Joe Nieuwendyk was a winner. He won three Stanley Cup championships with three different teams - Calgary, Dallas and New Jersey. Plus he won an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in 2002.
In 1999 he was so important to Dallas' Stanley Cup championship that he was named as the Conn Smythe trophy winner - about as prestigious of an individual award a hockey player can earn.
That was not his only major award either. In 1988 he won the Calder trophy as best NHL rookie, and in 1995 he won the King Clancy award for his leadership on and off the ice.
Statistically speaking his numbers are also worthy. 564 goals and 1126 points in 1257 games once upon a time guaranteed a player inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nowadays a new standard is trying to be established, given the much higher scoring era of the 1980s and early 1990s.
Surprisingly, Nieuwendyk's career statistics could be a sticking point for some Hall voters. Injuries really slowed him, although he always remained a clutch player. He did not average a point per game. And his career totals lands him in a group of 1980s/1990s players who had similar statistics but are debatable Hall of Famers - players like Dino Ciccarelli (608 goals), Dave Andreychuk (640 goals), and a host of players who squeaked into the 500 goal club.
Nieuwendyk's advantages are his championships, his awards, and his impeccable reputation in the community - something the Hall of Fame definitely takes into consideration.
Knowledgeable hockey fans know that Nieuwendyk was one of those guys who brought more to the rink than any statistic can quantify. That might seem odd to say given Nieuwy spent much of his career primarily as a top marksman, but he was a complete player. Aside from chronic back injuries, he had no real weakness in his game. And he brought a lot to the organization off the ice, both in terms of dressing room leadership and community involvement.
In 2011 he was rightfully enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.