Each year the Hockey Hall of Fame can induct up to four former players into the prestigious fraternity of excellence, that also includes nominees for what is called the “Builder’s” unit which is comprised of coach’s and announcers who excelled at their profession. While not everyone that’s up for nomination can be inducted, it’s a difficult decision for the 18 committee members that always causes debate. When you see the long list of this years candidates here, you’ll see what I’m speaking of.
As Pierre LeBrun of ESPN NHL wrote in his column on Monday, the first two names should be automatic, and from there it will get interesting. I agree with his first two selections of Joe Sakic and Brendan Shanahan. Sakic whose career, all spent with the Quebec Nordiques who then became the Colorado Avalanche, is a shoe in for a number of reasons. 1,641 points in 1,378 games made up of 625 goals and 1,016 assists, two Stanley Cup Championships, an Olympic Gold medal, and 188 points in 172 playoff games, Sakic was a go to and a clutch performer. An old fashioned player that played the game the way that it was meant to be played, Sakic was also one of the most respected players in the league. He lead by example, and did it graciously.
Brendan Shanahan is another former player that should be a lock of the four. Shanny, who is now the NHL czar for discipline also had a long and successful career that lasted one year longer (21) than Sakic’s. Shanny and Sakic were often rivals, as their respective teams the Avalanche for Sakic, and most of the time Detroit for Shanahan, provided many a thrill, especially during the post season. Shanahan was one of the game’s true power forwards scoring 656 goals, and winning three Stanley Cups, as well as two Canada Cup titles. Because of his size, Shanahan could also fight. In the ’93-’94 season, Shanahan not only had 52 goals and 50 assists, he also compiled 211 penalty minutes. He was one tough customer, who could beat you with his hands in more ways then one.
After these two, things begin to get competitive. My personal favourite and third choice is hands down, Jeremy Roenick, a first time qualifier. I had the pleasure of seeing Roenick play as a scrawny youngster in his first training camp. He wore number 55, a number usually given to a rookie when it’s not known if he’ll stick or not. For me JR, as he’s been referred to so often, quickly
won stole my hockey heart, with his style of play which he credits to his first NHL coach Mike Keenan. Roenick who began his career with the Chicago Blackhawks played with a reckless abandon, and combined it with speed, quickness, and moves that pulled you to the edge of your seat. He was a very special player on the ice, and he was extremely colorful off it. One of the best American born players, Roenick scored 513 goals and had 703 assists for 1,216 points. A couple of knee injuries and numerous concussions most likely prevented him from reaching 600 goals. Nonetheless, despite the fact that he does not have a Stanley Cup Championship on his resume, shouldn’t prevent him from qualifying.
There are a host of other names to choose from, some of which are eligible for the first time, and it’s a tough choice for anyone to decide who will get in. Mats Sundin, Gary Roberts, and Curtis Joseph are three other players that are eligible for the first time, and then you have some holdovers such as Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Dave Andreychuk and Steve Larmer. While all players have a strong case for being inducted, of this group here, I would have to go with Andreychuk. Another gifted player who scored 640 goals, most of which seemed to come against my team, was always a force for whomever he played for. A Stanley Cup winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Andreychuk was a complete player who was good at both ends of the ice, as well as a clutch performer on the power play. Not at all fast, but big and smart, Andreychuk deserves to be voted in.
Lastly, I certainly hope that the committee once and for all does the right thing and inducts the late Pat Burns into the Builders category. Unfortunately Burns who passed away last year, won’t be around to see it, he deserves to be in the Hall for all of his accomplishments to the game of hockey. Burns was a three time coach of the year winner with three different teams, and a Stanley Cup winner with the New Jersey Devils will always be remembered for his fiery personality, his animation on the bench, and they way his players loved playing for him. Burns who passed away in November of 2010, belongs in the Hall. Read this great post by Pension Plan Puppets, and I’m sure you’ll agree.
The announcement will come later this afternoon, and while the list is long, only four players can get in. The competition is tough, just as it was when these men played. Only the best are eligible. Only the the greatest get in.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
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