November 17, 2014

Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2015?

On Monday the Hockey Hall of Fame inducts Dominik Hasek, Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake, coach Pat Burns and referee Bill McCreary. 
But today I thought it would be fun to take a look at the potential class for 2015.
Headlining first year eligible players is Nicklas Lidstrom.

Lidstrom is one of the very best defensemen to ever play the game. Many insist he is the 2nd best. A few even dare to suggest he was better than Bobby Orr.. In 1,564 career games, all with the Red Wings, Lidstrom finished with 1,142 points. He appeared in 11 All-Star Games throughout his career, won the Norris Trophy a record seven times including three straight years on two occasions and also won the 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy all while hoisting the Stanley Cup four times. This is as big of a lock as you'll ever see.
There are two other locks, in my eyes, but their eligibility seems to be in question. 

Sergei Fedorov was just a fantastic player, scoring 1,179 points (including 483 goals) in just 1,248 career games. He was a six-time All-Star Game participant, won the Hart Trophy in 1993-94 as the MVP and also won the Selke Trophy twice as the best defensive forward.
In the regular season he could be accused of going through the motions but come playoff time Fedorov was at his best. Impressively Fedorov scored 20 or more points in four consecutive playoffs. He is a three time Stanley Cup champion. 
Fedorov continued playing in Russia until 2012 when he retired to become manager of  the KHL team Metallurg Magnitogorsk. However he came out of retirement to play two games with CSKA Moscow at the 2013 Spengler Cup.

As I understand it, the Spengler Cup participation will not delay his Hall eligibility but I stand to be corrected on that. Regardless if it is 2015 or 2016, Sergei Fedorov should be a lock.

A bigger question eligibility question mark might be Chris Pronger. Pronger, who last played in 2012, is a certain lock, too. Pronger is a Stanley Cup champion, two time Olympic gold medalist and NHL Hart trophy and Norris trophy winner. However Pronger has never officially retired, and as an injured player he is actually unable to do so until his contract expires thanks to the salary cap.

So can the HHOF induct a player who is still considered to be active, even though he has not played for the mandatory 3 year waiting time?

"He would be eligible in 2015 as far as the way the bylaw reads and as long, obviously, as he doesn't play again prior to his election," said Jeff Denomme, president and CEO of the Hockey Hall of Fame. "If there was any question on matters pertaining to any particular candidate's eligibility, I suspect that's something the board would raise at some point, though."

Let's assume he, too, is eligible. That gives us three locks for the class of 2015 in Lidstrom, Fedorov and Pronger.

Other first year eligible players include Jason Arnott, Andrew Brunette, Tomas Holmstrom, Ethan Moreau, John Madden, Sean O'Donnell, Dwayne Roloson, Brian Rolston, Steve Staios and Marty Turco.  It is unlikely any of these players will ever be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

It should also be noted that a notable female player will also become eligible in 2015, and should also considered to be a lock. Long time USA defenseman Angela Ruggiero was one of the strongest female players ever to play the game. The Hockey Hall of Fame has a spotty record when it comes to recognizing female players, but they should have a pretty obvious inclusion in Ruggiero.


Unknown said...

I just found your blog,I am in heaven!It has everything for a great hockey fan like me.

Unknown said...

Kariya and Leclair are both 5 time All-star selections. Every 5 time all-star, I believe, made the hall.

Ben Schmidt said...

Recchi retired in 2011. He was first-year eligible for the 2014 class, and didn't get in yet. If the argument is that he should wait a year, then by 2015, he already will have.