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November 20, 2018

Cassie Campbell and the Hockey Hall of Fame

Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Weekend always creates a lot of headlines. Sometimes some of the smaller stories get glanced over, even when they are of great significance. Such is the case with the news that Cassie Campbell-Pascall has been named to the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee.

The honour is about as high as one can get in hockey. One of the few higher honours would be to be named as an enshrined member of the Hall. Sadly, this may ensure Campbell-Pascall will not be inducted as a player.

Campbell-Pascall and Mark Chipman, chairman of True North which owns the Winnipeg Jets, were added to the committee. They replace columnist Eric Duhatschek, who reached his maximum 15 year term limit, and former New York Islanders and Florida Panthers manager Bill Torrey, who passed away earlier this year.

Campbell-Pascall becomes the first woman to be named to the committee. This corrects a glaring oversight, as the Hall has been debating female inductees since 2010 but without any strong voice from the female game. Just six female players and zero builders have been inducted in that time. Campbell-Pascall was on the ice with most of the worthy candidates and can provide insight no one else on the committee can. Through her broadcast role at Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada she has earned the right to comment on the men's game, too.

But does this preclude Campbell-Pascall from her own rightful induction as a player? The selection committee is generally reluctant to include one of their own for fears of charges of cronyism. Why do you think Pat Quinn, who served as chairman of the HHOF board, didn't get rightfully enshrined until after his death?

Campbell-Pascall was asked the question about what would happen if her name was before the committee, and of course she said she would have to excuse herself from any such discussion.

Campbell is the only Canadian hockey player, male or female, to captain a national team to two Olympic gold medals, winning in 2002 in Salt Lake City and 2006 in Nagano. The team also won an Olympic silver medal in Nagano in 1998. She was captain of the national women’s team since 2001. During her tenure with the Canadian team, Campbell captured six world titles and won a total of 21 international tournament medals- 17 gold and 4 silver. She retired with 32 goals and 68 assists in 157 career games for the national team, though her numbers are misleading as she spent a significant part of her career on defense before finishing as a forward. Much like a Mark Messier or Steve Yzerman, she is universally recognized as one of hockey's great leaders.

If she never gets in as a player, Campbell-Pascall will likely one day be inducted in the Hall of Fame as a builder. This selection committee nomination only adds to a resume that includes a pioneering playing and broadcasting career and significant contributions to the grassroots game. She is also known to be pushing for a merger of the two professional women's leagues. Previously a governor with the Canadian Women's Hockey League, it would be no surprise to see Campbell-Pascall heavily involved with a proper women's pro hockey league one day.

It will be interesting to see if Campbell-Pascall's inclusion on the selection committee sees any immediate increase in female inductees in the next few years. I am hopeful this will see the inclusion of some female builders as well, most notably Fran Rider.

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