November 17, 2014

Hockey Hall of Fame Welcomes Six, Misses On Others

Congratulations to Dominik HasekPeter ForsbergRob BlakeMike Modano, the late coach Pat Burns, and referee Bill McCreary on their induction day to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Click through on the links below for full features on all of our honoured enshrinees.

Dominik HasekIn the post-Mario Lemieux era, the NHL had desperately waited for one of its collection of stars to rise to the level above everyone else. In the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano Japan, goaltender Dominik Hasek established himself as the best player in hockey.

Pat Burns spent parts of 14 seasons as a coach in the NHL, winning the Jack Adams Award with three teams and capturing the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003. He also reached the Cup Final in 1989 with the Montreal Canadiens and got the Toronto Maple Leafs to back-to-back conference finals in 1993 and 1994.

"Mike Modano wasn't just a player. He was a spectacle." That quote, by USA Today writer Kevin Allen, about says it all about Mike Modano.

Rob Blake's journey to collegiate hockey star, NHL all star, Stanley Cup champion, Olympic champion and now Hockey Hall of Famer began on a frozen pond outside the rustic family farm house that he grew up in. He grew up idolizing Larry Robinson. In his first game he lined up beside him.

It is pretty safe to say Peter Forsberg left his stamp on the game of hockey. Hockey's ultimate warrior put his body through hell in the pursuit of hockey greatness.

Bill McCreary's resume includes 1,737 regular-season games. He refereed a record 297 more in the playoffs including another record 44 in the Stanley Cup finals. He officiated the Stanley Cup final, generally considered to be the highest annual accolade an on-ice official achieves, 15 times, including 13 years consecutively. Add to the resume three Olympic Games (1998, 2002 and 2012), the 1991 Canada Cup, 1996 World Cup, and the 1994 NHL All Star Game and there is no denying Bill McCreary's career deserves lofty recognition.

Also, I just want to say how flabbergasted I am that yet again no female player is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. If the bar for the men's game was as high as it apparently is for the women's game, we'd have a whole lot fewer enshrinees. Maybe that's the way it should be, but in reality surely the HHOF could have found someone to honour. France St. Louis? Cassie Campbell? Danielle Goyette? Karen Bye? C'mon!

Also, let's first state that absolutely Peter Forsberg belongs in the Hall of Fame, and I have no problem with his immediate inclusion. It is hockey's highest honour, and Peter Forsberg deserves it.

But really did not like was that the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Forsberg while continuing to make Eric Lindros wait.

Lindros and Forsberg's careers are forever interconnected, of course. But Lindros, who is now made to wait for at least a 6th year of eligibility, is not only a Forsberg's ultimate comparable but arguably better.

 Here's the tale of the tape:

Hart Trophy11
Pearson Trophy01
Art Ross Trophy11
All Star32
Stanley Cup20
Olympic Gold21

There really isn't a whole lot of difference between the two. There was just 20 points difference between them. Both missed a ton of time due to their immense physical style of play which resulted deteriorating bodies betraying each of them.

And, most importantly, both flirted with being the game's most dominant player for periods of time.

The comparisons were inevitable of course. Lindros, the NHL's favorite villain, refused to report to the Quebec Nordiques and forced a trade. A trade with Philadelphia was eventually completed, headlining Forsberg, who was drafted 6 spots behind Lindros in 1991, as part of a huge package going to Quebec. From that moment on, the two men were inexorably linked.

The biggest differing point between the two is Stanley Cup championships. Forsberg and transplanted Nordiques won two while in Colorado. Lindros never did win a title, despite all of his efforts.

I think the Stanley Cup argument is a bit overblown. Yes, Forsberg was one of the greatest players in Stanley Cup history. But his three championships were aided by Joe Sakic, who some say is better than Forsberg. And then there was Patrick Roy, hailed as the greatest playoff goalie of all time. Lindros never had the supporting cast that Forsberg had.

When it comes right down to it, I say there is little to choose between Eric Lindros and Peter Forsberg. Lindros was always easy to dislike, which helps to stain his legacy. Forsberg's legacy is, in my opinion, a bit overrated if only due to the great supporting cast he enjoyed.

In reality, they had pretty equal careers, though history will suggest otherwise. Why is that? Peter Forsberg was very likeable. Eric Lindros was thoroughly disliked. But that really should not be a determining factor .

Instead, the Holier-Than-Though Hockey  Hall of Fame has missed the perfect opportunity to right and wrong and induct Eric Lindros - right along side his old nemesis Peter Forsberg.

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