June 17, 2008

Larionov, Anderson To Be Inducted To Hockey Hall Of Fame

The Hockey Hall of Fame will be welcoming players Igor Larionov and Glenn Anderson as well as builder Ed Chynoweth and referee/linesman Ray Scapinello.

''The Hockey Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these four hockey legends as Honoured Members,'' said Jim Gregory of the Hockey Hall of Fame. ''Their contributions to the game of hockey are well documented and their election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is richly deserved.''

Igor Larionov was a no-brainer, and as far as I'm concerned he should have been in last year's class ahead of everyone but Mark Messier. He truly was 'The Professor,' one of the most intellectual players in the history of the sport. He is an absolute legend in Russia and Europe, transcending the game in his fight for perestroika freedoms. All of today's young Russian superstars - Ovechkin, Datsyuk, Kovalchuk etc - consider Larionov as a role model.

"It's very touching to know that I will be celebrating one of the top accomplishments in my hockey career by being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. So many great players from the 1900s to the current day are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. This truly is a great honour."

Now it is time to induct the rest of the KLM Line, too.

The great playoff warrior Glenn Anderson was also overdue. If you look at his playoff resume you simply could not deny Anderson admission.

It was interesting to listen to TSN/NBC analyst Pierre McGuire discuss Anderson's inclusion on Team 1040 radio in Vancouver. McGuire said it was no easy feat to get Anderson in this year either, suggesting two selection committee members worked long and hard to garner support.

Anderson is understandably excited, as he achieves hockey immortality along with old teammates Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr and Jari Kurri.

"It's a great phone call to receive from Jim Gregory," said Anderson. "It is an honour to go in and join many of my Edmonton Oilers' teammates, I know they have been very supportive, which means a lot."

Passing On Oates, Others - I'm a bit surprised only two players were inducted today. On one hand I'm pleasantly surprised, on the other hand I'm disappointed.

Today was a rare chance to clear the docket a bit. Apparently the line has been drawn on guys like Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour, Dino Ciccarelli and Pavel Bure, at least for the next few years. I would have thought consensus would have at least one of these guys met the Hall's weak recent drawing-line of guys like Bernie Federko and Clark Gillies.

I say a few years because there probably will not be a lot of debate about the Hockey Hall of Fame induction class of 2009. First time eligible players will include four shoo-ins: Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, and Brian Leetch. Eric Lindros and Joe Nieuwendyk are due up in 2010. And, if they retire this summer, Scott Niedermayer, Peter Forsberg, Teemu Selanne and Dominik Hasek are the likely class of 2011.

It looks like the only way players like Oates, Ciccarelli, Bure and Gilmour will get in the Hall in the next few years is if they purchase a ticket like the rest of us.

Tough To Get 75% Of The Vote - In order to get induction into the Hall, potential inductees must achieve 75% of the votes by the 18 member selection committee.

I can tell you from first hand experience that it is no easy task. A couple of years ago I was part of a group of researchers and historians who created the World Wide Hockey Hall of Fame. Essentially, we reselected the Hockey Hall of Fame.

It was surprisingly hard to lobby enough votes for some inductees. Some worthy candidates had to wait a few extra years. Others never made it.

The WWHHOF debate was and remains completely open to the public, with debates archived, and visible voting results. The Hall in Toronto offers no accountability no such transparency, so we don't know who were and how many candidates were eligible for the final votes. But I can assure you they, like us, suffered from political voting. Some committee members would rather waste their vote on a player they know does not have a chance to earn induction rather than give it to a more deserving guy who is on the bubble. Either that or the votes were split so that several deserving players were close but not close enough when the votes were tallied.

And I think that's what happened today. Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour, Dino Ciccarelli and Pavel Bure all have the credentials to meet the Toronto Hall's low standards. But they are also bubble players because of various drawbacks and warts.

I suspect all four of these players will get in one day, but not any time soon. Just like Glenn Anderson.

Enough about who did not get in though. This day belongs to those who did. GreatestHockeyLegends.com congratulates Igor Larionov, Glenn Anderson, Ray Scapinello and the family of the late Ed Chynoweth.

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