Guys my age are starting to realize that the generations before us have been richly rewarded and then some when it comes to the HHOF. I think we can see where this is headed: with every Dick Duff and Bob Pulford there is going to be a few more Clark Gillies from his era and eventually (if the right guys make it to the selection committee) we’ll see Rene Robert, Gary Bergman and Nick Libett make Hockey’s Hall.
The day I spent at the HHOF was a truly enjoyable one, they had a very nice goalie display with some tremendous photos and the Orr stuff was fabulous. However, it’s an open question as to whether or not I’ll return in the next 30 years or so because frankly the “line in the sand” appears to be getting even worse.
Hockey’s Hall has never managed to spark the imagination the way baseball’s has, for several reasons: baseball is very stats oriented, so that when Steve Carlton won his 300th game or Stretch McCovey slammed number 500 everyone knew they’d make Cooperstown. Also, unlike baseball, the ridiculous selection process which allows guys who played in the same era to elect their friends into the Hall seems to be getting worse (imagine).
Baseball has plenty of guys who had massive counting numbers that will never ever reach the Hall of Fame. Rusty Staub (a childhood favorite) played almost 3,000 games and had 2,700 hits but no one ever suggested him for Cooperstown. If hockey’s braintrust ran baseball, Staub would be in the Hall of Fame and they’d be talking up the entire 1987 Minnesota Twins infield.
Where then SHOULD we place the line in the sand? Previously on this blog (2006) I made an attempt to filter the HHOF based on numbers, All-Star appearances, Awards won, etc. with mixed results.
The problem I believe comes down to definition. Bob Pulford and Dick Duff made the Hall due partly (mostly?) to their presence on some very famous hockey teams (Stanley winners in Toronto and Montreal). Hell that entire 1967 Leafs team will get in as soon as they can all remember how to spell Autry Erickson.
So, if we’re to improve the HHOF criteria for an “internet inner circle”, what criteria should be used? All Star Appearances? Awards won? Counting numbers? Number of times impacting a playoff run?
Or are we doomed to picking favorites like the dummies who voted Duff into the Hall of Fame. If that is the case, one day we can all look forward to honoring Bobby Holik as a member once Martin Brodeur and Scott Niedermayer are named to the selection committee.
The only really strong work I’ve seen on the subject in the last number of years is from The Puck Stops Here. I’d add some very interesting posts over the years from Tyler at MC79 that led me to believe that Kelly Hrudey may well have better HOF credentials than some more famous goalies (like Grant Fuhr).
It’s a subject I’d like to tackle again, but with the statistical limitations we have (in looking back) for those players who began their careers in the 1970s, 1980s and even 1990s, how do we effectively make better judgements than the old boys network at the HHOF and justify them credibly?