by PuckStopsHere on 06/28/11 at 05:45 PM ET
The 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame inductions were announced a few minutes ago. In are Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk. Four players is the maximum number that can be inducted in a year and with a backlog of eligible candidates who had been overlooked in years past there are more than four players who were eligible today and should be inducted. Surprisingly, no women players or builders were inducted, as both were expected.
The four players inducted today are all worthy candidates and I will write in the future about their specific Hall of Fame cases. Ed Belfour is in his first year of eligibility. Some thought he might be forced to wait a few years for induction because of some off-ice issues, but that is not the case. I applaud the Hall of Fame committee for that decision. After all if Belfour is good enough to make the Hall of Fame next year or the year after, he was good enough this year as well.
Doug Gilmour has been eligible since 2006 but has been overlooked for a few years in part because of the large number of players who retired at the lockout time making for large classes of eligible Hall of Famers and due to off-ice issues of his own. He should have been inducted a few years ago, but late is better than never.
Mark Howe has been eligible since 1998. He has long been thought of as one of the best eligible players. It was believed he was punished for having played in the WHA, which was the upstart rival of the NHL in the 1970’s. Many of the Hall of Fame committee members still held ill will toward that league and made Howe wait over a decade before inducting him. Finally this has been corrected.
Joe Nieuwendyk was first eligible in 2010 (last year). It isn’t clear to me why he was overlooked last year but he is inducted this year.
Other eligible players who have to wait for another year include Adam Oates, Sergei Makarov, Dave Andreychuk, Eric Lindros, Phil Housley and others. Next year there is a strong class of first time candidates. Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan and Mats Sundin are all first time eligible players who should be inducted. Curtis Joseph, Jeremy Roenick and Markus Naslund are first time eligible players who might get some consideration but I do not think are worthy.
All told, the Hall of Fame committee did a good job adding four players who should be there. In some cases they were adding long-time overlooked players. Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk are a good Hall of Fame class.
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