Alfie For the Hall of Fame: "What's it Gonna Take?"
In the history of the Hockey Hall of Fame, only three modern day Ottawa Senators have achieved hockey immortality.
In the Builder’s category, the late Roger Neilson was inducted in 2002 with his famous jab at former employer and owner, Harold Ballard, during his acceptance speech.
Dominik Hasek, who played only one season with the Senators, was inducted in 2014.
Marian Hossa was inducted in the class of 2020 and may go down as one of, if not the best player to ever don a Sens jersey. However, his infamous 2005 sign and trade to the Atlanta Thrashers for Dany Heatley negated any chance of him going into the hall as a Senator.
The Senators have had several long time players with great resumes but the one that interests most in Sens Nation is the beloved Daniel Alfredsson. It goes without saying that none who has played for the Sens shall pass if Alfredsson doesn’t get in. Though his final season in the NHL was as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, Sens Nation purists have been awaiting word of his induction since he became eligible in 2017 (3 years post retirement).
It is worth noting that Alfie was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2018. However, the 18 person HHOF committee has not seen fit yet to induct our beloved hockey hero.
If you are wondering who these people are, you can check out this link. There is new blood coming in as Chairman John Davidson is stepping down. Mike Gartner, who has served on the committee since 2009, will assume the role as Chairman, effective January 1, 2022. Cammi Granato will become the second female member of the panel, joining Cassie Campbell-Pascal at the same time.
Every member of the committee can nominate one person per category per year, which includes player, builder, on-ice official or female player. In any given year, as many as four players, two builders and one on-ice official can be inducted. An inductee must receive a minimum of 75% of the votes from those in attendance at the meeting and a minimum of 10 votes. Let’s come back to that later.
The most recent inductions were for the class of 2020. COVID-19 has even managed to put the Hall of Fame on hold. They include the previously mentioned Hossa, as well as Jarome Iginla, Kevin Lowe, Kim St. Pierre and Doug Wilson. Ken Holland was inducted in the Builders category.
The final name on that list gives me both comfort and concern. Wilson retired in 1993. He has been eligible since 1996. The hall might seem like they have forgotten someone, but they will go back and correct past oversights.
Having said that, do any of us care to wait 23 years for what should have happened already? The longer the wait goes on, the more likely people on the panel will not be as familiar with the body of work.
One of the members on the selection committee is current Senators Senior Vice President of Player Development, Pierre McGuire. He has been on the panel since January 1, 2018. He has had three opportunities to nominate and vote for Alfie. However, as we see above, no one has that kind of pull on their own, even if they do support his induction. Nonetheless, it can’t hurt Alfredsson's chances to have an ally on the panel. McGuire briefly coached Alfredsson in his rookie season, the year he won the Calder Trophy.
Let’s compare Alfie to the recent crop of NHL inductees, based on their resumes. I won’t compare his resume to Kim St. Pierre as the female subcategory, created in 2010, doesn’t impact his induction. For fun, let’s throw Mats Sundin in there too.
Obviously, those are my criteria, and they may weigh into the decision-making process differently. There may also be others I am not mentioning. Pierre McGuire told TSN1200 they look at the entire body of work and not just the time spent in the National Hockey League. As we look at our boy compared to the current Hall of Fame crop, he seems to hold his own.
Alfredsson's former teammates, such as Jason Spezza, are on record saying he would be a worthy inductee. His only blemish is not having a Stanley Cup ring. Of course, with only two of this year's four inductees having drank from the Holy Grail of Hockey, clearly that isn’t the only factor in consideration.
Having said that, if you don’t have a ring, I firmly believe you are working from a position of weakness in the eyes of the panel, whether they want to admit it or not. Had things gone differently in that Senators vs Ducks final in 2007, I don’t believe I'd be writing this article. Alfredsson had a great playoffs that year and would surely have won the Conn Smythe Trophy with a Senators victory. Without the bling, you must make up for it statistically, with hardware, international glory, being a leader and good citizen.
Clark Gillies would not check the 1000 games or NHL award boxes, but he did get those four Stanley Cup rings as part of the Islanders dynasty. I am not here to impugn his induction. This simply illustrates that playing a prominent role on a championship/dynasty team gets you into the conversation.
Looking at Iginla, this seems like a no-brainer, despite his lack of bling. With 625 goals and 1300 regular season points, six major awards including three in the same season (01-02), two Memorial Cups (94 & 95), World Junior Gold (’96), World Hockey Championship Gold (’97) and two-time Olympic gold medalist (02, 07), it all seems to speak for itself. This one doesn’t bother me from an Alfredsson standpoint, and I doubt it bothers Alfie either.
Hossa’s resume is equally impressive with 525 goals and 1134 points in regular season play. His playoff prowess was even more impressive with 205 games played and 149 points and three Stanley Cup rings. Through all of that, he garnered not one major award, which I find incredible. He represented Slovakia four times as well. I have no issue with his selection ahead of Alfredsson. One can only wonder if the Senators would have gotten a Cup had they kept him post-lockout.
Lowe checks all the boxes on the list above and he won a lot in his career. He was a leader with the Oilers dynasty, where he won five Stanley Cups and another with the Rangers in 1994 to boot. He won Canada Cups alongside Gretzky, Lemieux and Messier and there were no Olympics for him to play in during his career. Lowe strikes me as another Clark Gillies type of player with a little more longevity. He's more defined by his team success than his individual play.
One thing Lowe has going for him beyond his bling is he seems to be well connected. He has both official and unofficial support from all the players he played with who have preceded him into the hall. Jari Kurri is on the panel, and don’t think for a second this doesn’t play into the equation. I don’t question the integrity of the selection process or panel members, but politics and sponsors make a difference for a player like this. I can live with this induction as long as he doesn’t make it in as a builder. If that happens, anarchy will reign.
Wilson’s induction seems to come as a matter of justice being served. He does not have Lowe’s bling, but he didn’t have Gretzky, Kurri, Messier or Fuhr either. Wilson was clearly a better defenseman and has a Norris Trophy to back it up. If Lowe had gone in ahead of him, it would have undermined the credibility of the process. It’s hard not to believe that Wilson’s induction was delayed by the lack of a Stanley Cup ring on his resume. He didn’t have the Olympics to play in and his teams were busy playing in the playoffs more often than not. This would have kept him out of the World Championship tournament, but he did get gold in the Canada Cup in 1984. Not letting his being from Ottawa cloud my judgment, I am comfortable with Wilson’s induction ahead of Alfie. I just hope it doesn’t take 23 years of eligibility to make it right for our boy.
Finally, let’s compare him to fellow countryman and 2012 inductee, Mats Sundin. Neither drank from the chalice but checked every other box. Sundin had a longer career and his points per game in the regular season and playoffs were slightly better. Both were leaders and pillars with their teams and communities and represented their country with distinction. Alfredsson had more individual honours from the league.
Sundin, however, was on CBC every Saturday night from 1994 to 2008 and I don’t doubt for an instant that media recognition plays a role here. Sundin didn’t just get inducted into the hall. He received the honour in his first year of eligibility. Alfredsson never did a McDonald’s commercial alongside Wayne Gretzky. Despite very similar resumes, Alfredsson continues to wait. I don’t question Sundin being in the hall. I am questioning if he would be in the hall or gotten in as quickly had he played in Ottawa. Their eligibilities never collided so I am not crying foul. I am simply saying that being seen is as or more important than being heard.
So, what’s it gonna take to get this done?
I said I would circle back to the panel issue, and I am a little concerned by the words “from those in attendance” when it comes to getting inducted. In today’s day and age of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, even Covid-19 shouldn’t interfere with someone voting. Are we to believe that some panel members don’t attend the annual meetings? How can this be? Perhaps I am reading into it too much, but when I read “must have a minimum of 75% and a minimum of 10 votes from the panel”, that suggests to me that attendance isn’t mandatory at these induction meetings. Unless my math fails me, 75% of 18 is 13.5.
How would someone not have a minimum of 10 votes if they had 75% of the panel approval unless people were abstaining from the meeting?
Sens Nation, it’s time for a call to action. RUSH was believed to be up against it as far as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction was concerned. Canada rose up and made it happen with relentless pressure. We need to do the Ottawa version of this
It needs to become personal. We need to go Kraft Hockeyville on these people. If you have been looking for a reason to bother Eugene Melnyk, I can’t think of a better one. Hit him on Twitter and get your hashtags going. Melnyk should want this. It’s a reason to talk about the Ottawa Senators.
They could arrange an Alfie night at CTC, which would almost certainly mean a sellout crowd. Same goes for our panel insider, Pierre McGuire. I don’t believe he is on Twitter, but I am sure he has ears and the Twittersphere will find him. We need to get the local radio stations to start chirping, loud and proud. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Enough of Ottawa being a boring and reserved government town. We need to be obnoxiously boring and reserved. I work in sales and sometimes people will just buy from you to shut you up. By the time we are done with them, Alfie will be in the Hall of Fame AND on the panel. 😊
We all agree Alfie has a Hall of Fame resume, just based on who is in there already. We aren’t asking the panel to do something for sentimental reasons. We are asking them to do what’s right.
Do I believe Daniel Alfredsson will get inducted if we don’t do this? Yes. I also think he could become the next Doug Wilson if we don’t. And I, for one, don’t want to be an old man in a rocking chair while I watch the ceremony.
ALFIE FOR THE HALL!
By Pat Maguire | Sens Nation Hockey Staff