Monday, May 20, 2013

NHL hall of fame inductees 2000-2012

Following my previous post I went over the modern NHL hall of fame inductees. I focused on the modern era of inductees 2000-2012.

Yes I know it's called the hockey hall of fame but I only care about the recently retired NHL players. So from the list I deleted Soviet, women's players, and old time veterans category.

This is the list from the 13 induction classes.

Joe Mullen
Denis Savard
Mike Gartner
Dale Hawerchuk
Jari Kurri
Bernie Federko
Clark Gillies
Rod Langway
Grant Fuhr
Pat LaFontaine
Ray Bourque
Paul Coffey
Larry Murphy
Cam Neely
Patrick Roy
Mark Messier
Al MacInnis
Scott Stevens
Ron Francis
Glenn Anderson
Brett Hull
Brian Leetch
Luc Robitaille
Steve Yzerman
Dino Ciccarelli
Ed Belfour
Doug Gilmour
Mark Howe
Joe Nieuwendyk
Pavel Bure
Adam Oates
Joe Sakic
Mats Sundin

That's a fine list and certainly any hockey fan would have heard of all of these and recognize them all.

One thing I noticed is the size of the list. In 13 years there were 33 inducted. That's over 2.5 per year. So for any given decade the NHL believes there are over 4 full starting units of Hall worthy players. Which leads to the big question.

Is it the Hall of Fame or the Hall of Very Good?

This is a question baseball has also struggled with. "Who is a hall of famer?" Well in my previous post I showed that it can be approached systematically which would strip off a lot of the subjective bias and popular "feel good" inductees. By setting a "quota" of say 2 active retired a year then the overall integrity of the Hall can be preserved while ensuring that no major injustices occur about anyone being left out. The NHL has chosen the more inclusive path.

The current process is the selection is done by committee and face to face in a group meeting. This creates a couple of issues which could lead to an expansionist trend in Hall admission. One is the "slippery slope" type argument. It goes something like, If Joe Mullen is in, then Bernie Federko is in, then Ron Francis is in, then Glenn Anderson is in. While there's some value in comparables in setting a bar, it can set the lower bound too low if one time a single bubble player gets through.

Another possible issue would be horse trading. Suppose there were two hypothetical HOF voters in the 2000s. One likes Ron Francis but is against Glenn Anderson. Another is the opposite, for Anderson but against Francis. It would be pretty easy for a side conversation something like this to occur. "I'll vote for Francis this year if you will vote for Anderson next year. Deal."

Now with a quota both of these weaknesses go away, as the line is drawn somewhere and perhaps somewhat arbitrarily some will be on one side and some on the other. But it would force hall voters to make tough and probably unpopular decisions but it would probably be for the best for the HOF.

I'm pretty sure 2.5 per year is too high for hockey and the NHL would be better cutting back to a range of 2 - 2.25 inductees per year. From the list above I could cut 4-7 names without trying too hard and the Hall would be no worse off.

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