Hockey Hall of Fame: Who deserves to get the call?
Among my 14 NHL notables, Nick Lidstrom, Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano
Scott Niedermayer, Rob Blake, and Dave Andreychuk could be tough calls
Chris Osgood has the credentials but not the cachet of other Hall of Fame goalies
This weekend, the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto will welcome Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic, Adam Oates and Pavel Bure to its ranks.
GALLERY: Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2012
Several other players who recently retired have already come up for consideration or will soon. Here's a look at some of the most notable and their chances of future induction.
The all-time points leader among U.S.-born players was the face of the Stars franchise in both Minnesota and Dallas. He totaled 561 goals and 1,374 points in a storied career and will always be known for the flowing jersey that trailed behind him as he blew past defenders on a rink-length rush up the ice. In 1999, Modano collected 23 points in 23 postseason games even though he wore a cast on his broken hand while leading the Stars to their only Stanley Cup.
My prediction: Certain.
SI Vault: Star Burst (May 15, 2000)
The ace blueliner's former Red Wings teammate once referred to the him as "the perfect hockey player" and few would disagree. Though he was not overly physical, Lidstrom was a superb positional defenseman. Though others were faster, he was as efficient a skater as you could ever see. He didn't shoot the puck as hard as Al MacInnis or zip up the ice like Paul Coffey, but few players who were involved in as many key plays made as few mistakes as the seven-time Norris Trophy-winner who retired this year. Not surprisingly, Lidstrom fell just three games shy of Chris Chelios' mark for career playoff games, with 263.
My prediction: A lock.
SI Vault: Neat Nick (June 13, 2008)
The indestructible winger ended his 21-year career on a high note with the Boston Bruins in 2011 when he won his third Stanley Cup. He also grabbed one with Pittsburgh in 1991 and Carolina in 2006. Recchi's pudgy appearance was a deceiving foil for his speed, and his sturdiness made him exceedingly tough to knock off the puck. He amassed 1,533 regular-season points and 147 more in the playoffs, and played in 570 consecutive games starting in 1991, sitting not because of injury, but after a bout with pneumonia.
One of the toughest power forwards in the history of the game is now a power executive as the NHL's lord of discipline, doling out supplemental punishment for those who break the rules. Between 1987 and 2009, Shanahan played for five teams, including two stints with the Devils, and collected 656 goals (twice topping 50, with the Blues), 698 assists, and 2,489 penalty minutes. That's like having a Gordie Howe hat trick for life. The crowns on his career: Shanahan won Stanley Cups with the Red Wings in 1997, 1998 and 2002.
The three-time Norris Trophy-winner appeared in more playoff games (266) than anyone in NHL history. In 26 seasons, the ageless wonder missed the postseason only twice. His durability is even more remarkable given his robust and sometimes irreverent style of play that yielded 2,891 penalty minutes. Goaltender Ron Hextall is probably still chasing him. The son of a longtime Chicago restaurant owner is now working in the front office with his hometown team.
Prediction: He isn't in the conversation of history's top four or five defensemen, as Lidstrom is, but Chelios will get in.
SI Vault: Prince of Darkness (May 27, 2002)
Had he only stayed healthy, Forsberg would have made this an easy call. The two-time Olympic gold medalist for his native Sweden and the Hart Trophy-winner for the Avalanche in 2002-03 played as if there were extra points to be gained for traffic accidents and collisions. Perhaps no player with such physical gifts embraced contact as much as Forsberg, who played a full season only once in his 14-year career.
Prediction: At his best he was electric, but frequent power outages make this a 60-40 proposition instead of a certainty.
The NHL's MVP for 1993-94 was a dynamic offensive force after he came to the league as a Soviet defector in 1990. Though he had cups of coffee with Anaheim, Columbus and Washington before jumping to the KHL at the end of his career, Fedorov was best known as one of the Red Wings' Russian five. He even played defense for a year, though he never really looked comfortable in the position. His ability to stop-and-cut while changing stride so easily made him one of the game's most difficult checking assignments.
SI Vault: Wing Leader (April 23, 2001)
Oh, fans have fun with this one. On the one hand, they recall some of the bad goals Ozzie gave up during his career. On the other hand, how many goalies have chalked up 400 career wins and three Stanley Cups without getting into the Hal of Fame? None, at least among those who are eligible. Perhaps his impish face and occasional muff belied his tendency to play big in big games. His playoff goals-against average (2.09) is .40 lower than in the regular season. His save percentage (.916) is a tenth higher. His 2-1 loss in Game 7 against Pittsburgh three years ago cost him a Conn Smythe Trophy and maybe a spot in the Hall.
Prediction: It may take a while, but he should sneak in.
SI Vault: Going Home Again (June 13, 2008)
He's already been up for consideration. With his Hart Trophy and career tally of 865 points in just 760 games, it can be argued that he was a dominant power forward during the height of his injury-shortened career. It feels like he's been out of the game for more than five years because is effectiveness waned in his final seasons, but he's only 39 and could still be skating if not for the series of concussions that knocked him into early retirement. Lindros was no stranger to controversy. His contract disputes and mixed reputation won't help the cause of a player whose fine career still fell well short of what it might have been.
Prediction: Probably not.
SI Vault: Looming Large (Oct. 9, 1995)
His 454 regular-season wins, fourth-best all-time, should entitle him to the Mike Gartner/Marcel Dionne treatment, which states something like "players with gaudy career numbers get in no matter their inability to lift their clubs anywhere near a championship." The goalie with the snarling dog on his mask was actually a pleasant guy, but none of his six teams ever reached the Cup final. At times. Joseph won despite his teams. His 16 playoff shutouts rank third best all-time. Still, there was never a year when he could claim to be the game's best goalie.
Prediction: He'll get consideration, but will probably miss out.
SI Vault: Goal Standard (May 10, 1999)
The Dominator was one of the most confounding players ever to strap on a mask. Eccentric even by goalie standards, the sprawling, flopping, scrambling Czech was as likely to stop a puck with his ear or his elbow as he was with his pad, glove or blocker. After retiring from the NHL at 43 in 2008 -- leaving with the highest save percentage (.922) of any goalie in league history -- he finally retired from the Czech league this past season. He won Hart Trophies in 1997 and 1998, six Vezinas, and Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008. He also led the Czechs to a surprising Olympic gold in 1998.
Prediction: After several more retirements, he'll get in.
SI Vault: Headed For Trouble? (May 5, 1997)
The four-time Cup winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist was one of the smoothest skating defensemen this side of Paul Coffey. His career highs in goals (15) and points (69) were modest, but he was always a feared offensive threat and underappreciated defender. After capturing three Cups with New Jersey, he added a fourth with Anaheim in 2007 and was named the Conn Smythe-winner after an outstanding postseason.
SI Vault: Scarlet Leader (March 11, 2010)
For two decades, he was one of the sturdiest and steadiest two-way defensemen in the league and a fixture on Canadian world and Olympic teams. He was remarkably agile for someone who stood 6'-4" and 225 pounds, and he could carry the puck up the ice as well as a smaller, more compact player. He won the Cup in 2001 after being traded from Los Angeles to Colorado and spent his entire career with three Western Conference teams. His was a regular All-Star while compiling 240 goals, 777 points and 1,679 penalty minute, though he was usually ranked just outside the top three or four defensemen in the league.
Prediction: His consistency makes a strong case, but it will still be a tough call since he was more often very good rather than great.
SI Vault: Bank Shot (January 29, 2001)
His career numbers kind of sneak up on you. In 1,639 games, Andreychuk had 640 goals and 698 assists. His averages are slightly lower in the playoffs where he produced 97 points in 162 games. He was also the NHL's all-time leader in power play goals with 274, even though you might not think of him as one of the game's great snipers, perhaps because he never had the one career-defining moment or run of great play that other Hall-of-Famers often have. Had he not finally won the Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay, it would be hard to consider him, but if Dino Ciccarelli is in, Andreychuk should be, too.
Prediction: It could take a year with marginal candidates to get him in.
SI Vault: That Old Spark (May 17, 2004)