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Joe Sakic leads list of first-year eligibles for Hockey Hall of Fame

TORONTO - Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Mats Sundin and Jeremy Roenick lead the list of first-year eligible players hoping to get the call from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Hall will announces its newest inductees on Tuesday. The 2012 class will enter the Hall on Nov. 22.

"Every year now it's getting real difficult," Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman, a member of the Hall's 18-member selection committee, said of choosing the inductees.

Sakic would seem a slam dunk, however.

He won two Stanley Cups and finished his career with 625 goals and 1,016 assists in 1,378 NHL games.

Sakic started his NHL career in 1988 with the Quebec Nordiques, moving with the team to Colorado in 1995.

Sakic's trophy case includes the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year Award (1988), Conn Smythe Trophy (1996), Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (2001), Lester B. Pearson Award (2001) and Hart Memorial Trophy (2001).

Sakic, who played in a dozen NHL all-star games, won the world junior championships, world championships, World Cup and Olympics in addition to the Stanley Cup.

Shanahan, now the league's president of player safety and hockey operations, finished his NHL playing career with 656 goals and 698 assists in 1,524 games with New Jersey, St. Louis, Hartford, the Rangers and Detroit.

Winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2003, he played in eight all-star games and won two Stanley Cups.

Sundin collected 564 goals and 785 assists from his 1,346 games in the NHL. Best known as a stylish captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Swede also played for Quebec and Vancouver.

No. 13 played in eight NHL all-star games.

The colourful Roenick scored 513 goals and added 703 assists in his 1,363 games with Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Jose. He played in nine all-star games.

Other first-year eligible players include goaltenders Curtis (Cujo) Joseph and Olaf Kolzig as well as forwards Bobby Holik, Michael Peca and Gary Roberts and defenceman Darius Kasparaitis. Uber-agitator Claude Lemieux, winner of the 1995 Conn Smythe Trophy, is also eligible this year.

The Hall can only welcome four players each year.

Last year saw Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk inducted. Only Belfour got in on the first ballot.

Others players who have previously been passed over in Hall voting that still merit consideration include Dave Andreychuk, Pavel Bure, Phil Housley, Kevin Lowe, Steve Larmer, Eric Lindros, Alexander Mogilny and Bernie Nicholls, among others.

The Hall's selection committee chooses inductees in the Player, Builder and Referee/Linesman categories.

Players eligible this year are those that retired prior to the 2008-2009 season.

In 2009, the Hall announced new bylaw provisions that would allow both male and female player candidates to be considered on the same ballot.

Since that, Cammi Granato and Angela James have been inducted.

Also this year, Rick Jeanneret, the voice of the Buffalo Sabres for more than 40 years, will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster. Roy MacGregor, a columnist for the Globe and Mail and author, will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism.

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