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MAKING A CASE FOR MARTIN

It’s time for Rick Martin to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame

Thursday, 10.11.2012 / 3:30 PM / Features
By Kevin Snow  - Sabres.com (@kwsnow)
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MAKING A CASE FOR MARTIN
The late Rick Martin will be immortalized in bronze on Friday night when the seven-foot high French Connection statue is unveiled in the new Alumni Plaza at First Niagara Center. But more than 30 years after his NHL career was cut short by injuries, one question still lingers: Does Rick Martin belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
Rick Martin (Photo: Bill Wippert)

The late Rick Martin will be immortalized in bronze on Friday night when the seven-foot high French Connection statue is unveiled in the new Alumni Plaza at First Niagara Center. But more than 30 years after his NHL career was cut short by injuries, one question still lingers: Does Rick Martin belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

The answer is yes.

Buffalo fans are well aware of Martin’s accomplishments as they pertain to franchise history. Martin’s 382 goals are second only to Gilbert Perreault; and his 695 points in the blue and gold trail only Perreault (1,326) and Dave Andreychuk (804). Although it should be noted that Martin collected his points in 156 fewer games than Andreychuk.

Drafted fifth overall by the Sabres in the 1971 Entry Draft, Martin is also third all-time in Sabres history with 114 power play goals, and second with 47 game winners. His 21 hat tricks remain tops in franchise history, as does his single-season record of seven three-goal games that has been matched only by Alexander Mogilny during his remarkable 76-goal season in 1992-93.

In his 1971-72 rookie season, Martin finished tied for the team lead in scoring with 74 points – a total that is still the team’s single-season rookie record. The 44 goals he scored that year also remain the most ever by a Sabres freshman. Martin finished second in Calder Trophy voting for Rookie of the Year that season, losing out to eventual Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden of the Montreal Canadiens.

Martin played four games with Los Angeles following a trade in March 1981, and concluded his 10-year NHL career with 701 points (384-317) in 685 games. His sudden passing in March 13, 2011, came just weeks after being reunited with his French Connection linemates at center ice on the night of Terry Pegula’s first game as Buffalo’s new owner.

Martin became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1985, following the mandatory three-year waiting period. There have been 76 players elected to the Hall over the past 28 years, and somehow he has not been one of them. While some of the inductees have been no brainers (Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman), Martin’s omission is puzzling.

He was named to four consecutive postseason All-Star teams: earning First Team accolades in 1974 and 1975, followed by consecutive Second Team honors in 1976 and 1977. Martin played in seven straight NHL All-Star Games, and was named the MVP at the 1977 contest in Vancouver. He also played for Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup, scoring a hat trick against Finland in the preliminary round. That Canadian squad is widely considered to be one of the best international teams ever assembled.

But when you compare Martin’s career numbers with those of his peers in the Hall, the snub becomes even more egregious.


POINTS PER GAME

When stacked up against all the left wingers that have been elected to the Hall of Fame, Martin’s career points per game average of 1.023 would rank third, behind only Bobby Hull and Michel Goulet.

PLAYER GP pts PTS PER GAME AVG
Bobby Hull 1063 1170 1.101
Michel Goulet 1089 1152 1.058
Rick Martin 685 701 1.023
cy denneny 328 333 1.015
bill barber 903 883 0.978


GOALS PER GAME

Just like his point production, Martin’s career goals per game average would position him among the top three left wingers in the Hall of Fame, trailing Cy Denneny and Hull.

player gp g gpg avg
Cy DenneNy 328 248 0.756
Bobby Hull 1063 610 0.574
Rick Martin 685 384 0.561
Michel Goulet 1089 548 0.503
luc robitaille 1431 668 0.467




COMPARABLES

To put Martin’s career numbers into further perspective, we’ve compared him to a pair of wingers from his era that are in the Hall of Fame: Bill Barber (elected in 1990) and Steve Shutt (1993). Barber played his entire 12-year career in Philadelphia from 1972-84; Shutt spent 14 years in the NHL from 1972-85, playing 871 of his 930 games with the Montreal Canadiens.

Here’s a side-by-side look at the three using career offensive numbers, top goal seasons and postseason All-Star selections as a comparison.

MULTIPLE GOAL SEASONS ALL-STAR SELECTIONS
player gp g a pts 30+ 40+ 50+ 1st 2nd
martin 685 384 317 701 3 3 2 2 2
barber 903 420 463 883 4 4 1 1 2
shutt 930 424 393 817 5 3 1* 1 2
(*Shutt’s only season of 50 or more goals was a 60-goal campaign in 1976-77.)


Besides career length, the biggest difference among the three is the teams they played on. Shutt won four straight Cups with the firewagon Canadiens from 1976-79, playing on teams that regularly scored over 300 goals per season. Barber and his Broad Street Bullies took home Lord Stanley in 1974 and 1975, and also made two other Finals appearances (1976, 1980). Martin’s Sabres only made one trip to the Finals, losing to the Flyers in 1975.

MODERN DAY COMPARISON

To take Martin’s career one step further, we’ve compared him to 2005 Hall inductee Cam Neely. Similar to Martin, Neely’s 13-year career (1983-96) was prematurely derailed by injuries. Although the two played different styles, their career totals are very similar.

multiple goal seasons averages
PLAYER GP G A PTS 30+ 40+ 50+ PPG GPG
MARTIN 685 384 317 701 3 3 2 1.023 0.561
NEELY 726 395 299 694 2 1 3 0.956 0544.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82