Story of the Week
This may seem like an odd time to start thinking about nominations to the 2018 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame, but there are a few reasons that it’s relevant at this time of year.
First off, the Olympics are right around the corner, and that’s when most of the rest of the world actually pays attention to women’s hockey. Further, although nobody wants to think about it right now, the end of the Olympics often heralds retirement announcements, starting the clock on Hall of Fame eligibility. And lastly, March 15 is the deadline for public submissions of nominations.
If someone was looking for information on women’s hockey players that are both eligible and accomplished that they might wish to nominate for induction, they would probably start at the Hockey Hall of Fame’s website. Hidden away on their mobile site is a list of men’s and women’s players who are eligible for induction. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s supposed to be demonstrative of the appropriate calibre of player.
The first problem with the lists is, for those that never played in the NHL (or had only a short career there), the only stats presented are based on World Championship play. You can argue that it’s hard to gauge relative strengths of each league, but it means the lists only reflect a fraction of the stats in these players’ careers. They don’t even include Olympic stats. For women, the list includes players who have scored 50 or more points, have won tournament MVP at least once, or received a Directorate Award at least twice. That’s less than two percent of players who have ever attended Worlds.
Put another way, the Hall of Fame list includes players who have scored at least 50 points in a tournament that lasts six games or less per team and is held once a year. A player needs to have a very long career at the national team level (which means being one of top 23 players in her country) or maintain an average well over a point a game to meet that bar. In fact, only two of the five women who have been inducted into the Hall so far (Cammi Granato, 2010 and Danielle Goyette, 2017) meet it.
Being named tournament MVP or receiving two or more directorate awards is similarly difficult, not to mention that it keeps the number of goalies on the list to just one: Kim St-Pierre (as of yet, no women’s hockey goalie has been inducted into the Hall). And of course, the criteria leaves out any of the eligible players from teams outside of North America.
The next problem is that the list isn’t accurate. Jenny Potter is listed as eligible and she was playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps last year. If you want to argue that the Whitecaps are insufficiently professional, there’s the problem that she was on the Boston Blades in 2014-15 and she was also on last year’s list. At most this should be her first time on the list. Zuzana Tomčíková of Slovakia isn’t on the list (she was MVP at Worlds in 2011), and she’s eligible for the first time this year.
Why bother about the public list? We can just leave the nominations to the official selection committee! The problem with that is, yet again, they’re all men. And while the Hall of Fame has an extensive list of areas of hockey in which at least some members of the selection committee must have some knowledge... “women’s hockey” is not on the list. Plus there’s the issue that since the Hall added two player slots per class for women in 2010, only five women have been inducted out of 16 potential members. That’s less than a third of the available slots. Heck, we could fill the other 11 slots with the women on the public list and have slots left over, even including Potter.
So, it’s up to members of the public to agitate for women to be nominated. The public submission process requires research and a fair amount of effort. Alternatively, each member of the selection committee gets to nominate someone and a fair few of them have twitter accounts. (What? I’m just pointing out some facts.)
Who should be nominated? I’m not going to argue that anyone on the public list doesn’t deserve a look, but let’s try and expand the list a little. Players already on the public list will be in italics
Triple Gold Club
The IIHF doesn’t recognize the Triple Gold Club for women; apparently the Clarkson Cup doesn’t count yet. Still, for those of us who think it should, there are a few women on the list:
Kim St-Pierre (G, Canada, ret 2013)
Sarah Vaillancourt (F, Canada, ret 2014)
Catherine Ward (D, Canada, ret 2014)
Tessa Bonhomme (D, Canada, ret 2015)
(A number of players on the 2007-08 Brampton Thunder would make this list, but the Clarkson Cup was not awarded to the CWHL champion that year so I’ll leave that controversy for someone else.)
Olympic scoring leaders
Players who have scored 20 or more points at the Olympic games per Elite Prospects.
Cherie Piper (Canada, ret 2013)
Jayna Hefford (Canada, ret 2014)
Natalie Darwitz (USA, ret 2010)
Katie King-Crowley (USA, ret 2006)
Gillian Apps (Canada, ret 2014)
CWHL scoring leaders
The new version of the NWHL hasn’t been around long enough for anyone who’s played in it to be Hall of Fame eligible yet, so we’ll focus on the C. Here are players who are top five in career regular season scoring among eligible players in goals, assists or points.
Jayna Hefford (130 G / 104 A / 234 P in 128 games, CWHL winner)
Jennifer Botterill (62 G / 92 A / 154 pts in 76 games)
Lori Dupuis (63 G / 86 A / 149 P in 153 games, CWHL winner)
Sommer West (60 G / 89 A / 149 P in 126 games)
Sabrina Harbec ( 40 G / 90 A / 139 pts in 85 games, Clarkson Cup winner)
Gillian Apps (68 G /66 A / 134 P in 126 games, CWHL Winner)
Jana Head (Harrigan) (62 G / 70 A / 132 P in 140 games)
IIHF Hall of Fame
In an effort to include some players from outside North America, I had a look at the IIHF Hall of Fame. Players not already in the Hockey Hall of Fame are:
Maria Rooth (F, Sweden, ret 2010)
Karyn Bye-Dietz (F, USA, ret 2002)
Riikka Nieminen-Välilä (F, Finland ret 2003... returned 2013, playing at Pyeongchang,not actually eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame right now, has 56 career points at Worlds goodness this woman is badass)
Unfortunately, Elite Prospects isn’t good at career stats for goalies. So I’m going to turn to Giants In the Crease, and their list of the top 25 women’s hockey goalies of all time. The top five HHOF-eligible goalies from the list are:
Kim St-Pierre (Canada, ret 2013)
Manon Rhéaume (Canada, ret 2009)
Kim Martin Hasson (Sweden, ret 2015)
Zuzana Tomčíková (Slovakia, ret 2015)
Erin Whitten (USA, ret 1999)
There are, of course, players on none of these lists who are eligible and have careers worthy of mention. Cassie Campbell-Pascall, the only player, male or female, to have captained two Olympic gold medal-winning hockey teams. Hong Guo, nicknamed “the Great Wall of China”, the Chinese national team goalie for two Olympics and at least five World Championships. The players who broke barriers before there was such a thing as a women’s hockey World Championships.
These are just a sample of the excellent women throughout women’s hockey history who ought to be in the discussion as the time for 2018 nominations draws near. Let’s hope two of them actually get the call.
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