It boggles my mind that Slovakian sniper Peter Bondra is rarely, if ever, mentioned for candidacy for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Each year leading up to the induction ceremony, the list of potential candidates for induction is brought out. Maybe I am just not looking closely enough but Bondra never seems to show up on that list, of what usually seems to be mostly North-American born hockey players. Perhaps the biggest argument against Bondra’s induction is that he never won the Stanley Cup. Not to be immature, but – big deal.
Bernie Federko, Gilbert Perreault, Marcel Dionne, Borje Salming, Phil Housley, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates, Pavel Bure, Mark Howe, Mike Gartner, Rod Langway, Dino Ciccarelli, Cam Neely, Pat LaFontaine, Dale Hawerchuk, Peter Stastny, and Michel Goulet are all contemporaries (for the most part; they are all relatively close at least in terms of time period) of Bondra’s who are in the Hockey Hall of Fame but never won a Stanley Cup. Some of those players put up less impressive numbers than Bondra even, and are still in the HHOF.
Numbers. That magical word that seems to run rampant through sports right now with all of the analytics that exist today. So let’s talk Bondra’s numbers.
Peter Bondra put the puck in the net a total of 503-times during his regular season career. 500 has long been one of those magic numbers in the NHL game that are aligned with Hall of Fame candidacy. On January 10th, 2016 another incredible Washington Capitals sniper, Alex Ovechkin, became the 43rd player in NHL history to hit the 500-plateau. Bondra, who as a Capital himself tallied 472-regular season goals, was the 37th player in NHL history to hit that mark on December 22nd, 2006. In a 10-year time span, only 5 other players would make that number between Ovechkin and Bondra. It would seem then that total regular season goal scoring alone should be enough of an accomplishment to solidify Bondra.
Still not impressed? Then let’s look at how prolific a scorer Bondra was. The 1990s were arguably the last of the high scoring days of NHL hockey, when there were still regular 50-plus goal scorers each season. Peter Bondra, who was a two-time 50-goal scorer himself was one of the most productive of that time period. If you look at the seasons of 1990-91 up through 1998-99 and goal scoring productivity, you will see what I mean.
Adding up Bondra’s season-to-season tallies during that time frame, he found the back of the net a total of 316-times. Though not by very much, that puts Peter Bondra in fifth place out of most productive goal scorers during that same time frame; the most productive being “The Golden Brett”, Brett Hull with a huge number of 440-goals during that span. The ageless Jaromir Jagr, who scored 345-goals during that same time frame would be second place, while the only other players to out-snipe Bondra would be Brendan Shanahan with 335-goals and Luc Robitaille who notched 321. The others to follow, in order, would be Alexander Mogilny at 314, Teemu Selanne and Joe Sakic each at 313, Steve Yzerman at 301, Mats Sundin has 296, Dave Andreychuk with 290, Mike Modano at 282, Sergei Fedorov at 274, Mario Lemieux with 268, and Pavel Bure with 267. Hopefully I did not forget to include anybody in my tallying, but regardless, those numbers put Peter Bondra in great company.
Lastly, there are numerous other accolades that Bondra accomplished during his storied career that are worth noting. A gold medal at the World Hockey Championships with Team Slovakia in 2002, and a bronze in 2003; five NHL All-Star Game appearances (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999); the NHL goal-scoring leader in 1995 and 1998; and a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1998.
When looking at Bondra’s career as a whole, he should seem an obvious choice for induction into the HHOF. And if not an inductee, at the very least he should be one of those names in the mix each year that makes it difficult to vote who makes it in or not.