I think one thing that makes sports special are the stories that are shared. This is an excerpt from the book Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne by author Bob Showers. “Dino was such a fiesty guy on the ice, and he could incite a crowd no matter where he was” which really was an understatement. If Dino Ciccarelli was on your team his play and at times his antics would make you cheer, laugh and relish his ability to annoy the other team while also finding ways to light the lamp and often paying a terrible physical price for doing so. From his debut during the 1981 playoffs, Dino became a hero an establishing a rookie record that was tied for the first time by Philadelphia’s Ville Leino with 7 goals and 21 points.
For the last few years, when the NHL had announced who was going to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto I usually ended up angry and frustrated over the ommission of former Minnesota North Stars winger, Dino Ciccarelli who was continually passed over despite having excellent statistics throughout his 20-year career. Ciccarelli was the only NHL player inducted in a class that included the first two female inductees in American star Cammi Granato and Angela James along with Detroit Red Wings upper management member Jimmy Devellano and the late-owner of the Calgary Flames Daryl (Doc) Seaman. For Ciccarelli it has been a long wait since he retired from the game after the 1998-99 season. He has watched class after class since 2003 be enshrined despite having a very deserving career. A few years ago, ESPN’s E.J. Hradek discussed how he felt the Hall of Fame may be calling on the former North Stars sniper as his father was struggling to hold on to life as he hoped to hear his son’s name called. Unfortunately, his father would pass away and but he no doubt would be celebrating at the deserved recognition finally realized for his son. The statistics speak for themselves.
1,232 NHL Games, 608 goals, 592 assists and 1,200 points
Extremely impressive statistics at nearly a point-per-game rate. Yet watching NHL Live today, all you could hear was complaining from fans that felt (insert player here) was snubbed. The most common names mentioned were 1st year eligible players Dave Andreychuk and Joe Nieuwendyk and in all honesty I think they’re both very worthy candidates that probably should’ve been voted in. I understand their frustration, I know precisely how that feels, as it was becoming a joke that year after year that Ciccarelli was being passed over as his statistics were superior to other current Hall of Fame forwards such as, Dick Duff (1030 NHL games, 283 goals, 289 assists and 572 points), Cam Neely (726 NHL games, 395 goals, 299 assists and 694 points), Glenn Anderson (1,129 NHL games, 498 goals, 601 assists and 1099 points), Clark Gillies (958 NHL games, 319 goals, 378 assists and 697 points), and Pat LaFontaine (865 NHL games, 468 goals, 545 assists and 1013 points). Dave Andreychuk now stands as the all-time leading goal scorer elligible but not in the Hockey Hall of Fame with 640 goals, 698 assists and 1338 points in 1,639 NHL games and Joe Nieuwendyk who had a more modest set of totals of 564 goals, 562 assists and 1,126 points in 1,257 NHL games. Another named tossed out there, especially amongst Canadian circles is Eric Lindros (760 NHL games, 372 goals, 493 assists and 865 points) but he is very much in the same category as Cam Neely. A talented player whose career was shortened by injuries but should that be an automatic mulligan some fans are suggesting? That to me also ignores a more worthy candidate whose name has been absent throughout most of these conversations in Minnesota-native Phil Housley who has Hall of Fame worthy numbers with 1,495 NHL games, 338 goals, 894 assists, and 1,232 points. While I think cases can be made, I don’t feel completely bad that Andreychuk, Lindros and Nieuwendyk will have to sit out at least one more season before they hear their name.
Yet if you check out the posting over on TSN.ca, ‘Canada’s Sports Leader’ the criticism is not as much about who didn’t get in but who did get in along with Ciccarelli in Cammi Granato and Angela James. In fact most of the comments are quite crude and show a blatent insensitivity over their accomplishments simply because they believe the Hockey Hall of Fame is an NHL-only entity. Perhaps they’d like to protest the presence of Vladislav Tretiak who had a minimal impact as an NHL’er. No, because he was so good internationally? Well so were Cammi Granato and Angela James so why not include them? Women play hockey and while they do not have an NHL to play in, they certainly deserve recognition in comparison to their fellow female athletes. Why shouldn’t they have a place in the Hall of Fame too? Its not the NHL’s sole domain as E.J. Hradek pointed out to a disgruntled caller on NHL Live today. While it may sound like sacriledge to suggest this but one could say much the same about Herb Brooks‘ NHL contributions yet no one would dare take the league to task for it because he’s a hockey legend just as Tretiak is. However they’re male and that prevents the sexist bigots from chiming in. What those bigots patently forget is just how many female hockey fans there are and how many of them felt inspired by the NHL as kids. Now, these female players like Angela James and Cammi Granato now inspire thousands of girls to play the game. And let’s face it, the sport needs it. The number of boys playing the game has seen a steady decrease, while female participation continues to climb. Many of these girls that play are die hard NHL fans, and I would say amongst major professional sports that women enjoy hockey in the greatest proportion of the overall NHL fanbase. Perhaps in that respect James’ and Granato should’ve been inducted as builders but they built their influence through their achievements as a player.
One person that is also deserved of consideration is long-time NHL coach Pat Burns. Burns, the St. Henri, Quebec-native is a 3-time Jack Adams Award winner with three different Original Six teams; Montreal, Toronto and Boston. He also helped lead the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup title in 2002-03. Burns stepped away from his coaching duties after developing cancer, but still is employed with New Jersey an used for special assignments such as scouting from time to time. His impressive 501-350-175 record certainly merits inclusion into the Hall of Fame. Sadly, his cancer returned in 2009 and he decided to pass on more treatments of chemotherapy and has mentioned he may not have all that long to live. Yes, very bleak and sad I think he should’ve been included in this Hall of Fame class of 2010.