With or without Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, the 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame induction will take place tonight (you can see it on NHL Network starting at 7:30 pm ET).
While we reminisce about Joe Sakic, Adam Oates, Pavel Bure and Mats Sundin, the natural next question is: who’s next?
First, it’s important to note some of the ground rules. While it’s certainly not mandatory to hit the max level, each year’s class is capped at four members.
It’s always sexy to consider first-ballot Hall of Famers, too, so here are some of the biggest names eligible for induction starting in 2013:
Scott Niedermayer, Chris Chelios, Rob Blake, Rod Brind’Amour, Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya and Owen Nolan.
That’s already a formidable list of players, but what about some of the excellent contributors who missed out at least once?
Here are some of the most notable contenders from previous years:
Brendan Shanahan, Jeremy Roenick, Theoren Fleury, Claude Lemieux, Phil Housley, Eric Lindros, Sergei Makarov, Curtis Joseph, Gary Roberts, Steve Larmer, Tom Barrasso, Guy Carbonneau, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Markus Naslund, Rogie Vachon, Mike Vernon and John Leclair.
There’s little doubt that there are proponents of other players out there, so feel free to write-in candidates in the poll and/or mention worthy nominees in the comments.
With the four-player maximum in mind, go ahead and share your votes on who deserves to be enshrined in 2013.
(Names listed in alphabetical order.)
Note: to keep things simple, the “builders” category isn’t addressed. Feel free to discuss the merits of candidates such as Pat Burns and Fred Shero in the comments, though.