Not any more

Which player would you put in the Hockey Hall of Fame? – The Globe and Mail

In Canada on November 8, 2010 at 14:28

The Hockey Hall of Fame welcomes the class of 2010 at a ceremony tonight in Toronto.

Angela James and Cammi Granato will become the first women to enter the hall, inducted alongside former NHLer Dino Ciccarelli and builders Jim Devellano and Daryl (Doc) Seaman.

To mark the occasion, we asked our hockey writers the following question: If we gave you the power to immediately enshrine one player who is currently not in the hall, whom would you choose?

ROY MACGREGOR

Easiest question imaginable on any hockey trivia game — Paul Henderson, of course. Let’s just review matters for a moment. The greatest hockey series ever played? Well, no debate there at all: the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union. The most memorable goal ever scored in the game? No question again: Paul Henderson’s game winner in Game 8. How can it be that Canadians who weren’t even born when the puck when in the net can often recite Foster Hewitt’s famous call from the afternoon of Sept. 28, 1972: “Here’s another shot! Right in front! They score! Henderson has scored for Canada! Henderson right in front of the net and the fans and the team are going wild! Henderson right in front of the Soviet goal with thirty-four seconds left in the game!”

Ah yes, Paul Henderson and the Summit Series. Most of the other faces remembered from that early fall nearly 40 years ago are in the fall: not just Phil Esposito, the heart of the series, Bobby Clarke, the villain, Ken Dryen, the goalie — and yet not the man who scored the game winning goal in all three of the final games that Canada HAD to win is not.

Hmmmmm….

Some have said the reason is that the Hockey Hall of Fame is really the NHL Hall of Fame, that those who starred in the World Hockey Association (as Handerson later did) or international hockey had to be truly sensational to be in the Hall, as opposed to, say, Bob Pulford, who was selected.

But that doesn’t quite hold. After all, the man who let in Henderson’s three game-winning goals, Vladislav Tretiak, is in the HHofF despite never having played a single NHL game.

Why, then? It couldn’t possibly be that Henderson’s up-front Christianity puts some voters off, could it?

Or is it simply that his NHL career wasn’t quite as sparkling as many of those selected — though certainly comparable to, say, Pulford. Pulford played 1079 games, scoring 281 goals and 362 assists for 643 points. Henderson’s played 707 NHL games and 360 WHA games for a total of 1067 games — almost exactly Pulford’s total. And Henderson counts 376 NHL/WHA goals and 384 assists for 760 points.

Advantage Henderson, surely.

Even if Paul Henderson had never suited up for a single NHL match, he should be eligible.

And not only eligible, but a member for the past several decades.

ALLAN MAKI

This won’t be the most popular choice, but then Theo Fleury never gave a rat’s behind about what people thought of him. He just wanted to play hockey and win.

For a guy to stand 5 foot 6 and play as hard and mean and productive as he did, well, he deserves a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Fleury lasted more than 1,000 games in a big man’s NHL; scored 455 goals, 633 assists. He also had 1,840 minutes in penalties. If he’d only stayed out of the penalty box more, he would have added to his point totals significantly. But that wasn’t Fleury’s way.

In the playoffs, he was just as effective, compiling 79 points in 77 games. Again, for a small guy, he always made an impact.

We all know what Fleury went through having now heard his story and how he fell into the wretched grasp of his former junior coach Graham James. Putting all that aside, Fleury, as an athlete, was the irresistible force you couldn’t take your eyes off when he was on the ice. When he played, there was magic and mayhem.

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