We tried to vote in context of the times, so that the 1945 ballot,
for example, would be voted on with 1945 knowledge. This was where
the committee had its largest shortcoming. This became poignant
when considering Alan Eagleson's contributions to the game.
"I personally did not have this problem," said Jason
Kasiorek. "But it was obviously a concern, as some members
in the first few ballots that were considered all-time greats could
not get in because of comparisons to future stars."
Eagleson had a large group of balloters who wanted to enshrine him
for his contributions to player agents, his organizational abilities
for the Summit Series and the Canada Cup, and then eventually remove
him for exposing his crimes for which he was convicted in two countries.
Longtime sports journalist Larry Robertson pushed for Eagleson's
"I believe that on the basis of what he accomplished for the
game of hockey internationally and for Canada (he got us back onto
the world stage) he deserves to be in. He also helped form the NHL
Players Association (after the dismal failure of the one in the
1950s)," Robertson said.
"Granted he got caught up in greed and fraud, but on the basis
of what he accomplished for the game before situations got out of
hand he deserves to be in anyone's hall of fame."
Others changed their opinions as time went on.
"I voted for Eagleson for a while, and then stopped as his
support never mounted and the years got later, it is obvious that
other committee members had a hard time voting for him because of
what we know now," Kasiorek said.
Author Joseph Nieforth was another who had no problem sorting out
the news from the times. "In the Eagleson case I began voting
for him based on what would have been known at that point. After
awhile I gave up on that tact since it looked like few committee
members were taking that approach," Nieforth said.
Karl-Eric Reif was one who did not vote in context of the times.
"If we had really fully immersed ourselves in the context
of the year of each election – if that's even realistically
possible to do without being psychotically disassociative –
most of the statistics that spoke eloquently on behalf of many of
the early nominees wouldn't have been available to us, for instance,
and we'd have been more likely to simply recapitulate the work of
the early HHoF committees," Reif said.
Arthur Chidlovski revealed a story from his childhood in Moscow,
and why he would not vote for Eagleson.
"As a representative of international hockey, I probably should
be the first one to vote for Alan Eagleson. He brought Canada back
to the international hockey and was behind the most exciting and
colorful international tournaments of that time," Chidlovski
"And I don't vote for the Eagle because of a rather personal
reason. He put me in trouble! All of you probably remember his escape
from police in Luzhniki Arena and the one-finger salute that he
showed to me and millions of Russians that September 1972 night.
"Later on he explained to me and millions of Russians that
it wasn't what one might think - it meant a thumb up or number one.
For most Canadians who know what thumbs-up looks like, it wasn't
convincing and the whole episode was edited out of the game broadcast.
"The funny thing about it is that Eagleson's gesture
has no meaning in Russia. But I and millions of other Russians who
watched that game are good learners and it was a lesson of how to
show number one.
"In 1989, I got to the USA for the first time and I was asked
by U.S. Customs how many suitcases I had. Being a good student,
I showed the customer officer the Eagleson's "one"
gesture and was almost deported."