2010's Hockey Hall of Fame class opens up the waiting list

It’s coming sooner than you think. Not just the end of the season, but also the announcement of the newest class of hockey’s Hall of Fame on June 22nd. The Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo got the buzz started today wondering aloud if this is the year Dino Ciccarelli finally gets into the hallowed halls in Toronto.

So could this be Dino Ciccarelli’s year? There are 18 600-goal scorers in the history of the league and Ciccarelli and Dave Andreychuk are the only eligible 600-goal scorers who aren’t in the Hall. How about Phil Housley (highest-scoring American defenseman ever), Doug Gilmour or Adam Oates (1,400-points each)?

In a year where the incoming eligible class is light on seemingly automatic elections (Joe Nieuwendyk might be the only one), this is the first time in a couple of years that both Dino Ciccarelli and Adam Oates have an honest-to-goodness shot at busting through. Both players were eligible two years ago when only Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov were elected, but they’ve been hammered by hugely amazing Hall classes in 2007 and 2009 that were teeming over with automatic first-ballot guys.

What about this year, though? The Hall of Fame only allows four players to be elected in any year (hence the pecking order getting backed up) so if you consider Nieuwendyk to be an automatic in (564 goals, 1126 points, three Stanley Cups, Calder Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy) then what of the rest? Here’s a look at the main candidates both those mentioned by Russo and otherwise after the jump.

Dave Andreychuk – Played over 1600 games during both the high-scoring 80s and the non-scoring 90s. Captained Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. Finished his career with 640 goals and 1,338 points. Two-time 50 goal scorer and two-time 40 goal scorer. He’s the perfect example of having a long-lasting steady and outstanding career and also manages to stay out of the talk of having played too long, something which folks hold against…

Adam Oates – He played 19 seasons and over 1,300 games amassing the sixth-highest assist total in NHL history with 1,079. He’s 16th all-time in points with 1,420 and has been the key set-up man for two recent Hall of Fame inductions in Brett Hull and Cam Neely. Some folks seem to think Oates was a coat-tail rider and not a winner (2 Stanley Cup finals appearances, no wins) others are unashamed to point out that Oates won in college (1985 National Championship with RPI) and that Brett Hull and Cam Neely may not have legends to build on without Oates’ passing. For Oates, perhaps assists not getting noticed is a bigger problem.

Doug Gilmour – Gilmour is the folk hero of Toronto, even in spite of his greatest career win coming in Calgary in 1989. Gilmour became a folk hero to Maple Leafs fans for his efforts in doing everything possible to try and get the Leafs to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993 only to be derailed by Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings (and maybe even Kerry Fraser). His points total alone should get him in the Hall yet… Here we are still waiting.

Dino Ciccarelli – Of the guys I’m talking about who have been waiting to get in the Hall, Dino has been waiting the longest. He’s one of two 600-plus goal scorers not yet in the Hall of Fame (Andreychuk the other). He’d finish his career in anonymity with the Florida Panthers but manages to be left off of ballots thanks to having off-ice skirmishes with the media as well as an ugly incident on the ice while with the Minnesota North Stars as he clubbed then Leafs defenseman Luke Richardson in the head with his stick.

Phil Housley – He’s perhaps the second-greatest American defenseman of all time (behind Brian Leetch) and he spent the better part of his career in relative obscurity always ending up on losing teams (one Cup finals appearance with Washington in 1998).  What hurts his case is a career -53 rating. Think of him as America’s answer to Paul Coffey and perhaps you can make a stronger case based on that. Of course, Coffey also managed to win a boatload of Cups so… Just forget it.

Pierre Turgeon – Bet you didn’t think you’d hear this name again, eh? 19 seasons, 1,294 games and 1,327 points makes for a pretty respectable career – even playing for the Sabres and Islanders for the early part of that. Of course, Turgeon’s highlight package is almost always centered around being destroyed by Washington’s Dale Hunter after scoring a goal in the series-clinching win in the first round of the playoffs in 1993.

I could go on much longer, as well as dipping into the candidacies of two of the all-time outstanding Russian NHLers who continue to wait for their possible call (Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny ring a bell to anyone?) but asking the voters to get motivated to elect a truly great Russian player might be like asking them to get the vote right in the first place.

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    It’s Toronto Maple Leafs day at PHT

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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    In a lot of ways, the 2015-16 season represented more of the same for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The results were nearly identical to 2014-15, right down to finishing in the basement of the East (69 points last season, 68 the one the year before).

    Indeed, Brendan Shanahan is probably correct in saying that the Maple Leafs earned the No. 1 pick “the hard way,” or at least “earned” the higher draft lottery odds that helped them land Auston Matthews.

    The big question, really, is how long will fans be patient with the Maple Leafs taking baby steps in the right direction?

    Off-season

    Naturally, the team tried to make more a leap forward in seeking Steven Stamkos and, to a less dramatic extent, Jimmy Vesey.

    They fell short in those regards, but that doesn’t mean that management merely idled while hoping for improvements from in-house development.

    The Maple Leafs made bold changes in net, ending the Jonathan Bernier era while betting big on Frederik Andersen and also bringing in a promising backup in Jhonas Enroth.

    Beyond those big moves in net, the Maple Leafs made some minor adjustments. They handed surprising money and term to Matt Martin while taking short-term fliers on veterans Milan Michalek and Roman Polak.

    On paper, this team still looks quite a few steps away from being a playoff contender, but perhaps we’ll start to see things come together?

    A lot of that rides on the work of Matthews, Morgan Rielly and other young players (William Nylander, Mitch Marner) who may or may not make a lasting impact on the regular season roster.

    Will the rebuilding plan start to pay dividends? PHT explores the iconic franchise on Tuesday.

    Keep your head up: Hurricanes reportedly hand Raffi Torres a PTO

    VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 3:  Raffi Torres #13 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks for a 3-2 victory in overtime in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, May 03, 2013 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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    From opting against fighting the NHL’s 41-game suspension to seeing his season derailed by knee issues, there was the feeling that the league had seen the last of controversial forward Raffi Torres.

    Perhaps not.

    The Carolina Hurricanes reportedly handed the 34-year-old a PTO, according to former Hurricanes defenseman Aaron Ward.

    It’s something the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander also mentioned on Monday.

    With Bryan Bickell added to the mix during this off-season, the Hurricanes seem interesting in adding some beef. It’s unclear if Torres is really in the sort of condition to make a mark, but Carolina’s going to at least take a look at him.

    Beware, pre-season opponents and training camp teammates.

    Capitals bump Todd Reirden up to associate coach

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 10:  Assistant coach Todd Reirden of the Washington Capitals talks to the power play unit during a time-out against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 10, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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    The Washington Capitals announced that Todd Reirden (pictured) was promoted from assistant to associate coach on Monday.

    What does that mean, exactly? Well, most directly, the team shared word that he’ll run Capitals training camp while Barry Trotz works with Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

    Giving Reirden a promotion makes sense, as he’s been linked to some head coaching searches. The Washington Post compiled some of his opportunities:

    In the past two years, Reirden has been a serious candidate for two NHL head-coaching gigs. According to the Calgary Sun, Reirden was a finalist to coach the Flames before they settled on Glen Gulutzan, and he was considered for the New Jersey Devils’ vacancy last summer, too. Lane Lambert, another Capitals assistant, was a finalist for the Colorado Avalanche head-coaching job earlier this month, according to the Denver Post.

    The Capitals have a pretty well-regarded coaching group, as many credit goaltending coach Mitch Korn with some of Braden Holtby‘s improvement since Trotz took over.

    Maybe we’ll see Reirden and Lambert get head coaching gigs at some point, but for now, Trotz’s “coaching tree” stays intact.

    Penguins believe Kessel, others can heal up by start of next season

    SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after their 3-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Going deep enough into the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup often comes with the cost of stacking up injuries, and the Pittsburgh Penguins paid the price.

    As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others report, Phil Kessel (wrist) and others aren’t guaranteed to be healthy to start the 2016-17 regular season.

    “All the injured guys are tracking in the right direction,” GM Jim Rutherford said. “Until they all get here, we won’t know 100 percent where they’re at, but it sounds like all the guys should be ready for camp.”

    The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review runs down a significant list of players who likely accrued bumps and bruises that may carry over:

    Defenseman Trevor Daley, for instance, suffered a broken ankle on May 20. Kris Letang (foot), Nick Bonino (elbow infection), Bryan Rust (hand), Patric Hornqvist (hand) and Evgeni Malkin (elbow), among others, dealt with physical problems of varying severity at times.

    If recent history is any indication, Kessel will probably fight hard not to miss time.

    For all the weird criticisms he receives, he’s been remarkably durable, playing in every game during the past six seasons.

    That’s impressive stuff, but the Penguins would be wise to keep an eye on the big picture. If it comes down to making Kessel and others swallow a little pride to limit the odds of aggravating injuries, they need to do it.

    Even if it means a bumpy start to their title defense.