Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov are very deserving candidates for next month’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction, but they should be part of a foursome.
The Hockey News has been pounding the table on Anderson’s behalf since he first became eligible in 2000. He is without exaggeration among the top handful of clutch playoff players in the history of the game. And as quirky and unpredictable as he was during his 16 seasons, he did produce 498 goals and 1,099 points to rank among the top 60 all-time.
Larionov was a very good NHL player in his 30s, but it was the first decade of his career in the Soviet Union that put him in the special category. He was first up for induction in 2007, but the caliber of that class pushed him out a year. Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Scott Stevens and Al MacInnis were the best foursome ever inducted into the Hall, so there’s no shame in coming fifth for Larionov.
It was quite surprising to see the Hall’s selection committee approve just two players this year. At least two others have the credentials to join them.
Pavel Bure was the game’s most dynamic 1-on-1 player for more than a decade in the 1990s. More so than Mario Lemieux? With Bure’s speed, moves and bursts, yes – from a 1-on-1 perspective. Bure also scored 437 goals in 12 seasons for a goals-per-game average of .623, second only to Lemieux and Mike Bossy. Working against Bure was inconsistency and durability.
Doug Gilmour ranks 16th all-time in NHL scoring and for several seasons in the early 1990s was regarded among the top few players in the game. He was regularly a candidate for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. He played with gusto, was responsible defensively and inspired teammates to push to greater heights.
Both Bure and Gilmour have been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 2006, the year Patrick Roy and Dick Duff got in. There wasn’t room for them with the big four in 2007, but there sure was this year.
The 18 members of the Hall’s selection committee are not allowed to talk about their decisions or reasoning – and we don’t even know which players were nominated and how close they came to induction. So we’ll never know their thought process on Bure and Gilmour.
All we can do is wait for another year. Chances are it won’t be 2009, though. Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille make for a pretty formidable foursome.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can read his Top 10 list on Wednesdays and his blog each weekend.
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