Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2012: Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates, Pavel Bure; no Brendan Shanahan

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The Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2012 will include first-ballot players Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin, and holdovers Adam Oates and Pavel Bure. That it doesn't include Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's executive VP of player safety and the 13th-best goal scorer in NHL history, is as newsworthy as the players that did make the cut.

"The Hockey Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these four hockey legends as Honored Members," said Jim Gregory. "Their contributions to the game of hockey are well documented and their election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is richly deserved."

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Here's the selection committee responsible for this year's class.

Pavel Bure

From the Hockey Hall of Fame:

Pavel Bure, a native of Moscow, Russia, joined the Vancouver Canucks for the 1991-92 NHL season and that season won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year. A six-time NHL All-Star, he was named to the first team in 1994. As a Florida Panther, he was the NHL's top goal scorer for two consecutive seasons, from 1999 to 2001, before finishing his career with the New York Rangers in 2003.

The only thing holding Bure back from the Hall — along with criticism of his defense and some controversial contractual moments in his career — was his sample size. He had 437 goals in 702 games, with goals-per-game ratio of 0.623, or fifth in NHL history. But while that doesn't have longevity, that's legendary. His style of play, explosive skating and sniper skills made him an inspiration to young players around the world.

So if they're going to Sandy Koufax Bure into the Hall, when does Lindros get the call?

Adam Oates

From the Hockey Hall of Fame:

Adam Oates played three seasons with RPI of the ECAC before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Red Wings in 1985. He went on to play 19 NHL seasons with seven teams, including four 100-plus point seasons. The sixth all-time NHL career leader in assists with 1,063, Oates retired in 2004.

Good lord, what a day for Oates. He was named the Washington Capitals' latest head coach earlier on Tuesday and then was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame that afternoon. He's sixth all time in the NHL in assists with 1,079 and considered one of the NHL's greatest playmakers. Not bad to an undrafted player.

Joe Sakic

From the Hockey Hall of Fame:

Joe Sakic grew up in Burnaby, British Columbia, before starring with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League, winning the CHL's Player of the Year Award in in 1987-88. Drafted 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1987 Entry Draft, Joe moved with the team to Colorado and went on to play his entire 20-year career with the same organization. Sakic captained the team for 17 seasons, second longest in NHL history and won Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001. An NHL First Team All-Star on three occasions, Sakic also played for Canada at three Olympic Games, winning gold and being named MVP in 2002

Sakic was a lock. Two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, a Hart Trophy, ninth in career points (1,641) and 15th in career goals (625) in 20 years with the Quebec Nordiques and the Colorado Avalanche. Without question, one of his generation's greatest talents.

Mats Sundin

From the Hockey Hall of Fame:

Mats Sundin was born in Bromma, Sweden and was the first European born player to be drafted first overall in the NHL Entry Draft, in 1989 by the Quebec Nordiques. Mats spent 13 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, becoming the franchise's all-time leader in goals with 420 and assists with 567. Sundin is the first Swedish-born player to reach 1,000 points in the NHL. He represented his home country internationally on 14 occasions, with the culmination being an Olympic gold medal in 2006.

There's no way that the election of Sundin isn't going to be seen as a choice between the former Toronto Maple Leafs captain over Shanahan's candidacy.

Is he worthy of the Hall? He won three IIHF world titles and the 2006 Olympic gold with Sweden, and he's 21st all time with 564 goals and No. 27 all time with 1,349 points. Are those first-ballot numbers? Absolutely not.

So cue the Toronto-based Hall, Toronto-based bias criticisms. Cue the speculation that Shanahan's tenure as VP of player safety somehow soured him to the clandestine voters on the Hall of Fame committee. And cue an endless amount of jokes about how Shanahan needs to host a video breaking down how he was snubbed for the Hockey Hall of Fame 2012.

All that said: Four deserving candidates, all worthy of immortality in their own ways, and all achieving it in 2012.

But no builders. No Fred Shero. No Pat Burns. Such a shame.

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