Reyes: Flashing the Leather

Logo for Flashing the Leather column. - Graphic / Spencer Reyes

The Best of the Best

This past Monday, Nov. 14, the hockey world celebrated the newest class to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada. Six former hockey athletes had their names called and plaques enshrined as a part of the 2022 Induction Ceremony.

This year’s class was led by 49-year-old former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. He spent 16 of the 17 years of his career in a Senators sweater and played his last season in Detroit in 2013.

The sixth-round draft pick from the 1994 NHL Entry Draft made a big splash the following season when he won the Art Ross and Calder Trophies for having the most points in the 1995 season, as well as performing the best out of his rookie class. He has won both the Clancy and Messier awards in consecutive seasons after displaying great leadership for his team and was in the running for multiple player awards throughout his career.

Alfredsson was the first ever NHL player to score during a shootout and shined on the international stage for his home country of Sweden, helping their national team accrue two gold medals and a silver medal at the Olympic Stage.

Herb Carnegie is another player who was inducted into the Hall of Fame and spent his playing career in the Quebec Provincial Hockey League and Quebec Senior Hockey League. He scored 24 goals in 33 games in his rookie year and totaled 127 points in 56 games in 1947. Carnegie ended his 10-year career with 272 goals and 391 assists.

After his playing days were over, the Quebec veteran founded one of Canada’s first hockey schools in 1955, Future Aces, and was known for how well he treated young hockey players and helped fund their amateur careers.

The lone goalie of the class is Roberto Luongo, who was known as one of the top goalies of the early 2000s. He spent his 19-year career with the Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders.

Luongo holds the record for most games played in a season as a goalie (75), and the most saves in a season (2,303). He is second place in NHL history for career saves (28,409) and games played as a goalie (1,044) behind the greatest goalie of all time, Martin Brodeur.

Luongo joined Daniel Alfredsson as another captain to join this Hall of Fame class, when he became the first goalie to have that distinction in 2008. Luongo has two gold medals with Team Canada from the Olympics and has played for eight different Canadian national teams.

Riikka Sallinen made history when the Hockey Hall of Fame announced her name, as she is the ninth women to ever make it, as well as the third Finnish player in 77 years, to be voted in. Sallinen started her career in 1988 with the EVU hockey club of the SM-sarja league and finished in 2018 with the HV71 club of the SDHL, which is the same team she coached for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

The 49-year-old is the highest-scoring European-born player in the history of the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships and the Olympic Winter Games. She was able to earn these accolades despite missing two Olympic years and 11 World Championships. 

The Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, close out this list as the second and third picks of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. It all started in the days leading up the draft.

The Atlanta Thrashers had the first pick and made it publicly known that they wanted to draft Patrik Stefan, who played for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League. The Vancouver Canucks had the third pick and had said they wanted to draft one of the Sedin twins, but truly wanted both.

They sent Bryan McCabe, who they had recently acquired, and a future first-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for their fourth overall pick. The Canucks were worried that the Tampa Bay Lightning would take one of the Sedin brothers at the second overall pick, so Vancouver traded their fourth pick and two 1999 draft picks, allowing them to select the twins back-to-back.

Both players played on the team from 2000-2017 and played on the same line as a center and left winger. The Sedin twins dressed up for almost every game together, but Henrik played in 24 more games than Daniel. Each brother has made it to multiple all-star games, won individual player awards and got to spend their full professional career with each other.

Each of these players have truly earned a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. A committee of 18 former players, writers, officials and front office members vote every year on the top players in the history of the sport, and these six made the cut. 

The J-Rod Show Continues

Almost two weeks removed from the 2022 MLB season, MLB Network is in the process of announcing this year’s player awards, and this week started with the Rookie of the Year Awards for both leagues.

For the American League, it came down to Julio Rodriguez and Adley Rutshman. Rodriguez won the award, taking 29 of the 30 first-place votes and accruing 148 total votes. Rustchman finished in second taking the last first-place vote, and 18 of the second-place votes.

Rodriguez is the fourth Seattle Mariner in MLB history win the Rookie of the Year Award, and the second in the past three seasons after Kyle Lewis in 2020.

He started his professional career just five years ago when he was signed out of the Dominican Republic to an international contract. In 2021, Rodriguez was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, before he was sent to the Double-A affiliate, the Everett AquaSox, of the Northwest League. After half of the season had finished, he found himself on the Triple-A roster, just one step away from the show. After dominating the Texas League, he was selected to the American League roster for the Futures Game, representing the best of the best for players who haven’t made it to the majors yet.

He finished out the season with the Arkansas Travelers and made his debut on April 8 this season with the Mariners. 

Rodriguez finished the 2022 season with a .284 batting average, 28 home runs, 75 RBIs, 84 runs, and 25 stolen bases. He participated in the HR derby at Dodger Stadium, won the award for MLB Players Choice AL Outstanding Rookie, made the all-star game, won the Silver Slugger Award, and became the 9th player in MLB history win the Silver Slugger, Rookie of the Year and make an All-Star appearance.

There is definitely more to come from the 21-year-old outfielder, who signed a 12-year deal worth $209M this past August.

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