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Eric Lindros and Pat Burns among notable Hall of Fame snubs … again

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The late coach Pat Burns deserves to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

If three Jack Adams Awards and a Stanley Cup can’t get Pat Burns into the Hall, what will? (Lou Capozzola/SI)

By Allan Muir

The Hall of Fame selection committee voted in five new members to join the game’s greatest legends on Tuesday and did as well as it has done in years. After honoring a stream of marginal players like Bernie Federko, Leo Boivin and Dick Duff, the 2013 class of Scott Niedermayer, Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Geraldine Heaney and Fred Shero deserve all the accolades coming their way.

MUIR: Saluting the Class of 2013

But as good as this group was, there’s plenty of room for debate because of who didn’t make the cut.

Again, nothing wrong with the Shero nod, but the Pat Burns snub in the Builder category has gotten past the point of reason. Forget that the committee had a chance to do the right thing and induct him just before he died of cancer three years ago — that refusal may have been the its self-important way of saying it wouldn’t be influenced by the massive social effort aimed at pressuring it to induct Burns while he was still alive. But it’s been three years now. Three years. Whichever voters the admittedly brusque ex-cop offended along the way need to step back and recognize the greatness of the only three-time Jack Adams winner in NHL history, a man who guided the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2003 and who won 501 games during his 14-season career.

Clare Drake is an equally odious omission in that category, though I wonder if that’s simply because he doesn’t have a strong champion on the committee because his CV was built outside the NHL. Bruce McCurdy wrote an excellent piece detailing Drake’s qualifications a couple of years back. Read it and you’ll be stunned that he’s still on the outside.

Russian players have always been given the short shrift by the Hall — blame that on an Old Boys Network that surely must harbor anti-Soviet grudges if it won’t honor the careers of men like Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov or legends of the ’60s and ’70s like Boris Mikhailov, Alexander Yakushev and Alexander Maltsev. It’s a shame that it’s probably going to require a significant overhaul of the committee before players like these get their due.

HACKEL: Does Eric Lindros belong in the Hall? | Photos: Lindros through the years

And then there’s Eric Lindros. Unlike the others, there’s legitimate room for debate on his candidacy. In fact, my colleague, Stu Hackel, believes Lindros should continue paying admission to the Hall just like the hoi polloi. But for me, it’s a two-second deliberation: ummmm … he’s in. Lindros epitomized what a Hall of Famer should be: a transcendent player who defined his era. If you watched him play, you understand that there may never have been a human born with a greater gift to play the game than the Big E. In his prime, he was unstoppable, his switch set permanently to beast mode. Think back to the 1991 Canada Cup when he dominated the world’s best players before he’d ever set foot on NHL ice. Remarkable.

Yes, injuries cut his career short before he racked up the honors that many expected him to earn. Yes, he had a tumultuous relationship at times with coaches, management and the media. Yes, he was mocked because of the boorish behavior of his parents. Yes, his legacy is imperfect. But if you simply focus on the ice, before concussions turned him into a thin-shelled disaster waiting to happen, he was magnificent. That’s what the Hall needs to remember.

It won’t be easy for any of the names above to cut a break against next year’s first-year eligibles. Mike Modano and Dominik Hasek are dead locks. Peter Forsberg should be as well, although with this bunch of voters, who knows? That leaves one slot, and women like Cassie Campbell and France St-Louis deserve serious consideration as well.

Hopefully the committee makes it right for at least one of these men in 2014. Just don’t count on it.

  • Published On Jul 09, 2013
  • 6 comments
    Michael22
    Michael22

    His career was short, but very successful. His comparables, as per hockey reference, are many Hall-worthy or near-Hall players. 

    Career Adjusted Point Shares (Best to Worst)

    Eric Lindros 12.8 12.4 10.3 10.0 9.5 9.2 8.8 7.8 7.7 5.2 3.7 2.1 2.1Peter Forsberg 13.6 11.0 10.8 10.1 10.0 10.0 8.0 7.4 5.4 5.4 5.0 1.6 -0.2Martin St. Louis 13.2 11.8 11.3 9.9 8.7 8.4 7.7 7.6 6.3 6.1 4.3 3.9 0.5 0.0Joe Thornton 13.3 12.2 12.1 11.9 9.6 9.5 8.8 8.4 8.3 7.8 7.2 5.7 4.4 4.3 -0.5John LeClair 13.1 13.0 12.4 11.2 10.2 7.3 6.8 5.9 4.6 4.0 3.8 3.0 1.5 0.9 0.5 0.4Cy Denneny 9.2 9.1 6.5 6.1 5.9 5.7 5.5 5.2 3.0 2.3 0.2 -0.2Jari Kurri  14.0 11.8 10.4 10.1 9.1 9.0 8.3 7.7 6.5 6.4 6.1 6.1 3.8 3.0 1.9 1.7 1.2Pavel Bure 13.5 12.9 12.3 11.9 11.4 8.1 5.7 4.9 4.3 4.2 2.7 1.1Marian Hossa  12.4 11.1 10.8 10.2 9.9 9.4 9.0 8.6 7.2 7.0 7.0 6.9 5.0 4.0 -0.1Dany Heatley 13.4 12.9 11.6 11.0 10.6 8.8 7.3 6.8 6.3 2.9 2.0Bryan Trottier 13.6 12.9 11.2 10.3 10.0 8.7 8.6 7.6 7.6 7.0 6.5 6.3 4.3 2.6 1.5 0.9 0.9 0.1
    What he lacked vs many of the other great centers of his day was the leadership elements that set apart players like Yzerman, Messier, Sakic, Lemieux, and Sundin, players that were not the physical talent of Lindros. With those players in, is there room for one more C from that era?

    therednorth1
    therednorth1

    I think that's part of the problem: there's too many deserving players.  You can't argue with the induction cases of anyone who went in--and that's why those who didn't get in are still out.

    ggronk
    ggronk

    Lindros snubbed??? - the Lindros family took snubbing to a whole new level after Eric was drafted - what goes around, comes around...

    Sportfan
    Sportfan

    Very Sad that Burns is snubbed once again.

    ianlinross
    ianlinross

    Lindros was probably snubbed because he snubbed the draft. He came into the league on his own terms and I believe some of the HOF cronies still hold that against him.