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August 31, 2010

Sticking Up For Dick Duff

One of the more popular features here at GreatestHockeyLegends.com is Hall of Fame Worthy? where we discuss whether particular players should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

On a late August day with yet again little hockey news to talk about, Denver Post writer Adrian Dater, writing this time for Versus, made his own Hall of Fame Worthy list. He looked at 10 candidates' chances while adding a quick yes or no answer on 9 others. I encourage you to read the full article is here, but here are the results:

Yes - Sergei Fedorov, Joe Nieuwendyk, Claude Lemieux, Peter Forsberg, Pavel Bure, Brendan Shanahan, Rob Blake, Doug Gilmour, Mike Vernon, Ed Belfour.

No - Rod Brind'Amour, Bill Guerin, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates, Sergei Zubov, Gary Roberts and Theoren Fleury.

I generally agree with Dater's conclusions. I may be inclined to support Adam Oates personally, but there are lots of people who are just fine with his omission. I can understand that.

What I do have an objection to is Dater's opening words denouncing of Dick Duff's Hall of Fame induction only to campaign for Claude Lemieux's inclusion.

Dater is trying to say that there are too many marginal players in the Hall, which we all agree with. We may even agree Duff is one of them. But to be singled out by a writer who then supports a modern player with mirrors Duff is just wrong.

In many ways Dick Duff and Claude Lemieux were very similar players - good to average in the regular season, but playoff warriors and Stanley Cup champions time and time again. Neither were the top player on their respective teams, but they were both essential to several Stanley Cup titles.

The controversy of Dick Duff's inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame back in 2006 really is more about the timing of his selection, which certainly was odd. Why wasn't he included years ago is a very good question. Why was he included when there were - and continue to be - so many contemporary players waiting.

I think the biggest problem with Duff's inclusion lies in his anonymity with this generation of hockey fans. Duff has been forgotten by sands of time. I think the same fate could fall on Claude Lemieux in a couple of decades, although his on-ice controversies do make him an unforgettable as a villain.

I'm not going to defend or criticize his admittedly curious Hall of Fame selection, but I would like to offer everyone a chance to learn more about Dick Duff. Here is Dick Duff's profile. I hope we can learn something from it.

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