A new beginning with some similar gripes

June 24, 2014, 10:27 AM

So Pat Burns is in. That’s good.

And Eric Lindros isn’t. And that may or may not be good, depending on your allegiances and point of view.

But the most salient point, folks, is here we are in 2014 and we have no earthly reason why.

Why Burns is in, and by what vote, and why Lindros isn’t, and by what vote.

Again, this is 2014. Clarence Campbell isn’t running the league, the Norris family no longer controls more than one team, yet when it comes to the Hall of Fame, we’re still operating under a set of circumstances more suited to a Cold War mentality than the actual era in which the NHL and the Hockey Hall of Fame operates.

Oh, yes, and along those lines, another year with no women inducted. You’d think after snubbing the female game for years and years, the Hall would be in a catchup mode.

Nope. Were any women even nominated by a group that is totally comprised by men?

Only they know. And they are sworn to secrecy.

One of the reasons why so many were annoyed by the refusal of the Hall to honour Burns while he was alive is that it was impossible to find out exactly why that was, or whether he was even close to getting the requisite number of votes.

Secrecy has been the byword of this organization for so long, it seems impervious to the logic that by becoming more transparent in its procedures and voting rules, it would actually honor those who are inducted even more.

Instead, an organization with a spotty history when it comes to operating on a nudge-nudge, wink-wink basis simply opens itself to charges of impropriety by refusing to adopt a more open policy.

If those who vote lack the stuff to attach their names to a ballot, at the very least the public deserves a sense of what the count was, how many votes Peter Forsberg received, and whether the very deserving Steve Larmer is even remotely close.

This is a time when the Professional Hockey Writers Association, with Sportsnet.ca columnist Mark Spector leading the charge, is trying to inject more transparency into the annual NHL Awards voting. Well, what’s the difference between that and the Hockey Hall of Fame vote, particularly at a time when some of the old guard has been shuffled out and some new faces are now participating in the vote?

Somebody needs to rock the boat here. Maybe Columbus president John Davidson could be the man. Or it could be a woman. (Women can now be inducted, apparently, but they aren’t allowed to be on the voting committee. Go figure.)

As I migrate this blog from its former home to Sportsnet.ca, it’s striking that exactly zero progress has been made on this issue. We were promised a new era in the wake of the Gil Stein debacle more than two decades ago, but instead it’s been more of the same.

Until the Hall opens itself up to a reasonable degree of scrutiny, we will continue to wonder if the old boys club is still, at least to some degree, still operating by the old rules.

And that continues to diminish this institution, not protect it.

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