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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    Mike Yeo gets a vote of confidence; Wild will scratch Vanek, Zucker vs. STL

    Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo talks to Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
    Associated Press
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    Things haven’t been going well with Minnesota’s hockey team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean changes are coming via firings or trades.

    On Saturday, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher reiterated his confidence in his team and his coaching staff going forward.

    The Wild have won just three of 15 games since Jan. 1 and they’re currently riding a four-game losing streak.

    The Wild have been through mid-season slumps before.

    Last year, Yeo lost it during a team practice and that seemed to spark his team, as they were able to turn things around and make it to the postseason.

    Will a similar tactic work, again? Probably not.

    As PHT pointed out earlier this week, this slump might not be like the previous ones.

    The Wild are just one point behind Nashville (with a game in a hand) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but will their top guns be able to get them out of this funk?

    The numbers aren’t pretty:

    Zach Parise has no points in his last four games and just one goal in his last nine contests.

    Thomas Vanek hasn’t scored in eight games. He has just one assist during that span.

    Mikko Koivu has four assists in 15 games since the new year began.

    Mikael Granlund has two assists since Jan. 7 and he has a a minus-11 rating since then.

    Jason Zucker has one assist in 11 games. He hasn’t scored since Jan. 7.

    How will Yeo get his team’s attention this time around?

    Here’s your answer:

    Hossa doesn’t think the coach’s challenge is “good for the league”

    Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, left, Marian Hossa (81) and Bryan Bickell (29) react after Los Angeles Kings' Jake Muzzin scored a goal  during the third period in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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    Marian Hossa isn’t a fan of the coach’s challenge.

    The veteran winger ripped the NHL’s new challenge system after he had a goal called back in Thursday’s game against Arizona.

    –To watch the overturned goal, click here

    “I thought that was [a] joke,” Hossa said, per the Sun-Times. “I tried to battle in front of the net and I don’t have any intention to touch the goalie, just try to battle through two guys and put the puck in the net. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the playoffs, if there’s going to be calls after calls after calls. But I don’t think it’s good for the league.”

    The goal was called back because as Hossa was battling in front, he got tangled up with goaltender Louis Domingue‘s stick.

    It’s safe to say that Joel Quenneville wasn’t pleased with the decision:

    One of the main criticisms of the challenge system is that the review is conducted on a small tablet by the referees on the ice instead of someone in a war room in Toronto or New York.

    Every time a goal is disallowed, the NHL writes a blog explaining why the decision was made.

    Here’s what they said about the call on Hossa:

    The Referee determined that Hossa interfered with Domingue before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”

    Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Chicago Blackhawks.

    Do you think the referee got the call right?

    Report: Penguins will host Flyers in an outdoor game in 2017

    In this photo made with a fisheye lens, fireworks go off above Heinz Field as fans hold cards with a message honoring veterans before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
    Associated Press
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    It looks like the battle of Pennsylvania will head outdoors in 2017, according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to host the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field next year. It’s still unclear if the game will be a Stadium Series tilt or the NHL’s annual Winter Classic game on Jan. 1.

    Here’s an excerpt from Burnside’s story:

    The two state rivals have been talking for months about a plan for an outdoor game or series of outdoor games. There was discussion about playing an outdoor game at Penn State, but it’s believed financial demands by the university soured the teams on the neutral site as an option, so the two franchises have been looking at a reciprocal arrangement with an outdoor game played one year in Pittsburgh and a second game in Philadelphia perhaps the next year.

    Although the Steelers and Penguins have a good working relationship, there could be a scheduling conflict if the NHL wants to make this game the Winter Classic.

    Jan. 1 will be the final day of the NFL’s regular season . Should the Steelers host a Wild Card game the following week, they’d likely decide that a hockey game on their field isn’t the wisest decision.

    To avoid this dilemma, the league would just have to move the game to Dec. 31.

    This would be the second time Heinz Field hosts an outdoor game (2011).

    Islanders officially activate Johnny Boychuk (upper body) off IR

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    The New York Islanders got some good news on the injury front, as they’ve activated Johnny Boychuk off injured reserve.

    The 32-year-old missed a total of 11 games because of an upper-body injury he suffered in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 31 (above).

    New York went 5-5-1 without Boychuk, and they conceded four goals or more in five of those contests.

    In 38 games with Boychuk, the Islanders had allowed four goals or more just six times.

    The Islanders currently sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division. They’re three points behind the Rangers (two games in hand) and 18 points behind the first place Capitals.

    In a corresponding move, they assigned defenseman Scott Mayfield to the AHL.