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THN.com Blog: HHOF needs voting transparency

Steve Yzerman, who played his rookie NHL season in 1983-84 scoring 39 goals and 87 points, is a shoo-in for the next Hall of Fame class. (Getty Images)

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Steve Yzerman, who played his rookie NHL season in 1983-84 scoring 39 goals and 87 points, is a shoo-in for the next Hall of Fame class. (Getty Images)

Kudos to the Hockey Hall of Fame for its decision to open up a wing to the best the women’s game has to offer.

With two openings every year, it’ll be interesting and educational to see the names and order in which legends of the past filter into the shrine. From Albertine Lapensee and Ada Lalonde in the First World War years to Angela James and Hayley Wickenheiser of the past generation.

But the Hall of Fame could and should do more in the interests of full disclosure and complete transparency.

I’ve always admired the way the Baseball Hall of Fame inducts its greats. We find out exactly which players are in the hopper, how many years of eligibility they have remaining and the percentage of votes they’ve received in past years.

After the balloting, we see a full list of players and the percentage of votes received. There’s nothing to hide.

It makes a difference that voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame is conducted by members of the baseball media. It’s not a perfect system – let’s face it, us heathens in the media sometimes have our own secret agendas as well – but at least there’s accountability.

In the Hockey Hall of Fame, you find out who gets in and that’s about it. The selection committee is made up of 18 highly qualified hockey executives, former players and media members. They go into a room, discuss some names, then emerge a few hours later with a press release.

We don’t hear any details about who was considered, how close they came or the nature of the discussion. It’s a marketing opportunity that goes completely untapped.

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Let’s take this year for example. By our calculations, eight very worthy candidates have been retired three seasons now and are first-time eligible. A maximum of four will get in.

Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Brian Leetch have to be locks. The final spot will be a quiet, unpublished debate between advocates for Luc Robitaille, Alex Mogilny, Dave Andreychuk, Eric Desjardins and Keith Primeau.

The neat part of this build-up prior to the June announcement is every hockey fan reading this article can make his or her own judgment on who the fourth inductee will be.

The sad part is none of us will see the results of the balloting. The Hall of Fame believes releasing that sort of information is too hurtful to the parties not inducted.

Come June 23, we’ll be told who got in. We’ll also be told it’s none of our business who came close or why. That’s the way the Hall does business. One of these years we’ll be told to shut up and like it, too.

Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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