While as fun as the NHL All Star game was, especially because a Sidney Crosby captained and Wayne Gretzky coached team won the tournament, I still couldn’t fully enjoy myself to the fullest because of Friday’s announcement. It was all fun and games at the Microsoft Theater when the top 100 best players of all time got announced, but I found myself seething when Evgeni Malkin was not on that list.
It was certainly great to see former Penguins up there such as Super Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, but it blows my mind that Malkin was not amongst them. The top players from 2000 on included Sid, Alex Ovechkin, and then a number of Blackhawks like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. I have no problem with all of these players put on there, some don’t like the fact that Toews and Keith are on here, I do think their 3 cups in 6 years holds great value, but shouldn’t be the only measuring point.
In his career today Malkin only lacks the Blackhawks by 1 Stanley Cup, but also has 1 Hart Trophy (MVP), 2 Art Ross Trophy’s (most points in the league), a Conn Smythe (Stanley Cup MVP), and has more career points than all 3 of those Blackhawks. Any reasonable fan would deem that grounds for making the greatest 100.
Like I said the current players on the list I am fine with, but there has to be someone on there that Malkin has clearly surpassed by now. I seriously don’t know what more else he can do. Since when is (and yes I’m purposely saying them again for significance) 2 Cups, 2 Art Ross’, a MVP and a Cup MVP not enough? What earth are we living on? Some guys production doesn’t match Malkin, and just from the seeing eye test, not many players can take over a game like Geno does. I had never seen someone single handedly crush a series like he did during the 2009 playoff run, specifically against the Carolina Hurricanes. Couple years later in the 2016 Stanley Cup trip and Malkin was still producing at the highest level.
1 great thing that I love about Malkin is when he makes a claim to the media, he means it and also backs his words up. Going back again to that 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, Malkin said they weren’t going to lose in game 6 facing elimination versus the Tampa Bay Lighting and even doubled down saying they would win the next 2, which of course they did. He came back the next series and said he needs to play better after game 3, so what he did do? Went out and scored a goal to impact his team positively on the path to defeating the San Jose Sharks for his 2nd Stanley Cup.
These are intangibles that Malkin brings along with his already phenomenal talent. You can’t possibly tell me a guy like Eric Lindros should be in that spot over him because he had “great potential” for a little, meanwhile Malkin will exceed him in career points by next season. (Malkin 814 – Lindros 865). What about others on the list like Pat Lafontaine or Mats Sundin who have statistical force but no team or even individual accolades that come close to being mentioned with Geno. Were talking no Cups or even scoring titles, not 1 MVP, so I ask, what is the criteria we are going by? If it’s just by the talent/skill eye test or statistical dexterity, Malkin fits the mold for both of these deliberations. He can put a checkmark of capability in each box. I don’t see how some of these players could be put in over him, they’re definitely all great deserving players, but let’s recognize Malkin as the realest guy in the room.
Even if you still wanna go by the stats for those mentioned, Lafontaine’s 1,013 pts will surely be attained by Geno health permitting, and while he has a certain shot at reaching Sundin’s 1,349, the Toronto Maple Leafs great achieved that number of points in 1,346 games. Malkin’s 814 right now has come in 691, giving him a 1.178 points per game average to the 1.002 of Sundin. Geno’s points per game put him 14th all time, that’s ahead of Ovehckin, Paul Coffey, Jagr, Brett and Bobby Hull, and Ron Francis just to name a few.
I would rather go by viewing Evgeni Malkin play on the ice than by what his actual numbers are because I believe that too would get him in for sure. I don’t know if it’s because Sidney Crosby may shadow him in attention sometimes or that his fellow Team Russia teammate Alexander Ovechkin gets popular for constantly getting bounced in the 2nd round every year. How many more times does he have to outshine those around him or setup a scoring play with Phil Kessel on the power play before he gets rightfully celebrated! I don’t know what group of people made this list, I’m sure it was very difficult, but leaving Evgeni Malkin off was a glaring omission.