Chris Chelios, who played 1,651 career NHL games and won three Norris Trophies, will be first-time eligible for the Hall of Fame next year. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
The Hockey Hall of Fame is getting into this recycling thing, big time.
The trend the past few years with the Hall’s 18-member selection committee is to reconsider, then induct, previously passed-over NHL stars. Of the nine players enshrined over the past three years, only three made it on the first ballot – Ed Belfour in 2011 and Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin in 2012. The other six didn’t make induction first time around, but eventually got at least 14 affirmative votes from the committee.
Dino Ciccarelli was the lone NHL player inducted in 2010. He had been eligible since 2002. Inducted in 2011 after waits of varying lengths were Joe Nieuwendyk (one year after first being eligible), Doug Gilmour (five years) and Mark Howe (13 years). This year, Pavel Bure (six-year wait) and Adam Oates (five-year wait) rose to the top of the recycling bin.
With this growing trend in mind, here’s how The Hockey News is ranking the field for the 2013 class. A maximum of four NHL candidates get in after a three-year reflection period upon retirement.
The U.S.-born blueliner won three Norris Trophies and was a runner-up twice for three separate teams. He was dynamic offensively in his 20s, rugged and reliable in his 30s, and cagey well into his 40s. Won three Cups and made the NHL all-star team seven times. First-year eligible.
The smooth-skating defenseman won just one Norris Trophy (plus two runners-up), but was a major player from a team perspective. He’s well decorated with multiple league titles at the junior, NHL and international levels. His offensive stats aren’t jaw-dropping, but he’s among the best two-way defensemen of his era. Made the NHL all-star team four times. First-year eligible.
One of game’s best-ever power forwards and a proven winner. Ranks 13th in all-time goals with 656 and 25th in all-time points with 1,354. Won three Stanley Cups and made the NHL all-star team three times. Eligible since 2012.
Crafty offensively, reliable defensively and best hip-checker of his generation. Won one Cup, one Norris and made the NHL all-star team four times. First-year eligible.
One of six players voted to the IIHF’s all-centennial team. The other five are in the HHOF. Won the Calder Trophy, was Soviet MVP three times and Soviet scoring champion nine times. 13th-year eligible.
His size and skill made him an unstoppable force for a few years. Won the Hart and made the NHL all-star team twice. Third-year eligible.
Productive power forward third all-time in goal-scoring among U.S.-born players. Ranks 30th in NHL goals (538). Led the NHL in goal-scoring once and made the NHL all-star team twice. First-year eligible.
Ranks behind just Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey and Al MacInnis in D-man scoring. Runner-up to Norris Trophy once and made one NHL second all-star team. Eighth-year eligible.
The game’s No. 1 scorer on the power play of all-time (274). Ranks 14th all-time in goal-scoring (640). Fifth-year eligible.
Proven winner was always in demand because of his sandpaper style. Won four Stanley Cups, one Conn Smythe Trophy and ranks ninth in all-time playoff goals with 80. Second-year eligible.
Two-way center great in the faceoff circle and a terrific leader. Won the Selke Trophy twice. First-year eligible.
Methodical small man was creative and innovative. Won the Lady Byng twice and was on the NHL all-star team five times. First-year eligible.
Next to Bob Gainey, the best defensive forward of all-time. Won the Selke Trophy three times and was runner-up twice. 11th-year eligible.
Multiple award winner (Calder and Vezina to go along with two Stanley Cups) and 15th all-time in goalie wins. Eighth-year eligible.
A big-game goal-scorer who led by example. First-year eligible.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.