July 07, 2013

Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2013

The Hockey Hall of Fame will meet in Toronto on July 9th to select and announce the 2013 inductees. 2013 Induction Weekend festivities will run from Friday, November 8th through Sunday, November 10th, 2013 culminating with the Induction Celebration on Monday, November 11th, 2013.

There is a full list of first-year-eligible players and top carry-overs from previous years. Let's take a look at the task facing the 18 member selection committee.


Defensemen:

HHOF Locks: Scott Niedermayer, Chris Chelios, Rob Blake - three strong candidates that will all likely make the Hall one day. Niedermayer and/or Chelios are more likely than Blake to make the cut on the first try. But one may be bumped for a forward/previous candidate.

Hold-overs: Phil Housley

Other notables: Mathieu Dandenault, Mathieu Schneider, Darryl Sydor, Brendan Witt, Alexei Zhitnik, Sergei Zubov. Some very nice defensemen on this list - in fact I'd be happy with that sextet if I were a coach. Only Zubov has a shot, one day, at the Hall. But it won't be this year, if ever.




Forwards:

HHOF Locks: None, in my opinion.

One Day? Rod Brind'Amour, Bill Guerin, Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya, Markus Naslund - Some tough calls here. Personally, I don't think any of them should get in - this year or ever.

I think the bar should be set higher than all of them. That is in no way meant to be disrespectful to any of these wonderful players, but I believe the standards should be just a bit higher than that. Naslund is the only one who won a major award - the Pearson (now Lindsay) Award in 2003.  Brind'Amour did win back to back Selke trophies as the league's best defensive forward late in his career, and won the Stanley Cup, but he was never on the same level as peers like Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Peter Forsberg, Mario Lemieux or Eric Lindros. Kariya's career was cut short due to injury. Guerin and Tkachuk were great power forwards with, in Tkachuk's case in particular, impressive numbers. But, seriously, were they ever at the upper echelon of the NHL's elite during their career? Probably a notch below, I would say.

That being said, I suspect at least a couple of them will - one day, but not in 2013.

Hold-overs: There's a few too many hold-overs for any of these guys to make it in 2013. Names like Brendan Shanahan and Eric Lindros headline the list of carry-overs, with Dave Andreychuk, Jeremy Roenick, Theoren Fleury, John LeClair, Sergei Makarov and Guy Carbonneau also waiting.

If I had a vote in the HHOF proceedings, I would be voting for Eric Lindros, Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Makarov only.

Other Notables: Shean Donovan, Mike Keane, Robert Lang, Jere Lehtinen, Kirk Maltby, Brad May, Dean McAmmond, Miroslav Satan, Bryan Smolinski, Darcy Tucker, Stephane Yelle.  All good, long-time warriors, but none will ever make the Hockey Hall of Fame. Special shout-out to Mike Keane - a real hockey player's hockey player.




Goalies:

HHOF Locks: None.

Newly Eligible: Roman Turek, Dan Cloutier - Very weak year for goalies. There will be no first year goaltenders inducted this year. In fact, these two will never get into the Hall.

Holdovers - Curtis Joseph, Tom Barrasso, Mike Vernon, Ron Hextall - I really like where the bar is set for goaltenders - far higher than it is for forwards. If I had a vote, I would take a close look at Barrasso and maybe Hextall, but I doubt we will see any goaltenders inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.





Women:

The Hockey Hall of Fame's updated page makes no mention of women. Sadly, they have failed to induct any female players in the last two classes. There are a number of worthy candidates, most notably Geraldine Heaney, Danielle Goyette and Cassie Campbell-Pascall. Here is a full look at the female candidates.


Builders:


Builders is a strange category. It seems suspiciously reserved for owners and other such higher-ups to pat themselves on the back with patronage appointments. Meanwhile nowhere near enough coaches have been enshrined. Much has been made about the late Fred Shero and late Pat Burns in recent years. I would voice my support more in favor of Viktor Tikhonov and Fran Rider. Here is a full feature on them.

Two names I think you are more likely to see inducted in 2013 are the outgoing and in-coming HHOF chairmen. 

Effective August 1st, Bill "Red" Hay will be retiring as chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame, a post he has held since 1998. All told Hay, the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Charles Hay, has worked with the HHOF for 33 years. In that time the transformation of the Hall into a world class museum and financial entity has been amazing to watch. It is just a matter of time before Hay gets included, in my opinion. Will the selection committee due it this year or wait until next is the question.

Hay's successor, long time player, coach and manager Pat Quinn, is also long overdue in the builders category. He won't be getting inducted in 2013 because, as I understand it, he retains his spot on the selection committee this year before stepping down to take over as chairman in August. Unless he removes himself from the room should his name be nominated, I can't see a sitting committee member getting elected. But would a future selection committee honour a sitting chairman (who does not have vote)?

Semantics suggest Pat Quinn will be waiting a while for his rightful inclusion in the builders category.

The HHOF Class of 2013?

My guess: The Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2013 consists of Scott Niedermayer, Chris Chelios, Eric Lindros and Brendan Shanahan. Geraldine Heaney will be added in the women's category.

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