Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Hall of Fame class of 2013

The Hockey Hall of Fame formally welcomed five new inductees Monday night — players Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer, and Geraldine Heaney, and coach Fred Shero in the "builder" category.

With the Class of 2013 now official, we can start looking ahead to 2014 and beyond. So here are a dozen names eligible for next year’s vote, and my best guess at their chances.

Dominik Hasek

Eligible since: New in 2014

The case for: Hasek was the undisputed best goalie in hockey for a long stretch in the late '90s, and he belongs in the discussion as the greatest of all time. He won six Vezina Trophies as the league’s best goaltender and is the only goalie in NHL history to win multiple MVPs. He has the highest career save percentage in history. He single-handedly won the gold medal for the Czech Republic in 1998. I could keep going, but it would be overkill.

The case against: He didn’t become a full-time starter until his late twenties, so his career totals in counting stats like wins are less impressive than you might expect. His style could be called “unorthodox" if you were being polite, or “completely insane” if you weren’t. He played professionally until he was 46, making you feel bad about never using your treadmill.

Odds he gets in next year: 97 percent, only because there’s still a 3 percent chance he launches another comeback before then.

Odds he gets in eventually: 100 percent

Bottom line: He’s a lock. Have fun deciphering his induction speech.

Eric Lindros

Eligible since: 2010

The case for: For a time, Lindros was the most feared player in hockey. He won the Hart Trophy in 1995, and there was a time when winning even one Hart all but guaranteed induction — of eligible winners since 1924, only two aren’t in the Hall of Fame. He also played in six All-Star games. Despite playing his entire career in the dead puck era, Lindros's 1.14 career points per game lands him in the top 20, and every eligible player ahead of him is in the Hall except for Kent Nilsson (who played in the high-flying '80s).

The case against: His career was derailed by injuries, he played at least 75 games in a season only once, and he was out of hockey by 34. That means his overall career totals aren’t especially impressive. He (and his family) had a reputation for being incredibly difficult to deal with dating back to his days in junior, which probably shouldn’t matter but does.

Odds he gets in next year: 20 percent

Odds he gets in eventually: 50 percent

Bottom line: Lindros might be the most interesting case out there. His career was cut short by injuries, but you could say the same for Pavel Bure and Cam Neely, and they made it in. We understand concussions much better than we did a decade ago, so the knock against Lindros for being soft or “playing with his head down” has faded. At his peak, there was nobody better. He’d have my vote, but so far the committee hasn’t felt the same.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

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