Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hall of a pick

Sports fans enjoy mulling over selections for the Hall of Fame, and I'm no exception. They all have their quirks and are difficult to predict. Baseball voters tend to reward longevity over short-term brilliance, the recent selection of Bruce Sutter not withstanding. Football's Hall is getting more and more exclusive, as they only take as many as seven players a year in a sport that has 22 regulars (plus kickers). Basketball has to factor in college play and international contributions.

Then there's hockey. Try to figure them out.

This year, four people made it. We'll throw out Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss, since no one cares too much about executives. That leaves three.

Patrick Roy? We saw that coming. Greatest goalie ever, by some accounts. Won a ton of games and a few Cups. A slam-dunk choice.

Herb Brooks? No problem. You've heard about the Miracle on Ice, and he did much more in his too-short life.

If you had given me 10 picks for the final spot, I wouldn't have come up with Dick Duff. But that's who went in.

Now Dick Duff was a pretty solid player in his day. He showed up most nights, had a decent scoring touch (five 20-goal seasons), played a two-way game, and went on for something like 18 years.

But Dick Duff instead of Dino Ciccarelli? Dick Duff instead of Glenn Anderson?

Ciccarelli scored more than 600 goals in his career. He's 13th on the all-time list. That's pretty good, even if he played in the lively puck era. If I'm in an all-time fantasy draft, Dino goes well before Duff.

Anderson scored almost 500 goals in his career, and won some Cups on those great Oiler teams. He wasn't a main component of those teams, but he was a mighty good player.

There were a number of others up for induction this year, including Doug Gilmour, Phil Housley, Pavel Bure and Tom Barrasso. You could at least make a case for all of them, although Bure's career probably was too short for serious consideration.

Every so often, the committee does something like this. All I can think about in terms of a comparison is the Irving Thalberg Award at the Oscars, in which an old-timer is honored for long and meritorious service.

I didn't think Clark Gillies was a Hall of Famer, for example. Leo Boivin played in three all-star games. Roy Conacher was a first-team all-star once. He had some good seasons, and his career was shortened by the war, but I'd rather argue the case against than the case for.

Bill Parcells once said that it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Pretty Good. That sometimes comes to mind when it comes to the Hockey Hall.

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