The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee probably needed a five-minute meeting near a coffee machine to determine the Class of 2009. This year, each of the 18 members may require plenty of that coffee, hot and black, as they try to determine the Class of 2010.
Brian Leetch, Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman and Luc Robitaille were slam dunks, easy picks, no-brainers, locks last year. Those don't exist this year, but the selection committee will convene on Tuesday and at 3:30 p.m. ET reveal the group that will be enshrined in Toronto on Nov. 8.
The list of player candidates is long and filled with question marks.
* Did Eric Lindros have a Hall of Fame career?
* Is this the year Dino Ciccarelli finally gets the phone call he's been waiting for since 2002?
* Will Dave Andreychuk be rewarded after being the odd man out last year?
* Can Joe Nieuwendyk, eligible for the first time, get in?
* Will Cammi Granato be the first women enshrined?
* And what about an international phenomenon such as Sergei Makarov?
By our count, the committee has 12 viable candidates to consider this year. A maximum of four can make it, but Granato wouldn't count among them because the Hall has said it will allow up to two women per year as well.
In alphabetical order, here are the candidates and their credentials:
Dave Andreychuk -- Nobody on this list scored more goals than Andreychuk's 640, which includes an NHL-record 274 on the power play. He also took care of the Stanley Cup dilemma by winning it as the captain of the Lightning in 2004. He was eligible for induction last year after retiring in 2006, but had the misfortune of retiring at the same time as Yzerman, Hull, Leetch and Robitaille, so all along Andreychuk had to know he wasn't going to be among the four players selected for the Class of 2009. If he was close last year, Andreychuk should be at the head of the class this year.
Tom Barrasso -- He's probably a surprise addition to this list for many of you, but all he did was win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992 as well as a Vezina Trophy, Calder Trophy, Jennings Trophy and an Olympic silver medal. Barrasso's career spanned 18 seasons with five teams and he finished with 369 wins, second-most ever by a U.S. born goaltender behind John Vanbiesbrouck (374).
Pavel Bure -- He was one of the most dominant players in the game at one point, but chronic knee problems cut his career short at just 702 games. In his prime, Bure (437 goals, 779 points) was the premier goal scorer in the NHL and one of the best players in international competition. He is the last player with back-to-back 60-goal seasons (1992-93 and 1993-94). He hit the 50-goal plateau three other times, including 58 goals in 1999-00 and 59 the following season. He won the Calder Trophy in 1992-93 and led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993-94. Bure owns two Olympic medals, three from the World Juniors and three more from the World Championships.
Dino Ciccarelli -- Without a first-year eligible lock such as an Yzerman, Hull, Leetch or Robitaille, Ciccarelli could finally have his moment. He scored 608 goals over his 19-year career, putting him 16th on the all-time list. Ciccarelli also had 592 assists, giving him 1,200 points in 1,232 games. He has been eligible since 2002, but hasn't gotten the call yet likely because he never won a Stanley Cup and had a dicey relationship with the media.
Doug Gilmour -- They argue that Gilmour was just a good player for several years, but not really a Hall of Famer. If Clark Gillies is in the Hall, then why not Gilmour, who had more than twice as many points as the former Islanders' enforcer? Gilmour finished his standout career with 450 goals and 1,414 points in 1,474 games. He's recognized as a Toronto Maple Leaf, but he won the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989, several years before he debuted in blue and white. His best season was 1992-93, when he finished with Leafs' single season records for points (127) and assists (95). He won the Selke Trophy and was nominated for the Hart.
Cammi Granato -- Hull called her a pioneer and said he was humbled to be in her class at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony two years ago. For the first time the Hockey Hall of Fame will consider inducting women and Granato has to be the first choice because she was a trailblazer for women's game. She was the captain of the U.S. gold-medal winning Olympic team in 1998, the first year women's hockey was played in the Olympics. She also led Team USA to gold at the 2005 World Championship and took home silver from the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Eric Lindros -- You can't have a Hall of Fame debate without talking about him. Lindros, who retired in 2007 and is eligible for the first time this year, was at a time arguably the most dominant player in the game, the perfect power forward. His career was cut short due to a series of concussions, but he still had 865 points (372 goals, 493 assists) in only 760 games. He won the Hart Trophy in the lockout shortened 1994-95 season when he had 70 points in 46 games. He had a career-high 115 points in 1995-96, but topped 90 only once more in 1998-99. He never won a Stanley Cup, but he did win gold at the 2002 Olympics. The only question is did Lindros play long enough to be Hall worthy? The committee has a lot to consider with him.
Kevin Lowe -- Of the players from the Oilers' dynasty that are Hall of Fame worthy, Lowe is the only one who doesn't have his ring. Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson are already in. Lowe won the Stanley Cup five times with the Oilers and once more with the Rangers in 1993-94. He finished his career as the Oilers' record holder for most regular season and playoff games played (1,037 and 172, respectively). He was a seven-time All-Star and finished his career with 431 points in 1,254 games. He added 58 points in 214 playoff games.
Sergei Makarov -- If this were the NHL's Hall of Fame, Makarov wouldn't be under consideration. He played only six full NHL seasons, though he did have 384 points in 424 games. But Makarov is considered by many as one of the greatest players of his generation -- it's just that he spent most of his years in the Soviet Union. He was the right wing on the flamed KLM line, one of hockey's all-time forward units. His resume includes 13 gold medals, including two from the Olympics. He won 11 league championships with CSKA Moscow. Makarov came to the NHL in 1989-90 when he was 31. He won the Calder Trophy, and as a result now the winner can't be any older than 26.
Joe Nieuwendyk -- He has the resume that calls for enshrinement, but will the selection committee hold off on Nieuwendyk in order to induct some of the guys that have been on the waiting list? That's the big question when it comes to Nieuwendyk because his 564 goals, 1,126 points, three Stanley Cup rings (with three different teams), Olympic gold medal and Conn Smythe Trophy should be enough to land him in the Hall. He twice scored 51 goals in a season (including his rookie campaign) and two other times got up to 45. He also scored in the 30s four other times. He won the Conn Smythe with Dallas in 1998-99 when he had 21 points in 23 playoff games.
Adam Oates -- They'll say he never won anything and didn't score enough goals, but Oates is 16th on the all-time points list with 1,420 and sixth on the all-time assists list with 1,079. He played in 1,337 games over 19 seasons with Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton. None of the players eligible for induction this year had more points than Oates. Now, back to that not winning anything argument -- it's true, but he did play in the Stanley Cup Final with Washington in 1998 and Anaheim in 2003. He had 156 points in 163 playoff games. Would Hull have won the Hart Trophy in 1990-91 with 86 goals had it not been for Oates' 90 assists in only 61 games? Would Hull have bridged that season with 72 goals in 1989-90 and 70 in 1991-92 had it not been for Oates?
Mike Richter -- The mere mention of his name tied to the Hall of Fame may have some eyeballs rolling, but be serious, folks, Richter's career is at least worthy of discussion when it comes to this debate. He was the backbone of the Rangers team in 1993-94 that ended 54 years of misery with a Stanley Cup title. He was also an integral piece of USA Hockey's rise to prominence starting in the late 1980s, going through 1990s, including the 1996 World Cup of Hockey (MVP performance), and finally closing with a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Richter won 301 games, a Rangers' all-time record. He's a long shot, but worth consideration.
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