November 05, 2009

Hockey Hall of Fame: The Class of 2010?

The Hockey Hall of Fame is readying to welcome five new legends to it's hallowed halls this weekend - Brett Hull, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille and Steve Yzerman and builder Lou Lamoreillo.

While the hockey world is about to celebrate these five greats, the debate has already begun as to who should be included in the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2010.

For the first time in a while there may be no obvious choice amongst the first year candidates. Perhaps this will allow for some of the huge backlog of players who have been waiting for inclusion in the past few years? It certainly will make for fascinating debate.

First, let's take a look at the players who will be gaining their first year of eligibility. Players must be retired from professional hockey (including outside of the NHL) for three seasons before they can be considered for enshrinement.

Eric Lindros - Debate over Lindros' inclusion will be highly controversial, much like several other incidents in his career.

He was hailed as The Next One, but injuries prevented him from ever fulfilling his destiny. Right from the start of his NHL career, when he refused to play for the Quebec Nordiques, a lot of fans despised Lindros. His strong-headed ways (concussions notwithstanding) did not win him a lot of friends in the media or even parts of the hockey community either.

But when he was healthy he was a dominant force, with interval statistics that challenged the best in history. He was one of the best if not the best player in hockey, although it is hard to find people with objective enough minds to agree.

Lindros belongs in the Hall of Fame. Even Bobby Clarke, his biggest enemy, said so. But I suspect the Hall will make him wait.

John Leclair - Lindros' running mate put up some great numbers in the 1990s. With Lindros missing a lot of time with injuries, Leclair proved he was more than just a side kick. Leclair won't get in this year. I would not object to him being include at some stage down the road, but for now he will have to wait in line with a long list of deserving backlogged candidates.

Joe Nieuwendyk - Nieuwendyk was a big game player who is very highly respected by everyone. That may help him get in one day, but again I think 2010 is the year we see passed over candidates get their chance.

Peter Bondra - He will not get a lot of support, but I actually think Peter Bondra should be in the Hall, though not this year necessarily. He was a consistent goal scoring threat during the dead puck era. But he was too introverted for his own good, and playing in Washington in the pre-Ovechkin days did not help with exposure. Still, I think he deserves more debate than he likely will ever get.

Pierre Turgeon - He was a great talent who never really met expectations. I see little chance of Turgeon ever getting into the HHOF.

Sean Burke - I really liked Sean Burke, but bottom line is he did not win anything significant in his career.

Every player who retired three years ago is technically eligible. The selection committee must receive a formal nomination in order to consider them. So just because guys like Scott Mellanby, Mike Ricci, and Matthew Barnaby, all fine hockey players, are eligible, the Hall will almost certainly not spend any time considering them or other such players.

We also have to bring up the name Theo Fleury. Despite his suspension for substance abuse having never been lifted, 2009 was the actually Fleury's first year of eligibility. Given his demons, there was no way he was getting in then. But now he's explained his demons with unbelieavable courage and humility, he's back on HHOF radar. I believe he will get in, but is 2010 the year?

Here is a look at hold overs with a good shot at making the grade in 2010:

Doug Gilmour - I think Doug Gilmour's wait will come to an end in 2010. He was a big game warrior and was the focal point in hockey's biggest market, Toronto. An off ice incident or two has held him back so far, but of all the players mentioned for consideration today in this article, I would have to think he was the best.

Adam Oates - If Gilmour isn't the top player, Adam Oates is. He was the best play maker of his era not named Wayne Gretzky. Playmakers often play second fiddle to their scoring partners, and Oates certainly did that with the likes of Brett Hull and Cam Neely. But Oates was just a wonderful, heady hockey player, one of the best in the business. He'll get in one day, it's just a matter of when.

Sergei Makarov - I've said it before and said it again, the best eligible player not in the HHOF is Soviet superstar Sergei Makarov. Most people remember Makarov as a Calgary Flame or San Jose Shark late in his career. But without even considering his NHL career I would include him in the Hall. For much of the 1980s Sergei Makarov was arguably the best winger in the world, probably on par with Jari Kurri or Mike Bossy. It is truly impossible to compare as Makarov was stuck behind the Iron Curtain for all those years. But his performances at the Canada Cups, the Olympics and world championships were consistently dominant for most of the decade.

He won't get it in. But he should.

Guy Carbonneau
- Aside from Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau is universally hailed as the best defensive forward in the modern game. On TSN on Wednesday night Bobby Clarke had Carbonneau at the very top of his voting list, while Bob McKenzie and Keith Jones also had him on their unofficial ballot.

Pavel Bure - He was the most exciting player of his generation, but a controversial exit in Vancouver and a shortened career with no Stanley Cup ring does not help. I still think he belongs in the Hall. He was such an entertaining player in an era deprived of such magician. Is this the year the Hall overlooks his short comings?

Dino Ciccarelli - Over 600 goals and he's still waiting for inclusion. The career goal totals are staggering, and normally would make him a lock. But I agree with the stance that he has had to wait this long, and may wait forever. Amazing total yes, earned through amazing consistency over a long period of time. But he was never the best player or the best right winger. I have to same argument for 700 goal scorer Mike Gartner, who is already included in the Hall, of course.

Dave Andreychuk - see Dino Ciccarelli. Almost an exact carbon copy case.

Alexander Mogilny - Mogilny is an interesting case, similar to Pavel Bure. But with Mogilny there was more inconsistency, more frustration. If we took out his monstrous 76 goal season, he probably would not get a lot of consideration. To me that means he was not among the truly elite for a long enough period of time.

Phil Housley - The fourth highest scoring defenseman and at one time the highest scoring American player ever, Housley never won a championship or a Norris trophy. Only once did he make the NHL's post-season all star team. Does he get in for being a really high scoring American player? That shouldn't be enough.

If I had to hazard a guess as to who the Hall of Fame will call in 2010, I would probably go with Gilmour, Oates and Bure. I suspect they will make Mr. Lindros wait, although I disagree with that.

If I had voting power, I would probably go a little differently. I believe there are at least 7 Hall of Famers in the players mentioned above. If I had a say I would probably vote for Lindros, Bure, Oates and Makarov. I know my Makarov vote would be wasted amongst this selection committee. In the interest of clearing the logjam I could be persuaded to move Nieuwendyk up to the 4th position.

Who do you think should make the grade? You tell me. I have a poll running on the right side column. You can leave comments or email me at teamcanada72@gmail.com.


Gann Matsuda said...

Rogie Vachon. Induction for him is LONG overdue.

Time To Right A Wrong: Hockey Hall of Fame Must Induct Rogie Vachon

Martin ITFOR said...

I kinda second Rogatien Vachon as well as Habs underdogs Jean-CLaude Tremblay and Claude Provost... But as they were habs and from a long time ago, they won't. HOF is part of the US invasion thing... They must do an old player thing for players like this...

-The habs fan who think the world is against us comment!

rockfish said...

Hmm, the case for Vachon is legitimate. I'd agree on your call for Oates, Bure and I'd say Fleury should also get the nod.

bobbyorr1 said...

The crime of not inducting Rogie Vachon (the best goalie in the 1970s along with Tony Esposito, Gerry Cheevers and Bernie Parent. Yes, much better than Ken Dryden who played on a stacked team) must be rectified immediately. Vachon brought a semblance of defensive respectability to the LA Kings during his career. He also carried the 1976 team Canada to it's championship. One on one this guy was the best. Remember all those top goalie wins in "shoot-out". I think he may have won that practically every year!! Seriously though his omission has been a thorn in my side since his 1st year of eligibility.

Kerrin Asmundson said...

so hard to pick just 4

Dave Andreychuk (600 goals)
Steve Larmer
Pavel Bure
Pat Verbeek (only 500g/1000p/2900pim)
Dave Taylor
Doug Gilmour (1400p)
Adam Oates (1400p)
Dino Ciccarelli (600g 1400p)
Sergei Makarov
Guy Carbonneau
Vincent Damphousse
Neal Broten
Brian Bellows
Bobby Smith
Brian Propp
Alex Mogilny
Pavel Bure
Joe Neiuwendyk
Bernie Nicholls
John Tonelli (better than Gillies)
Tim Kerr
Rick Vaive
Kent Nilsson
Rick Middleton
Rick Tocchet
John LeClair
Kirk Muller
Pierre Turgeon
Thomas Steen
Reggie Leach
Claude Lemeiux


Mark Howe
Doug Wilson
Phil Housley
Gary Suter
Eric Desjardins
Kevin Hatcher
Kevin Lowe

Mike Vernon
Mike Richter
Tom Barasso
Rogie Vachon
Andy Moog
Bill Ranford
Ron Hextall

Eric Lindros
Trevor Linden

if these players stand a chance, its only 2010/11,
once Sakic, Selanne, Brodeur, Jagr, Shanahan and Hasek........its gonna be busy for a while

Anonymous said...

This article is garbage what do you mean mogilny was inconsistent
Is 8 30 goal seasons inconsistent i dont think so

As far as not being good for not long enough he had his first 30 goal season in the 1990-1991 season when he was 21 and his last 30 goal season in the 2002-2003 season when he was 34 11 years later

Unknown said...

To me, any player that is a member of the magical "500 Goal Club"
should be an automatic HOFer.

This includes:

Peter Bondra – 503 Goals
Pierre Turgeon – 515 Goals
Pat Verbeek – 522 Goals
Dave Andreychuk – 640 Goals
Dino Ciccarelli – 608 Goals
Joe Nieuwendyk – 559 Goals

I addition, I would also
induct soviet great Sergie Makarov.
He was the point man for the Soviets famous KLM Line.

2 Winter Olympics GOLD
2 World Jr. Championships GOLD
8 World Championships GOLD

Scott Boa
Ingersoll, ON

Anonymous said...

I think that Jimmy Foster that Goalie from Great Britain should be considered for the Ice Hockey Hall of Fame because of His great play during the 1936 Winter Olympics helping the UK win the Gold Medal and that 417 minutes He played without letting in a single Goal that time!!!