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DeCock: Brind'Amour's time will come to join NHL Hall of Fame

By Luke DeCock - staff columnist
ldecock@newsobserver.com
Luke has worked for The News & Observer since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist in August 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.
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Is Rod Brind’Amour worthy of inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Without question. It just won’t be this year.

Brind’Amour, who waited 16 seasons to win his first Stanley Cup, captaining the Carolina Hurricanes to the feat in 2006, will have to wait at least one more year for induction into the Hall after being left out of Tuesday’s Class of 2013.

There were two gimmes in this first-year class – Chris Chelios and Scott Niedermayer, two of the greatest defensemen of their generation, or in the ageless Chelios’ case, multiple generations – and one notable holdover from last year in Brendan Shanahan. In the fourth and final spot for a player, the Hall of Fame elected Canadian women’s hockey pioneer Geraldine Heaney.

That left out Brind’Amour, now an assistant coach with the Hurricanes. Like Shanahan last year, Brind’Amour will have to wait. And like Shanahan last year, Brind’Amour’s turn should come. Emphasis on “should.”

He might not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but the long-term prognosis of his Hall of Fame chances is good – he ranks among the top 20 in games played, top 50 in points, won two Selke Trophies and captained a team to the Stanley Cup, as good a two-way resume of any player who didn’t go in on the first ballot.

(It’s fair to wonder whether winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2006 might have burnished his candidacy. Brind’Amour probably should have won that award, which goes to the postseason MVP, but many national voters weren’t aware of his contributions in the earlier Montreal and Buffalo series. Cam Ward, while equally deserving of the honor, was a bigger star in the Final, when more voters were paying close attention.)

Still, there are no guarantees. Eric Lindros and Dave Andreychuk, whose resumes compare interestingly to Brind’Amour’s, continue to float around as well.

The Hall of Fame voting pool is as secretive as any price-fixing cabal and has more than a few fossilized reactionary members whose decisions are as inscrutable as they are illogical. The failure to admit deserving coaches Pat Burns and Fred Shero was a blot on its reputation for years, rectified in part this year by the admission of Shero although the inexcusable snub of Burns while on his deathbed will linger for decades, long after he’s eventually honored.

Brind’Amour wasn’t the only former Hurricanes player passed over Tuesday. Tom Barrasso, a pioneer among American goalies who won the Vezina Trophy as a rookie straight out of high school in 1984 along with two Stanley Cups and is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, has been eligible since 2006.

Next year’s first-year class includes one mortal lock – Dominik Hasek – as well as contenders in Peter Forsberg and Mike Modano and two of Brind’Amour’s Cup teammates, Doug Weight and Mark Recchi. Oh, and Sandis Ozolinsh, too, for the record.

That’ll be stiff competition, but the same was true last year when Shanahan lost out to two first-year players, Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin, and two repeat candidates, Pavel Bure and Adam Oates. Like Bure and Oates, Shanahan had to wait, but his turn came this year. Brind’Amour will have to wait as well. (Both have better resumes than Sundin, but that’s a debate for a different day.)

The only question is how long it will take. Not this year, maybe not next year, but someday Brind’Amour will get the call.

DeCock: ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947
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