It’s hard to argue with the players who’ve just been selected to hockey’s Hall of Fame. Leetch, Yzerman, Robitaille and Hull. It doesn’t get much better than that.
But where’s the magic?
Where’s the imaginative touch distinguishing the institution as something more than a place where those who’ve accumulated the best numbers over their careers find the key to unlock the door?
Hockey is the ultimate team game. Why isn’t there a willingness to include the teams that have defined the sport for many generations of fans?
One could think of both squads that played in the 1972 Summit Series, a confrontation that assumed an exalted meaning for the game and for the time in which it was played. The gritty Canadians persevered, but the surprising Soviets served notice that they were a force to be reckoned with.
It was the most famous set of games ever played. It featured three consecutive game winning goals by one player, Paul Henderson, whose name is familiar with most fans. Yet, neither the team nor the player is included in the Hall of Fame.
The “Miracle on Ice” Americans who won the Olympic gold medal at Lake Placid in 1980 are not in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Yet their improbable victory against the seemingly indestructible Soviet Union is the stuff of legend.
Hockey is about more than just individuals who score the most goals or win the most Stanley Cups. It is about mythology and tall tales. It should be about the characters that have made the game great and wonderful.
To that end, the Hockey Hall of Fame needs to be more inclusive, indeed imaginative, in selecting those who reside in the shrine for all time.
Not only should the great teams merit consideration but so too should the women who have pioneered a boom crossing the lines of gender. Players like Angela James and Cassie Campbell.
And one more thing, love him or hate him, Don Cherry is the most famous person in hockey. He is a character who has forged much of hockey’s folklore.
These are the kinds of people who should gain entry to hockey’s Hall. Their inclusion would ensure that all of our memories of a beloved game are filled with magic.
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