Forwards Brendan Shanahan, Eric Lindros, Jeremy Roenick and coaches Pat Burns and Fred Shero were among those who may well be deserving of the honor, but were left out by the 18-man committee's choices.
Comparing the numbers, there could be a good argument for those who were not included in the group who will be entering the hallowed halls.
The HHoF class of 2012, who were all on the ballot for the first year:
Of the inductees, Sakic is the only one to have 'champion' on his resume. He won the Stanley Cup twice during his 20-year career, all of which were spent with the Quebec Nordiques / Colorado Avalanche franchise. In 1,378 regular season games, Sakic delivered 625 goals -- twice scoring 50 goals in a season -- and 1,641 points (1.19 points per game). He also notched 84 goals and 188 points in 172 playoff contests (1.09 ppg), where he became known as one of the all-time clutch performers in helping lead the Avs to their Cups in the 1990's, winning the 1996 Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP. He also holds the record for most playoff overtime goals with eight, and won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2001.
Oates, one of the best passers in hockey history, who was best-known for his time setting up Brett Hull while with the St. Louis Blues, rang up 1,079 assists (sixth-most ever) and 1,420 points in 1,337 regular season games (1.06 ppg) in 20 NHL seasons. He also posted 114 assists and 156 points in 163 postseason tilts (0.95 ppg). Oates did manage to score 45 goals for the Boston Bruins in the 1992-93 campaign, and three times led the League in assists, including a career-high 97 during the same '92-'93 season. Tuesday was a fantastic day all the way around for Oates, as he was named the new bench box for the Washington Capitals.
In 1,346 regular season contests, Sundin scored 564 goals and recorded 1,349 points (just over a PPG). In 91 playoff games, he registered 38 goals and 82 points (0.90 ppg). Always the measuring stick of consistency and elite two-way play, Sundin never won an NHL Award or led the League in any offensive category. The long-time Toronto Maple Leafs captain
Bure was one of the most dynamic goal-scorers in the early-90's, lighting up NHL goalies to the tune of 437 goals and 779 points in just 702 games (1.10 ppg). The "Russian Rocket" twice scored 60 times in a season, and added three other 50-goal campaigns. Bure was just as lethal in the postseason, posting 35 goals and 70 points in 64 contests (1.09 ppg).
Those who were snubbed:
- Shanahan, currently the head of NHL Player Safety and the League's lead disciplinarian, played 21 NHL seasons. He scored 656 goals (13th most all-time) and registered 1,354 points in 1,524 games (0.88 ppg), while adding 2,489 penalty minutes. One of the greatest power forwards to ever lace up the skates, Shanahan potted 60 goals and 134 points in 184 playoff games (0.72 ppg) and won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. He notched back-to-back 50-goal years while with the Blues in the early-90s. "Shanny" appeared to be a slam-dunk in his first year of eligibility and seems the better choice over Sundin, but it is just a temporary setback. There is no doubt Shanahan will be inducted in the years to come, likely next year.
- Lindros, who like Bure was plagued by injuries throughout his abbreviated NHL career, managed 372 goals, 865 points (1.13 ppg), and 1,398 PIMs in just 760 games. The "Big E" tied Jaromir Jagr for the scoring lead in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 -- losing it based on a tiebreaker -- but still took home the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's MVP that season. Lindros, one of the most physically dominating skaters of his time, also excelled in the playoffs, scoring 24 goals and posting 57 points in 53 contests (1.07 PPG).
- Roenick also netted a pair of 50-goal seasons in the early-90s with the Chicago Blackhawks, and finished his career with 513 goals and 1,216 points in 1,363 regular season contests (0.89 ppg). Like Shanahan, Roenick was also a forward that played with an edge, racking up 1,463 PIMs. During the postseason, "JR" scored 53 goals and recorded 122 points in 153 games (0.79 PPG). Roenick ended his career with the third-highest goal-scoring total of U.S-born players, behind just Mike Modano and Keith Tkachuk.
In the Builders category:
- Fred Shero -- "Freddy The Fog" was an innovator in coaching styles, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in the mid-1970s. When the Flyers went for a three-peat in 1976, the team lost four close games to the Montreal Canadiens. Shero also took the New York Rangers to the 1979 Final, also losing to Montreal. The father of Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, Fred passed away in 1990 at the age of 65.
- Pat Burns -- Coached more than 1,000 games over 14 NHL seasons, Burns led the New Jersey Devils to the 2003 Stanley Cup. After being diagnosed with cancer, a grassroots campaign was put into place in an attempt to get Burns elected into the Hall before he died. But alas, after the committee snubbed him in 2010, Burns passed away shortly after the induction ceremony that year.
For all of those recognized for their contributions to hockey, there are those who just don't seem to get the credit they so richly deserve. Of the above-mentioned group of the excluded, Shanahan has the greatest chance to see induction the soonest, most likely as soon as 2013. But even that may be a challenge, as first-year eligible players will include Rod Brind' Amour, Scott Niedermayer, Paul Kariya, Tkachuk, Owen Nolan and Chris Chelios.
Seems like there will probably be more skaters deemed to have been snubbed come this time next summer.
Of the remaining snubs, they may one day be enshrined in the HHof. It's just a shame that when their time finally comes, Shero and Burns will be elected posthumously.