Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk joined the greatest players of all-time in the Hockey Hall of Fame this afternoon. Check out video of their ring ceremony, which includes some interesting reflections from all four inductees – plus Mark’s famous dad. (My pick for the most interesting bit: Nieuwendyk’s true love was lacrosse. Hockey history would be a little different if he didn’t opt for the NHL, eh?)
The 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. Keep in mind a few things before perusing this year’s additions.
An inductee must be on 75 percent of the voters’ ballots to be inducted. A maximum of four male players and two female players can be inducted while any combination of two builders/referees/executives can be inducted each year. The induction ceremony will take place on November 19.
The 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees (all players, no builders): Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk.
Belfour, Gilmour and Nieuwendyk were probably the most obvious inclusions while Howe’s induction has been a long time coming. While last year’s Hall of Fame class was full of surprises, this year’s edition is much more predictable (even if many will complain about the choices anyway). One can see the consensus from those picks by looking at Belfour, Gilmour and Nieuwendyk’s domination of our own informal poll of PHT staff, media experts and hockey bloggers.
Adam Oates was the only player in the top four of our poll who didn’t make it this afternoon (somewhere PHT’s own Joe Yerdon might be stewing). We’ll provide the requisite sounding board for snub talk later on, but let’s take a quick snapshot of these players’ careers first.
Ed Belfour – “Eddie the Eagle” wasn’t even drafted into the NHL, yet he ended up being a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His numbers are impeccable: one Stanley Cup, two Vezina Trophies, 484 regular season wins (third all-time) and 88 more in the playoffs. Belfour was one of the best goalies of his generation, making him a worthy addition to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Doug Gilmour – While Belfour wasn’t even drafted, Gilmour languished until the seventh round of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. He went on to notch almost a point per game by scoring an outstanding 1,414 points in 1,474 regular season games, but his playoff production was even more impressive. Gilmour is tied with Joe Sakic for seventh all-time in postseason scoring with a staggering 188 playoff points in 182 games. He probably would have made it into the HHOF based on his scoring prowess alone, but Gilmour also earned rave reviews for his “intangibles” and was a well-rounded player, earning the 1992-93 Selke Trophy.
Mark Howe – While the other three nominees didn’t wait long to make it to the Hall of Fame, Howe probably wondered if his day would ever come; his first year of eligibility was 1998. The wait is over for Mark to join his famous father Gordie in the Hall, though. The blueliner was a Norris Trophy runner-up three times (according to TSN) and put up some great offensive numbers for a defenseman. Howe scored 742 points in 929 regular season games and 61 in 101 postseason games in his NHL career. He also was prolific in the WHA, scoring 504 points in 426 regular season games and 92 points in 75 playoff games in that wild and woolly league.
Joe Nieuwendyk – Nieuwendyk put up some great individual numbers (1,126 points in 1,257 regular season games; 116 in 158 playoff games), but his team-based successes and “intangibles” were what helped him get into the Hall of Fame. He won three Stanley Cups: one with Calgary, one with Dallas and one with New Jersey. Nieuwendyk won the 1988-89 Conn Smythe Trophy after leading the Flames to that precious championship victory and showed the kind of intelligence and winning attitude that helped him ascend to the level of Dallas Stars general manager in little time.
Again, there will be some serious debate about who should and should not have been inducted into this year’s Hall of Fame. That being said, the hockey world should take a step back for a moment and give these four players their well-earned praise. They stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the greatest hockey players of all-time after today’s announcements.