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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

How the heck is Gary Suter not in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

On Monday, the Hockey Hall of Fame will announce the 2022 inductee class. The most impressing bit of business for Calgary Flames fans has been taking care of, as Jarome Iginla was inducted as part of the 2020 inductee class.

But who should be the next Flames alumni invited into hockey’s hallowed grounds?

We seem to discuss Theo Fleury every year. And honestly, for good reason: he’s got good numbers. By his numbers, he’s probably a borderline Hall of Famer – he’s a pretty close comparable to Steve Larmer, who has good numbers and is also not in the Hall. On the goaltending side, Mike Vernon and Curtis Joseph both had long and decorated careers but remain on the outside looking in.

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(And since beloved long-time former Flame Jaromir Jagr is still active in Czechia, he’s not Hall of Fame eligible yet.)

But folks, let’s talk about another former Flame: Gary Suter.

A ninth-round pick in the 1984 NHL Draft, Suter impressed at the University of Wisconsin (go Badgers!) and signed with the Flames a year after being drafted.

Once he went pro, Suter really found a comfort zone and was a big contributor for the Flames from the get-go. He was a fixture for the club from 1985-86 through 1993-94, breaking the 60 point plateau six times and breaking the 80 point mark twice – his offensive peak was 91 points in 1987-88. He was a great regular season player, but had horrible injury luck that saw him knocked out of both the 1986 and 1989 Stanley Cup Final runs. He received a ring for the 1989 win, but was limited to just five playoff games that year.

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Suter was traded to Hartford in 1994, and traded by the Whalers to Chicago the following day. He spent another eight seasons in the NHL, split between Chicago and San Jose. He never quite hit the heights he did with the Flames with either the Blackhawks or Sharks, but he was consistently good.

Was Suter good? Yes. Did he have longevity? Yes. And the combination of success and longevity have made him a really good Hall of Fame contender. He’s 14th all-time in points by a defenceman; the 13 players ahead of him are all in the Hall of Fame. Among defencemen who have played 1,000 games or more, he’s 10th in points per game. The nine guys ahead of him are all in the Hall of Fame.

The big knocks on Suter are that he never won the Norris Trophy, but he’s got a Calder Trophy to his name. He also never had a signature playoff performance the way some more prominent defenders had. But if you can get past those two factors, he boasts a resume chock full of strong seasons, and he was a really important player for a lot of really good Flames teams in the ’80s and ’90s.

He’s not a slam-dunk inductee, but Suter definitely deserves serious consideration.

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