2006 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductions
by Bob Davis(NHL)
Posted on June 27, 2006, 8:37 PM
The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee is meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, June 28th) to decide on the 2006 inductees into the hallowed halls. The committee will have one easy pick when they meet tomorrow, but the other 3 slots that are available are nearly anyone’s guess. From a roster that includes Steve Larmer, Dino Ciccarelli, Pavel Bure, Mike Vernon, Doug Gilmour, Mike Richter, Tom Barrasso, Kevin Lowe, Kirk Muller, Glenn Anderson and Patrick Roy, people such as Al Arbour and John Davidson will have a terrifying task picking just 4 deserving candidates.
While I know that the chances of a Scotty Bowman or a Colin Campbell reading this are slim, allow me to make my case for a few of the most deserving of the 2006 Hall of Fame candidates, and hopefully save the committee a few minutes of deliberations.
I’ll admit that I don’t need to make too much of a case for Patrick. After all, my wife’s cousin was only able to post a paltry 66 shutouts and a career 2.54 goals against average over the course of 19 NHL seasons. In addition to his 4 Stanley Cup victories – 2 each with the Canadiens and the Avalanche – he posted 551 victories against 315 losses in the regular season, and added a 163-102 record in the playoffs. Roy was a 5-time winner of the William Jennings trophy, a 3-time winner of the Vezina, and a 3-time Conn Smythe award winner.
Patrick’s selection into the Hockey Hall of Fame is likely a foregone conclusion. The selection committee is going to be hard-pressed to find someone more deserving than a player who was voted the best goaltender of all-time, as announced on NHL.com. On November 13th, Patrick and his 4 NHL records – most games played and wins by a goaltender for both the regular season and playoffs – will have a spot reserved in Toronto.
While Roy’s induction is an easy one, this one is a little tougher. After all, Ciccarelli is perhaps the best player that nobody remembers. Perhaps that was one motivating factor for Dino’s entire career, considering it started without a phone call on draft day. However, Ciccarelli made sure that he took advantage of a single opportunity, after signing with the Minnesota North Stars in 1979. Over the course of the next 20 seasons, Dino racked up 1200 points with 5 NHL teams, but never etched his name on the Stanley Cup.
Ciccarelli spent much of his time on the ice camped out in front of the opposing team’s net. Despite the fact that he was only 5’10 and 180lbs, he was a dominating force in the offensive zone, often drawing penalties and blocking opposing goaltenders’ view of the puck. The fact that Dino only amassed 1200 points is not a true reflection of the impact that he had on the games he played in. However, there is simply no statistic kept on the record books for the number of times Ciccarelli got in a goalie’s way.
Dino’s induction eligibility has been met with some controversy. Ciccarelli was once suspended for 10 games for nailing Luke Richardson in the head with a hockey stick; he has also allegedly had several physical encounters with various members of the media since his retirement. However, his play on the ice should be all that matters to the Hall of Fame committee, and Ciccarelli was one of the best to play the game.
The 1981 NHL Entry Draft will go down as the draft that shaped the future of the Calgary Flames, and all it took were 2 very lucrative draft picks. In the first round, the Flames snapped up Al MacInnis for their 15th overall pick, and they followed up by taking a young goaltender by the name of Mike Vernon with the 56th overall pick in the 3rd round. The tandem paid dividends for Calgary just 8 years later, leading the Flames to their first, and (to-date) only, Stanley Cup win.
Over the course of 20 NHL seasons, Vernon racked up 385 wins and 27 shutouts in the regular season, and a further 77 wins and 6 shutouts in playoff action. He holds 3 Calgary Flames team records, including most shutouts and most minutes played by a goaltender. Vernon spent 12 seasons with the Flames before being dealt to the Red Wings in 1994. While in Detroit, Vernon served as a mentor for future starter Chris Osgood, while putting up a 2.40 GAA in 95 regular season games with the Wings.
Vernon also put up impressive numbers during 2 stellar playoff runs for the Wings. In 1995, Vernon posted 12 wins and a 2.31 GAA in 18 games while leading the Wings to a Stanley Cup finals berth, where they were swept away by a powerful New Jersey squad. However, in 1997, Vernon was able to complete his quest for the holy grail a second time, leading the Wings to a Stanley Cup triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers. Vernon ended the playoff campaign in 1997 with 16 wins in 20 starts, posting a stingy 1.76 GAA and a shutout en route to capturing the Conn Smythe trophy.
Following the 1997 season, Detroit opted to go with Osgood as their starter, so Vernon was shipped off to San Jose. While with the Sharks, Vernon notched 30 wins in 63 starts, leading the California club to the playoffs in 1998. From there, Vernon wound down his career as a journeyman, with stops in Minnesota and Florida before finding his way back to Calgary. During his final 5 seasons, he was used primarily as a backup and a mentor for younger goaltenders.
Mike Vernon played the game like a true champion, and his statistics bear that out. He is a 5-time NHL all-star, a 2-time Stanley Cup champion, a Conn Smythe award winner and a legend in the history of the Calgary Flames.
Out of the remaining candidates, one other name stands out as a deserving candidate in my eyes. Despite the fact that Don Cherry is going to love me for bringing up his name, I have to say that the 4th, and final, 2006 inductee to the Hockey Hall of Fame should be none other than:
If the Flames picked up a steal in Vernon back in 1981, then the Blues committed highway robbery when they drafted Gilmour in the 7th round of the 1983 draft. Gilmour put up impressive numbers in 5 seasons with St. Louis, including a stellar 1986-87 campaign in which he lit the lamp 42 times and added 63 assists. Following the 1988 season, St. Louis shipped Gilmour to the Flames, where Gilmour helped his new club win the Stanley Cup in 1989.
After flirting with the 100-point plateau in each of the next 2 seasons, the Flames completed a mid-season trade with Toronto, sending Gilmour close to his hometown of Kingston. As a Maple Leaf, Gilmour led the team to the Western Conference Finals in 1992-93, before succumbing to the L.A. Kings in 7 games. Gilmour and the Leafs made it back to the Conference Finals the next season, before bowing out to the Vancouver Canucks. Those 2 seasons represented the pinnacle of Gilmour’s career, as Cherry’s favourite boy posted 111 points in 93-94, and 127 points in 92-93, the latter earning him a spot in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ record books.
Gilmour hit the road again at the 1997 trade deadline, making his way to New Jersey. From there, Doug played for Chicago, Buffalo and Montreal, putting up respectable numbers everywhere he went. However, Doug was not able to return to his form of 1993-94, and the Habs traded Douggie back to Toronto at the trade deadline of the 2002-03 season. Doug played just 1 game with the Leafs, where he suffered a knee injury that ultimately ended his NHL career.
Over the course of his 20 year NHL career, Gilmour put up 1414 regular season points and added another 188 in the post-season. On top of that, he won the Selke trophy in 92-93 as the NHL’s best defensive forward, and he set an NHL record in 1988-89 for the 2 fastest shorthanded goals, notching the tallies just 4 seconds apart. With a top 10 spot on the NHL’s all time scoring list locked up, the 5’11 center’s next stop should be the Hockey Hall of Fame.
There are many deserving candidates for induction into this year’s hall of fame. Both Mike Richter and Tom Barrasso are legendary goaltenders who deserve a spot; while Kevin Lowe should have already had his name added to the Hall. A case could also be made to add Phil Housley to the Hall before Ciccarelli. To be quite honest, none of the 4 I mentioned would be a big surprise if their names were mentioned tomorrow night as inductees. However, the most deserving candidates are the 4 that go by the names of Roy, Ciccarelli, Vernon and Gilmour.
One final note: my best wishes go out to the Ciccarelli family right now. Dino’s father, Benito, is fighting a battle with cancer at this time, and I’d like to wish him all the best as he goes through the fight of his life.
Information for this column was derived from the following sources: