Today the NHL will announce their 2019 Hall of Fame inductees. Ex-New York Islanders Pierre Turgeon deserves a call.
It was 1985 and New York Islanders owner John Pickett, once a savior for the franchise, had moved to Florida. The now absentee owner ran a tight ship through the late ’80s, and early 90’s pressuring the late great GM Bill Torrey to make decisions that would ultimately harm the team.
Islander fans had little time to relish the Dynasty. Almost immediately, the organization embarked on a nearly 30-year ride of dysfunction.
The Isles would miss the playoffs three times from 1988-91; their only appearance in 1990 an embarrassing opening round loss to the Rangers in five games.
Further, the lucrative cable deal that would keep the team afloat was generating millions in profits; Profits that flowed directly to Pickett’s account rather than improving personnel.
Homegrown star Pat Lafontaine had had enough. In 1990 Lafontaine missed most of training camp due to a contract dispute and the following season chose not to report at all.
With no resolution in sight, Torrey traded Lafontaine, Randy Wood and Randy Hillier to Buffalo in exchange for Pierre Turgeon, Uwe Krupp, Benoit Hogue, and Dave McLlwain. That same day Torrey sent Brent Sutter and Brad Lauer to the Hawks for Adam Creighton and Steve Thomas.
It was Billy Bowtie’s final gift to the franchise as these trades would make the Islanders competitive in 92 and 93. Exasperated by the thriftiness of ownership, Torrey resigned at the end of 1991 season, took a year off and then went on to manage the Florida Panthers for another eight years.
Replacing Lafontaine was not going to be an easy task for Pierre Turgeon.
Blessed with talent Turgeon had been labeled an inconsistent underachiever. And even with his 87 points in 1991, New York Islanders fans were not quick to forget Lafontaine. However, Pepe had never played for a coach like Al Arbour before. He exploded in 1992-93 with 132 points and led the Isles to the playoffs until a career impacting hit from Dale Hunter ended his run.\
Case for the Hall
Turgeon has been eligible for the Hall nine times and has never received a call. He averaged over a point per game over his 19-year career, Turgeon is the league’s 32nd overall scorer with 1,327 total points. Though he never won a Cup, Pierre nearly kept his PPG pace in the playoffs with 97 in 109 games played.
He went to five all-star games and won the Lady Byng in 1993.
For statistical comparables look no further than Mike Gartner. Gartner received Hall of Fame induction in his first year of eligibility despite never being to a Stanley Cup Final and scoring 1,335 points in nearly 150 more games than Turgeon.
For those who never got to see Turgeon, he was a pleasure to watch.
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Think John Tavares. Turgeon was less physical without the puck but faster, craftier behind the net, with a better shot, and better in almost every skill category.
It is grave injustice that he is not in the Hall, and Turgeon deserves the call.