It's that time of year again -- the time when those that sit in judgment decide who will be lucky enough to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Only members of the Hockey Hall of Fame's selection committee may submit nominations for election. I am not a member, but I have a few suggestions for those who are.
Here are four players and a coach who have been overlooked.Eric Lindros
Whether you like him or not, the Big E was one of the best players to ever skate a shift in the National Hockey League. It is ridiculous that he has been passed over.
OK, maybe some members of the selection committee wanted to send a message to Lindros that he should have played by the rules (he refused to report to the Quebec Nordiques after they drafted him No. 1 overall in 1991). So be it. But the NHL has never seen a more explosive, physically dominating power forward than Lindros. He scored 372 goals and 865 points in a 760-game career that was stalled because of injuries. He added another 24 goals and 57 points in 53 playoff games, was a seven-time All-Star and won the Hart Trophy as most valuable player in the NHL in 1995.Steve Larmer
The Peterborough, Ont., native is the poster child for the complete hockey player. Larmer was a solid and dependable two-way performer who had a chance to break the NHL's iron man record of 964 consecutive games, but sat out because of a contract dispute, thereby ending his streak at 884 straight games. Nevertheless, Larmer scored 441 goals and 1,012 points in 1,006 regular-season games and another 56 goals and 131 points in 140 playoff games.
He was named the NHL's rookie of the year in 1983, helped the New York Rangers win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years in 1994, and in the 1991 Canada Cup Larmer led the tournament in goals with six and finished second in scoring with 11 points, one behind Wayne Gretzky.Claude Lemieux
Yes, Claude Lemieux. Hockey is not all about goals and assists, although the case could be made that Lemieux was a handy scorer in his 1,215-game big-league career, during which he scored 379 goals and 786 points. Lemieux was like Larmer -- a complete player who tormented his opponents with a physical game that at times crossed the line. But hey, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Mark Messier crossed the line at times, too.
What Lemieux did to Detroit's Kris Draper in 1996 was indeed despicable. Lemieux hit the Red Wings grinder from behind into the boards, breaking Draper's jaw and shattering his cheek and orbital bone. But that does not define his career. Lemieux saved his best hockey for the post-season, helping Montreal (1986), New Jersey (1995) and Colorado (1996) win Stanley Cups. In 1995 Lemieux scored 13 playoff goals and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.Theoren Fleury
At five-foot-six and 180 pounds, the odds of Theo Fleury enjoying a successful NHL career were stacked against him. Add to that the fact he was sexually molested for years by his junior hockey coach, and what Fleury accomplished is indeed extraordinary. Despite keeping that horrible secret for years, Fleury still managed to score 455 goals and 1,088 points in 1,084 regular-season games and another 34 goals and 79 points in 77 playoff games. Fleury suffered from drug and alcohol addiction throughout his career, but given what he was subjected to, it is all the more remarkable that he was able to carve out an amazing career. He should be rewarded for his persistence.
Fleury helped the Calgary Flames win the Stanley Cup in 1989 and enjoyed a successful international career, too. He won gold at the 1988 world junior championship, gold at the 1991 Canada Cup and gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The three-time Jack Adams Award winner as top coach in the NHL will certainly one day be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It is just a shame it couldn't have been while he was living. Burns passed away from cancer in 2010.
The former police officer was the NHL's coach of the year with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins and coached the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup championship in 2003.
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