Monday, November 13, 2006


Flames Hall of Fame Day

The HHOF induction ceremonies go this evening in Toronto, and besides Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss being inducted as a builder for whatever it is (nothing personal to the guy, I just don't find anything compelling there), Flames radio play-by-play vet Peter Maher is being honoured as a broadcaster. I'm still feeling slightly guilty about my criticism last month; let me say once again he has been a superb voice of the Flames, and is by every last account an excellent person. Sincere and multiple congratulations to Mr. Maher - Excelsior!!!

I'm trying to take a glass-half-full view of the festivities today, although this really isn't the HHOF's finest year. Why two of four inductees are Builders, ever, is beyond me. And the induction of Dick Duff is astonishing to me, especially when the obvious alternative to me is Pavel Bure. Duff played most of his career in a 6-team league and never once made a 1st or 2nd All-Star Team (sidebar: should there be brackets or quotation marks in there somewhere, or is Dick Richard Duff his real full name?). Most damning, I've been an NHL fan for 26 years -- not exactly a casual one, either -- and until the day his induction was announced, I had never heard of the guy!

Bure on the other hand:
  1. Led the league in goal scoring 3 times
  2. Made one 1st All-Star Team and two 2nds in a 20+ team league, in spite of ongoing criticism about his defense and mostly-unfair smears of his character
  3. Was unquestionably one of the three most exciting players in the NHL for his entire career
Just in general, I guess my take is that it would be impossible to tell the story of the Bure NHL years without talking about Bure, whereas (as noted above) it's not only possible, it's likely, that you could learn all about the Duff NHL years without ever hearing Dick Duff's name.

There's two positives I'm holding onto, though. First is the assumption that, with the mass of retirements over the last couple of years, the HHOF selectors are taking the builders & veterans and "getting them out of the way", so that the next few years can be highly focused on some spectacular hockey careers.

The second is that, in terms of spectacular careers, Patrick Roy gets the spotlight all to himself, and boy does he ever deserve it. I'm happy to give him the Best Goalie Ever label, and he's also a fascinating person. The business of making himself the Quebec Remparts coach after a 1-4 start, and then merely going on to win the Memorial Cup, is sublime. So's this:
Roy's decision to allow an orthodox Jewish player to miss roughly half of the Remparts' games in observance of his religion was almost impossible to wrap one's head around until one read the coach's justification: "It's fun to see someone who knows what he wants. I'm not going to go against this."

Takes one to know one, I guess... leading me to the last thing I wanted to bring up, which is the Olympics. Roy begged off of the 2002 Olympics a month or two before selection time (said he wanted to focus on winning his 5th Cup), and reaction was mixed. There was some criticism of his character (along with some sub-surface anti-French that we also saw every time Ray Bourque passed on an Int'l tourney), but there was also some relief, for lack of a better word. There had been concern that Roy, if selected, would be the no-question #1 goalie, and that maybe that wasn't the best state of affairs considering the 1998 Olympics, where Canada finished 4th in front of Patrick.

It's my opinion, though, that the '98 Olympics is Patrick Roy's most overlooked Great Performance. He was excellent. Unlike 2002 when they went on to gold, Canada was solid from Shift #1 in '98, and it started from the goalie out. They won all their games until the semi against Hasek and the Czechs. Roy allowed one goal through 70 minutes in that game.

In the shootout, Roy and Hasek stopped 9 out of 10 shots. The difference was inches: Lindros' backhand went off the outside of the post and wide, while Reichel's wrister went off the inside of the post and in. This difference got inflated just about immediately: Hasek bolstered his cred as maybe the most talented goalie in history (which is possible), while Roy became the guy who was only starting the bronze medal game because his NHL coach (Crawford) was the Canadian coach.

Maybe Brodeur should have started that last game -- Roy was good, but less than heroic -- but Patrick Roy's overall performance in that whole tournament was outstanding, and only suffers when set against the Hasek/Czech gold medal.

Congratulations today to Patrick Roy, and also to all the other inductees/honourees and their families.


I can't believe you were critical of Peter Maher. I'm an Oilers fan and consider him to be top drawer.


There are a few things about the HHOF that I don't understand: Why do they feel compelled to limit inductions to a certain number each year? This has the perverse outcome of padding out thin years (Clark Gillies) and needlessly overlooking others in good years. They shouldn't include builders and players together and they should reflect mightily on their core mission. which is identifying and enshrining the games elite. Yes, for that task you use stats, but not as a way of justifying or obscuring greatness.

I think they should have let in Bernie Nicholls!

Of course, that is from an extremely biased opinion since he is one of only two NHLers from my small hometown...

The other being Ron Stackhouse, who is best known as being the defenseman that Roger Nielson would famously put in net during penalty shots to take the puck off the shooter at the blueline before he could get into the zone. Of course, that was for about ten games in the 70's before they changed the rules about having to have the goalie in there...

All Hail Peter Maher, definitely a deserving recipient. And matt, I've been listening to Mr. Maher with a more critical ear since reading your post last month and I'm afraid I don't share your opinion. He's still first rate.

The 4 player limit is going to create troubles for years to come with the kind of players who have retired since the lockout (Messier, Francis, Yzerman, Hull are pretty obvious selections -- there will also be a big push for Killer, who is less obvious and many others)

Bure? That would have been as bad a choice as Duff.

Duff is an unorthodox selection for the HHOF, but that's how he played the game: with unorthodoxness galore. For instance, he wasn't drafted until 1982, ten years after he retired. Not many of your so-called elites can say that.

I am sure that Dickie Duff is in the Hall only because he has a great hockey name: Dickie Duff. That just sounds like hockey. Or porn.

I realized I've asked this before, but I've still never heard a proper answer from anybody.

During the time Hasek and Roy were both in the NHL, Hasek won the Vezina Trophy six times. Roy won it zero times. If Roy is not even the best goalie born in 1965, how the hell can he be the best goalie ever?

CC: Exactly right. I wonder how many Stanley's Roy could have won with that monster Sabres team Hasek dragged into the playoffs every spring?

It is to laugh, and the main reason I'm not watching the induction ceremony. Other being Dick Duff going in.

Well, I don't mind arguing about it, but LT might have answered the question there. The two Colorado teams were very good, the '01 team even won the President's Trophy. But the MTL teams were not exactly world beaters. In '93 they were 3rd in their division, in '86 they were 2nd.

Also, I'm not sure why the fact that Roy had 2 Cups, 2 Conn Smythes, and 3 Vezinas by the time Hasek got an NHL starting job should be held against him.

And lastly, surely we are over the idea that if you have a very good team, it is easy to win the Stanley Cup. It's hard, and Roy did it 4 times to Hasek's once. (And, those Sabres teams weren't that bad.)

Well, when Donald Audette is your sniper I'm going to go ahead and use the word mediocre.

Also, I'm not sure why the fact that Roy had 2 Cups, 2 Conn Smythes, and 3 Vezinas by the time Hasek got an NHL starting job should be held against him.

Ummmmm... I don't recall anyone saying it should be held against him, but none of it has any immediate relevance to the question. Does Eddie Giacomin's 1971 Vezina Trophy somehow indicate that he was better than Vladislav Tretiak at that time, or at any time?

Ahem. Look at this squad Hasek's first year in Buffalo -- their 4th-best scorer was in-his-prime Dave Andreychuk!

Montreal beat Buffalo in those playoffs, and Roy was on his way to his 2nd Stanley Cup in his 8th NHL season. Hasek wasn't actually in net for Buffalo, though: know why? Because he couldn't unseat Grant Fuhr as the #1.

To rephrase my original objection: I don't necessarily accept that Hasek is the best goalie born in 1965, unless you add the word "active". Hasek had never been a #1 in '93; if Roy had lost his blocker hand in a bass-fishing mishap that summer, he might well be in the Hall of Fame already. That time counts.

So, the stuff about "while they were both in the NHL" is relevant, but it's not a door-slammer argument-ender.

Here's the deal I'll make with the HHOF. Every year you can induct however many players and/or builders you want. BUT every year you have to vote 1 (one) member OUT of the Hall. In twenty years you'd have a pretty good group on inductees and you could prune the deadwood. In fact the beauty of this method is players can be voted in, then out, then in again if they decide to go from a group of elite players to a group of very good ones.

Simmons' Hall of Fame Pyramid Scheme is the best solution to what ails all the Sports Hall of Fames.

" would be impossible to tell the story of the Bure NHL years without talking about Bure,'s not only possible, it's likely, that you could learn all about the Duff NHL years without ever hearing Dick Duff's name."
That's as credible a measuring stick for HHOF worthiness as I've ever read. I wonder if the 15-fool selection committee would consider it?

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