Martin Brodeur? Martin St. Louis? Hayley Wickenheiser?
At some point Tuesday, Hockey Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald is going to make a few phone calls that will not only put a smile on the face of the athlete on the other end, but change the status of the player’s life forever.
McDonald, the former Maple Leaf, will call to tell the person at the other end of the phone that he — or she — has been inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Undoubtedly, some phone calls will not be made. Some will have been passed over for the first time, some for longer than that.
The 18-member selection committee is a mix of former players, current executives, broadcasters and hockey journalists.
Here’s a look at those that are eligible and might just be on McDonald’s speed dial:
The words “Hall of Famer” just come to mind for the New Jersey Devils goaltending great. It’s Brodeur’s first year of eligibility and really, it’s a no-brainer. He’s the NHL leader in career wins (691) by a wide margin (over Patrick Roy, 551) and shutouts (125) and won the Stanley Cup three times as well as Olympic gold twice, not to mention the Vezina four times, the Jennings five times and the Calder.
Martin St. Louis
The undrafted but super-skilled St. Louis blazed a trail for both smaller forwards and late bloomers. He won the Stanley Cup with Tampa, led the Rangers to the Cup final and won Olympic and World Cup golds. He sits 75th all-time in points (1,033), has won the Hart, the Pearson (now the Lindsay), the Lady Byng three times and the Art Ross. But is he elite enough to get the call on a first-time ballot? We’ll see if the voting committee thinks in these terms.
The former Senators captain was passed over last year, his first year of eligibility. He never won the Cup, but did win Olympic gold with Sweden. His 1,157 points place him 51st on the all-time list, and of course he is Ottawa’s all-time leading points producer. He has a Calder Trophy as rookie of the year to his name, was named to the second all-star team once, and was named to the all-star game six times.
Eligible since 2010, Turgeon’s 1,327 points put him 32nd on the all-time list, the leader among players not in the Hall of Fame. The inductions last year of Mark Recchi (1,533 points) and Dave Andreychuk (1,338) — both passed over numerous times — give reason the Hall’s executive has changed its view. Turgeon has no Cups but did win the Lady Byng once and was named to five all-star games over a 20-year career.
Like Turgeon, Tkachuk has been passed over multiple times despite amassing 1,065 points, 67th on the all-time list. His 538 goals place him 32nd all-time and most among players not in the Hall. Twice named a second-team all-star and five times invited to the all-star game, Tkachuk was on Team USA’s gold-medal team in the 1996 World Cup.
Another name repeatedly passed over, Joseph has an Olympic gold and Spengler Cup gold to his credit but the Stanley Cup eluded him, as did the major goaltending awards as he went head to head with the likes of Brodeur, Roy and Dominik Hasek. The former Leaf goalie is fifth all-time in wins with 454, ahead of contemporaries in the Hall of Fame like Grant Fuhr and Hasek.
The trailblazer of the women’s game announced her retirement in January. The Hall’s rules dictate a player must be retired three seasons before induction can be considered. The rule can be waived — as the Hall did for Wayne Gretzky in 1999. The Hockey News made a powerful case for the world’s most famous and influential female player to be inducted this year. And if it waived the rules for the four-time Olympic gold medallist who crossed over to play in men’s leagues, the Hall could send a powerful message of support to women’s hockey.
Kevin McGran is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @kevin_mcgran
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