He was a good finisher whose particular skillset fit nicely on a great line with Savard and Larmer.
Under-rated? Not really.
He had his peak years in the highest-scoring 5-year period ever, and when you look at adjusted points, his 4 best years are 69, 59, 55, and 49 points. For a first-line player playing with two elite talents, not all that great.
When he wasn't playing with those two players, he never established himself as anything more than a 20-20-40 player from a 2nd line.
Could do two things really well - fight and finish chances. Otherwise, he was a very incomplete player who didn't skate very well, wasn't good defensively, wasn't a good playmaker, and was very injury-prone.
Better player than, say, Perry Turnbull or Paul Holmgren, or just better linemates/situation?
Statistically, when you look at his best years, they don't look a lot different from Neely/Tkachuk/Gillies/Shanahan/Roberts, but he wasn't close to as good as any of those guys.
i remember him as a poor man's cross between wendel clark and tim kerr, two guys with shortened careers one overrated, the other underrated. with secord, you split the difference and say he's rated about right. a really good role player with scoring ability, a guy i would love on my team-- my canucks have been missing sergio momesso since he left and secord is significantly better than sergio at everything he did well. but still nothing special in an all-time context.
Out of curiosity, what caused him to retire so young? I didn't follow the Hawks much back then.
He was 32 years old, which when you look at the NHL in general in 1990 is not rare to have retired at that time. A new flock of players were dominating in the NHL at this time, many guys Secord's age slowed down. Which leads me to the next reason, he just simply slowed down and wasn't the same player anymore
Secord was coming off his 54 goal season when a long term abdominal injury (torn ab muscles) curtailed him.
For someone who was a work out fanatic, that type of injury was freaky and speaks volumes about his mid 80's weight training style.
He played just 14 games in 83-84 and only 51 the next year before bouncing back with 40 goals in 85-86.
During their height, the Secord, Savard, Larmer line was great to watch and while it's true that playing with Savard hastened his ascent as a goal scorer, Secord's presence helped grant Savard ample room and time to make those spectacular plays.