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April 08, 2013

Changes at HHOF: What Change Will Pat Quinn Bring?

One of the more under-reported stories from this past weekend is the pending changes coming to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

HHOF chairman and chief executive officer Bill "Red" Hay announced he will retire later this year. Selection committee co-chairman Pat Quinn will be taking over.

The 77 year old Hay, a former stand-out player in his own right, had a 33 year tenure at the Hall. The first 17 years he was on the selection committee before being named as chairman and CEO in 1998. Under his watch the Hall has strengthened relations with the IIHF, NHL, NHLPA and Hockey Canada, and has invested over $30 million in capital assets including two major expansion projects. He also successfully introduced the women's category in 2010.

Of course, with a new man on top, calls for change have already been spreading. Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated leads the way with plenty of ideas. Such ideas include having a larger selection committee with more knowledgeable voices on the women's and international game, revamping the builder's category, and eliminating the 4-man maximum rule.

There is certainly merit to all of Muir's ideas, though keep in mind hockey is an old boys network and is especially show at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Don't get your hopes to high.

But the one idea Muir mentions that I totally support would be transparency. Release the voting results to the public. Do it each year, and release past voting results, too.

This would be beyond fascinating for the fans, creating intense debate and generating great publicity for the Hall. Doing so would bring a new-age relevancy to the sometimes-maligned Hall, and would be great for business.

Of course this would also hold the Hall and it's selection committee accountable for it's actions. Quinn is the perfect man to implement such change. As a player and legendary coach he demanded accountability from his teammates and players. It was one of the hallmarks of Quinn especially as coach, and it could be his lasting legacy on the Hall.

Quinn Should Be Inducted. What About Hay?

Congratulations must go out to Quinn, although I do have a small regret about his taking the post. The 70 year old Quinn, in my mind, should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder. It almost certainly will not happen as long as he heads the HHOF.

Which also brings up the question: Will Bill Hay now be inducted into the Hall as a builder?

Between the years Hay spent as a player and associated with the Hall, he was in private business. He was successful enough in 23 years with the oil industry to become CEO and President of the Calgary Flames between 1991 and 1996, and briefly worked with Hockey Canada.

Hay likely will get the patronage induction to the Hall as a builder of hockey. He has done an amazing job bring the Hall to the status it enjoys today. But is building the Hall itself enough to be inducted into the Hall as one of hockey's great builders?

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