Pavel Bure

Why the Hockey Hall of Fame has to open its doors a little wider


Once again the Hockey Hall of Fame voting committee has made their call and once again they’ve done a good job electing a group of players for the 2011 Hall of Fame class. There’s no way to take umbrage with any of Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour, or Mark Howe. They’re all outstanding players worthy of the Hall and for one player it’s been an excruciating wait to have his name called.

For Mark Howe it’s taken him 16 years to be elected to the Hall of Fame and while for some that might lead to an argument over whether or not he was actually worthy of the honor, in his situation, we’ll take it to mean something else. It’s time for the Hall of Fame to relax their limits on how many players to honor in a given year.

Any given year for the elections a maximum of four players can be voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. These limits were put in place when the NHL was much smaller than it is now and the number of players playing hockey around the world were vastly smaller. With the number of great and immensely talented players that come through the NHL now and with so many of them with stellar cases for the Hockey Hall of Fame the backlog of players that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame that will have to sweat things out year to year is only going to grow.

After taking a look at some of the bigger snubs were after this year’s round of elections while taking a look ahead to next year, no matter what we’re going to see some guys being left out. For some of the guys that have been waiting things out, the wait might get a lot longer. For those coming up that miss out, they too could find themselves in the same position as Howe has being wrongly left out in the cold. Instead of keeping the number limited to the archaic four,  the Hall of Fame should as well and open it up so as many as eight could be elected in a single year. After all, the NHL and other leagues around the world and throughout North America have expanded to such great numbers, it’s only right that the Hall does as well.

Some of you will be critical of this saying that it’ll make the Hall of Fame into the “Hall of Decent Players.” Not so much. If nothing else, the Hall of Fame voting committee has shown their ability to restrain themselves some years and not electing their full number of those that could be elected. Not every year ends with a full complement of those eligible amongst players, builders, women, and officials.

For instance in 2010, Dino Ciccarelli was the only player elected. In 2008, just two players were elected in Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov. Same in 2005 when just Cam Neely and Valeri Kharlamov were elected. Giving the voters the ample leeway to vote freely rather than hem and haw over numerous qualified players would at least open the doors to the hall that much wider for everyone that deserves to be in there to make it in there when they should.

For players like Dave Andreychuk (he of 640 goals), Adam Oates (16th all-time in points, one spot ahead of Doug Gilmour), Pavel Bure (a dynamic career cut short by injury) and numerous others, their calls to the Hall of Fame have yet to be made and there’s no good reason why. With the likes of Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Mats Sundin, and Curtis Joseph eligible for the first time next year the list will only grow longer one way or another.

Keeping these players out of the Hall of Fame is silly and does them a disservice. No one should have to sweat things out as long as Mark Howe did after having a Hall of Fame career. If the Hockey Hall of Fame wants to properly honor its players, letting more of them in when they’re eligible and approved to enter would be the right way to do it.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

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.”