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Yzerman, Hull, Robitaille await call from Hockey Hall of Fame

TORONTO - Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille are all waiting by the phone.

The three former NHL stars won a Stanley Cup together with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002 and could find out Tuesday that they'll be part of the same Hockey Hall of Fame induction class this fall.

They're among an impressive list of first-time eligible players that also includes Brian Leetch, Alexander Mogilny and Dave Andreychuk.

The Hall's 18-member selection committee will announce its newest members on Tuesday afternoon and can choose only four players per class. It can also elect members into the builders and referee/linesmen categories.

Yzerman is as close to a sure thing as you can get among the players. The longtime Detroit Red Wings captain retired in the summer of 2006 with the sixth-highest point total in NHL history - his 1,755 trail just Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Gordie Howe, Ron Francis and Marcel Dionne.

Those five men are already members of the Hall.

Yzerman is also a three-time Stanley Cup winner and has a gold medal from Canada's victory at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. His trophy case includes a Lester B. Pearson Award, Conn Smythe Trophy, Selke Trophy and Masterton Trophy.

Hull, Robitaille and Leetch also make strong cases.

All three players are Stanley Cup champions and were among the best in the game at their position - Hull's 741 goals are third all-time, Robitaille's 668 are the most by a left-winger in history and Leetch is one of just five defencemen ever to have a 100-point season.

They've also each won at least one major individual award.

Hull scored 86 goals in 1991 and was recognized with both the Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award; Leetch earned the Conn Smythe Trophy after helping the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994, was twice given the Norris Trophy as the league's top defencemen and was named rookie of the year in 1989; and Robitaille received the Calder Trophy as top rookie in 1987.

Those accomplishments and others arguably leave that group of players ahead of Mogilny and Andreychuk, two others that put together solid careers and won a championship.

Andreychuk scored 640 goals and 1,338 points during his 23-year career while Mogilny had 473 goals and 1,032 points before being forced into retirement by a knee injury.

No matter who gets elected, this year's class appears destined to be just as accomplished as the 2007 group. Messier, Francis, Al MacInnis and Scott Stevens were all inducted in the players category that year.

A player must be retired for three seasons before becoming eligible to enter the Hall. Some of the other players on the ballot for the first time include Eric Desjardins, Andrew Cassels, Scott Young, Shawn McEachern and Trevor Kidd.

With so many new high-end candidates, it will be tough for the guys that have been passed over in previous years to get in. That group includes the likes of Doug Gilmour, Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Dino Ciccarelli, Phil Housley, Tom Barrasso and many others.

This year's induction ceremony will be held on Nov. 9.

It has already been announced that Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for hockey journalism while John Davidson will be given the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a broadcaster.

This is likely to be the last year that only men are inducted into the Hall. Starting in 2010, a special women's category will honour as many as two female players per year.

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