Joe Sakic

2011 Hall of Fame talk: The biggest snub and 2012’s staggering class of eligible players


So, in case you missed it, the 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees are: Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk. That’s a pretty impressive group of players, but that won’t stop the Twitterverse and other Internet complaint outlets from providing a steady flow of gripes.

From our perspective, Adam Oates might be the biggest snub. He received the fourth most votes in PHT’s informal poll of our own staff, media experts and hockey bloggers, making him the consensus pick for the most overlooked player.

That being said, there were plenty of other options for those wanting to vent their frustrations. Some think that great players from the USSR big red machine era – such as Boris Mikhailov and Sergei Makarov – won’t ever get their just due. Others are outraged that the selection committee is dragging its feet to posthumously honor former head coach Pat Burns while Fred Shero also continues to be a dark horse candidate in the “builders” category. Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros probably bring about the most arguments from a “quality versus quantity” standpoint. Our own Matt Reitz will talk your ear off about the merits of goalie Rogie Vachon.

There are a ton of seemingly worthy candidates for inclusion into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but perhaps that’s the point. If it was easy to get in – and some, like myself, would argue that it’s already too easy to get in – then it wouldn’t be much of an honor, would it? Still, it’s usually enjoyable to engage in these wildly subjective debates, so let us know who you think was the biggest snub by voting in this poll and telling us all about it in the comments.

Note: we know that you won’t be satisfied with all the choices provided, so please keep in mind that you can “write in” a candidate in the “other” field.

Now that you’ve decided which player (or builder) was the biggest snub, we have some rather bad news: they’re probably going to wait a while before they get into the Hall of Fame. As we discussed last year, the 2012 class of first year eligible players is pretty staggering.

Key 2012 first year eligible players:

  • Joe Sakic
  • Jeremy Roenick
  • Mats Sundin
  • Brendan Shanahan
  • Curtis Joseph
  • Gary Roberts
  • Claude Lemieux
  • Olaf Kolzig
  • Bobby Holik
  • Michael Peca

Maybe a few of those players are a bit marginal toward the end, but Sakic and Shanahan will probably be first-ballot guys. Sundin shouldn’t be far behind (if he needs to wait at all) and Roenick puts the ‘fame’ in Hall of Fame. It’s possible that someone like Adam Oates – with his 1,079 assists and hearty helpings of goodwill – might be able to get in next year, but “fringe” candidates probably don’t even need to check their caller ID’s in mid-June next year. With Scott Niedermayer and Rob Blake eligible in 2013, they might just want to take two years off.

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock
Leave a comment

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat

As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?