November 04, 2010
HHOF Class of 2011?
Now that the Hockey Hall of Fame has welcomed the class of 2010, the focus will turn to the class of 2011.
2011 features a weak class of first year eligible candidates. Ed Belfour headlines a group that also includes Trevor Linden, Glen Wesley, Derian Hatcher, Stu Barnes and Dallas Drake. As much as I love Linden and Hatcher, it is safe to say Belfour is the only candidate with a legitimate shot at making the cut.
As of this publishing Belfour ranks third in career goalie wins (484), is tied for ninth with Tony Esposito in shutouts (76), is tied for fourth with Isles great Billy Smith for playoff victories (88). He won a Stanley Cup in 1999, two Vezinas, a Calder Trophy, four William Jennings Trophies for the league’s best GAA and had five all-star appearances.
His list of accomplishments should one day get him inducted. But I don't think it will be in 2011.
While many complain about how low the bar is set for Hall of Fame induction, the goaltending standards are surprisingly tough. Comparable goalies to Belfour who remain on the outside looking in include Tom Barrasso and Mike Vernon. If those two are made to wait, maybe Belfour will be, too.
Also working against the Eagle's immediate chances are some off ice-incidents. Sportsmanship and character are parameters for induction, and the holier-than-thou selection committee has made others pay with exclusion (Barrasso) or lengthy waits (Dino Ciccarelli, Glenn Anderson). Unless Belfour can give the selection committee the one billion dollars that the Dallas police force never received from him, it is highly likely Belfour will be made to wait until another year.
So who is likely to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2011? One thing is for sure - I give up trying to predict it. There is a serious back-log of good candidates, and it would seem like the opportune time to get some of those players in. Then again, they had the same opportunity in 2010, but failed to do so.
A maximum of four players can be inducted in one year. The back-log of players that will comprise the 2011 ballot includes: Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny , John Leclair, Peter Bondra, Adam Oates, Theo Fleury, Guy Carbonneau, Dave Andreychuk, and Sergei Makarov.
I am not saying all of those players should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but they are the top candidates. It is in the committee's best interests to clear a few names from the docket - one way or the other - as the class of 2012 looks strong - Mats Sundin, Jeremy Roenick, Brendan Shanahan, Gary Roberts, Claude Lemieux, Olaf Kolzig and Markus Naslund.
If I had a vote for the 2011 induction I would continue to support Gilmour, Nieuwendyk, Lindros and Oates.