June 26, 2017

2017 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya will forever be together.

The famed dynamic duo headline the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Dave Andreychuk and Mark Recchi will join them at the induction ceremonies in November. Women's star Danielle Goyette and builders Clare Drake and Jeremy Jacobs will as well.

Selanne's inclusion in his first year of eligibility comes as no surprise.

Selanne exploded on to the scene in 1992-93 with an unthinkable rookie record of 76 goals. Over his 21 year career he finished with 684 tallies, the 11th most in NHL history. He added 773 assists for 1457 points in 1451 games.

Many of those games were played alongside Kariya in Anaheim and briefly Colorado. Kariya, one of the league's most creative offensive players ever, scored 989 points in exactly as many games. Four times he was in the top seven in NHL scoring. Kariya never won the Stanley Cup but was a big part of Canada's 2002 gold medal winning Olympic hockey team.

Kariya's inclusion was not taken for granted. He had been passed over by the selection committee the previous four years. He was forced to retire early in 2010 due to multiple concussions and became an outspoken critic of the NHL's protection of player safety regarding head injuries. Otherwise he has greatly distanced himself from the game.

All inductees required a minimum of 14 of 18 votes from the Selection Committee. Also garnering enshrinement were NHL stars Andreychuk and Recchi

Dave Andreychuk, in his ninth year of eligibility. He captained the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004 and has scored the most power-play goals (274) in league history. His career totals include 640 goals and 1338 points.

Mark Recchi, in his fourth year of eligibility. Recchi won three Stanley Cups with three different teams. (Penguins, Hurricanes and Bruins). The ‘Recchin Ball’ ranks fifth all-time in games played (1,652) and 577 goals an 1533 points.

Andreychuk and Recchi's inclusion was inevitable as their career numbers and longevity could not be ignored. However neither player was the best player on their own team let alone at their position for any stretch of their career.

The Hall rightfully recognized Danielle Goyette in the women's category. She famously scored the only goal for Team Canada in the inaugural 1998 gold-medal game in Nagano, a tournament in which she tied for the lead in scoring with 10 points. The St-Nazaire, Quebec, native finished her international career with 113 goals and 105 assists in 171 games, capturing two Olympic gold medals, one silver, and seven gold medals on the World Championship stage. She was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2013 and carried the Canadian flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Jacobs, 77, is the long time owner of the Boston Bruins, acquiring the team in 1975. He is considered to be the NHL's most powerful owner in the Gary Bettman era and is a staunch hardliner who has greatly influenced the NHL's labour problems. Like most owners being inducted into the Hall of Fame, this is a patronage appointment only.

It is good to see the Hall honour a true builder of the game in Clare Drake, despite his lack of connection to the NHL itself. The 88 year old is known as the "dean of coaching." For 28 years he guided the University of Alberta Golden Bears, winning six championships. He was instrumental in developing Hockey Canada's national coaching certification program that has greatly influenced Canada's ability to be on top of the hockey world at every level. He also coached at the international level including the Olympics.

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