June 17, 2008
In the span of two questions today, Igor Larionov talked about having to cut his morning work out short because he received a phone call saying that he had achieved immortality.
He spoke about the sadness he had in thinking about his mother passing away a month ago, and the joy he had in calling his father today to share the news of his Hockey Hall of Fame induction. He talked about the fall of the Soviet Union, and the honor of joining his countryman Viacheslav Fetisov in the Hall.
The more he spoke, the more it sunk in what his enshrinement means for this moment in hockey history. Larionov scored 644 points in 921 games in the NHL. As Kevin Allen of USA Today said during today's press conference, Igor's best work was done before he came to the League. Larionov was a 29 year old rookie; as he told me today, that was the end of a career by Russian standards. Alexander Ovechkin won the Calder as a 20 year old. Fans are now blessed with the best athletes in the world, playing their most productive years in the NHL. It's rather amazing, taken in context.
Larionov noted that Pavel Bure didn't make the cut this season. "Unfortunately he never had a chance to win the Stanley Cup," he said of Bure. Which brings us to Glenn Anderson.
I don't believe Anderson belongs in the Hall of Fame, but it's hard to remain cynical when you hear the palpable joy and relief in his voice today.
There probably hasn't been a day in the last several years when someone hasn't asked Anderson why he's not in the Hall of Fame. Today, he actually had to apologize on the conference call for all the call-waiting beeps from well-wishers phoning him with congratulations. You have to feel good for the guy.
So what does Anderson's induction tell us? That winning means everything ... unless you're Bernie Federko or Cam Neely? Nah ... more likely, it tells us that the legacy of the Gretzky/Messier Oilers has coattails two decades long. I eagerly await the induction ceremonies for Esa Tikkanen, Craig MacTavish, Kevin Lowe, Craig Muni, Steve Smith, Charlie Huddy, Kelly Buchberger, Petr Klima, Craig Muni, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Joe Murphy and Craig Simpson.
The late Ed Chynoweth, former president of the CHL, got the call today in the builder category -- and it was a great call. Linesman Ray Scapinello was elected as well, which will certainly help with the book sales.
From the Toronto Sun, the HHOF selection committee includes: Jim Gregory, Scotty Bowman, Colin Campbell, John Davidson, Eric Duhatschek, Jan-Ake Edvinsson, Mike Emrick, Michael Farber, Emile Francis, Dick Irvin, Lanny McDonald, Yvon Pedneault, Serge Savard, Harry Sinden, Peter Stastny and Bill Torrey.
They sign a confidentiality agreement that prevents them from sharing results for other eligible players. So we'll never know how well Alexei Gusarov really did.