Pat Burns being snubbed from the Hockey Hall of Fame on an annual basis in the years after his retirement was one of the sport’s greatest travesties.
On Monday, the Hall of Fame committee — which includes several new members this year — announced the 2014 class, and to everyone’s delight, Burns finally was included.
Pat Burns's wife Lynn: "I'm speechless and tremendously happy. Pat would be proud and this is well-deserved."—
James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 23, 2014
It would have been nice for Burns to be inducted while he was alive — he passed away in 2010 at age 58 — but it’s good to see him finally receive the recognition that he deserves. It’s been speculated that one or more members of the voting committee were keeping Burns out of the Hall of Fame because of some grudge against him. It’s great that we don’t have to talk about that anymore and can appreciate and remember Burns’ extraordinary career.
The former Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins head coach will go in from the builder’s category. Burns won three Jack Adams awards and 501 regular-season games (16th all time), and he made two Stanley Cup Final appearances, losing in 1989 with the Canadiens and winning in 2003 with the Devils. Burns also helped revive the Maple Leafs franchise in the early 1990s and lead them to back-to-back conference finals in 1993 and 1994.
The other members of the 2014 class are Dallas Stars center Mike Modano, Colorado Avalanche center Peter Forsberg, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Blake, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek and former referee Bill McCreary.
In short, this is a legendary class.
Blake was a tremendous defenseman who tallied 777 points, and won a Stanley Cup in 2001 and the Norris Trophy in 1998. He’s also a member of the Triple Gold Club as a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and World Championships gold medal winner.
Modano arguably is the best American player ever with 561 goals and 1,050 points, as well as a Stanley Cup title with Dallas in 1999. Along with Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman (both already in the HHOF), Modano was one of the most recognizable centers of the 1990s.
Hasek was the easiest selection in this class. He won a record six Vezina trophies, two Hart trophies and two Stanley Cup titles (2002, 2008). His unorthodox goaltending style made him one of the most exciting netminders in league history.
Forsberg was a near-lock to get in as a first-ballot player. He’s arguably the best two-way forward of all time and ranks eighth with a career 1.25 points per game average. His trophy case includes a Calder Trophy, a Hart Trophy, two Stanley Cup titles (1996, 2001) and two Olympic gold medals with Sweden (1994, 2006).
Forsberg’s selection should be a good sign for former Philadelphia Flyers center Eric Lindros, who again was snubbed. Lindros and Forsberg both had careers cut short because of injuries, and while Lindros wasn’t as strong defensively as the former Avalanche forward, he was better offensively and one of the greatest power forwards ever. Lindros never won a Stanley Cup and doesn’t have a collection of trophies as large as Forsberg’s, but the former Flyers captain did win the 1995 Hart Trophy.
Next year’s class includes only two slam-dunks candidates — Detroit Red Wings legends Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov — which should help Lindros’ chances. Another positive for Lindros is that two other legendary players whose careers were shortened by injuries — Cam Neely and Pat LaFontaine — already are in the Hall of Fame. It should only be a matter of time for No. 88.
Mark Recchi was the other notable snub. The former right winger won three Stanley Cups, and tallied 577 goals (19th all-time) and 1,533 points (12th all-time). He was rarely a dominant player, but few were more consistent.
Jeremy Roenick, Curtis Joseph and Dave Andreychuk also were snubbed.
The six members of the 2014 class will be officially inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in November.
Photo via Twitter/@TravisLee87