The routine turnover with three members of the selection committee opens the door for Rob Blake to gain Hall of Fame approval in June.
Critical analysis is part of our job in covering hockey. From time to time, The Hockey News is critical of the selections or omissions made by the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Doug Gilmour, Pavel Bure, Igor Larionov, Cam Neely were left standing at the altar multiple years before finally getting in. Others, like Eric Lindros, Phil Housley, Tom Barrasso, Guy Carbonneau, are still waiting. And then there’s the list of players who received induction when we thought they weren’t exactly worthy.
It’s all part of the business of critical evaluation.
One thing the Hall of Fame does I can’t ever argue with because it’s a healthy practice. It regularly turns over personnel on its 18-member selection committee. The committee has a stipulated limit for length of service.
The Hall issued a press release Monday announcing Jim Gregory is stepping down as chairman of the selection committee. Gregory was a thoughtful and dedicated member of the committee for 21 years, 17 of them as chairman. He’s being replaced by Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson. Also leaving the committee are Pat Quinn (now chairman of the board) and Serge Savard.
Replacing those three on the committee are Philadelphia Flyers senior vice-president Bobby Clarke, Nashville Predators president and GM David Poile and Los Angeles Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille.
Having new blood join the committee every couple of years keeps open the possibility former players will be re-considered years after being first eligible.
In 2006, Dick Duff received induction 31 years after first becoming eligible. Dino Ciccarelli got in in 2010, eight years after he was first-time eligible. In 2011, Mark Howe was voted in, a full 13 years after his name first appeared on the ballot.
We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors when the selection committee meets because members are bound by confidentiality restrictions. But it’s safe to assume newer members to the committee bring their own agenda to the table and perhaps campaign for players passed over in previous years.
The committee is made up of former players, executives and media. The other 15 members of the committee include Scotty Bowman, David Branch, Brian Burke, Colin Campbell, Davidson, Eric Duhatschek, Mike Emrick, Michael Farber, Marc de Foy, Mike Gartner, Anders Hedberg, Larionov, Lanny McDonald, Peter Stastny and Bill Torrey.
First-time eligible players for 2014 are Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano, all considered excellent bets. A maximum four players get in every year, meaning there’s room for one holdover this year.
Among the top holdovers who might have new hope with the turnover of three selection committee members are Lindros, Housley, Barrasso, Carbonneau, Sergei Makarov, Dale Hunter, Claude Lemieux, Theo Fleury, Mike Richter, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Rob Blake, Curtis Joseph and Jeremy Roenick.
It makes sense that Robitaille might make a big push for former teammate Blake, who was first-time eligible in 2013, but didn’t make it when Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan made the grade.
And with Clarke being new to the committee, does that delay the approval of Lindros? They had a rocky relationship that ended poorly in Philadelphia. We'll have to wait until the committee meets in June.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN