The Hockey Hall of Fame is set to enshrine another class of the sport’s elite following a one-year absence.
There was no class of 2021 due to COVID-related restrictions, so hockey fans haven’t seen an induction ceremony since Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Doug Wilson, Kim St-Pierre and Kevin Lowe were honoured in 2020.
Hockey Hall of Famers Lanny McDonald and Mike Gartner, the HHOF’s chair of the board and chair of the selection committee, respectively, are scheduled to host a live announcement Monday afternoon with this year’s inductees.
The HHOF player category can feature a maximum of four men and two women each year. With that in mind, here’s a tiered look at the players eligible to be included as part of the HHOF Class of 2022.
THE IDENTICAL TWINS TIER
If there were ever two players meant to stride side by side together into the Hockey Hall of Fame, it would be brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Daniel was drafted second- and Henrik third-overall in 1999 to the Vancouver Canucks with whom they spent their entire NHL careers.
Henrik tallied 1,070 points (240 goals, 830 assists) across 1,330 regular-season games, many of which he donned the ‘C’ for Vancouver, and he won both the Hart and Art Ross in 2010.
Daniel finished with 1,041 points (393 goals, 648 assists) in 1,306 contests, winning the Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award in 2011.
Henrik won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy by himself in 2016 and the two were the league’s first King Clancy co-recipients after their final season in 2018 as the players who best exemplified leadership qualities on and off the ice and who made a significant humanitarian contribution in the community.
They both factored in on the same goal 743 times at the NHL level, which ranks second-most all-time behind Oilers/Kings legends Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri who factored in on 764 total goals throughout their esteemed HOF careers.
“It’s hard to defend because they always have the knack of knowing where the other guy is all the time,” 2015 HHOF inductee Nicklas Lidstrom said of the Sedins’ unmatched intuitive creativity. “They’re throwing the puck behind their backs, they’re laying the puck where guys will skate into it. When you’re sitting upstairs and watching from above you can see the plays developing and see how they’ll wait for an out to make the pass.
“And sometimes you wonder how he knew he was going to be there, but they have that chemistry amongst the two of them that makes it very hard to defend.”
The identical twins, born roughly six minutes apart on Sept. 26, 1980 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, became the first set of siblings to both hit the 1,000-point plateau in the NHL. Red Wings icons Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio are the only duo in NHL history to play more games together as teammates.
“Their chemistry, they know each other inside and out, but it’s their hockey sense and their awareness on the ice that really stands out to me — not just between themselves but between the other forward on their line or the defence pairing,” former Ottawa Senators captain, Olympic teammate of the Sedins and fellow HHOF hopeful Daniel Alfredsson previously told Sportsnet. “It looks so easy at times. Sometimes they throw it behind their back but there’s always a plan. They’re extremely smart. It’s fun to watch and frustrating to play against.”
The Sedins also had a strong international career highlighted by Olympic gold in 2006, world championship gold in 2013 and Olympic silver in 2014. That they never brought the city of Vancouver a Stanley Cup is perhaps the only knock on their unique, collective career.
THE FIRST-YEAR ELIGIBLE PLAYERS WITH A CHANCE TIER
Roberto Luongo: It could be a Canucks reunion of sorts if one of the top goalies of his era and a former teammate of the Sedins also gets the call in his first year of eligibility. Luongo split his career with the Canucks and Panthers after a brief stint with the Islanders, the team that drafted him fourth overall in 1997. The 2011 William M. Jennings Trophy winner never won a Vezina despite being a three-time finalist. He didn’t win a Stanley Cup either, however he backstopped Canada to gold at Vancouver 2010 in front of the home fans. He then won a second Olympic gold as a backup in 2014. His 489 wins ranks fourth and his 77 shutouts ninth all-time in NHL history.
Also, for what it’s worth, @strombone1 has been one of hockey Twitter’s greatest gifts over the years. That should count for something, no?
Caroline Ouellette: The longtime Team Canada staple won four Olympic and six world championship gold medals during her acclaimed career while producing at better than a point-per-game pace in both tournament formats. Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford are the only other players to win at least four gold medals at the Olympics. Ouellette also has eight Four Nations Cup titles and four Clarkson Cup championships.
Henrik Zetterberg: The former Detroit Red Wings captain is a member of hockey’s Triple Gold Club and he gained entry so to speak all within a few years of one another. He won Olympic and world championship gold in 2006 and hoisted his first and only Stanley Cup at the end of the 2007-08 season for which he won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Zetterberg had 337 goals and 960 points in 1,082 games, was runner-up for the Calder Trophy in 2003 and consistently received Selke and Lady Byng votes throughout his career.
Meghan Duggan: Prior to joining the New Jersey Devils front office the Danvers, Mass., native had quite the career as captain of Team USA. The graduate of the University of Wisconsin won seven world championship gold medals and the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top women’s player in the NCAA. Her international career was capped off by her captaining the United States to an Olympic gold medal in 2018.
Rick Nash: The 2002 first-overall pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets is unlikely to get in solely on numbers if he does end up in the Hall one day – 437 goals, 368 assists for 805 points in 1,060 games ain’t too shabby. Nash was a consistent goal scorer and solid 200-foot player who shared the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with Ilya Kovalchuk and Jarome Iginla in 2004. He is a two-time Olympic gold medal winner with Canada who often played on the top line with Sidney Crosby. He dealt with injuries after finishing top-10 in Hart Trophy voting in 2015 so the final few years of his career were relatively forgettable. Nash was named best forward in the Swiss League for his time with HC Davos during the 2004-05 lockout season and had his No. 61 retired by the Blue Jackets earlier this year.
A few other notable first-year eligible players: Dion Phaneuf, Scott Hartnell, Mike Fisher, Brian Gionta, Chris Kunitz, Brooks Orpik, Thomas Vanek
THE ‘IS THIS FINALLY THEIR YEAR?’ TIER
Beloved former Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson has a trophy case featuring the Calder he won all the way back in 1995, a King Clancy from 2012 and a Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2013. He’s one of 64 players to exceed 1,100 career points in the NHL and led Sweden in points during their 2006 Olympic gold medal run.
Many hockey fans and certain modest geniuses have argued in the past that it’s downright laughable Alexander Mogilny has yet to be inducted. Not only does he tick most boxes in terms of what constitutes having a Hall of Fame career, he was also incredibly influential to his contemporaries from the former Soviet Union. Mogilny defected to North America prior to the Berlin Wall coming down, risking his life to join the Buffalo Sabres in 1989 and paving the way for Hall of Famers such as Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure to make their way over to the NHL. Mogilny scored 473 goals and 1,032 points in 990 games and has been HOF eligible since 2009.
Jennifer Botterill won Olympic silver in 1998 before three consecutive Olympic golds in 2002, 2006 and 2010. The long-time Team Canada forward also earned five gold medals at the IIHF world women’s championship and two world championship MVP trophies prior to her successful television career.
Rod Brind’Amour was a two-time Selke winner that tallied 432 goals and 773 assists in his nearly 1,400 games. Guy Carbonneau being inducted three years ago could aid in Brind’Amour joining him there in the future. Carbonneau won three Selkes and three Stanley Cups but Brind’Amour’s offensive number dwarf Carbonneau’s. He captained the Carolina Hurricanes to that franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship in 2006.
There was a time in the early 2000s when Sergei Gonchar was the NHL’s premier offensive defenceman. The fact Sergei Zubov got the nod in 2019 could help Gonchar’s chances. He finished top-10 in Norris voting on seven occasions, won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009, and is one of 17 defencemen in NHL history to register more than 800 points.
Pierre Turgeon had 515 goals in his 1,294-game NHL career and his 812 assists and 1,327 points are the highest totals for any eligible non-HHOF member. The Lady Byng Trophy he won in 1993 when he scored 58 goals, 132 points and finished fifth in Hart voting was the only significant hardware he won during his career.
If spawning two of the top young stars of today’s NHL counts, then Keith Tkachuk hasn’t stopped contributing to the game of hockey long after his playing career ended. His 538 goals are the most of any eligible player not currently in the HHOF. Tkachuk’s compatriot Jeremy Roenick has some HHOF-calibre stats to boast about (513 goals and 1,216 points in 1,363 games) and remained a popular media figure post-playing career but never won a major award or Stanley Cup.
Patrick Elias, Theoren Fleury, Vincent Damphousse, Bernie Nicholls and Alex Kovalev are also among the handful of 1,000-point players still on the outside of the HHOF looking in.
Boris Mikhailov was the captain and first-line winger on the USSR national team for the majority of the 1970s. His former teammate Aleksander Yakushev was inducted in 2018. Could that help Mikhailov’s chances?
When you compare the career numbers and accomplishments of Curtis Joseph side-by-side with Luongo’s it feels like CuJo will have to wait at least one more year before he hears his name called. Same goes for two-time Cup winner Tom Barrasso who has been eligible for even longer than Joseph. Barrasso also has a Vezina to go along with his 369-277-86 record.