This all starts two weeks ago, during Hall of Fame weekend. The legendary Scotty Bowman is on hand since, at one time or another, he has coached three of the four inductees. Bowman is asked how many Hall of Famers he coached in his career, so he starts with the St. Louis Blues, who had Doug Harvey and Dickie Moore at the end of their careers, along with a goaltending tandem of Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante.
“They put up big numbers,” Bowman says. “They had 13 shutouts and only 157 goals against in 76 games. We had 22 one-goal games that year.”
In 13 years as Editor-in-Chief of The Hockey News, I’ve made a ton of suggestions on how to improve the game. You’d almost think I didn’t like it.
The truth is, I feel it’s part of my job to help stimulate conversation and debate. While hockey is still pretty darned fantastic, nothing is perfect.
What follows is a list of various things I’ve suggested, conceived, advocated or supported during my baker’s dozen years in my ivory tower.
On Monday night, the Hockey Hall of Fame honored one of the best induction classes of all time. The class, highlighted by Phil Housley, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, and Chris Pronger, is a who’s who of NHL superstars from the 1990s and early 2000s.
Here are the highlights from their induction speeches.
These are the salad days for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Its list of inductees the past four years is a who’s who of NHL superstars from the turn of the century. The 15 players inducted between 2012 and 2015 represent a four-year run of inductees the Hall has never seen before.
In fact, I rated the top 10 induction classes from 1966 to this year and found each of the past four years to be worthy enough to be on that list. I picked strictly the post-expansion era because that’s when the HHOF reduced the number of inductees each year from unlimited down to three, then later four in the players category.
While this weekend’s Hall of Fame celebrations – and Monday’s induction ceremonies – are an opportunity for hockey fans to reflect and appreciate the exploits of these greats, there’s also a wedge of bitterness to go with all those sweet memories. After all, this crowning achievement in their careers also serves as a reminder we’re no longer blessed with watching them play.
This year’s class of Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger and Phil Housley rates as the third best class of all-time, by my assessment. But this is one of these subjective evaluations when I don’t mind being overruled by the savvy eye of the everyday hockey fan – yourself. Let us know what you think.
During what is now a Hall of Fame career, Nicklas Lidstrom garnered so much respect that he earned the nickname, The Perfect Human. Not The Perfect Hockey Player. Not The Perfect Defenseman. The Perfect Human. People called Chris Pronger lots of things during what is now a Hall of Fame career, too. None of them is suitable for publication on a website that might be viewed by young people. Many of those words begin with the letter ‘F’.
It was not easy to play the game the way Lidstrom did, but he made it look that way. Playing the game and preparing for it the way Lidstrom meticulously did and maintaining a ridiculously high standard on and off the ice presented its fair share of challenges. But it’s also not easy going to the opposing rink from the time you’re a kid and knowing that you’re going to be the most hated guy there. But like Lidstrom, Pronger embraced his role and status. Lidstrom wore the white hat and Pronger donned the black, and both of them managed to do it while becoming two of the most dominant defensemen of their generation.
Now that Sergei Fedorov is taking his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame and Pavel Bure was finally inducted in 2012, nine long years after he retired, there is an empty spot that needs to be filled. And next year might just be the time to do it.
Because if Alexander Mogilny is going to find his way into the Hall of Fame, 2016 presents a golden opportunity. For one of the few years ever, there is not a slam-dunk Hall of Famer who retired after the 2012-13 season, so the Class of 2016 is wide open for the likes of Mogilny and Eric Lindros.
And Fedorov, for one, believes Mogilny should be in the Hall of Fame immediately.
Whether or not the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings enter the annals of the most decorated teams in the history of the game is now up solely to Pavel Datsyuk. The Magic Man must be inducted after he retires for that team to join the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs with the most players who reside in the hallowed hall.
With the additions of Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov, that Red Wings team now has a total of nine Hall of Famers, which currently stands just one behind the standard bearers in that category, the 1955-56 Canadiens and the 1966-67 Maple Leafs. How good was that team in Detroit? Well, consider that team had a fourth line that consisted of Igor Larionov centering Luc Robitaille and Tomas Holmstrom. Their fourth line. Think about that for a minute.
The AHL has announced its Hall of Fame class of 2016, and Bruce Cline, Ralph Keller, Jean-Francois Labbe — all of whom played for the Hershey Bears — and Bruce Landon will make up the 11th group of inductees into the league’s Hall of Fame.
Cline, 83, was a career AHLer who spent the bulk of his career with three teams in the minor league. He began his AHL tenure with the Providence Reds and spent three seasons with the club before a one-year stint with the Buffalo Bisons. After moving on from Buffalo, Cline spent four years with the Springfield (Mass.) Indians and five with the Hershey Bears before his playing career ended in 1968.
Over his 823 game AHL career, Cline notched 321 goals and 773 points. He was the AHL rookie of the year in 1955-56 and scored three goals and six points in the post-season to help Providence to a Calder Cup victory. In Springfield, Cline helped the team capture three consecutive Calder Cups from 1960 to 1962. Read more