a non-hockey powerhouse such as Bowling Green.
Longevity are Ken Klee’s legacy. That kind of durability is a rare thing indeed.
So yeah, Ken Klee is on the hall of fame ballot. There you have it.