Hall of Fame just can’t help being an old boys’ network, can it?

Sergei Makarov (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee, you’d have to think, just can’t help itself. Try as it might, it is simply unable to resist the urge to act like an old boys’ network. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that it’s made up of 18 white guys, the youngest of whom is 50 years old.

With a blank slate due to the fact that there were no first-time eligible players who were worthy of induction, the committee righted a wrong by finally inducting Eric Lindros seven years after one of the most dominant players of his generation was eligible. Sergei Makarov, a talented winger in the former Soviet Union and a vital cog on one of the most dominant teams in the history of the game. Another solid choice. Tough to argue the induction in the builders’ category with Pat Quinn, a career coach who didn’t win the Stanley Cup, but was the only coach in history lead a team to a World Cup, Olympic gold medal and World Junior Championship.

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Eric Lindros finally elected to Hall of Fame, along with Sergei Makarov, Rogie Vachon, and Pat Quinn

Ian Denomme
Eric Lindros.

At last, Eric Lindros is a Hall of Famer.

‘The Big E’, the bruising power forward who, when healthy, dominated the game for periods in the 1990s with the Philadelphia Flyers, was officially elected as part of the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame class announced on Monday.

This was Lindros’ seventh year of eligibility, and he had seen 19 other players elected during that time before he finally got the call. But with a weak class of first-year eligible players, there was no denying Lindros a spot this time around.

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Lindros, Makarov head field of “leftovers” for Hall of Fame

Brian Costello
lindros-136301606

If Eric Lindros is ever going to make the Hockey Hall of Fame, Monday’s vote is his best opportunity yet. Now in his seventh year of eligibility, ‘The Big E’ has seen 19 players get the green light to Hall induction since 2010 while the selection committee said no to him.

This year’s list of first-time eligible players is lean, with Miikka Kiprusoff, Roman Hamrlik and Wade Redden the top names. All are considered long shots to get 75 percent approval from the 18 members of the selection committee. So then maybe 2016 becomes a make-up year for candidates who were previously passed over.

Lindros is at the head of that leftover class. He was among the best players in the game for the first half of his injury-riddled career, winning the Hart Trophy with 29 goals and 70 points in a lockout-shortened 1994-95 – that prorates to 52 goals and 125 points over a full 82 games. He finished in the top 10 in Hart Trophy voting four other seasons, all with the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Stamkos Sweepstakes part of a busy first week of the off-season

Ken Campbell
Steven Stamkos  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – In the words of veteran Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole, “Everything is happening.” Even though the draft wrapped up Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, the off-season heavy lifting for most teams begins now.

With the free agent courting period beginning Saturday, that should create quite a frenzy over the next few days, particularly when it comes to pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos. Teams have called. Teams will continue to call. Whether Stamkos does a tour of each team who wants to speak to him or they come to him at the Newport agency’s offices in suburban Toronto, not unlike the conga line that showed up at its doors when Brad Richards became a free agent in 2011 is not known. But the line will be long and the talk will be rich leading up to the opening of free agency next Friday.

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Johnny Bower on Gordie Howe: ‘He’ll meet his wife up in heaven now’

Gordie Howe and Johnny Bower. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

A turn of events many decades ago, after an exhibition game in Saskatoon, told Johnny Bower exactly who Gordie Howe was.

Bower, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ stalwart goaltender, was leaving the rink, and Howe, star right winger of the Detroit Red Wings, caught up to him. The two were off-season buddies, so Howe wanted to walk and talk with Bower en route to their next destination. Bower, now 91, doesn’t necessarily remember where they were going, but he remembers clear as day what happened next.

“We got about a block away, and all of a sudden, he turns around and goes back,” Bower said. “He said, ‘John, don’t go too far. I’ll be right back. Stay right here.’ ”

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Pavel Datsyuk taking page from Sergei Fedorov’s playbook, but is it the wrong page?

The Hockey News
Pavel Datsyuk (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

By KEITH GAVE

After helping Russia to a bronze medal finish at the World Championship – and presumably negotiating at the same time with some Kontinental Hockey League clubs while he’s under contract for another season with the Detroit Red Wings – Pavel Datsyuk went on vacation.

But before he causes irreparable harm to his legacy in Hockeytown, Datsyuk would be wise to take a moment and put in a call to Sergei Fedorov, who seems to regret his decision to leave Detroit before his time.

Datsyuk plans to meet with Red Wings GM Ken Holland in mid-June, and in all likelihood make official what has seemed like a foregone conclusion for months – that he will leave the NHL to finish his playing career in Russia. SKA Saint Petersburg appears to be his team of choice, though agent Dan Milstein insists no deal has been consummated and his client may still negotiate with other KHL teams.

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Jaromir Jagr signs one-year deal, will continue assault on record books with Panthers

Ian Denomme
Jaromir Jagr. (Getty Images)

Jaromir Jagr is returning to the NHL for a 23rd season.

The future Hall of Famer came to terms on a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Jagr earned $3.5 million in 2015-15, and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports he’s getting a raise next year:

Jagr, 44, led the Panthers in scoring this season with 66 points in 79 games, and helped lead them to their first playoff appearance since 2011-12. They were bounced in six games by the New York Islanders.

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It’s time to ask uncomfortable questions about Jaromir Jagr’s future

Jaromir Jagr (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the dust settles and the disappointment fades a little more, it’s pretty much a given that Jaromir Jagr will want to play in the NHL again next season. And it’s also pretty much a given that the Florida Panthers will happily take him back.

But watching one of the greatest players in the history of the game labor through the Panthers’ first-round playoff loss to the New York Islanders, some very, very uncomfortable questions have to be asked. Because, folks, this is not a one-off. Jagr has struggled to keep up to the pace of the playoffs for a couple of years now. He has gone 37 playoff games without putting a single puck in the back of the net and when the Boston Bruins made their run to the Stanley Cup final in 2013, he had no goals in 22 games and by Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final, he had been demoted to the fourth line and played just 6:27, the second-lowest total on either roster. If you include his hometown Kladno team he joined during the 2011-12 lockout, Jagr has played for five teams since he last scored a playoff goal.

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