ABOUT THE PROJECT
Gordie Howe, upon the passing of Jean-Claude Tremblay, expressed
surprise when Mr. Hockey found out the former Canadien and Nordique
defenseman was not in the Hall of Fame. "He's got five Cups.
I've only got four," said Mr. Hockey.
COMMITTEE TO RECOGNIZE TRUE EXCELLENCE
NOTE: Special thanks to former WWHOF Commitee members:
In a broader picture, Mr. Hockey has defined the very problem of
the Hall of Fame: there are so many people elected that few know
(or have even heard of) all of the honoured. The level of excellence
has been lowered so that if one wins five Stanley Cups, the expectation
is they should be enshrined.
In his 2003 autobiography, Thunder and Ice, Phil Esposito comments
that his Hall of Fame induction day meant little.
Said the man who trailed just Gordie Howe on the NHL's all-time
goal scoring list when he retired in 1980, "It wasn't that big a
deal to me because I feel there are some players in the Hall who
shouldn't be there, and as a result it sort of cheapens it for everyone."
The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee's selection
methods and criterion have come under ridicule and discussion since
the first election in 1945. Even today, the selection method works
something like this: a player is nominated, and the 18 committee
members say yea or nay. If 75% of the voting members approve, we
will soon be honoring a new member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. And
no one on the committee goes home until someone gets chosen.
The current committee is made up of retired players, current Hall
of Famers, an executive or two, and a journalist or two. The main
problem with the Toronto-centric nature of the Hall is a disproportionate
amount of Maple Leafs in its environs, and a nearly complete lack
of Americans and Europeans. Other organizations, such as the United
States Hall of Fame and the IIHF Hall of Fame, have formed to fill
the gap, but their niche view has left a vacancy in terms of a hockey
hall of fame truly representative of the best hockey players of
all-time, the best hockey leaders of all-time, all enshrined yet
limited in numbers so that only the best of the best are recognized.
But more importantly, future hockey fans can learn the game's
This is what we hoped to accomplish. No one and no one subject
was sacred. We didn't prejudge the original WHA just because
Harold Ballard lost some players. We were unified in our stated
goal: to protect the legacy of those who were its greatest players,
and those who were great for the game.
We are a committee of 21 researchers – some Society of International
Hockey Research members and others not – from across the globe,
spanning career fields, all with one goal: to make our Hall of Fame
the best of the best. Since it is incredibly inhumane to just kick
members out because they are no longer "good enough," a new Hall,
with new, consistent voting requirements, provides one solution.
So who's in, who's out, and who's making these
Well, don't worry. We didn't kick out Gordie Howe,
or Bobby Hull or Bobby Orr, and we managed to protect Eddie Shore
and Howie Morenz. And Bill Cook. Larry Murphy, however, was booted
out of Toronto a second time.
Like Toronto, we are prejudiced against defenseman with a team-first
mentality, even though hockey, if nothing else, is the ultimate
in team sports. But when you are looking at a ballot, like we did
in 1985, with Howe, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, John Bucyk, Andy Bathgate,
Bernie Parent and Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer and Gerry Cheevers,
and then add in Alexander Ragulin, Nikolai Sologubov, Lars-Erik
Sjoberg and Tord Lundstrom for international flavor, and you can
only pick five, well, several great defensemen were left behind
Our processes and some thoughts follow on the remaining sections
of this on-line presentation.