Welcome to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Joe Sakic, Adam Oates, Pavel Bure, and Mats Sundin.
In a related story, let the debate rage.
Sakic is a no-doubt-about-it, first-ballot inductee. Drafted 15th overall in 1987 by the Quebec Nordiques, he went on to score 1,641 points in 1,378 NHL games, winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Colorado Avalanche. In 1996, he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP; in 2001, he won the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Oates finally gets the nod after being passed over in previous years. The brand new coach of the Washington Capitals retired as one of the greatest playmakers in league history. Only five players – Wayne Gretzky, Ron Francis, Mark Messier, Ray Bourque, and Paul Coffey – finished with more assists than the 1,079 Oates tallied with Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton.
Bure’s NHL career wasn’t a particularly lengthy one – injuries limited the Russian Rocket to just 702 games in 12 seasons – but as his nickname suggests, he was one of the most exciting players of his era. Bure retired with 437 goals in stints with the Canucks, Panthers and Rangers.
Sundin was drafted first overall in 1998 by the Quebec Nordiques. In 1994, he was traded to Toronto where he became the captain of the Maple Leafs before finishing his 1,349-point career in Vancouver. Sundin also excelled on the international stage, winning Olympic gold for Sweden in 2006 and World Championship gold in 1991, 1992 and 1998.
Notably, of the four inductees, only Sakic won a Stanley Cup.
Brendan Shanahan’s failure to gain induction will be a controversial decision by the selection committee.