Hockey Hall of Fame: Who Gets the Call?

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The Hockey Hall of Fame is about to announce their next class as a new set of superstars will join a list of the best to ever enter the NHL.

It is never a goal when players, coaches, and executives enter the NHL as they look to a much closer goal, winning the Cup.

Nobody grows up thinking about that day that they get the call to enter the Hall of Fame as they play and sacrifice all for the Stanley Cup.

Yet despite it never being thought of it remains the greatest individual accomplishment in the sport.

It highlights those players and contributors that have made a profound impact on the game of hockey at the highest level.

Players may not think about it when they head into the NHL but when their careers are done they all want to look back and see that they did something worthwhile in the sport that they love.

Unfortunately the majority of players will not have made that impact and although they may have had a good career they are not considered one of the best to play.

For the handful that made that impact though the ultimate reward is for fans and the league to show that they recognize their contribution.

Making that decision is becoming harder and harder as the years go on though with a new era of players entering the ranks of eligible hall of famers.

The former era of players were rarely exposed to millions of people as they were heroes among the local fans rather than nationally or internationally.

This new era of players have been exposed to millions of fans since entering the NHL up until the end of their careers.

This new era is the start of the sports entertainment universe that has now grown to larger than life proportions.

Now every player is watched from start to finish and that was just starting in the 1990s as TV was starting to change and sports channels began to emerge.

This new era of players are known to more people than ever before and as a result it is becoming harder to separate the good from the great in the hype.

Whereas in the past it was simply the players that everyone knew about this era is about trying to find those players that truly belong not just the most talked about players in the NHL.

For that reason a number of players remain on the waiting list despite being fan favourites or some of the biggest names of the era.

This year more players will sit on the sidelines while other find their way to the Hall of Fame as more players are added to the long list of great eligible players.

The first ballot potentials are some of the best while those that are waiting are still wondering how they can continue to miss election year after year.

There are plenty of arguments for and against any of these players but ultimately only a handful will make it and join an elite club that is reserved for only the best of the best.

fedorov-lidstrom

The Detroit Red Wings were one of the strongest teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s and they earned plenty of Stanley Cups to show for it. They were a dominant team in the ‘90s and now the Hall of Fame is beginning to take notice as well. The players from that era of the Red Wings are beginning to trickle into the ballots of the Hall of Fame voters. In 2008 and 2009 Igor Larionov and Brett Hull joined the ranks of the best players in the NHL. In 2009 it was the captain of those dominant years, Steve Yzerman, who earned his spot among the greatest in the game. Yzerman was followed by Chris Chelios in 2013, Brendan Shanahan, and Dominik Hasek in 2014. Now two more of the building blocks of the teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998, and 2002 enter their first year of eligibility and make-up the two most likely candidates of the class of 2015. Sergei Fedorov was Pavel Datsyuk before Datsyuk entered the NHL. A Russian sniper with great hands that could move through an entire team with his speed and skill, Fedorov was the skill on the top line regularly getting to 30 goals while with the Red Wings. Niklas Lidstrom was a different story though as he was the anchor on the blue line for the Red Wings. He was a true leader on the team and after Yzerman retired he took over as the captain from 2006 until his retirement in 2012. Both Fedorov and Lidstrom are sure to make hall this year adding to the group from that period in Detroit proving that group to be one of the best. Another member of that group is up for election this year as well with goaltender Chris Osgood on the ballot for the second year. Osgood was a big part of the 1997 and 1998 Staley Cups but doesn’t seem to be as sure a bet as Fedorov or Lidstrom this year. Whether Osgood makes it or not the fact is that Detroit will likely add two great players from a great era in the Motor City reminding everyone of the dominance of the Wings during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

americans

The Hall of Fame is full of great players from all over the world but there is always one country that dominates the numbers. Canada is that country as there are 232 Canadians in the Hockey Hall of Fame compared to 16 from Europe and 13 from the USA. That is beginning to change though as Americans are putting out more great players every year.. There are a number of great American players eligible just this year and all represent that first major wave of American players to make a big impact in the NHL. Not many are in their first year of eligibility though as all have struggled to get respect from the voters. Jeremy Roenick will enter his fourth year of eligibility and remains a massive debate among many. He was a fan favourite everywhere he went and was one of the toughest players in the league. Yet despite the love from the fans and his toughness he doesn’t rank near the top of any of the scoring lists and for that he might see another year outside of the Hall. Another American favourite has been Phil Housley who upon looking at his career seems to be one of the best American defenceman ever. The problem for him was the fact that he played among some of the best defenceman of the era and was never mentioned among the best while he was playing. It is hard to overshadow names like Chelios, Leetch, Bourque, and Coffey so he may also need to wait to make it into the Hall. The newest member of this group will be Chris Pronger who despite being traded by the Philadelphia Flyers just the other day may very well find his way into the Hall of Fame. Due to new rules for the Hall of Fame Pronger, who hasn’t officially retired but hasn’t played a game in three years, is eligible this year. He seems like the one sure thing in this group of Americans although if he doesn’t make it the reason may very well be the fact that he was just traded and remains active in the NHL. The Americans are trying to catch Canada and as the years move on there are more Americans eligible which makes it tougher for all of these players in the coming years.

mogilny

The Americans are not the only country to try to put together a bigger group in the Hockey Hall of Fame as the Russians are attempting to close the gap as well. It is different for Russians though as the Americans always had the option to play in the NHL, the Russians did not. During the Cold War and the reign of the Soviet Union, Russians were not allowed to travel outside of the Soviet borders. It was an issue for the NHL as great players were only seen as members of the Red Army teams and were lost to the NHL. Just before the fall of the Soviet Union, relations between the Soviets and the West improved and that meant players from the Soviet Union were allowed to leave and play in the biggest league. Now the Hockey Hall of Fame is seeing the results as more Russian stars from the first major era of Russian hockey players are finding their way to Toronto. Two players in particular will look to find their way to the hall and both have been waiting a while. Sergei Makarov was eligible in 2002 for election to the Hall of Fame and I also one of the first Russians to enter the NHL after spending his hockey career in the Soviet Union. That could be his biggest downfall though as Makarov spend his best years as a member of the Red Army team and by the time he came to the NHL he was not the same player. He still put up great numbers for his limited time in the NHL and there is an argument for his induction but he may have to continue waiting. Alexander Mogilny is in the same situation as he has been eligible since 2009 but has yet to make it. His stats might not be among the best Russians but he was the first Russian to defect to play in the NHL and became the first European captain. He was still great but his lack of numbers might sacrifice his spot. The Russians are trying to catch up to Canada as well but their biggest stars are just showing up now and despite the fact that Mogilny and Makarov may need to wait Fedorov seems like a lock as another Russian to add to the hall.

kariya

There are always the outliers when the Hall of Fame vote comes along and this year there seems to be two that share an oddly familiar story. Paul Kariya and Eric Lindros have been waiting for a call to the hall for a few years now. Kariya’s first year of eligibility was in 2013 while Lindros’ first year was in 2010. They both represent elite players in the game and also played two extremely different games. Kariya stood at 5’10” at a time when bigger was always better in the NHL. Teams always looked for the biggest and toughest guy in what had been a purely physical game. Kariya shattered that mold though as he was always the smallest guy on the ice and earned a total of 989 points over 15 seasons. Lindros was the prototypical player standing at 6’4” and weighing 240 lbs. He was a massive forward who was deemed as the next great one to follow Gretzky. He earned a total of 1,398 points in his 13-year career in a good career. Although they both were complete opposites they both suffered the same problem midway through their time in the NHL. Due to Kariya’s size he was often knocked around and in one devastating occasion he was knocked out by Scott Stevens in the middle of the ice. That hit was the beginning of a rough end to his career as he was never quite the same afterwards and suffered concussion issues throughout the rest of his career. Lindros had a more sever case as concussions plagued him throughout his career with multiple concussions in thirteen years. He constantly dealt with post-concussion issues and never met the hype due to these injuries. There is plenty of debate surrounding these two players as both seemed like they were headed to the Hall of Fame before concussions hampered their progress. They both put up good numbers too but neither were great and in the case of Lindros his just never matched the hype. There are arguments for both sides but every year a new crop of great players seems to push them further out of the Hall of Fame and into a group that may never quite make the Hall of Fame despite solid careers.

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