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2010's Hockey Hall of Fame class opens up the waiting list

Jun 1, 2010, 8:45 PM EDT

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It’s coming sooner than you think. Not just the end of the season, but also the announcement of the newest class of hockey’s Hall of Fame on June 22nd. The Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo got the buzz started today wondering aloud if this is the year Dino Ciccarelli finally gets into the hallowed halls in Toronto.

So could this be Dino Ciccarelli’s year? There are 18 600-goal scorers in the history of the league and Ciccarelli and Dave Andreychuk are the only eligible 600-goal scorers who aren’t in the Hall. How about Phil Housley (highest-scoring American defenseman ever), Doug Gilmour or Adam Oates (1,400-points each)?

In a year where the incoming eligible class is light on seemingly automatic elections (Joe Nieuwendyk might be the only one), this is the first time in a couple of years that both Dino Ciccarelli and Adam Oates have an honest-to-goodness shot at busting through. Both players were eligible two years ago when only Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov were elected, but they’ve been hammered by hugely amazing Hall classes in 2007 and 2009 that were teeming over with automatic first-ballot guys.

What about this year, though? The Hall of Fame only allows four players to be elected in any year (hence the pecking order getting backed up) so if you consider Nieuwendyk to be an automatic in (564 goals, 1126 points, three Stanley Cups, Calder Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy) then what of the rest? Here’s a look at the main candidates both those mentioned by Russo and otherwise after the jump.

Dave Andreychuk – Played over 1600 games during both the high-scoring 80s and the non-scoring 90s. Captained Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. Finished his career with 640 goals and 1,338 points. Two-time 50 goal scorer and two-time 40 goal scorer. He’s the perfect example of having a long-lasting steady and outstanding career and also manages to stay out of the talk of having played too long, something which folks hold against…

Adam Oates – He played 19 seasons and over 1,300 games amassing the sixth-highest assist total in NHL history with 1,079. He’s 16th all-time in points with 1,420 and has been the key set-up man for two recent Hall of Fame inductions in Brett Hull and Cam Neely. Some folks seem to think Oates was a coat-tail rider and not a winner (2 Stanley Cup finals appearances, no wins) others are unashamed to point out that Oates won in college (1985 National Championship with RPI) and that Brett Hull and Cam Neely may not have legends to build on without Oates’ passing. For Oates, perhaps assists not getting noticed is a bigger problem.

Doug Gilmour – Gilmour is the folk hero of Toronto, even in spite of his greatest career win coming in Calgary in 1989. Gilmour became a folk hero to Maple Leafs fans for his efforts in doing everything possible to try and get the Leafs to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993 only to be derailed by Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings (and maybe even Kerry Fraser). His points total alone should get him in the Hall yet… Here we are still waiting.

Dino Ciccarelli – Of the guys I’m talking about who have been waiting to get in the Hall, Dino has been waiting the longest. He’s one of two 600-plus goal scorers not yet in the Hall of Fame (Andreychuk the other). He’d finish his career in anonymity with the Florida Panthers but manages to be left off of ballots thanks to having off-ice skirmishes with the media as well as an ugly incident on the ice while with the Minnesota North Stars as he clubbed then Leafs defenseman Luke Richardson in the head with his stick.

Phil Housley – He’s perhaps the second-greatest American defenseman of all time (behind Brian Leetch) and he spent the better part of his career in relative obscurity always ending up on losing teams (one Cup finals appearance with Washington in 1998).  What hurts his case is a career -53 rating. Think of him as America’s answer to Paul Coffey and perhaps you can make a stronger case based on that. Of course, Coffey also managed to win a boatload of Cups so… Just forget it.

Pierre Turgeon – Bet you didn’t think you’d hear this name again, eh? 19 seasons, 1,294 games and 1,327 points makes for a pretty respectable career – even playing for the Sabres and Islanders for the early part of that. Of course, Turgeon’s highlight package is almost always centered around being destroyed by Washington’s Dale Hunter after scoring a goal in the series-clinching win in the first round of the playoffs in 1993.

I could go on much longer, as well as dipping into the candidacies of two of the all-time outstanding Russian NHLers who continue to wait for their possible call (Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny ring a bell to anyone?) but asking the voters to get motivated to elect a truly great Russian player might be like asking them to get the vote right in the first place.

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