clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Thursday’s FTB: Reform the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee

New, comments

The selection committee is not representative of hockey

NHL Board of Governors meeting
MANALAPAN, FL - DECEMBER 7: The NHL ruling and governing body meets at the NHL Board of Governors meeting on December 7, 2017 in Manalapan, Florida.
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

On Wednesday, the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class was announced. It was headlined by NHL stars Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa who were both among the premiere players in the league during their eras. The same can be said for Kim St-Pierre, the lone woman in the class and the first woman goaltender in the Hall’s 75-year history, who was Canada’s goaltender during their most dominant era in the noughts.

Kim St-Pierre has long been in the conversation as a contender for the first women’s hockey goalie to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. She meets our 40-or-over criteria, she’s Canadian, and boy does she have the hardware. A member of the Triple Gold Club, St-Pierre has three Olympic gold medals, five World Championships, and won the Clarkson Cup in both 2009 and 2011 with the Montréal Stars. - PPP

They also inducted Kevin Lowe, who won a few Stanley Cups with the Gretzky Oilers, but never a major award. Oh, and he ran the Oilers from 2000-2015; their worst era in franchise history, but we’re just talking about him as a player. In an article by Mike Seravalli, Lowe was compared to a defensive defenseman of the calibre of Rod Langway. Langway had two Norris trophies (two more than Lowe) and captained his Washington Capitals for 11 years.

They also inducted Doug Wilson, another NHL GM, who actually won a Norris Trophy during his time as a player and led his team in scoring three times as a defenseman. The team was Chicago, who were basically the Oilers between 2000-2015, but we’ll give him some credit for it.

The last among the six people named every year was Ken Holland, who is the current GM of the Edmonton Oilers and won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. He was inducted as a builder.

Lowe and Wilson waited 19 and 24 years respectively before getting the call to the Hall. Sometimes it takes a long time for a player’s contributions to the sport to really be appreciated, which is totally reasonable. But after looking at the selection committee and looking at what these hockey men have done recently, it really feels like the Hockey Hall of Fame had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to hit their six-person limit this year.

What do I mean by that? Well, of the 18 members of the HHOF Selection Committee, there are six former or current NHL General Managers. That’s a third of the group for those counting at home. There are a further three former presidents or head coaches that worked in or with the NHL. That’s half the selection committee that is comprised of men of similar ages and experiences within the NHL, especially the GMs. Of “the rest” there are three media members (all men from North America), three Europeans representing Russia, Sweden, and Finland (one each), the Commissioner of the OHL, an NHL owner, and one woman.

And for completeness, here are the guidelines that should comprise the Selection Committee.

It is intended that the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee:
1. be generally, but not necessarily exclusively, composed of former hockey players, former coaches of hockey teams, former referees or linesman for hockey leagues or associations, current or former senior executives of hockey teams or hockey leagues or associations and present or former members of the media who cover or covered the game of hockey.
2. be broadly representative of areas throughout the world where hockey is popular.
3. have among its membership individuals knowledgeable of the various players eras from which candidates may be nominated;
4. have among its membership an individual or individuals knowledgeable of international hockey; and
5. have among its membership an individual or individuals knowledgeable of amateur hockey.

The HHOF technically checks their own boxes for what a selection committee should look like, but it is not in any way representative of hockey.

First of all, there is one woman in the group, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, who is a former player and current NHL commentator. There are no Europeans (in the Hall or on the committee) or anyone from different hockey backgrounds to provide unique perspectives.

There is just one woman to speak for the whole history of Women’s hockey! Meanwhile there are nine members (plus the three media members) deeply entrenched in one specific league of Men’s hockey.

As of right now, the Hall of Fame doesn’t have a single builder from Europe and it doesn’t have a single builder of Women’s hockey. I thank the stars Willie O’Ree is at least in the Hall as of last year.

I should also mention that the HHOF has a cap on the number of women allowed to be inducted in the Hall per year as a player at two, while the cap for men is four. Someone tell me the logic behind that math.

Despite the HHOF’s feeble attempts to be more inclusive, this is an institution built by North American men for North American men. There are so many women, people of colour, people who don’t speak english, and combinations of all three that don’t have voices in the room to advocate for their contributions.

Here is an article Annie and Nafio did last year with dozens of women from every background who deserve to be in the Hall.

The NHL posted on Juneteenth a story about the Coloured Hockey League. A group of black men who innovated and created the hockey we know today. Why are none of them in the Hall? What are their names? This year would’ve been a great time considering the world right now and how lowe they scraped finding names.

They aren’t in the Hall because there is no one to tell their story. Pioneers lost to people who chose a different history.

And in a year where Jarome Iginla was immortalized with hockey’s highest honour, it feels like hockey’s highest honour is lowering its standard because they don’t know where to look.


Various Leafs Branches

Here is our article on the HHOF inductees. Katya is much nicer about the inductees than I was.

Pontus Holmberg was yesterday’s Top 25 Under 25 prospect at #18. Any guesses for today? Looking at you, Nick_robertson_is_a_forward.

The NHL is hitting the point in the Return to Play Protocol where lives and risks actually matter. Players are coming in from abroad and there’s little we know about the league’s plans. Chris Johnston with the story.

Jokke Nevalainen is reporting that a number of Finnish players are chartering a plane to North America where they can fly in isolation.

The MLB has submitted a plan for the Toronto Blue Jays to play games at home (with visiting teams from the States coming in like normal). In my humble opinion, this is a terrible idea.

Grandma Dubie and her grandson had a very adorable conversation on Twitter yesterday. If you go find the thread, you’ll see a very sick media burn by David Amber.

And finally, a question no one should be asking.