People have their opinions whenever the annual Hockey Hall of Fame class is announced. There are annual favorites who get overlooked (Fred Shero and Pat Burns come to mind), as well as personal heroes that fans would love to see in the hall. No one's ever 100% happy about the end result, but this year I generally noticed a lot less angst than usual regarding the class. Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Mats Sundin, and Joe Sakic will all be entering the Hall in November.
It was assumed that Brendan Shanahan would supplant one of thse four. After all, Shanny's won three Stanley Cups to Bure, Oates, and Sundin's combined none. Hes' won a gold medal. He's played in eight all star games. He has 656 goals and 1354 points. The man looks outstanding in a suit and understands the purpose of no sax. Sure, Oates, Bure, and Sundin have been eligible for a while, but Shanny's resume should outshine them all thanks to those three rings that he has.
That narrative didn't work out the way many assumed it would. People placed (and always will place) a huge amount of emphasis on winning the Stanley Cup, but anyone will tell you that winning the Cup is a team effort. One person by themselves can make some difference, but winning it takes everyone. How fair is it to ignore a player for not being part of a team that made it all of the way? How responsible for not winning a Cup is, say, Jeremy Roenick? It doesn't detract from their personal skills at all. Too much emphasis is placed on something that one person doesn't have control over, and this year was a pleasant break from the usual "must have Cup" mindset.
Shanny was overlooked because notable players have been overlooked for years, and it was time for them to get in. No great conspiracy is necessary to explain why he isn't being inducted, but Art Regner of Fox Sports Detroit tries to drum one up, and fails miserably. He traces the whole thing back to the affair Shanahan had with center Craig Janney's wife when the two of them played on the St. Louis Blues in the mid-1990s. The affair ruined team chemistry and Shanahan was sent to Hartford for Chris Pronger. It worked out for the Blues all right, although fans were disappointed at losing a guy who just had two 50 goal seasons back to back. Was the affair appropriate? No, of course not. Regardless of Janney's relationship with his wife, it shouldn't've happened.
Did it cause bad blood? Sure, but so did other things in Shanahan's career. Bad blood can happen with any player, regardless of skill. But to think that a love affair that happened in 1994 and that resulted in a 14 year marriage and three children is somehow responsible for Shanahan's not being a first-ballot hall of famer is absurd. Sure, personal lives might factor in, though they shouldn't, but there's not always going to be a controversy when folks aren't chosen. Sometimes that just don't get in the first time.
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@gregpcox He did - they've been marred since 1998, I think. Everything I read always implied that Janney's not even sore anymore.
@TPBderek Thanks! You know, I forgot to mention something see that debunks the whole thing: Ed Belfour. DUI? Bar fights? Come on.
You have not followed the history of the Hall of Fame then. It would not be the first time someone played the morality game and doubt it would be the last.
Conn Smythe served as the Hall's chairman for several years, but resigned in June 1971 when Harvey "Busher" Jackson was posthumously elected into the Hall. Smythe said that it made him sick to think of Jackson alongside such Toronto Maple Leafs players as "Apps, Primeau, Conacher, Clancy and Kennedy. If the standards are going to be lowered I'll get out as chairman of the board." Jackson was notorious for his off-ice lifestyle of drinking and broken marriages. Smythe would not condone the induction and even tried to block it because he considered Jackson a poor role model. Frank J. Selke, head of the selection committee defended the selection on the belief that a man should not be shut out "because of the amount of beer he drank."
On March 30, 1993, it was announced that Gil Stein, who at the time was the president of the National Hockey League, would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. There were immediate allegations that he had engineered his election through manipulation of the hall's board of directors. Due to these allegations, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hired two independent lawyers, Arnold Burns and Yves Fortier, to lead an investigation. They concluded that Stein had "improperly manipulated the process" and "created the false appearance and illusion" that his nomination was the idea of Bruce McNall. They concluded that Stein pressured McNall to nominate him and had refused to withdraw his nomination when asked to do so by Bettman. There was a dispute over McNall's role and Stein was "categorical in stating that the idea was Mr. McNall's." They recommended that Stein's selection be overturned, but it was revealed Stein had decided to turn down the induction before their announcement.
In 1989, Alan Eagleson, a long time executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, was inducted as a builder. He resigned nine years later from the Hall after pleading guilty to mail fraud and embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NHL Players Association pension funds. His resignation came six days before a vote was scheduled to determine if he should be expelled from the Hall. Originally, the Hall of Fame was not going to become involved in the issue, but was forced to act when dozens of inductees, including Bobby Orr, Ted Lindsay and Brad Park, campaigned for Eagleson's expulsion, even threatening to renounce their membership if he was not removed. He became the first member of a sports hall of fame in North America to resign.