As Brad alluded to yesterday, we were sitting here with proverbial champagne on ice and confetti in our hands ready to be thrown. Joe Nieuwendyk was a slam dunk selection for the Hockey Hall Of Fame after all. It wasn't even in question. We even spent the previous couple of days privately discussing who would work up a retrospective on his great career and celebrate our current GM since all most any body seems to do lately is criticize him for what seems to me as being the unlucky winner of the "manage a once proud franchise with a now bankrupt owner" contest.
Stars fans at least for one moment in this summer were going to have something to smile about right? Forget the fact he's a former Flame, Devil, Maple Leaf or Panther.. We were going to celebrate like he was all ours all along right?
Whoops. Not so fast. A former Star was indeed inducted, but not the one we all wanted. No Nieuwendyk. No Adam Oates, no Doug Gilmour, no Dave Andreychuk....
Right after the announcement was made Brad jokingly asked the question of us: "So, err.. uhh... Anyone have any Ciccarelli memories they'd like to share?"
Personally I was more than ready to list off the great career of Dino Ciccarelli. A 600 goal scorer, 1200 points, 9 seasons with the Minnesota North Stars and many nights he was one of the only reasons to watch the Stars. He was a franchise player before a certain #9 came on to the scene. He was traded for another fellow hall of famer in Mike Gartner in 1989... Yes he had no Stanley Cup rings in his possession and yeah he not only had a bit of a checkered past, he has always been regarded as.. well.. not a nice guy at all on or off the ice. But he was long overdue for this accolade. So being the faithful North Stars fan I was ready to extol his virtues to a public who seemed to be more angered about who got snubbed over the very deserving individuals who got in.
But then I started thinking... I shouldn't have to explain to anyone why Dino Ciccarelli was a great pick for the Hall of Fame and why Stars fans - both long time Minnesota and relatively short time Dallas - should be just as proud and happy as if it was Joe Nieuwendyk.
No, the onus how to explain how all the names I mentioned as well as former coach Pat Burns was inexplicably left off, is in fact on the 18 member selection committee. As David Shoalts of the Globe And Mail so aptly asked: What were the voters thinking?!
As I thought about it more an even bigger realization crossed my mind. We hockey fans have virtually witnessed 18 Jim Joyces blow what seems to be some very easy calls to ruin what would have been a perfect moment. A guy like Dino who was long overdue and who is going in the hall with the first females to be inducted all should have gone right along side one of the all-time greatest play makers in Oates, alongside one of the classiest guys in the game today in Nieuwendyk and what would have been by most accounts a touching, emotional send off for one of the games greatest coaches..
Can you imagine the night of that induction? Instead of what would be a glorious night though, now no matter how much the public will gnash teeth and cry out for reform and change in the way this matter was handled, what is done is done and we'll be robbed of such a moment.
And as a bigger kick to the gut, unlike Mr. Jim Joyce who was man enough to come right out and admit wrong - despite I'm sure MLB's wishes that he kept quiet and let the higher-ups cover up his botched brain cramp - none of the 18 people who voted on this hall of fame selection will man up and admit they made a huge miscue and instead hide behind a "secrecy agreement" that they claim is put in place as to not humiliate the non-inductees even more.
So here I sit... An long time North Stars fan wanting to celebrate the greatness that was one of my first original favorite players as he finally gets his due, and wanting to find people who share in that joy. And all I'll find are people who will justifiably grumble that the right people got wrongly left off and the few wrongful omissions that has hung over the hall for the last few years is now let in and no one will truly appreciate it.
In the days and weeks leading up to the vote being announced, there were many factions of fans divided and pulling for their guy... Now all those people who were all of different minds of who should be in the hall and who shouldn't be are at least united in the belief that this vote was completely blown. For that, I guess the HOF selection committee should be at least given kudos for since they don't deserve it for anything else.