Articles

The Hall Calls

In Hockey Hits on November 11, 2009 by geespotting

The Hockey Hall of Fame welcomed 4 new players on Monday. Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille. It just might be the greatest class ever inducted. Each of them is a Cup winner, and each has represented their countries as champions too. Great calls for the Hall…and here is my call on each.

Luc Robitaille – “Lucky” Luc was lucky indeed, although, isn’t it said that you have to make your own luck. He was one of those few guys who just had a knack to score. You would see replays where he was almost in the corner, yet he could somehow thread that puck to the back of the net. He wasn’t a great skater, wasn’t normally someone who could deke and shift his way through d-men, yet, he was there putting the puck in the back of the net. Off the ice, I loved watching interviews with Luc because he usually had a chuckle at some point. Definitely a guy who loved playing the game, and a guy who was embraced in California, which you normally don’t see from hockey players, aside from the Great One.

Steve Yzerman – Stevie Y was a marvel with the puck. Many people will remember him for his incredible leadership skills, but, I loved the way he could dangle, especially in those younger days. I remember one play where Stevie Y had the puck while the opponent had the goalie pulled. He was between his blue line and the centre line, and there was a d-man between him and the net. Rather than try and get to centre and fire the puck towards the gaping cage, Stevie Y simply flipped the puck over the d-man, and it glided into the empty net…smack dab in the middle. Not a play many would recall when talking about Yzerman, but, as a young hockey fan, I thought it was a cool way to get an empty netter. I also remember how he had pretty much 2 busted knees one playoff year, and he kept playing, and going into trouble areas, and coming away with the puck. He was a beaut, and another class act off the ice. I think many are hoping his legacy will continue this Winter as he tries to orchestrate a Gold Medal for Canada at the Olympics. I like his track record.

Brett Hull – The Golden Brett was a scoring phenom, even at a young age when he was playing junior right here in Penticton for the Knights. I remember people saying that he was one of the most laid back kids they had ever met. I think many figured his laid back attitude would be his downfall once he got to the NHL…but, they were wrong. I remember watching Hull and the Blues play a sad-sack Leafs team in the early 90’s on the tube, and remember that I was excited to see that game, because there was a chance you would get to see a light show. And usually, there was. Brett would usually score 2 to 3 goals, and it was a delight to see the Leafs get lit up. Because it was TSN, and the Leafs and Blues were in the same division, you would see 4 to 5 of those games a year. Brett also spoke his mind, which to me, I didn’t really like. He seemed to be an NHL diva at times, but then, that was Brett, calling it like it was, just like his old man. I must admit that his speech on Monday was the best of the bunch however.

Brian Leetch – Probably the 2nd greatest American born player of all time (Chelios would have to be number one). He was one of those gifted d-men that you knew would always put up big numbers in the regular season. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, there were a number of talented rearguards like that. I didn’t take him seriously until he was the anchor that won the Rangers the Cup in 94. He was simply the best. He led the entire playoffs in scoring, and was a warrior throughout. He was also superb while playing for the U.S. at the World Cup in 96, like Hull was.

With the NHL lockout a number of years ago, it seems that those great players from the 80’s and 90’s are retiring at a pretty fast rate, which is bad in one sense, having all of those legends gone from the game so quickly. It is a blessing however for the Hall of Fame, and makes those arguments for players that should be enshrined pretty heated. With that in mind…who should be in for next year? Nieuwendyk, Gilmour, Oates, Bure…let the chatter start now!

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