The 2013 Hockey Hall of Fame class will be unveiled tomorrow afternoon, and among the impressive candidates that could be enshrined are several former members of the Montreal Canadiens.
Every year, there is huge debate among fans over who was selected, who should have been selected, and who should never have even been considered. A year ago, many fans were happy to see elite sniper Pavel Bure and one of the best passers in the history of the game, Adam Oates finally get elected, after waiting for years. At the same time, fans were puzzled at the decision to vote in Mats Sundin, when there were plenty of more impressive players snubbed.
There can be a maximum of four players, along with one builder, elected to the Hall in any given year. There is some tough competition, including Scott Niedermayer, who is certain to take one of the four slots, but a case can be made for three former Habs.
Guy Carbonneau played 1318 games over his 18 NHL seasons, and from a defensive standpoint, dominated like no other forward during his lengthy career. He was able to put together some impressive offensive seasons, topping 20 goals on five occasions, though he hardly gave Wayne Gretzky much to worry about as an Art Ross candidate.
Carbonneau did however, win the Frank J. Selke Trophy as Best Defensive Forward three times, and had a profound impact on several great teams, and three Stanley Cup Champions. He won his first with the Canadiens in 1986 and captained the team to their most recent title in 1993. As his career was dwindling, Carbonneau was still an excellent penalty killer for the Dallas Stars, and helped them win their only Stanley Cup in 1999.
The Hall of Fame is obsessed with offensive numbers, which will likely hold Carbonneau out once again, but taking all around contributions into consideration, Guy deserves much more respect than he has received from voters, as he finds himself on the ballot for an 11th time.
To put it bluntly, Pat Burns should have been voted in as a Hall of Famer years ago, and the fact he hasn’t been casts doubt on the entire process.
Burns has coached over 1000 games in the NHL, winning 501 of them, more wins than either Toe Blake or Glen Sather. He is also one of the most accomplished playoff coaches of all time, winning 78 postseason games, the eighth most ever, and coaching more playoff games than all but five men.
Burns coached in four different cities during his 14 year career and had tremendous success at each stop. He would win the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins before winning his one and only Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003.
Burns began his coaching career in Montreal, and carried a winning percentage greater than 0.600 through his four years as a Canadien. He made the postseason each year, and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1989 as the mastermind of the Canadiens.
He is the only coach to ever win three Jack Adams Award’s, and did it in three different teams, showing he could be successful wherever he went. His chances of having his name called should be almost as good as Niedermayer’s, but he should have been elected before his death in 2010, and has been passed over several times in the past.
It is finally time for the election committee to make up for past mistakes and get Pat Burns in the Hall of Fame, where he belongs.
The best chance for a former Canadien to be elected, because only one builder can be picked, and up to four players can be voted in, is Chris Chelios.
Chelios began his long, long, NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1983, and quickly proved himself as one of the NHL’s finest defensemen. In fact, he won the James Norris Trophy as NHL’s Best Defenseman three times, including his first in 1989 with the Canadiens.
Chelios played an amazing 1651 NHL games in the regular season alone, also suiting up for 266 postseason contests. His 948 points ranks tenth all time among defenders, and his three Norris Trophy’s rank fifth most all time.
Chelios played six full seasons with the Canadiens, winning a Stanley Cup in 1986, along with his Norris. He reached his career highs of 20 goals in 1988, and 73 points in 1989 while playing in Montreal.
His offensive numbers were only half the story, as most of his opponents would tell you he was one of the most difficult players in the NHL to play against. Taking no prisoners, Chelios dished out elbows and slashes almost as often as Gordie Howe himself, as he piled up nearly 2900 career minutes in the penalty box, enough for 12th most all time.
Chelios will be in the mix with Brendan Shanahan, (who should have been voted in last year, instead of Sundin), Eric Lindros, and Rob Blake as most likely to join Niedermayer, and with his impressive and lengthy resume, there should be yet another Montreal Canadien Norris Trophy winner voted into the Hall of Fame.
Of course, the voters have left us scratching our heads before, so don’t be shocked if you hear a collective groan from the hockey community tomorrow at 3 P.M. EST.