As with all things hockey, fans love to debate about the honoured members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"Bernie Federko shouldn't be in the Hall!"
"Who's Dick Duff?"
"Bob Pulford wasn't that good of a player was he?"
"Kick Harold Ballard out of there!"
These are all among the common cat calls when it comes to debating Hall-worthiness.
But aside from the Ballard argument, I think we should probably just leave the enshrined legends alone. You can't kick them out, and the Hall now has to decide how to deal with the bar it has set itself. After all, we'll have our debate cards plenty full with the likes of Eric Lindros, Dave Andreychuk, Dino Ciccarelli, Peter Bondra and Claude Lemieux in coming years.
There is an interesting study that was conducted probably 2 years ago now whereby 18 hockey experts got together and re-selected the Hockey Hall of Fame. The project was christened the World Wide Hockey Hall of Fame.
Project chair Morey Holzman got hockey historian heavyweights like James Duplacey, Ernie Fitzsimmons, Joseph Nieforth, Karl-Eric Reif, and Mike Wyman involved. He also secured the participation of Patrick Houda and Arthur Chidlovski, two of the leading European hockey experts, and for that matter experts in all of hockey.
For reasons still unknown to me, Holzman wanted me to be part of this project as well.
The project was of great interest to me, and resulted in some interesting discrepancies with the real Hockey Hall of Fame. The WWHHOF has inducted 128 members to date, whereas Toronto had inducted 232. Most of the differences were subtractions, of course. But we also inducted 11 players the Toronto Hall has negelected. Unlike the Toronto Hall of Fame, all of our voting results and debate are on record.
The process was fascinating, and I know it has resulted in a new found respect for selection of Hall of Famers. I found the process to be a bit political, and since we did it all via the internet I felt proper debates were never fully nurtured. Given that it was necessary for candidates to get 75% of the votes for enshrinement, I now realize just how hard it is to get a consensus. Since this project I'm not quite as critical of the Hockey Hall of Fame as I was, aside from the politics that somehow creep into just about every aspect of our lives.
The World Wide Hockey Hall of Fame is a continuing project, with 2008 inductions to be debated next year. Here is a list of nominees, keeping in mind that we have a 5 year waiting list for all candidates. In 2007 we voted in Mike Gartner, Michel Goulet and Sergei Makarov, along with Eddie Shore as a builder and John Marriuci off the ice.
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