Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

February 8, 2007

TIM'S TAKE: Housley wowed us, but he’s not Hall worthy

COMMENTARY

Sporting a paisley tie and checkered shirt, Phil Housley stood at the back of the press box in a building where he never played a home game and received a hometown hero’s welcome Wednesday, complete with cream puff questions from the local media.

How could he not?

Where others have justly grown old, Housley’s appearance has hardly changed from the days when he spun top-like in the Aud, dizzying opponents as well as those leaning at the wall above the oranges with a cold one in a waxy SportService cup. Well-mannered with a cherubic grin, Housley is still a ringer for the kid that got Rick Jeanneret into the nickname game.

Wow-wee.

Housley even did the right thing after his two full decades in the league, which included eight seasons with the Sabres, heading home to his native Minnesota to raise four kids among family and friends. He hopes to someday follow in the footsteps of former teammate Lindy Ruff and coach an NHL squad, but insists he’s content for now as the leader of a high school team.

While Terrell Owens, Ron Artest and Tie Domi do jumping jacks on one end of the teeter-totter of sports likability, Housley has his heels dug in on the opposite bench, standing tall for those who deserve the adoration.

All of which makes it agonizing to clear my throat and say the following:

Phil Housley does not belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

With 1,232 points, he has more points than any other American-born player. That alone will get him in, even if it’s not the right thing to do.

Statistics are the simplest way to measure a player’s success, especially in an era where dynasties no longer stand proud and individual accomplishments are ultimately worth more coin than winning.

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