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Killer Induction for Gilmour?

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

June 27, 2006

TORONTO (CP) Only 12 players in NHL history scored more goals than Dino Ciccarelli, but he's been denied a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

That could change when the selection committee decides on a new slate of inductees Wednesday, but Ciccarelli isn't holding his breath. He's already been passed over three times.

Committee members who have deemed Ciccarelli not good enough to get in ignore the reality that he scored more goals than Rocket Richard, Guy Lafleur, Jean Beliveau, Gilbert Perreault, Darryl Sittler, Bryan Trottier and dozens of other forwards who have been inducted.

He must have had something going for him and he scored all those goals after no team picked him in the NHL entry draft.

Nobody was better in front of an opponent's net, taking a pounding in the process, than the five-foot-10 centre from Sarnia, Ont.

Ciccarelli scored 608 goals and amassed 1,200 points in 1,232 games over 20 seasons with Minnesota, Washington, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Florida before retiring in 1999.

He had his off- and on-ice troubles, including a 10-game suspension in 1988 for hitting Luke Richardson over the head with his stick, but some of the men whose plaques hang in the Hockey Hall of Fame also served suspensions during their careers.

A maximum of four players can be selected for induction each year, and this year's shoo-in is Patrick Roy, the No. 1 goaltender of all time in the eyes of many.

Roy's butterfly technique and intense mental focus made him the winningest goalie in NHL history.

Pavel Bure, Doug Gilmour, Adam Graves, Tom Barrasso, Mike Richter and Phil Housley also are up for consideration for the first time. Players must be retired for at least three years.

Roy won two NHL titles with the Montreal Canadiens and two more with the Colorado Avalanche, earning playoff MVP honours three times. He was on the league's first all-star team in 1989, 1990, 1992 and 2002.

Selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame would cap a marvellous year for a man who was so good between the pipes that his nickname was St. Patrick.

Roy, 40 now, has continued his winning ways as co-owner, manager and coach of the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts, who won the Memorial Cup in May with Roy behind the bench.

Roy participated in a golf tournament on the eve of the selection committee's meeting and he'll be in his Remparts office Wednesday for the Canadian Hockey League's annual draft of European players.

Bure, 35, was an international superstar before his NHL career was cut short by knee injuries. He scored 437 goals and earned 779 points in 702 games over 12 seasons.

The speedy right-winger was called The Russian Rocket because of his scoring touch. He got 60 goals in 1992-1993 and again in 1993-94, when he helped the Vancouver Canucks get to the championship series.

He was on the league's first all-star team that year. He led the NHL in goals scored in 2000 (58) and 2001 (59) with the Florida Panthers.

Gilmour, 42, piled up 1,414 points in 1,474 NHL games over 20 years. The forward from Kingston, Ont., helped the Calgary Flames win the Stanley Cup in 1989, and he was named the NHL's best defensive forward when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993.

Graves, 38, doesn't have spectacular stats _ 616 points in 1,152 games _ but the Torontonian has always been about more than numbers.

His dedication to the sport and his humanitarian work gave him a status few others attain.

Barrasso and Richter join Roy as first-time eligible goalies, and a case could be made for each of them to join Roy in the hockey shrine.

Barrasso, now 41, was best known for his immediate impact on the NHL.

He stepped from high school hockey in Boston into the Buffalo Sabres' 1983-84 lineup, won the Calder Trophy as top rookie and the Vezina as best goalie, and was named to the first all-star team. He'd go on to win two NHL titles with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.

Richter, 39, also an American, was a key member of the New York Rangers' 1994 championship team and he was MVP for the United States in a World Cup upset of Canada in 1996.

A case can also be made for Mike Vernon, who wasn't picked in his first year of eligibility last year, to precede Barrasso or Richter into the Hall. The 43-year-old Calgarian won 385 NHL games and owns two Stanley Cup rings. Barrasso won 369 games and Richter 301.

Housley, 42, was one of the best offensive-minded defencemen of his era. The Minnesotan was second-team all-star in 1992.

Kirk Muller, Ken Daneyko and Kevin Dineen are among others eligible for the first time.

Besides Ciccarelli, others who haven't garnered enough support in the past include Ralph Backstrom, Dick Duff, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe and Steve Larmer.

If the selection committee relents and lets Ciccarelli in, it couldn't happen at a more important juncture of his life beause his father, Benito Ciccarelli, is in rough shape.

He has cancer, and he'd give anything to hear that his son, now 46, will enter hockey's shrine.

The selection committee is chaired by Jim Gregory, the senior NHL vice-president for hockey operations. Members are Al Arbour, Scotty Bowman, Colin Campbell, Ed Chynoweth, John Davidson, Eric Duhatschek, Mike Emrick, Emile Francis, Dick Irvin, Stan Mikita, Richard Patrick, Marty Pavelich, Yvon Pedneault, Pat Quinn, Serge Savard, Frank Selke and Harry Sinden.

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