Pair of clutch Canadians again miss out on call to Hockey Hall of Fame
The most glaring glitch with the annual Hockey Hall of Fame selections has not been not who’s in, but who’s out.
There are too many worthy players and builders who deserve induction, but only four players and two builders — except for those years a referee or linesman is voted in with only one builder — can be named. It’s too bad the HHOF failed to maximize the number of inductees some years. There only were three inductees apiece in 1999 and 2000.
Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky, Hayley Wickenheiser and Sergei Zubov as well as builders Jim Rutherford and Jerry York each were deserving of inductees into the latest class announced on Tuesday. But so were Paul Henderson and Steve Larmer. Once again, they will have to wait.
Henderson and Larmer are not alone on a list of those placed on the HHOF back burner for too long. One day chairman John Davidson and the 17 others on the selection committee will see the light. We have faith.
WATCH | Who got in, and who still has to wait:
Every year fans debate who should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Rob Pizzo lets you know who got in, and who has to play the waiting game. 2:31
But for now, Larmer and Henderson and others will have to wait their turn and hope they find their way on someone on the selection committee’s agenda.
For now, the hockey world will celebrate the half-dozen mentioned above throughout the next four months leading up to the induction ceremony on Nov. 18 in Toronto.
Wickenheiser was the most deserving. She is the all-time best player in the women’s game. A four-time Olympic gold medallist, the driven Wickenheiser now spends part of her time as the assistant director of player development of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
She has an unmatched zeal for life and hockey. When she and the Canadian women won gold in Sochi five years ago, Wickenheiser was showing up to watch the Canadian men’s practices. She never stopped learning, even though she could have been celebrating.
To wit, when the HHOF called to deliver the good news on Tuesday, she couldn’t answer her phone because she was back in Calgary taking an exam in her pursuit of a medical degree.
The 75-year-old Nedomansky is this year’s surprise addition to the HHOF. He was a pioneer, the first professional hockey player to defect from an Eastern Bloc country when he escaped former Czechoslovakia in 1974 to play four years with the WHA Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls. He then concluded his 23-season pro career with NHL stops in Detroit, New York and St. Louis.
Nedomansky played in nine IIHF World Championships for Czechoslovakia, winning a gold, four silvers and three bronze medals. He also won silver and bronze medals at the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics, respectively.
Inductees cross paths
Carbonneau was a three-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winner as the league’s top defensive forward.
The former Montreal Canadiens captain won his last league championship with the 1998-99 Dallas Stars, where he happened to be a teammate of Zubov.
The Russian offensive defenceman had already won Olympic gold in 1992 and a Stanley Cup with the 1993-94 New York Rangers by the time he teamed up with Carbonneau. He won each of his three big championships before his 29th birthday. But that didn’t stop Zubov from playing another nine years in Dallas and one more swan song season back in Russia with St. Petersburg SKA.
WATCH | Paul Henderson: The goal of a century:
Paul Henderson remembers the goal that changed hockey, 40 years after he scored it. 7:48
It’s crazy sometimes how the hockey world is connected. Zubov played with Larmer on the Rangers’ Stanley Cup team 25 years ago. Larmer also played the role of hero in the 1991 Canada Cup, scoring the tournament-clinching goal for Canada on a late-game, short-handed breakaway against the United States.
His significant game-winner arrived 19 years after Henderson’s shining moment: three game-winners for Canada in the final three games of the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
All glaring reasons that contribute to the cases for Larmer and Henderson of one day becoming Hockey Hall of Fame inductees.